Archive for May 10th, 2006

Please Oh Please

2006 May 10

Can we not turn Mo’s “Push/Pull” into specialized jargon terms with super-specific meanings? I can see it happening already and dread it like the plague.

So what if Mo’s original articulation was trying to do 12 things at once? There’s nothing wrong with that. By all means, let’s break down Push/Pull into various aspects and components, but let’s not work out every single detail and preemptively declare “Mission Accomplished!” Let’s not label the 7 different sub-categories of Pull behaviors. Let’s not replicate the Forge’s steady accumulation of jargon at Story Games, which has, so far, remained rather accessible.

Push/Pull are general categories, like “roleplaying.” There is not a limited number of ways in which they can be done. They are relative and relational concepts, relying heavily on context.

Also, I tend to think that if you don’t feel the general distinction between Push and Pull in your gut, after reading the basic descriptions Mo originally posted and the various discussions since then, that Push/Pull are not going to be especially helpful or interesting to you.

When I read it, my reaction was “Yes! This is what I’ve been trying to say FOR YEARS!” If you don’t feel that way, I don’t think there’s anything you can really do about that. You can enjoy games that are based on Push/Pull ideas without digging the theory, just like with GNS/Big Model and the Forge games. Maybe you’ll eventually have an “OH!” revelation. Maybe not.

In any case, remember that jargon terms are icons: they indicate and point at a real idea, but they are not the idea itself. Use the icon well, as an arrow. Don’t let it become an idol. Let it point you towards bigger and grander ideas, not tie you down in the nitty gritty details.