Re: Black Friday

28 11 2008

I just finished reading this post on Exchange of Realities, by Ravyn. I’ve never before heard of such tradition, and believe me it was entertaining to be informed such. I believe that the reason why such practice is popular stems from a couple things you mentioned:

  • rarity of the occasion
  • spectacular offers
  • competition

Now bear in mind that these three do not have to be real in order to be effective. I remember a paper that I had read some years ago while I was doing Sociology at the University that made a province wide analysis at supermarkets and big store behaviours when it came to making really great offers. The results were fascinating…

First of all, the offers were very limited in scope: you had to buy this product in this particular quantity, and there were only these many in stock. Second, the payment had to be done in a particular way, cash, or maybe a certain credit card or certain number of installments. Third, the offers were a lot of times… not offers at all! A “50% OFF!” had been preceded by a 200% increase in price or a gift that came with a product had been preceded by increasing the price of the product (thus paying for the gift.) Fourth, the offers had very limited time frames. Thus maybe the offer was valid only this Thursday, or (like this Black Friday event) only for a few hours on a particular date. Finally, even if the offers were real and the timing was gentle enough the dynamics (and the geography) of supermarkets made it that they payed for themselves since most times you ended up buying things that were not being offered at reduced prices (and that, a lot of times, had price increases as well.)

That being said, people still rushed towards this apparently miracle offers with reckless abandon. Why? I believe the answer is a mixture of all the elements above. One the one hand there is a miraculous object (the offer, the sale) that appears at the reach of mere mortals for a brief momment (the rare occasion.) But not just everyone can place their hands on such dear price… oh no, only the brave and worthy who pressed on despite of the difficulties could obtain so dear a blessing! It was then, not only a competition amongst themselves, but also within themselves. Thus they were able to feel good, to feel better than (others) because they had the strenght and the wit that was needed to obtain the price.

Now, is the ‘insaneness’ of Black Friday really a deterrent for this brave souls? Nay! Tis the very thing that makes it so alluring in the first place. Even if the price is no price at all, how much money would you pay for the feeling? “I’m saving so much! I won’t let that supermarket people screw with me no more! Now I have more money to get [blank]!” Of course, as I’ve said, a lot of offers are indeed big deals (I’m not saying that everything is a ripoff per se) and this adds to this “feeling good” that I talked about.

Let’s go back to RPG characters (as suggested by our dear Ravyn.) Most likely (but not always), these are extraordinary people, and certainly they are simply more relevant (in a narrative way) that the common Joe/Jane. How could they let such a wonderous opportunity go? Wouldn’t actually be shameful, wouldn’t people laugh at their pretended might and their flaring courage if they would not lead the charge? Or maybe the people would feel resentful (“Bah, she thinks she’s too good to take advantage of the sales, does she?”) Maybe she fanatically see’s this Black Friday as an evil plot that drowns the town in a hecatomb of savagery and chaos…

So, my good people (and of course, Ravyn in particular.) I will ask once again, what can Black Friday do for you?


Getting started

15 11 2008

Recently I’ve been a tad naughty regarding my idea of finishing the Rules Cyclopedia. I have not abandoned the project but I’ve also stayed away from actually reading the book. I believe that this stems from a lack of precision in my objective in doing so. In particular since my current role-playing situation is pretty much devoided of… well role-playing, I believe I have this subconscious little feeling that even if I do end up reading the bloody bastard (although heck of a book) I will have no person to play it with. Read the rest of this entry »

Rules Cyclopedia

4 11 2008

After a bit of a dry spell I’ve decided to dig into this vintage gaming piece of roleplaying. Introduced first to the old AD&D book by my new (on-line) roleplaying group, I started to get interested in the old D&D books. The sticking point… they’re fun to read! Who would have though about that? Read the rest of this entry »

Taking your Fluff Back

8 10 2008

Should we really get rid of the fluff? This is a valid question since fluff, in the form discussed in the previous entry, does a lot of things for a lot of people. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been writing and re-writing a sort of practical article to follow the points I raised in the previous one. I found, however, that I kept running into a problematic spot. There was a question that kept coming to mind: How can I address fluff in a less than positive light (as I was trying to do) while at the same time aknowledge that there’s a kind of gaming that uses it and that works fine as it is?

My plan is to take a step back and try to look at the forest. Examine the reasons this apparent dislike of fluff exists in the first place to pinpoint what are the effects that we’re trying to avoid, and to see if these effects are even problematic or not for different styles of gaming. Read the rest of this entry »

Gorilla Jam! ep2: Good Vibrations!

23 08 2008

We’re picking up the pace in the second episode of Gorilla Jam where we take a look at the makings of a D&D character. Each time we’re moving closer and closer to roleplaying heaven, but before we get there, it’s time to have a little taste of the crunchy D&D cereal bar… remember kids, crunch well to grow up into your paragon years!

This time we tackle the second chapter of the book and have a look at “Making Characters.” Although it should be more accurately named something like “How to Begin the Long and Wonderful Process of Making Characters” I support Wizards of the Coast decision for a shorter and cleaner title. But enough of my rambling, let’s get ready for… eh, more of my rambling! Read the rest of this entry »

Rooting for Shiny Disco Balls!

21 08 2008

I’ve finished reading [this] post, on the very entertaining Cogito, ergo ludo blog and I wanted to share some thoughts on the topic. Besides, it ties very nicely with the series that I’m writing so it’s even thematically accurate!

So do yourselves a favor and go read that when you have a few minutes. As for me, these are my proverbial two cents on the topic… Read the rest of this entry »

Cuddling with the 800 lbs. Gorilla

14 08 2008

There is a big bad monkey in my lawn and he is certainly not going away! I recently wrote an entry titled “There is a Gap Between Us”, and I’ve realized that people have mostly gotten the wrong impression from it; the “screaming maniac who thinks that the mere mention of D&D is worse than killing puppies” kind of impression.

That is simply wrong, and you might be rejoiced to know that I harbor a certain affection for that bulky primate. In fact, our bond is so strong that I have set my sights on a fabulous journey of RPG goodness that will take me through all the core books of its latest incarnation as I madly chop and cut to take D&D to its true unD&D potential (hint: that was sarcasm.) Read the rest of this entry »

The Elements of Roleplaying Characters -preview-

20 07 2008

With my next article I’d like to explore what I consider to be certain essential elements that need to be developed in order to have a working character at a roleplaying game. The idea is not to talk about what good or bad character creation is, but rather to present my personal thoughts on what ‘efficient’ character creation is for me, and to present them in a practical way that you can apply to your own story entertainments (RPGs.)

I will be working on the assumption that the goal is to create leads that:

Are dramatic. These will be leads with strong emotional elements that tie them to the world around them, to the past and the things they were and to the future and the things they desire.

Are rich without being unmanageable. The method will have to provide ways to create depth in the leads without being complicated to do so and without taking a long time.

Are efficient. I am looking for a method that will give the players the tools that will allow them to play their lead (or leads) in a confident way. I want these tools to be a roleplaying guide not only for the player and his character, but also for all the players involved in the game.

Hopefully I will be able to achieve these goals to a greater or lesser degree. As with everything else these methods are a permanent work in progress and I sincerely appreciate your input and your presence in this website.