Sequential art

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Monday after work I picked up Angela and we met Tim over at the Krannert Art Museum to see a talk by Scott McCloud.

It was good.

It was in fact, the best use of a powerpointesque (Keynote, actually) presentation I have ever seen. I suppose that shouldn’e be a surprise coming from someone who is a sequential art theorist… but 700ish slides in about 70 minutes? …and it worked? Neat.

I can’t say that I agree with everything he said, but he had some neat ideas. I came away from it thoughtful. Most of my thoughts were art-related, but I also started thinking about whether any of what he said could be applied to rpgs.

One example:

Scott talked about how, in making a comic, you have five choices: choice of moment, choice of frame, choice of image, choice of word, and choice of flow. Pretty much all of these apply to GMing.

Choice of Moment – Where do you pick up and leave the story? Usually, we ignore the minutia of everyday life. We fade in and out and pick out the interesting bits to roleplay. How do we identify them?

Choice of Frame – How much detail to we fill in with respect to the scope of the world around the PCs? Is it just them and whatever they are focusing on – or do we ‘pull back the camera’ and fill in detail about the rest of the world. Each choice has its uses.

Choice of Image – What do we describe to the PCs? Do we just give visual information? Do we describe noises, textures, and scents? How do we describe things – when describing, say, a goblin do we focus on his inhuman visage or the fact that he looks kinda sad? The choice makes for a different reaction.

Choice of Word – How do we relay dialog?

Choice of Flow – How close together are the moments that we choose to roleplay? Is there downtime between sessions? Within sessions? How much?

There are clearly some other choices in rpgs that don’t apply to comics (Choice of Challenge and Choice of Reward, for two obvious examples), but this seems like something worth considering.



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