What happens if you analyse opera like a TTRPG? - Part 3 - What Social Theory Can A Game Opera Have?
This will make very little sense unless you've read the first part (on TTRPGs) here, or the second part (on opera as a social game) here.
I hope that, if I’ve persuaded you of anything in the previous instalments, there are many more options than just ‘Dungeons and Dragons: The Neo-Romantic Opera.’ (Though I would love that show).
Both forms have a dominant product and an interesting independent scene, and assumptions around what participants do that are often unspoken and/or toxic, but breakable.
To use the above to reflect on what Our People’s Song could be:
1. Game rules offer theories of how the in-game world works
Our People’s Song can tell stories about communities very well. It’s what it’s designed for. But it does, currently, impose a binary of ‘ideals’ and ‘issues’ that both help and hinder us, and that may well need to change to allow a more obviously nuanced view of the world.
It emphasises interrelationships between parts of a community, which I am loosely happy with.
The musical rules suggest that particular musical and dramatic themes of the players’ choice will be important. But at the moment, they’re just… rules beyond that. And that needs to change.
2. Game rules offer theories of what stories are interesting to tell
I want there to be more opera that’s actually about a community, rather than about one to three individuals in that community. I’m a firm believer that stories shape how we understand our world, and that individuals are far from the only (or perhaps even the main) force doing so.
Obviously, this game suggests that musical stories are interesting to tell, and possible to do so in a game-form.
I also want there to be opera that’s about the unreal. We’ve had 200 years of stories set in the real world. I’ve now done three operas where the cast were pretty sure there was a telepathic shark involved. That sort of thing is passé in games, of course. More of that, please.
3. Games offer models of social interaction; assumptions about what people need to do that also offer social theories
I want to make a game that centres cooperation between players. That’s the thing that, over lockdown, I’ve enjoyed more than anything; the chance to build a small community for a small time.
I want to make a space where we stop assuming we need a composer-hierarch or similar.
I want to trust that, if you give power to be shared, people will use it wisely to tell beautiful stories.
4. The level of interaction with games and their rules, thus their social theories/assumptions, leads to a degree of internalisation.
I hope that, after reading the above, that’s something you think is alright.
Stay tuned for more.