You’ve gotta do more than one thing. It really helps feed your brain. In my case, I’m a linguistics doctoral student. Right now, I’m taking classes at the LSA 2011 Summer Institute, which happens to be in Boulder this year.

One of the classes I’m taking is about working with endangered languages, and particularly about responsibly and respectfully interacting with the communities that actually speak these languages. One of the professors, B’alam Mateo-Toledo, was talking about his experience working with a Mayan-speaking community in Guatemala.

He was recording speech in a number of contexts, including some ritual and ceremonial ones. He had the full consent of the speakers, with their full understanding of the uses to which the audio would be put. But at a certain point, other people in the community realized that they were not comfortable with the idea of ceremonial speech being archived in a way that would allow anyone outside the community to access it.

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Seems a no-brainer, but it is sometimes hard to remember when you’re designing a game. The players (and by that, I mean “the people playing the game”, not “non-GM participants”) aren’t out to subvert what you do. They’ve bought your game, they’ve bought into the idea of it, they are gathered together to try to play and have fun. They are not trying to use loopholes to make the game not-fun.

I was reminded of this when reading a post over on Vincent Baker’s blog from a bit over a year ago, Reliable vs. Unreliable Currency. The post itself is not really what caught my attention, but rather the comments, Ben Lehman’s especially. He talks about sportsmanship, that magical thing that lets a group of people working towards a common goal (fun, good story), but with competing interests (their characters’ desires), not forget the former for the latter.

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