Nov 062013

Slide20Here are the slides for the talk I gave yesterday, entitled “Playing with ‘Game.'”

The talk starts out with some basic semiotic theory — basically, the difference between a thing, the name we give a thing, and what the thing actually means. This serves as an entry point into talking about not only the way the word “game” is incredibly overloaded with different people’s interpretations, but also as a way to start discussing the way games themselves can mean things.

Slide14This leads to exploring the notion of “play” as space — free movement within a system, which is not a new idea at all, ranging from Derrida to Salen & Zimmerman. And then to looking at the two big sorts of play I see: the play of the possibility space of a set of rules, and the possibility space of a set of symbols or signs, which we might be more used to calling the thematic depth of a literary work. Along the way I break down writing techniques, game design techniques, and more, trying to find the ways in which these tools can be applied to games of different intents — which tools work best for a given craftsperson’s purpose?

I was really stuck on this talk. I had it conceptually all worked out, and could ot figure out a good way to convey it at all. My first several drafts were dry and jargony and a mess. And then I saw Daniel Benmergui give a talk at EVA in Argentina about the difference between “sense” and “meaning,” using David Lynch and Braid as examples, and it unlocked everything for me.

So if you want to know why I think a six-word story is like Journey and how Howling Dogs is like Super Mario Brothers, this is the talk for you. And if the above sounds incredibly intimidating and way too much like grad school in literary theory, the good news is that the talk is full of waffles.


  24 Responses to “GDCNext13: Slides for Playing with ‘Game’”

  1. At the beginning, you talk about using symbols to convey meaning between interlocutors, and you state that they can have different senses. So, you may use a symbol in one sense, but I could interpret it in another sense. OK, nothing contraversial there, Of course, you could also mean a symbol in multiple senses, intending them to be understood multiple ways simultaneously (ie. puns). If the pun was unintentional, it could just be an accident, or it could be a Freudian slip.

    Bearing all this in mind, I have to ask why you chose to use a waffle as your example? It seems rather a harsh judgement. Or doesn’t it have the same meaning as a verb in the US as it has in the UK?

  2. That really is a great presentation – only had to look up a couple of words a as well 😀

    One question, and Richard and I have discussed this one before I think on Google+. Early on you say “A ball is a toy. Catch is a game with a ball and the physics ruleset”

    In your opinion, is it the implicit rules of physics that make catch a game, or is it the explicit rules we tend to impose on catch – eg, if you drop it you lose, that makes it a game?

    Thanks again, I will be referring to this for some time!

  3. Richard: it does have the meaning of “being undecided” here … Is that the one you mean? I actually used that to make a point in the talk.

    Andrzej: it is the rules we impose on it. I am calling the “system that can support a game” a thing distinct from “a game we play.” A designed game is generally both.

  4. Thanks Raph. That’s what I hoped. Oh and as for waffle, in the uk it means to talk and talk and talk aimlessly. “To waffle on about a subject”.

  5. I did not know that! Sounds similar to the US sense but no identical.

  6. […] Raph's Website » GDCNext13: Slides for Playing with ‘Game’ […]

  7. @Raph

    Well, that was interesting – but…

    Unfortunately, it’s still missing the ‘bigger picture’ – for a very good reason – and so it suffers from problems.

    I know that’s what the section on semiotics was intended to fulfil, but there’s a very good reason why it was incomplete, and why there are some other problems further on – none of which is your fault, at all, but is all part of the underlying symptoms of the basic problem I’m writing about atm..

    Unfortunately, in regards to this ‘bigger picture’, you’ll have to wait until I’ve finished, though there’s a (good?) chance I’ll end up at Cambridge University (UK) because of it – (I’m writing it all up atm for a friend of a friend who works there (Neil Mercer)) – so it may also depend on what advice they have for me too. In some ways I’m sad it’s taken me this long (over a decade) to finally figure everything out – (as I said, the ‘big picture’) – but I’d much rather be talking to Cambridge than Leeds Metropolitan.

    As to the nature of the ‘bigger picture’, it shouldn’t be too hard to understand:

    ‘On The Functionality And Identity Of Language.’

    (There’s a reason why my blog (now incomplete and inconsistent in its initial posts and foundation up[on which it’s built – hence what I’m writing atm.) is called A Study of Games as a Matter of Linguistics.)

    There is, however, a chance that the problems I see are in fact a symptom of even deeper problems with our perception, recognition, (and maybe description and teaching), of communication in general. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea, currently, of how to even go about finding out if that is in fact true (or not).

    Hopefully someone (maybe Neil himself) at Cambridge can help.


    However, even before then (given it might take a couple more years or so for what I have to be published?) I have to make a couple of points, and hopefully you’ll understand them even without the foundations I’m currently working on:

    1) The primary, root definition of (piece of information represented by) the word game, of which ALL other definitions are related to and derived from – (though some are based on now obsolete (at least it should be for gambling) definitions – (e.g. small animals that were hunted and what we now call gambling)), is not a system/ruleset, or a thing/collection of things, or play. It represents an application of things that happen->event->activity.

    Although we can call collections of things used to enable an activity ‘games’, this is not a problem, in the same manner that we call a kit to assemble a table, a table, even it hasn’t been put together, yet. We would not, and should not, call woodworking/carpentry, any old object with four legs etc. a table, however, all by themselves, since they only have relevance to tables when the object with such a function actually exists or is intended to exist, (whether in tangible or intangible form, it has to be said). Only when the activity itself is being related to does the word game matter and therefore have any relevance.

    One of the reasons we have so many problems with games, is that basic type of thing the word game represents isn’t being recognised and understood, and so they are perceived more by their ingredients (artwork/systems and mechanics/media used etc.) than by the things that happen they are supposed to enable.

    This is especially problematic, because many of the same or similar ingredients can be used to enable different activities. There are three main activities that are often being confused for each other:

    Games, puzzles and competitions.

    And so without making any distinction between such different activities, all of the ingredients, by themselves, cannot exist in a full and consistent context.

    There are two other things that cause problems here, aswell, that are represented by:

    2) Work and play. Both of these care currently causing problems with our understanding of games, and how and why they exist – and your slideshow demonstrates one symptom in particular:

    There is a difference between play (thing that happens (used as a verb)) to mean something we do that is non-productive (and therefore done for enjoyment instead), and play to mean taking part in an activity (game) (which is also a thing that happens). This is why we can play (take part in) a game for work (productive reasons). (See also: music/musical instruments.)

    Of course, the biggest reason why work and play cause problems, is because many people perceive play as being something done (a thing or things that happen) that is/are enjoyable – (which cannot be true based on its use – since then work would never be allowed to be enjoyable at all). But enjoyment is merely why we play, not what play is.

    For these reasons, making a distinction between playing a game, and it being play, (non-productive), is very important, because they are completely unrelated.

  8. I will never understand why people think that distinctions between puzzle, game, and competition aren’t yet clear. That’s probably the single most-hashed over part of games studies ever.

    That said, I suspect that most of the rest of your comment suffers from not havin heard the audio versus just reading the slides. There’s several points you make that are sort of off on a tangent to what I was talking about. Hopefully the GDCVault posts the talk up in the next few weeks.

  9. @Raph

    That’s a fair enough comment about not hearing the audio…


    The reason why games, puzzles and competitions are STILL not fully understood in relation to each other is simple – regardless of any studies that may have taken place, because all the evidence I see, (puzzles and competitions being called games, especially when involving the use of computers), tells me otherwise – because the overall context in which such studies and applications need to be recognised and exist, isn’t recognised, and doesn’t currently exist. (Hence the ‘bigger picture’ I talked about in my previous reply.)

    If you want more specific evidence – take a look at every activity involving gambling… 9 times out of 10 (and even the 10th can be argued about) they can only be described as one particular activity on behalf of the gamblers. Take the same behaviour and make the rewards intangible (loot) and fully non-productive (play) and all of a sudden it’s a different activity. Why?

    These activities are not games, but competitions. But what does the gambling (so-called ‘gaming’ industry) call them? Games. What are they called when changed as above too? Games. And yet the same behaviour when applied in a different way is a competition. And yet compared to fully recognised and understood games – (I always use Snakes And Ladders as a go-to example) – they cannot be the same thing. And yet you say the difference between games and competitions is settled? Don’t make me laugh – especially since we’re talking about serious, tangible effects being caused by an entire industry (and others) who have learned to exploit the confusion between them.

    The fact that even wikipedia calls a lottery a game instead of a competition – and is reporting the overall perception of such an activity I do not doubt at all – is evidence enough that such confusion is widespread.

    And the main problem with puzzles, is that people confuse their application with their definition, (which also impacts their recognised definition(s) too), which is leading to problems when labelling such activities when using computers, too.

    (And as to competition in general, people still don’t fully recognise and understand the presence and role of indirect competition… (Which is why even puzzles are still competitive, for example))


    One other problem I see in the slides, is that too much emphasis is placed on the subjective application of games, rather that what is being applied – I am mainly talking about the use of play, pretty much everywhere. What we call (and/or should call) a game, currently, has ALWAYS existed and been used for productive reasons (i.e. work) – (e.g. for training/selection purposes) – and still are. But that means knowing what we call a game actually happens to be, and recognising it’s presence when and wherever applicable.


    So – lets see how much you truly know and understand.

    Why is a talent competition, called a competition and not a game?

  10. @darren. I don’t know if it is deliberate, but your tone is not just arrogant but rude. Your seeming need to respond to any articles you find mentioning games or play, to push your own agenda is getting tiresome. It is now looking like little more than self promotion. You appear to have no interest in anyone else’s opinion, so why comment?

    If you want to educate us all on your way of thinking, finish the work that you keep talking about and let us all see your big picture. Then, if they choose to, people can comment on it themselves.

    My question is, when it is ready, how will it help to improve games? Is it going to be filled with actionable advice, or will it be a purely academic exercise? Will you be using this understanding of games and play that you so uniquely possess to create new and wonderful experiences for us all to enjoy?

    Until then, please consider your tone and attitude when speaking to other people.

  11. @:Andrej

    I’m sorry if come across as pretty jaded when it comes to ‘respecting’ other opinions when it should be obvious as to how and why they’re inconsistent/inaccurate and/or incomplete – but there’s a difference between respect and acceptance.

    With everything I know and understand now, I also know and understand how and why people’s opinions have become what they are – and therefore WHY they’re inaccurate/inconsistent and/or incomplete. (Considering the basic problem I see that has to be causing everything else has probably, (to be honest, it really must have), ALWAYS existed, (for as long as humanity and language (and maybe even communication) itself), trying to overturn such inherent perceptions and understanding based upon it, will not be easy and will take time to sink in.

    As such, the main reason I even bother to reply to any posts (here and gamasutra for example) is because I want people to understand the nature of the problems we have, so they’ll be in a much better place to understand and accept the problem itself, all of its ramifications and also any of the proposed solutions I have for such a problem/s.

    So, this is why I’m merely trying to get everyone to realise that there is indeed a ‘bigger picture’ that matters for everything else that does, and to, exist within – indeed, there are two of increasing size and importance – language and communication itself.

    To Raph’s credit, he has at least tried to place everything in a bigger context in this slideshow (semiotics). Unfortunately, as I said before, it is incomplete. I just want to him to start thinking about how and why that’s, and can be, the case…

    Unfortunately to then have him tell me that games, puzzles and competitionS, (only the activity represented by competition is applicable to the word competition being a plural, which is why I use it as such), when there is a lot of very obvious evidence proving otherwise, is extremely disappointing, though not entirely unexpected.

  12. Ok. I give up. I have been looking at comments you have written as far back 2011 and they are all the same. Write you paper and then start bashing everyone else. You have an opinion and that is great, but stop forcing it on people until you have all of your evidence for people to see. Then let them form their own opinions on your work.

  13. Darren,

    I think the problem lies in the fact that you are making claims that don’t point at anything specific. It just makes it hard to answer you. To be very literal about the sentences you have written, you are saying

    “There is a bigger picture, I can see it and no one else can, but I am not saying what it is.”

    This doesn’t help anyone — it doesn’t help make your case, and it doesn’t help us understand what you mean. It could even be true! But saying it that way won’t help. 🙂

    I didn’t actually answer your question about games, puzzles, and competitions, so I am unsure what you are referencing when you say “to have him tell me”… the sentence seems to be missing a piece?

    That said, you are definitely using several words in a sense that games studies folks (and most particularly, *I*) wouldn’t. So for example, I don’t think very many ludology folks would use snakes and ladders as an ur-game exemplar. By many (formalist, reductionist) definitions of game, it isn’t one. “Competition” isn’t a formal term in game studies, by and large. There are huge structural differences between gambling (in the sense of things like slot machines) and randomized loot tables… so you’re using the word “gamble” in a layman’s sense, not the formal sense. I could pull out more examples, but the bottom line is that I don’t think I can answer your question because I don’t think “puzzle” means the same thing to the both of us, nor “game,” nor “gambling,” nor (possibly) “competition.”

    In one sense, it really doesn’t matter what Wikipedia or a TV channel’s marketing department calls a competition — they aren’t games scholars. I care only in that common usage is often helpful in elucidating how we approach these concepts linguistically and cognitively. But I am not in the business of policing their language; I am in the business of pinning down some craft terminology.

  14. @Raph

    The basic problem people have is that they’re not approaching the problems we have from an angle consistent with the nature of the problem itself – as a matter of linguistics. Any answer to do with an understanding of games, puzzles or any other similar activity etc. that is not consistent with such an approach will always be inconsistent and cause further problems – this is happening, and has been happening for quite some time, in regards to such things.

    Since we currently have problems with our understanding of language itself, however, even matters that are attempted to be studied in such a manner are not always consistent either. Unfortunately, the main problems caused by our failure to truly understand language, is that how we use a particular language to describe itself is nearly always problematic, and winds up causing further symptoms.

    Unfortunately for game, art, puzzle and competition in particular, the information they are used to represent is even more abstracted from the basic concepts all languages use, including English, and so we currently have no idea how to describe them in the best possible manner – assuming we understand what it is we need to describe in the first place, which is also a problem.

    And since they’re being confused for each other, merely trying to describe them in isolation will not help.

    We’re currently stuck in a negative-feedback-loop, where inconsistent use of the word game, feeds into its study, that is then used to define and describe it, then then causes more inconsistencies in its use… And such is the nature of the problems we have, that this isn’t even recognised and understood to be a problem in the first place… (People see it as just a natural effect of humanity’s innate subjectivity, which, by its very nature, then denies the very existence of language itself.)

    The English language, in particular, has everything we need to describe these words in the manner we need. Not recognising this, and therefore not using the most suitable and consistent labels for the information that is most relevant, is also a problem we have. But as I said, until we understand what it is we need to describe in the first place, how it’s described won’t matter.


    Failing to understand how and why language functions, and understand the labels and information it has, and is used to represent, and therefore not using them in a consistent manner, when, how and wherever applicable, especially when that is what you are involved in, (the study and teaching of the functionality of games etc.), is a PROBLEM. If that is something you’re not interested in, then you are part of the problem itself, and not the solution.

    The only reason we have problems with games, puzzles and competitions (as activities in particular) is because of a failure of linguistics. Unfortunately, it is people such as yourself that help to perpetuate the problems, because they don’t care enough about the language they use when teaching and describing the things they consider to matter.

    If thinking about such matters in terms of language, especially as part of the English language itself, is not something you are willing to do, which given your focus on semiotics in your slides doesn’t seem to be true, then you will never be fully equipped to perceive, recognise and understand the issues at hand in a complete and consistent manner.

    Now, in your defence (and everyone else’s) at this time, no-one (apart from myself) really knows and understands any better, anyway. But that doesn’t mean general improvements cannot be made once people are aware such a problem exists. The problem I have, is that the specific symptoms of the problems we have in relation to games etc., should be so obvious, that to deny the existence of any problems at all, simply shouldn’t happen, especially for people such as yourself. Once people know and recognise there is, in fact, a problem, I can help them focus on the nature of what is happening, and so, again, once I’ve finished writing up what I have, people can see how and why it’s relevant, without me having to spend the rest of my life having to guide everyone through every single minute step to understand how and why everything is being affected. (Though trying to do that, (in an incomplete manner, at an early stage), is what led me to figure out the underlying cause of the problems we have, in the first place.)

    But for people such as yourself, who have obviously already put in some effort to try and figure some things out – (hence the initial focus on semiotics in your slides) – I didn’t think having to spell everything out would be necessary, or even such a good idea, because I’m interested in what sort of insight other people may have, and other realisations they may make, independently of my own.

    Obviously I was wrong. Sorry.


    “I will never understand why people think that distinctions between puzzle, game, and competition aren’t yet clear.”

    Is what you said, and as I said, it’s wrong – they’re not – especially when dealing with competitionS, rather than competition in general, which, to be honest, is only to be expected, since the recognition of competitions in general is seriously limited, because people don’t understand how and why such things are, and must be recognised as, being different to (and incompatible with) games in particular.

    The main problem I have with your last reply, is that you didn’t quite see and understand what I wrote before. I mentioned loot in relation to the activity and behaviour gambling is used as part of, to enable – a competition – not gambling directly. (The nature of gambling means that it’s always (or part of) A competition, and therefore has nothing to do with games directly – (though, of course, indirectly is another matter).

    Now, yes, it has to be said that competition, specifically, isn’t really what matters for games – it’s what it’s an application of – the behaviour of competing, that matters. To not use the word compete in describing games is to fail to use the most suitable word we have to describe one of the basic elements games possess and therefore require. Having to ‘spell’ such functionality out instead of just using the word compete is simply not using the language in the best possible manner. To not recognise and understand that games are a naturally competitive activity, however, would be an extremely fundamental mistake – often caused by not understanding compete and competition in the first place – (hence the problem caused by the presence and role of indirect competition I mentioned before.) (Since life itself is naturally competitive, not recognising and understanding competition/the behaviour/things that happen of competing would be an extremely big problem.)


    As to my use of Snakes and Ladders – it’s for a very good reason. Although Snakes and Ladders is based around an application of one of the basic games, the application itself is slightly more complex, and so I can use it to describe how all the different elements can be combined and are also related to each other – including its medium (a board/and dice in the case of Snakes and Ladders.)

    To deny that Snakes and Ladders is a game, means that what defines it AS a game isn’t recognised – which, again, would be a symptom of the basic problems I’ve been mentioning.

    So what problems do you think they are?

    Well – answer me this – how and why are games, puzzles, competition (and competitions), gambling, and even work and play, related to each other?

  15. Darren. I appreciate that you feel you have discovered something about language that no other human being has ever seen before. Who knows, you might be right. But you need to stop banging on about it in comments and finish this paper you say you have been writing for the last 2 years. Then, get it peer reviewed and published in any journal that matters. At that point, people will be able to judge your work in its full form, devoid of your personality. That way you can legitimately back up everything you say.

    You come across as a very intelligent guy, but you also come across as rude and a little deluded, which does not help your cause at all.

    My question still stands though. When you have finished your paper, what will it add to the world and especially games. Will it enable people to create better and more engaging games or experiences, or is this just a pure academic exercise, or god forbid just a chance to massage your ego?

    Please, finish your paper and then let people judge you if they choose, rather than wasting your time judging everyone else.

  16. Well – answer me this – how and why are games, puzzles, competition (and competitions), gambling, and even work and play, related to each other?

    There is no answer that is not book-length, I suspect. But I’ll try.

    To start with, I AGREE that there are issues with these words. As I am not interested in linguistics per se, but only in using language as a tool, that’s why I am no longer using the word “game” in any technical sense. I’m using nonce terms, like “ludic artifact.”

    In the past, the meaning of game vs puzzle, from a formal sense, has been adequately defined by Costikyan and Crawford among others. The differences between the two center on number of possible solutions, and whether the solution(s) are predetermined. This lines up pretty well with the layman’s use of the term “puzzle,” and also leads nicely into the much more rigorous work done around game grammars and ludology.

    “Competition” versus “competitions” is awkward, and I would be inclined to avoid the word altogether because of the large potential for exactly the confusion we have run into in this thread. Folks like Elias/Gutschera/Garfield have done great elucidation of a variety of competitive structures in books such as “Characteristics of Games.” As several folks studying all this have pointed out, given that mathematical structures are often isomorphic, it is possible to describe most competitions as structures such as “races,” “tugs of war,” etc.

    Snakes and Ladders to my mind (and many others) makes for a poor example because it is nearly entirely driven by chance. I prefer to use Tic-Tac-Toe as a means of elucidating the issues because it offers choice in a more visible way, though of course, it has its own limitations as well. It lacks scope for “content,” which is a very important part of modern game design and which I prefer to put under the rubric of “statistical variation” for the sake of getting at underlying principles. So to use more precise terms, Snakes and Ladders is on the fringe of being a ludic artifact and may not actually be one; I’m happy to call it “a game” in the loose sense.

    I am at this point unsure what you mean by the word “gambling.” For example, you say gambling is always part of a competition. Given my understanding of the word “competition,” my answer would be “the only way that is true is if you define ALL games as including competition.” I in fact do define ludic artifacts as always including a competitive element, but specifically frame it more in terms of “they have an opponent, which may or may not be systemic.” This may be what you mean. Otherwise, I don’t see how you can describe a slot machine as being a competition in the usual sense.

    I just did a whole presentation on “play,” and you just read it. Work is (ironically) a fairly disconnected concept to my mind. I do not view them as in opposition at all, pace Twain.

  17. @Raph.

    Thanks a lot for this reply as it was most informative – as to how much you truly do not know and understand.

    I’m sorry for assuming too much of you in regards to this this particular subject – which is such a common problem I happen to make, that you’d think I would have learned better by now.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to bookmark this and maybe use some of your replies to help demonstrate the current lack of understanding we have, and how and why it’s causing problems, in addition to, and related to any and all actual symptoms I recognise that it’s causing.


    So, lets start again.

    Your problems begin with the lack of overall context within which everything needs to be recognised and understood – which is NOT semiotics, even if it’s involved and part of it.

    It’s language and communication itself, that everything, including semiotics – which only ever exists in relation to either or both – that then needs to be perceived, recognised and understood in relation to, as and when applicable. For this particular subject, it is LANGUAGE that is immediately important, which then involves communication itself.

    The nature of this subject matter therefore ONLY EXISTS, because of language, itself, and therefore cannot be dealt with in isolation from it – which, unfortunately, you are doing, (and are not the only one), since language is currently not fully recognised and understood, so the overall context of such matters is, by its very nature, incomplete and inconsistent.

    What does language tell us that semiotics, by itself, doesn’t?

    How all the pieces of information being represented as part of a single language are RELATED to each other.

    Without basing an understanding of such information upon and within such a context provided by such relationships – which SHOULD be described as part of the basic rules of grammar – no individual piece of information, regardless of its representation, can truly be fully recognised and understood. To try and do so – which is what you (and everyone else) is doing – is to deny the very existence of language itself.

    So, I will ask you again, but more precisely:

    How are the pieces of information represented by the words game, art, puzzle, competition, work and play related – either directly or indirectly? (Hint: I’ve pretty much answered this in one of my replies, although indirectly.)

    For if you cannot answer this question, nothing you perceive can and will ever exist in its true and proper context – because it simply does not, cannot and WILL not exist.

  18. To be blunt here: Your first paragraph guarantees that no one will ever listen to anything you have to say. For someone who talks about language, you are very poor at USING it.

    Making a case — even if you are far more knowledgeable than the interlocutor — never begins with belittling and insulting the other person. It basically closes their mind to everything you might say.

    As it happens, belief in a single discipline as having primacy in understanding •anything• is something that I have an allergic intellectual reaction to, so I ALSO disagree with your argument. Yes, language is important. But this is not the core topic under discussion even in the presentation. The core of the talk lay in a plea NOT to get caught up in term wars.

  19. @Raph

    Unfortunately for you – the only way to have nothing to do with language, is not to use it or even perceive its use, at all.

    And so we have more problems… I hope that you do, at least, understand how and why we’re dealing with specific pieces of information, here, at least? If you don’t recognise that, then we’ll never get anywhere.

    The basic problem we have, which you are demonstrating some basic symptoms of, is that what such information is of, aswell as the pieces of information themselves and their representations, do not, cannot and will not (ever) exist in ISOLATION.

    The overall context of such matters, is therefore very important – to perceive, recognise and understand, describe and teach such information – (that then affects the design and creation of what its of) – as and by their relationship to everything else.

    This is where we currently fail, and is why the overall context described by your slides and replies is incomplete.

    Since language functions by using and describing such relationships, however, this is where the answer to such problems can be found – and should therefore provide the overall context you need to recognise, understand describe and teach everything to, as and by, yourself.


    So, I’ll ask this extremely fundamental question again:

    How are the pieces of information represented by the words game, art, puzzle, competition, work and play related – either directly or indirectly?

  20. Darren, you don’t seem to understand.

    They are related in a myriad of ways. But you have specific ways in your head that you want me to answer with. I am not going to engage in a guessing game. Particularly not when any answer that is not exactly the one you are looking for will be met with condescension and ridicule. It just isn’t productive.

    Telling me — telling anyone! — that they don’t understand “context” when you haven’t given any is useless. Context is an empty word without providing context for it. We swim in context all the time. And it’s never the same for any two people unless through mutual agreement.

    You also keep phrasing this like it’s a test. “I’ll ask this fundamental question and see if you get it.” The part you seem to misunderstand is that you are the one offering up the hypothesis. YOU are the one who needs to pass a test, not me. In this conversation, you are the one whose turn it is to give answers, and it is our turn to judge them, because you are the one making big claims.

    I am not going to bother trying to converse with you if you don’t hold up your end of the discussion. You showed up and said “nice try but you’re wrong. Guess why. If you’re capable of it.” That is a complete failure of discourse. Make an actual point.

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