Random thoughts on sub-categories/tags (again)

Discussion in 'All Things LitRPG' started by Windfall, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I totally agree with this. That's why this whole exercise is a bit... unhealthy :p
     
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  2. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Well, I'd say more impractical. It's interesting though and definitely good food for thought.
     
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  3. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Yyyep, pretty much methinks! :D

    In short: nowadays, games are rigid (by your definition above), except when the Devs apply patches and expansions that introduce changes & balances to the rule. As you point out, even if there are gods in the game, even those gods have to follow the rules (which are literally coded).

    A super-powerful AI could very well apply patches & expansion on the fly; that's in a way what the Old One does in "Awaken Online" as Jason takes over the city, and more or less what we MMO fans dream Blizzard and the like could do (as in, make the world react to player choices in every way).

    From what I've seen, it's a bit of a given that, with sufficiently powerful AIs, games would go from "rigid" (nowadays) to "as fluid as the Devs want it to be". That's, I think, when the question of AIs becomes interesting: to put it in your terms, do Devs and AI agree on what's the optimal fluidity?

    (Part of Awaken Online plot seems to be: the AI does not fully agree with the Devs on that topic, and even the Devs disagree among themselves).

    I'll leave it to you how to code that into a rigid set of labels to apply to LitRPGs subgenres, though!! :p
     
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  4. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    ((Just feel in the need to nitpick and point out that ratings, I mean like movies, are sort of the opposite of tags. Tags, broadly speaking, point us towards what we may like; ratings or "triggers", on the opposite, are more like warnings on what we may prefer to avoid. Other than that, fully agreed that there's such thing as too much of a good thing, tags & sub-sub-subgenres included! =))
     
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  5. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    True, true. I was suggesting them as an idea in addition to tags. To sort of give people an idea of how bloody, violent, or 'adult' the book might be. It was honestly the first thing that popped into my head that "everyone" knows. You can ask pretty much anyone what a G-rated movie is, an R-rated, and they'll at least have a rough idea.

    It's true. Tags are very different from ratings so I wouldn't mind seeing both for people that just want a rough idea of "is this violent and gory? or kid-friendly and safe?" and people who specifically want to avoid certain things that make them uncomfortable.
     
  6. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    **Puts on Devil Advocate's Hat**

    Without knowing much about marketing and stuff (but, hey, it's the Internet, and I can type, and I have an opinion about stuff so why not?? :p) I'd say that it's rare to find a case of somebody willingly labeling their product in a way that less people buy it.

    I mean, if I knew that 100 people love widgets, and only 10 people hated widgets, I may be quite willing to put widgets in my product and label it as "widgets". But if I sort of suspect that the majority of people don't like widgets, and for whatever reason I have them in my product, and, you know... I can somehow avoid labelling it in such a way... why would I?

    Case in point: food has labels because there are very strict laws about it. Same happens with movies in most countries (technically not in the US, since it's sort of voluntary, but not really; check about the MPAA and such).

    In other words: I'd say it won't usually happen that somebody, 100% voluntarily, puts any label or rating on their produce that restricts their audience. On the other hand, tags that make a certain audience more willing to buy it, yeah, that's sort of a no-brainer (even if the execution can be extremely complex, as this thread kind of proves).

    **takes Hat off**

    I confess I have no clue where the healthy balance is, though, since some sort of "you may not actually like this" system seems to serve the need of everybody as consumers; personally, I use tags to find what I like, and read 3-stars reviews in those cases to avoid things that I may not. =)
     
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  7. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    That's very true.

    It's kind of funny what a different animal published works are from fanfictions. I know a lot of people kind of look down their nose at fanfics, but hey, a lot of them have gone on to be really good series. No, not 50 Shades, ugh, but things like the Temeraire series, which is a great one about dragons. Shards of Honor was originally a Star Trek fanfic. I mean, Wicked was of course a fanfiction of the Wizard of Oz. The point though is fanfiction is normally very, very well-tagged. It's a big thing in the community to "properly tag" everything as a courtesy to readers.

    What you said is true though. "Warning labels" don't normally exist on 95% of Published works, indie or otherwise, no matter how dark or unpleasant the subject matter is.
     
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  8. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon LitRPG Author Roleplaying Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I don't think labeling for common "triggers" is restricting an audience - or if it is, that can be a good thing for the author. If I see a book is labeled with "contains X", X being extreme gore, rape, whatever, I'll skip it - but if I buy the book, and come upon it unexpectedly and used poorly, I'll leave a bad review and make sure not to buy anything else from that author.
     
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  9. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    That's a good point as well. I have seen a ton of reviews on various books saying the same thing. "I was expecting this, but got a lot of that and wished I'd been warned". Tags could be both good and bad in that respect. They might chase some people away, but they might warn others in such a way they'd leave better reviews due to being mentally ready for that.
     
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  10. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Again just typing because it's free, but as far as I understand (which is not much), overall that's a good thing for the author.

    Among other things:
    > You buying a copy (even if you hate it) put the book higher on the sales list, which gives the book more visibility (that's also true for videogames; of course you want the best rating possible when you launch a game, but what puts you at the top of the Steam page is sales, and that can make or break a game by the added visibility it gets)
    > I cannot find the link, but apparently many readers choose by total amount of reviews first, and the rating second (this is true on Steam too), under a certain margin. That's to say, a 4-star book with 10,000 reviews is seen more favorably than a 4,5-stars book with 100 reviews (I'm throwing numbers out from thin air, just as an example). Of course if the rating sucks that hurts your sales since people will stay away, but few numbers of total reviews can also serve as a deterrant, even if the rating is excellent.
    > Say the book is in a series. If Book#1 is not tagged, you buy it, and you hate it, you won't buy Book#2. If Book#1 is tagged "Rape", and you don't buy it, you will still not buy Book#2 (regardless how it is tagged, because you didn't read Book#1). In other words: you reading a book and hating it means you won't read more from that author... but you probably won't read that author's next book anyway, if you haven't read the previous.

    Don't get me wrong: I completely understand where you are coming from, and as said above, I absolutely belive some system to warn readers/viewers/consumers is a good thing (and I'd say it's necessary).

    Just saying that, in general, anybody trying to sell something is better off showing the product's strengths, than highlighting the product's weaknesses.

    In a way, genres sort of cover both grounds: if somebody tags a novel as "Harem", it's a signal both for those that like the genre to buy the book, and those that dislike the genre to avoid the book. But unless a tag has appeal to some audience (and that's the audience the book is trying to capture), then I'd say it's rare that somebody volutarily uses it to keep consumers away.

    As noted before though, just my 2 coppers on a topic I'm no expert in! =)
     
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  11. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I'm so happy about the conversations springing up around this!


    Yeah, these are interesting points. I guess the question is do these 'elements' affect enjoyment?

    An extreme example of something that really doesn't matter: I don't think we'll ever see a reader who goes "I don't like this because of the MC's hair color!" But in a way I can understand why someone would love/hate the concept of "rogue AI" -- because maybe it reminds them of their own anxiety about AI becoming sentient.

    I'll give a weird example. I love The Windwaker (Zelda). The sense of open-world freedom is great. You can sail anywhere. When I love something, I go and read reviews from people who don't love it to get a fuller picture of the thing. One reviewer commented "I know it's just me, but the open seas stress me out, because enemies can appear at any time from any direction, and this was why I couldn't enjoy the game at all!" -- and I thought, okay, I can understand and respect that.

    I guess what I'm trying to do is identify "story elements that affect enjoyment" -- I have a theory that things like personality (like the MBTI) might play a bigger role in this than anyone suspects. For example, feelers will definitely like more feel-y stories. Thinkers will enjoy wit and intelligence and have a lower tolerance for 'stupid MCs'. I have a (currently baseless) theory that judgers (like myself) enjoy rigid designs more because they feel solid, and perceivers enjoy systems where characters can create new things (rather than merely 'discovering' existing things). Base-building might be an SJ thing because of its safe, grounded feel (again, this speculation is entirely baseless). FJs tolerate much less 'evil' and enjoy stories where characters learn moral lessons (since rehabilitation is a huge thing they believe in).

    Anyone interested in doing a personality/story preference survey?
     
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  12. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Your Happyness is contagious!

    Readers of this thread get a +10% Forum Enjoyment during today! :D





    I 115% agree it's a fascinating topic, but I'd say in trying to tackle it in depth you'd be picking a fight with some Uber Raid Boss-sized Can of Worms... =)

    I mean, I'm not even sure the hair color example is accurate; I've recently read (negative) reviews about a novel in which the MC is a wanted man, and the reviews pointed out (correctly, in my opinion) that he should have attempted to change his appearance... hair color included.

    (I'm aware you were just giving a general example; not trying to be a nitpicking smartass here!)

    I guess I'm trying to say: it's one of those cases in which the general rule may be too broad ("Don't break immersion"), and the detailed rules both too narrow (any little detail can potentially break immersion, although of course the huge majority of little details won't) and subjective (what breaks immersion for me doesn't break it for you).

    Not to mention, it's a subject that applies to all literature (maybe all narrative forms?), not just LitRPG so yeah... Uber Boss Tin Can indeed, in my humble opinion!


    I'd be willing to bet you are correct (personality plays a big role), but place an even bigger bet that it's affected by other variables we cannot measure.

    For example, personal experience and "knowing how the sausage is made", so to speak. I have a friend who's a surgeon, and for him pretty much every movie that deals with surgery is badly-made comedy, because (according to him) movies get so much stuff wrong you just have to laugh about it (from the way somebody sews a wound, to how they hold a scalpel, etc.) So his enjoyment here is certainly derived from his personality, but mostly from what he knows in real-life (had he studied Law instead of Medicine, he'd be okay with movies that tackle surgery but maybe laugh about legal-focused movies). Of course his personality had a role in which career he followed, but... that's going the too-broad way I think. =)

    Anyway! Just rambling here (and derailing the thread to hell, I'm afraid, but well, it's your thread! =); I guess the point would be "A few tags that signal potential readers that they may like the book is one thing; a general theory of what makes a story engaging is quite a different thing".
     
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  13. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I know exactly how this feels! Every time I see people pretend to play the piano in movies I cringe. There's someone who's knowledgeable about horses who cringe every time the characters change horses around or are riding the 'wrong horses for the period/climate/location' -- and I'm glad I know very little about horses because otherwise I wouldn't be able to enjoy a lot of my beloved 'costume movies'.

    I do have a pet peeve with costumes being 'too new' or... eyeliner and modern makeup in historical movies, but I don't think those really count, since I don't think those alone will be enough to mar my enjoyment of the whole thing.

    Derail away! Once threads are in the public, they belong to the public.
     
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  14. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member LitRPG Author Shop Owner Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Amazon has said it's total number of reviews not the star rating that sells books. I can't think of the guy who said it. Big Star Wars writer.
     
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  15. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member LitRPG Author Shop Owner Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Star Wars: Aftermath — Reviews, News, And Such!
     
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  16. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Okay, because it's titled "random thoughts", I won't make any effort to be coherent. :p

    One thing about recommendations and why people (at least in my experience) make bad recommendations, is because people just recommend things they like, not what they think the person asking will like.

    Personal experience with asking for recommendations.

    (1)
    "I'm looking for something like Avatar: the Last Airbender -- with kiddie fun, upbeat optimism, but with a bit of substance, and a lot of bantering"
    Someone recommended me Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion. While I ended up loving the book, it wasn't anything remotely near what I was looking for at all in spirit, if you know what I mean. Pirates of the Caribbean would have been closer, you know.

    (2)
    "I'm looking for something with an overall oppressive mood, and the characters are struggling against insurmountable odds and may or may not triumph in the end, but the point is that their will is iron and they've got guts and they fight against fate -- like the movie 8-mile, or V for Vendetta, or Eastern Promises, or the Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs"
    I got recommended a lot of Wong Kar Wai movies and Amores perros, which was completely opposite in spirit as what I was looking for. I mean, I can see Wong Kar Wai, but that Mexican film was just downright depressing. I'm looking for 'our situation is depressing but we don't give up'; the characters are empowered. In Amores perros the characters are flawed and weak and it's 'depressing, no buts'. I finally found sort of a similar in spirit in BBC's Being Human. And then that got me thinking: what do these things have in common? An oppressive mood, a tragic bent, a darkish color palette, and some explosive energy cooking underneath. The characters, while 'gray-ish' and flawed are heroes -- someone you can identify with and root for. And there you can see the difference -- Wong Kar Wai has a lot of that in the mood and tone, but it's more moody with no real character drive. In Amores perros, characters are dis-empowered. They are flawed, but they are portrayed as weak, realistic humans, bound to suffer in the cruel grip of fate, rather than dramatic heroes who struggle against odds.

    (3)
    "I'm looking for a space exploration series, preferably slice-of-life, with likeable characters and interesting planets/worlds/parts of the universe, pop-py fun but based on decent science. Like Cowboy Bebop, but science-y rather than bounty-hunter-y"
    I got recommended A Roadside Picnic, which I love, love, love, but I'd say that thing has more in common with The Way of the Shaman with all its communist feel than what I was asking for. [Roadside Picnic would actually also kinda fit (2) -- not a perfect fit, but better than Wong Kar Wai] And then there's this Larry Niven's Neutron Star short story collection, which is brilliant, and I guess has that exploration/sciency feel (mixed with action and other stuff), but, again not what I was after.

    So -- as an experiment -- by spelling these things out this way, do you think you kinda understand what exactly I'm looking for? (Or am I just nuts and this is not how normal people think?)
     
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  17. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member LitRPG Author Shop Owner Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    That's why I think an algo will pick books for people eventually. Book Lamp (Book Genome Project) was a step in the right direction. Whoever figures out book recommendations via algo will be rich. My dad complains about finding new hard sci-fi all the time.
     
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  18. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member LitRPG Author Shop Owner Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Basically, Book Lamp was like Pandora but for books...
     
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  19. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I'm (im)patiently waiting for that to happen! But do it for all fiction, and I'll be in heaven :D
     
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  20. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    And another scale:

    <--- I'm looking to invest emotionally and intellectually --------------------------- I need something light and rather low-involvement --->
     
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