2/20/2018 15:24

Sending Postcards

I was thinking about starting up sending postcards again. Every day there seems to be less advantage to using the modern up-to-date sort of communications. Everything seems to be about playing games, not the Actual Reality Game but always something else with rules set by some third party.

I've never been much for game playing. When I was a kid I liked to play, but not as much to play a game. I almost always wanted to play "let's pretend" in which the goals, setting, and player interactions are set dynamically by the active players. Other people play football or baseball. The only vaguely recognizable game I can recall enjoying might be termed "ad hoccer": soccer as played by two boys who knew none of the rules except not to use hands.

This is not to say that I am against rules. On the contrary! I am as rule obsessed as anyone I know and far more than most. The difference is that I like to set my own rules for myself, I like my group to set our rules for ourselves, and -- most distinctive, it would appear -- I like rules from other people to be reliable made, reliably obeyed, and reliably retained.

As it ss with postcards. You and I can set any rules we like to govern cards with messages sent between us, but if we rely on the United States Postal Service as a delivery agent we will be forced to follow their rules as well. But the Postal Service's rules are precise, of restricted scope, and stable: The size of the cards is constrained by a wide but precisely defined range. You must apply an official postage stamp in the corner. You must follow a specific format in writing the delivery address. Colors, languages, pictures, encodings, flourishes, or negotiable value are open to the players involved to determine, along with the actual content of all the rest of the postcard.

The modern up-to-date equivalent places the message in the hands of a differnt sort of organization. These organizations set more rules about the messages. They read, analyze, store, and sell the content. They determine the presentation; if they change their minds they can modify the way the message is presented at a later time. Their rules are obtuse and unstable. The rules are not open to negotiation among the players because they are being set in a completely different game, one in which you are not playing. And the most egregious at making rules for the rest of us to follow are among the most popular of the gamemakers.

Perhaps people who don't care as much about rules as I do also don't care that their game is being remade as part of a larger game among other players.