24 August 2015

A plea for pluralism in science

When I was heavily involved in L5R, there were recurring arguments between players about the “better” way to play the game. Probably the most common was between players who would use whatever cards they thought would win, and players who were also concerned with the story, who often imposed limitations on what cards they would play: using only cards from a certain faction, using no “evil” cards, and so on.

Wizards of the Coast did research on what people enjoyed about role-playing games to feed into their relaunch of Dungeons & Dragons, and came to a similar conclusion: there are a lot of reasons people play a game.

It took me a while, but in L5R, I came to the conclusion that there is no right way to play the game. What gives one player enjoyment may not give another player enjoyment.

And that’s okay. You shouldn’t denigrate people who play a game differently than you do.

Arguments in science sometimes remind me of those gamer discussions. Some accusasions of, “You’re doing it wrong!” are more reflective of the critic’s priorities than a wide view of the multiple ways there are to do science.

We need to be very careful about criticising particular forms of scholarship as “better” than one another.

External links

Breakdown of RPG players (Image source)
Whose problem is the reproducibility crisis anyway?

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