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Cooperative Competitive Gaming
What it even is, and why is it key to these games.

Sooner or later here, there or somewhere else you're likely to hear people OOCly talking about cooperative competition, and maybe you're wondering what it is. This will likely be a long post, but I'm just going to rattle off some examples and let people take it from there with questions comments.

THEORY

Cooperative Competitive gaming can be seen easily enough as a group of people who come together every week and play a competitive board game, ideally one that involves interpersonal dramatics, politics and scheming, of which there are many. Some of these games have very little rules and focus on the storytelling and experience above all else. A game like this would be something like One Night Ultimate Werewolf, or in our world, a M.U.S.H.

Some of these games are simulated war games with tiny men plastic shooty things where your victory is decided by dice rolls and many rules books, supplements and expansions. That's a good example of a MUD.

Others are games where people have to take on roles and work together to complete a common goal, but there are spies, traitors or other such sorts ranging from mischievous to malicious. The GoT tactical board game, SS13, and Sindome are all good examples of this.

Cooperative Competitive Gaming is playing games in ways in which you honestly compete with one another, but also respect that not everyone is amazing at the game, or that they can play as much, or are allied with with more people for -whatever- reason.

It's playing a competitive game with a grace and dignity that is respected, sometimes demanded of people within other parts of the gaming world. It's knowing that if your sole goal is winning in a game about telling stories that ultimately people aren't going to want to play with you, and since people are all the content of the game, you'll have effectively ruined your own gameplay experience by pushing others out of your space to the point there isn't competition any longer.

So what's that mean in Sindome?

Simply put, it means that these games thrive on drama, politics, ambitions, infighting, wars, or even simple market vendor competition. The catch here is, that unlike a MUD, we don't have automated players to compete with or against. And unlike a MUSH, we are not a consent-based conflict game where things are discussed and results are pre-planned, so that the storytelling and roleplaying takes the forefront. We're a game where 100% of the content you'll get from day to day is the result of your fellow players living their simulated lives, and most of it happens regardless of IC consent or awareness of what's going on.

Where this can be a problem is when people have different mental images and rules interpretations of how one goes about working with, or competing against their fellow players. If I think smashing your face in and burning your house down is fair play, but you think that the furthest the conflict should be taken was settling it over a few beers and a card game, then obviously the two players are going to walk away with radically different experiences - and not in a good way.

Enough talking about theory though, let's talk hard examples, within the setting of SD, so it's very clear and easy to understand. For the sake of keystrokes, I'll refer to Cooperative Competitive Gaming as CCG here.

MURDER

Someone does your character dirty in a really big way, such that you feel it warrants them being murdered. This is fine! This is conflict. You kill them, they step out of the vats and you comm them and tell them how they fucked up, and to knock it off or other harsh methods will be taken. Great.

CCG from here would be to give them a bit of space, and then approach them with ways in which to settle the matter between you two so that it doesn't become a cycle or spiral pattern.

CCG would be to hire someone who's roughly on par with the person you want killed so that it's a coin flip as to who wins or loses, or edging it -slightly- in your favor.

NON-CCG would be getting pissed that they spilled the beans and making the decision you're just going to +1 their genetek high-score. NON-CCG would be to determine that the victim who just came out needs to be further punitively damaged via taxes, fines, body parts, etc.

NON-CCG would be the victim suicide blitzing into the person who just killed them to try and unsettle them or shame them for murder.

NON-CCG would be hitting a non-combatant or low UE character with the equivalent of a tactical nuclear warhead when they said your face was ugly, your boyfriend was an asshole, or that your prices or entertainment sucked.

IN THE WORKPLACE

Jane and Bob both work in accounting, they both are eligible to become a senior accountant, but there is only one slot. Oof, looks like we need to have some of that drama sauce injected into our mix.

CCG is both of you fighting and using shady methods to put the other out of the running. Maybe you plant evidence of fraudulent reimbursements from the cantinas expense account in Bob's pocket, then call corpsec on him with a tipoff. Maybe Bob thinks he's going to get the job through legit means and work really hard and run lots of plots to bring success to the department. Or maybe he's going to hire someone to take photos of Jane consorting with mixers and exchanging money and drugs with them for services. All of these are totally OK.

NON-CCG would be for Bob to find out that Jane's player only logs in at a window every day from 12:30-3:30, and hiring someone to make sure she can't leave her apartment or do her job.

NON-CCG is Jane telling Bob it's time for him to retire, and hiring someone to kill him a few times a week until his player gets tired of being vatted and quits their job / the game entirely.

NON-CCG would to be to install someone into the role who you don't have a stake in, just to deny the potential promotion of your peer rival.

IN THE TRADES

CCG here gets complicated, and nuanced, and honestly, in my experience, is as much about personality and approach as it is about the actual meat and bones of what you do, since some, or most of it is coded mechanically.

CCG is two clinics competing with each other, where one clinic has heaps of disposable income among it's staff, and the other one is struggling to make ends meet. They come together and agree that although one could undercut the other to a comical degree for success, that they will fix service prices on a number of things to be roughly on par with one another.

CCG would be clinics working together to pool resources and host an event that'll get lots of money back into their collective pockets - which they compete over.

NON-CCG would be murdering patients of one clinic whenever it drums up business, such that people recognize that it's basically a death trap to get treated there.

NON-CCG would be a cyber surgeon giving away goods and services to people who are either in the know or are their IC BFFs, knowing that there's no GM's online to bust your chops IC for doing it.

Fixing is a doozie, and it's one place where I feel that I don't think players OR staff are on the same page about. But I'll toss out my opinion on the matter having done more than my fair share, and tell you what I found to be good and bad gameplay experiences.

CCG is recognizing that profits are marginal on hard to get goods, so you organize price fixing at a certain percentage rate markup among other fixers.

CCG is finding a niche in the market and filling it in a way that isn't going to preclude others from playing in the sandbox. Maybe you sell guns, but only guns. Maybe you are the lord of perfumes, or the Empress of second-hand art.

NON-CCG is gaming the restock and resupply system so that even if someone wanted to edge in on you, the items simply don't exist outside your grip.

NON-CCG is buying out all six sets of turbo ablative nuclear laser armor and only allowing your chums to use them, or selling them for truly absurd markups (take absurd markup to mean whatever it is in your mind.)

NON-CCG is leasing a business just because you know someone else was wanting to run the place, and then doing the absolute bare minimum to retain the lease without staff yanking it - but otherwise not giving a shit about the business.

RISK EXPOSURE

This is probably one of the biggest ways in which people are anti-competitive with each other, and you might not even be aware you're doing it, because it seems like common sense in most circumstances.

CCG is you and your gang members hanging out in a publicly-accessible place, such as a bar (although this too becomes problematic because of uneven application of NPC force) shooting the breeze and drinking some beers. You're bad guys, you're not afraid of shit, who cares who you flatlined last week, they can deal with it.

CCG is putting out a public presence and doing the things you would normally be doing if you didn't otherwise expect you'd be murdered out of the blue by some random person. Going to work. Visiting friends. Having an IC life.

NON-CCG is locking yourself in a closet until you're sure your enemies are offline.

NON-CCG is radically altering your gameplay times just to avoid RP backlash of something thing you've done.

NON-CCG is making sure you have 5 NPC's or PC's welded to your character at all times to bodyguard you.

SUMMARY

We have covered some literal examples, we have some figurative examples, and we have discussed theory. Put simply, it's playing in a manner that makes it so the person across the terminal connection from you doesn't feel cheated, or that they don't want to play the game any longer after playing with you.

It means taking a L when you could have easily taken a W because the L would lead to a better result for the GAME than it would for YOURSELF.

It means saying GG, WP after your match with the opponent - there's no hard feeling between the players, only the characters.

And yes, at times, it means playing deliberately dumb, doing sub-optimal things, deliberately not min-maxing your character into a combat god that's a cardboard cutout of a fully fleshed out, realistic RP person. Don't play stupid and bad for the sake of playing stupid and bad, that is not the point. CCG doesn't mean be a doormat. The point is that if playing stupid and bad can make 10 people have an absolute blast playing the game for a day, and the cost is a bit of dignity and some money, then perhaps the net result is that the benefits outweigh the costs.

It's a simple matter of recognizing that board state and game health means more than personal status and personal success.

I didn't deliberately pull experiences from this game, or from people I don't like to make them look bad. I'm generally describing anti-competitive behavior from my experiences in Tabletop, Board Gaming, RP boards, and yes, MOO's. We all ^(#$ up and make mistakes and do bad things. If you feel that you're being personally attacked by this post, then chances are, you've done things that some, or most people would consider to be toxic behavior. That's on you, boo, not me. Introspection and talking to the community is your way forward, if you care to fix it.

Please feel free to critique, ask questions, or present NON-IC scenarios and ask for suggestions on how to make it a better experience for everyone involved.