And the whole push/pull thing keeps going, most recently in Story-Games' Clear and Concise Actual Play Examples of Push/Pull. Tony is jumping up and down making the arguments that I've always had in a somewhat quieter way, and I've come to the following polyvalent conclusion.
One of the Following is True:
- Push and Pull do not exist as universal phenomena. Which sounds harsh, but by that I mean that perhaps it's just something in how Mo (and others) sees the world. Now, I know Mo, and count her a personal friend. Thing is, there is almost nothing that Mo and I have in common outside of gaming. Oh, and we're both white. But otherwise, just about any descriptor that you could apply to me, the opposite applies to Mo. If I were playing Breaking the Ice, I'd play Mo. Which is all to say that Mo sees the world in ways very differently than I do. Maybe it's just that.
To illustrate, this is how I tell left from right: in my kindergarten classroom, posted above the chalkboard was a right hand and a left hand. To this day, I visualize that chalkboard to tell the difference. (Incidentally, that chalkboard is on the west wall, and I can also usually tell you which way is west by visualizing the wall -- it's kind of bizarre.) In any case, I bet you don't do that. Perhaps Push and Pull is something that Mo uses to understand game interactions like I use the classroom wall to understand left and right.
- I alternate Push and Pull so much that I can't make the distinction. Or perhaps the distinction exists and the reason that I don't see the two as different approaches is that I am utilizing both all the time. I drink water, but I don't think of it as hydrogen and oxygen, I think of it as water. Mo has said that every pull invites a push back, and vice-versa, and I've seen a lot of descriptions that appear to be pushing and pulling at the same time (pullsh!). Perhaps I'm just doing both, and doing both in combination and bouncing back and forth so frequently that I don't see them as separate phenomena.
- I Push so much that I can't even see Pull. In my usual self-depreciating way, this is my lurking suspicion. Perhaps I'm so much a pushy my-way-or-highway kind of guy that I don't even understand the possibility of another way of approaching things. This would be roughly analogous to trying to talk to my grandparents about Communism -- love them as much as I do, they are so embedded in the American Way that they can't see Communism as anything other than the Evil Empire that's going to come make everybody drink vodka. When my wife Laura played Conquer the Horizon for the first time, she employed a lot of crazy strategies that I never even envisioned (and won the game), so maybe it's that -- I can't even see Pull when it's right in front of me.
Mo has promised an article soon that takes a stab at defining Push and Pull in a more definitive manner. I'm looking forward to it, if only so I can pick one of these three and stick with it!