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William Franco
William Franco

Play Dirty

Play Dirty is a 1969 British war film starring Michael Caine,[2] Nigel Davenport, Nigel Green and Harry Andrews. It was director Andre DeToth's last film, based on a screenplay by Melvyn Bragg and Lotte Colin.[3]

Play Dirty

Shane Black (The Nice Guys) adapted the screenplay for Play Dirty with Charles Mondry and Anthony Bagarozzi and is set to direct. Silver will produce alongside Downey Jr. and Downey for Team Downey, and Marc Toberoff, with Ezra Emanuel co-producing. The film reunites Downey Jr., Downey, Black and Silver almost two decades following the release of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, their Warner Bros. cult classic, which was in the same hardboiled vein as as the Parker books.

I could write a chapter about John Wick. He's a strange and interesting guy who doesn't apologize for his controversial political or religious beliefs. His opinions on gaming and game design are just as strange and interesting as he is, and whether or not you agree with his politics, you should definitely familiarize yourself with his role-playing philosophy. Play Dirtyis a good place to start.

More importantly, Deadline confirms Black will not only pen the screenplay adaptation together with Charles Mondry and Anthony Bagarozzi, but he will direct "Play Dirty" as well. To make the "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" reunion sweeter, Joel Silver will also produce the project, alongside Susan Downey for Team Downey and Marc Toberoff.

Britta DeVore is a TV and Movie News contributor for Collider. She has worked writing travel guides, runs her own Instagram travel page, @trektonowhere, and also works in craft beer. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and playing drums with her bands, Kid Midnight and Watergate.

Wick would presumably say that the huff'n'puff is a deliberate stylistic choice meant to embody the same extraordinary emotional dynamics he's describing in his play reports - the dramatic continuity and harrowing immersion that are the ultimate goals of Wick's 'Dirty' GM style (or were, back when he wrote his 'Episode Zero' in the 1990's).

Yeah, sure! It's breezy, the play reports are mostly enjoyable, the personality (voice) on display is annoying in an occasionally entertaining way, and the insights into dramatic structure and player immersion in RPGs are invaluable. As an artifact of RPG history - specifically the 'narrativist' strain that's arguably the biggest idea in RPGs since Chainmail - it's informative and enlightening. And it lays out the foundations of an argument for the aesthetic and experiential value of roleplaying games, aimed at nongamers. That's a hell of a thing, even if it's partly by accident...

That very moment, I was proud. Proud like a papa. Nineteen months of screwing players every way I could. Nineteen months of pushing them beyond the limits of their bodies, their patience, their dignity and their resolve. Nineteen months of giving them pain that no point configuration could protect them from.

This bit of play report is the point of Play Dirty. If you read it and say, 'The GM is a sociopath, the player's a fool. Unfun gaming sucks,' then the book will irritate you. If you can imagine what that moment - 'I'm still here' - felt like, you're at an advantage, and you may well enjoy the book despite its presentation.

Utterly boring and banal, were this the case. In fact the article and (most of the) book are about raising a game's emotional stakes by taking seriously its narrative dimensions and - crucially - matching the real-world player experience to the in-game character experience. Play Dirty links RPGs to theatre, literature, and (in a roundabout way) psychotherapy with its emphasis on emotional progression and reality-testing.

  • Don't let PCs hide behind mechanics.

In other words, stats/mechanics should cut both ways - Advantages should open up dramatic possibilities, not just eliminate problems, and Disadvantages should be fertile roleplaying/storytelling material rather than mere mechanical hindrances to be ignored whenever possible.

  • Drama is not 'about' victory.

This is a big deal, but RPGers often fail to grasp its importance. The best thing about a drama isn't its ending, it's the tortuous dramatic process itself - the evolution of the story and the world. In other words, roleplaying is to dice-rolling as 'To be or not to be' is to the death of Hamlet: the latter ratifies the importance of the former by ending it.

  • Immersion mustn't always be pleasant.

Wick repurposes a hoary Chumbawumba line: 'I get knocked down, but I get up again.' In Play Dirty, this is the very definition of heroism, and Wick's Champions campaign (the basis for the book's play reports) was basically a looooong exercise in celebrating this kind of heroism.

If you've ever written a screenplay, you know that Act Two (of three) is the killer writing challenge. Beginnings and endings are relatively easy, but the mere life (continuance) inbetween is where most scripts run aground. (As Joss Whedon or somebody maybe once put it, Act Three problems are usually Act Two problems in disguise.) Play Dirty is about embracing Act Two: letting the PCs touch bottom so that (barely) coming out on top at the end of Act Three means something.

  • Heroism without protagonism.

If the players think they're the center of the world then they'll never invest in the game, nor will they take risks in their storytelling, performance, and gameplay (which are after all the same thing). This book gives examples of GM techniques that strategically, productively rob the players of their certainty of victory - and allow the players to experience the full spectrum of the zero-to-hero arc. ('Zero-marked-for-greatness to hero' doesn't have the same ring, does it.)

Play Dirty feels like a time capsule, now. World of Darkness players will relate to it instantly; it evokes that strain of RPG mood and practice. D&D types might have a harder time getting into the intensely 'Narrativist' mindset it calls for.

What makes the book challenging and controversial is its secret mission: Wick is trying to sneak story-game emotional spectra into power-fantasy gaming (the stats-driven universe of games like Champions, GURPS, D&D, etc.). A lot of gamers wish to maintain the connection between tabletop 'roleplaying' and its roots in emotionally-shallow, risk-free wargaming - because this enables them to maintain the orderly pseudo-societies that are, for many, the attractive fantasy of RPGs in general. As Robin Laws puts it in one of his 'See Page XX' columns:

I don't think I'm exactly going out on a limb when I say that we are a glorious geek tribe, and that, as a whole, we tend more to certain personality quirks than others. Further, I submit that we contain more than our fair share of people for whom the split between thought and feeling is particularly fraught. Many of us are to one degree or another uncomfortable in standard social situations. The entire roleplaying form can be seen as an alternate mode of socialization in which the boundaries of interaction are mathematically codified - and plus, you get super-powers.

Fact is, a lot of hardcore gamers make their homes near the business end of the autism spectrum, and Wick's 'dirty' play style is all about rupturing the comfortable power fantasies that lure emotionally-closeted players to the table in the first place. His main test case is a Champions game for Christ's sake! No wonder readers were uncomfortable with his Pyramid articles - and no wonder they spent so much energy complaining about surface issues, whether he's playing 'correctly' or 'fairly,' rather that stretching to meet him halfway on his suggestions about possible new natures for tabletop roleplay.

So do sentimentality, posturing, disingenuous 'self-deprecation,' hand-wavy generalization, and a tendency to belabor 'war stories' about good times around the beer bottle. (Maybe they all come from the same place?) Wick does go on about 'death. Final. Permanent. Death' without any readily-discernible sense of the silly irony of talking this way about a superhero roleplaying game; he's so high on his own GMing fumes it's a wonder he doesn't simply float away from his keyboard. He really does say things like this:

After five long years in federal prison, Griff Burkett is a free man. But the disgraced Cowboys quarterback can never return to life as he knew it before he was caught cheating. In a place where football is practically a religion, Griff committed a cardinal sin, and no one is forgiving.Foster Speakman, owner and CEO of SunSouth Airlines, and his wife, Laura, are a golden couple. Successful and wealthy, they lived a charmed life before fate cruelly intervened and denied them the one thing they wanted most -- a child. It's said that money can't buy everything. But it can buy a disgraced football player fresh out of prison and out of prospects.The job Griff agrees to do for the Speakmans demands secrecy. But he soon finds himself once again in the spotlight of suspicion. An unsolved murder comes back to haunt him in the form of his nemesis, Stanley Rodarte, who has made Griff's destruction his life's mission. While safeguarding his new enterprise, Griff must also protect those around him, especially Laura Speakman, from Rodarte's ruthlessness. Griff stands to gain the highest payoff he could ever imagine, but cashing in on it will require him to forfeit his only chance for redemption...and love.Griff is now playing a high-stakes game, and at the final whistle, one player will be dead.

Play Dirty doesn't tell you anything, but shows you everything. A great script and excellent direction propel this violent war-condemning adventure film that expects you to keep up. There's little exposition, long sequences of getting things done, lots of men-on-a-mission stuff without cliche, and all kinds of backstabbing. Great cinematography, this film is as gritty, sandy, and dusty as it gets, playing dirty right up until the very end. 041b061a72




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