[eDebate] New Resolutional Formats and Playtesting

Kuswa, Kevin kkuswa
Fri Apr 10 11:04:04 CDT 2009


For a quick report, the 92 topic was still focused on the Supreme Court because its decisions were the object of action, but even the passive voice opened up sapce for some great argumetns that year about topical coutnerplans, other agents of action, and how court decisions might be overruled without using the court.  The morgan power and other ways to effect court rulings without using the court (or without exclusively using the court) were great to debate on the aff and the neg.  This is all within governmental action for the most part (even though there were a lot of social movement questions and Hollow Hope took on a number of interesting dimensions because it just came out), but it was still refreshing in many ways and gave fiat debates an edge of topic specificity that we have since lost.  Seniors that year also had a passive topic in '89 with similar contraints about US policy as the object, but also a lot of interesting debate about other agents of action, even other nation-states, on the aff and the neg.  That africa topic was really awesome and shows that you can have good debates without the USFG as the only topical actor.

good post, although the full on "games playing" analogy needs more exploration (and could be inaccurate for some).

From: edebate-bounces at ndtceda.com [edebate-bounces at ndtceda.com] On Behalf Of Michael Antonucci [antonucci23 at gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2009 5:02 AM
To: edebate at ndtceda.com
Subject: [eDebate] New Resolutional Formats and Playtesting

The community can debate endlessly about whether or not a non-USFG agent is a good idea for advocacy, or whether or not it will play well.

I'm pretty agnostic on the question myself, but I do have a fundamental concern.  I don't think that any of the new suggested agent variations have been adequately *playtested* to guarantee that they don't suffer from enormous unseen glitches.

My concern probably reveals something about my philosophy of debate; its articulation undoubtedly reveals that I'm an enormous nerd.

That said, for any other game that I particularly enjoy or value, I'd be really reluctant to sign off on enormous format variations absent some form of playtesting.  For example, I'm really happy to occasionally play a game of "bughouse" chess or play Lexulous (or even Lexiko, haha) instead of Scrabble.  I think it would a tremendous error in judgment, however, to replace the standard USCF rules with bughouse rules for an entire year.  I would have gladly signed off on Lexulous, but it took some play to figure out that eight-letter racks just feel clunky and wrong.  Seven tiles is somehow more natural for anagramming.

When new strategy games are rushed to market without adequate playtesting, they usually flop.  All the brilliant game designing in the world is simply no substitute for putting a group of uber-competitive players in a room (or classroom building) and seeing how it works out.

A single annual topic raises these stakes.  While it might be fun to try a new topic at one tournament, most people feel that it would probably be terrible to grind out a full year on a topic rife with glitches.  Kevin Kuswa's really smart, but he may not have foreseen some "cheat" that will create an enormous and painful aff skew on some of his proposed topics.

The courts topic was, from most accounts, an example of what happens when there's an unforeseen glitch or cheat.  Radically experimenting with topics exponentially raises these risks.

I lack passionate ideological commitments in either direction on this meta-debate.  I think my sentiment's shared, perhaps subconsciously, by a big section of the community, though.  There's a sense that it's just too weird or too risky.  That sense might be wise, not just knee-jerk conservatism.  It doesn't stem from an arrogant conviction that we've determined the best possible debating format, but instead from a humble sense that our argument-predictive tools aren't all that successful.

I'd love to see some fresh new topics, but there would have to be some hard-core playtesting first.

Some pre-empts:

"This has already been playtested!  We had different agents and passive voices before!"

I don't really know what debate was like for the vast majority of those resolutions.  I don't think it's a good analogy, though.  Didn't teams essentially affirm the entire resolution then?  That built-in expectation probably limited the design of tricky, unbeatable affs that affirm on a very small scale.  I also think a number of earlier resolutions had implicit agents. For example, the 91-2 resolution "That one or more United States Supreme Court decisions recognizing a federal Constitutional right to privacy should be overruled."  was probably almost exclusively a Supreme Court topic, because of "overruled."

I'm open to reports on innovation within these passive voice and alternate-agent topics.  Were there innovations or weirdish cases?  How did those debates play out?


I don't know much about worlds, really, although I'm happy to listen.

I have an intuition that teams at Worlds also tend more toward an affirmation of the "whole resolution" as opposed to defense of the most strategically defined individual example of that resolution.  I think that a community theoretical consensus might really restrict the range of aff innovation.

I'm open to correction on this as well.  I want more actual reports, though.  They're a lot more helpful (to my thought process, at least) than more sweeping but less easily resolved debates over political theory.

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