Thursday, 19 July 2012

Citizenship Brings Service

Heinlein's Starship Troopers has the line that "service brings citizenship". Having just completed two weeks jury service for the Crown Court, I suggest to my learned readership that citizenship requires service. What was interesting to me about the whole experience was the emphasis that the defendant was innocent until proven guilty by the prosecution, but the important part of the process was deciding beyond reasonable doubt that you were sure, based upon your experience and interpretation of the evidence; not the prosecutors, or defense advocates, but your judgement as a juror.

Needless to say that the retiring debates were interesting, and reminded me of the times I've been witness to debates about game rules when something one player does appears to contradict the rules, or interprets the rules in a way that the other player of the game disagrees with.

Observing the advocates presenting their respective cases I noticed the similarity of approach, the pedantic observation of detail, and way of questioning that suggested that the witness had remembered events wrongly. The judge was interesting because his role was made very clear to us by both sides; he was the law (images of Judge Dredd now racing through everyone of a certain age I guess?).

It strikes me that having an umpire in any game is a bit like having a judge, with the players as advocates, and the game being the process of advancing to one's objectives by following the rules of "law" aka the rules of the game. No wonder players get so het-up about rule perceived rule infractions, it is about the playing a game within the "law" of the game, because generally people want to not break the law/rules, unless they think they can get away with it of course.

And there is the rub of it.

People in general will behave in a lawful fashion until either they become over aroused and angry, or see a chance to gain advantage with no cost to themselves. I think it is a measure of civilisation that people can sit down and largely play games by following the rules. With the caveat that I mentioned.

PS: Totally stoked about the new Starship Troopers animated film that is set for release this August.


  1. Interesting comparison brought by your post. Alas for the real life, in wargaming at least you have a scape route: avoid playing with lawyer-type wargamers whose aim is to play the rules and the period only as backdrop (this motto may be familiar to some here... TFL...). Or look for flexible sets of rules that allow room for interpretation and some civilized discussion among players based on the HISTORICAL facts and not what the paragraphs in the rules-book state. That's what actually hooked me to play TooFatLardies rules systems

    1. You are absolutely right. My interest of the process comes from a more psychological perspective of seeing the same mechanisms writ large in action writ small. It's one of the reasons for running my BattleTech game with a large amount of house rules that eliminate the gaminess from certain aspects the movement system rules.

  2. Somehow, I have never been called for jury service.

    1. Up to now, me too. All I can say is that there is a large amount of tedium from waiting for things to be done.

  3. An important facet about BattleTech that I love is the emphasis on making the Game run smoothly.
    As GM, if I want to flex a rule or create a house rule that helps move the action along, I can. (and I do).

    Jury Service is a pain. But I'd like to point out something: per the directives that defined the role of citizen in the original concept of Republic... members of the British public are not Citizens, they're Subjects.
    So what is the difference?
    Personal Armament.

    Just an FYI. :D
    -Steve Ronin

    1. The difference is that subjects are subject to all the requirements of citizenship, but without the benefits of law that come from being a citizen. >:-)


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