Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1. Define warrant in your own terms. Why does argument work better when
warrants are shared by the arguer and the audience?

Warrants are often unstated beliefs, values, and principles that are part of arguments. Argument works better when warrants are shared because the disagreements of warrants can lead to different interpretations and therefore different outcomes of the argument.

2. Provide an example to support your claim.

People who know me are well aware that I have done a great deal of work in the roleplaying game industry. There are those who are only passingly familiar with this as "Dungeons and Dragons," or that weird game with books, paper and pencil, and miniature heroes and monsters. Someone who is not overly familiar with roleplaying might make the claim that this hobby is not mainstream. One of the supports they might use is that its players are not "normal" people. This taps into the warrants that the game it is commonly played by nerds, geeks and other social outcasts.

The support that these "not normal" people uses the warrant that players are mostly geeks, nerds, and outcasts. That is further broken down into the notion that nerds are socially maladjusted but incredibly intelligent people. A geek is a "peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual". Outcasts can be a catchall that covers everyone else who doesn't act or dress in ways that are consistent with popular culture.

This argument is flawed, however, by the demographics of gamers. While the stereotypical gamer falls into the category of geeks and nerds, the truth of the matter is that most people who play the game are average people. This is backed up by surveys that have been conducted by people within the roleplaying game industry. These studies have shown that the average gamer is likely in college or has a college degree, they are just as likely to be married as the rest of the population, and they hold down ordinary and wide-ranging jobs. The only commonalities between most gamers are a high level of intelligence and a certain enjoyment for works of fantasy and schience fiction. Anecdotally, I am a game designer and a gamer myself, and the people I game with on a regular basis include someone with a degree in communications, a researcher at the vet clinic, and a guy who is very athletic as well as a doctor of genetics. I would further argue that of the four of us, only oneof us fits the classic definition of a geek.

The fact that the warrants are unspoken and not necessarily agreed upon leads to different conclusions among different audiences. The average, non-gaming audience might agree with the stereotype, and therefore agree that the hobby isn't mainstream. Those, like myself, who have inside (and not public) knowledge on sales figures, demographics, and a background of meeting actual gamers at conventions, know that the warrants are simply incorrect. Their characterization of gamers as being outside the norm isn't consistent with the facts because it isn't just nerds, geeks and outsiders playing these games.

1 comment:

Paul Muhlhauser said...

Alright, I like where you are going with this. My reading in your example is that you are directly connecting a warrant to stereotypes. Is this fair? Do you think this limits how warrants operate?

Would warrant be a general term under which a stereotype is a type of?