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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: John Kim on August 26, 2004, 02:39:01 PM



Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: John Kim on August 26, 2004, 02:39:01 PM
OK, I want to talk more on Mike's 3D model, which I think is quite good.  To review the basic formulation he made:
Quote from: Mike Holmes
  • CD - Player Challenge goal with Decentralized control (Great Ork Gods - thanks for the example, Sean)
  • CC - Player Challenge goal with Centralized control (D&D)
  • TD - Thematic goal with Decentralized control (Sorcerer)
  • TC - Thematic goal with Centralized control (Pendragon)
  • ID - Immersion goal with Decentralized control (No game that I can think of specifically has this as part of the design - at best, GURPS and such might be played this way without problem)
  • IC - Immersion goal with Centralized control (CoC) [/list:u]
There was debate as to whether "I" should be "Immersion" or "Internal Causality".  There was also an issue with comedy games.  Mike suggested that although it was slightly non-intuitive, comedy properly belonged with "Theme" as a goal.  Also, as a matter of semantics, I hate the two-letter acronyms like "IC" and "TC".  I think it'll be a lot more readable to say "Theme/Centralized" or at least "Theme/Cen".  

I'm not sure what to do with comedy or for that matter genre.  Should we classify a player-directed comedy game as Theme/Decentralized -- which puts it in the same bucket as Sorcerer?  Now, some people consider Soap to be Narrativist, which would be a point towards this.  On the other hand, maybe there should be a fourth goal, which might be called something like "Entertainment".  This would be the goal of having a fun/diverting plot even if it doesn't have a consistent moral theme.  

This also comes up in the question of whether "Immersion" or "Internal Causality" is a goal.  Offhand, I would say that internal causality is a technique, not a goal.  Immersion could be, in the sense of conveying the feel of person, places, or things.  We could also phrase this as  representation, or the vividness of portrayal.  This doesn't require internal cauality.  That still leaves the position of internal causality murky in the scheme (i.e. it is defined as a technique potentially usable for any goal).  I'd be interested in any comments on that.  

An added observation:  it occurs to me that player-directed (aka decentralized) Gamism is in a sense more strategic.  In contrast, GM-directed (aka centralized) Gamism is more tactical -- i.e. the GM presents a specific problem and the players deal with it, then the GM takes control again and brings it to another encounter / tactical challenge.  

As for relation to GNS...

So of these, Immersion/Centralized has generally been considered GNS Simulationism.  Theme/Centralized has also been considered GNS Simulationism.  Theme/Decentralized has generally been labelled GNS Narrativism.  Expanding Mike's earlier diagram:
Code:
             ----Theme-----Immersion---Challenge--
              _____________________________________
              |           |           |           |
Decentralized |  GNS Nar  |   Mixed   |  GNS Gam  |
              |___________|___________|___________|
              |           |           |           |
Centralized   |  GNS Sim  |  GNS Sim  |  GNS Gam  |
              |___________|___________|___________|

Note that I label Immersion/Decentralized as "mixed".  I think that these regularly get classified differently by different people, or more likely just ignored.  The term "Open Sim" has been used, but it seemed like (for example) discussion of my Water-Uphill-World campaign went back and forth regularly between GNS categories.  

Quote from: M. J. Young
I'm not persuaded that the categories you propose really align with the existing categories the way you suggest. As Ralph says, control is not the difference between narrativism and simulationism; it's only symptomatic of the difference historically.

I'm not quite sure what you're saying here.  Are you saying that centralized, GM-controlled Narrativism is possible, just that it hasn't happened historically?  My impression is that it is inherent -- i.e. by definition, you cannot have Narrativism with centralized GM control.  If so, then centrality of control is at least one inherent difference between GNS Sim and GNS Nar.  

Quote from: M. J. Young
  As I understand it, Ron introduced GNS (in about 1998, in System Does Matter then at Gaming Outpost) specifically as his understanding of the distinctions created in Threefold. He changed the name of "Dramatism" to "Narrativism" (because of Tweet's prior use of "Drama" as a resolution method, which might be confusing). GDS seemed to be about what players were doing when they played; GNS in some sense suggested that what they were doing implied something about why they were doing it--that is, there was something they wanted to get from the game that was different from what someone else wanted to get from the game that caused the difference in how they played.  

And here's where I think that Mike's model is getting somewhere.  
  It distills out that someone can be playing for "Theme" which is a common feature -- but distinguishes between Theme/Centralized and Immersion/Centralized.  i.e. Someone who really wants theme in their games I think has a different why than someone who is looking for background.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 26, 2004, 03:10:41 PM
I'm going to quibble on the choice of the term "thematic goal."  

Theme is a murky word and I am guilty of letting it slip in when discussion GNS theory.  However, I am constantly reminded in those discussion that theme is not the goal of play in games such as sorcerer.

To quote myself:

Quote

Theme is not the premise, the value standard or the consequences. Theme emerges from a series of events that address a value standard in various situations and from various perspectives. In an rpg, theme may be produced by a series of events which address premise. I think of it as the byproduct of the real activity.


The real goal of Sorcerer it to _play_ those moments when the confluence of character, setting, situation, and some kind of value standard come together - to make a decision in that confluence that has consequences.  

As theme is in fact a conglomeration of many events, it is not the goal, merely the side effect.

I'd suggest a term like "Value Standard Decision Point," but of course that takes away your pairing of Pendragon and Sorcerer.   Not having played Pendragon, I can't say if the goal it supports best is the illustration of theme or something else.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: John Kim on August 26, 2004, 03:38:31 PM
Quote from: Alan
The real goal of Sorcerer it to _play_ those moments when the confluence of character, setting, situation, and some kind of value standard come together - to make a decision in that confluence that has consequences.  

As theme is in fact a conglomeration of many events, it is not the goal, merely the side effect.

I'd suggest a term like "Value Standard Decision Point," but of course that takes away your pairing of Pendragon and Sorcerer.   Not having played Pendragon, I can't say if the goal it supports best is the illustration of theme or something else.

I agree that "goal" is not a great word for Theme/Immersion/Challenge, but I think the model admirably fits what you're talking about.  In 3D terms, your goal is not Theme, but rather Theme/Decentralized.  i.e. Just one or the other aren't sufficient -- you need to have both.  The advantage of this is that it explicitly distinguishes decentralization / empowerment -- i.e. the desire to _play_ rather than just have happen.  Under GNS, empowerment is an issue for Narrativists, but not for GNS Simulationists or Gamists.  

A tricky part is how to name the individual axes.  If we agree that "Theme/Decentralized" is a goal, then what do we call the individual parts.  I think "area of focus" or something like that might be good.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 26, 2004, 03:45:30 PM
Hm.  How do you mean decentralized?  If we're talking about some kkind of decentralized version of lumpley system, - in the sense that "everyone has some GM power," then I disagree.  Sorcerer (and TROS and Hero Quest) don't require this.  TROS is a good example: it provides the Spiritual Attributes for the player's input, but centralizes much of system with the Seneschal.

So what does decentralized mean?


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: clehrich on August 26, 2004, 06:13:22 PM
I'll go back and read the original thread, which I skipped while away, but out of interest it seems to me that ID does exist.  In fact, I think you (John) and I were both in a game that ran that way: the Immortals thing.  Maybe you could explain that in terms meaningful to the list?  I sure as hell can't.  Also, I haven't read it, but isn't something like Munchausen more or less ID?

Anyway, back to the discussion....


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 26, 2004, 06:55:45 PM
A comment and a question:

Comment: I agree with John on the naming--using short names instead of two-letter abbreviations is an improvement both for us and others.

Question (For Mike, John, anyone). I played a game this weekend that I'm working to place (I had a talk with the GM about the model and dicision making mode).

Does the 3D model define only a goal for one player? Or describe a play-session which may contain elements from multiple players (I would think this is the case)? Here is some analysis of the game I played this weekend (I'll have a write up some time):

1. I was playing with Immersion as a goal. I expected my input to only, ever, be blocked by internal-cause reasons (I expected that if there was to be a "point" of the game and I diverged from it in a situation-consistent way that diverge I would). Would this be Immer/Dec?

2. While the GM ran the game from (to my observation) what was about 80-90% an internal-cause perspective, I know that he constructed the initial situation in a particuarly specific way to embed themes and employed rare but extant dramatic timing or dramatic events in maybe four cases (over about 24 hours of play).

None of these timing cases circumscribed PC actions (one was badguys showing up after we'd completed a task, one was an off-screen death of a PC we'd interacted with--which was notable in that it brought closure to that part of the storyline in a satisfying dramatic way, one was an attack on the PC's location announcing itself by the enemy making a mistake).

Would this be Theme/Dec?

This meant that the play, because of the situation, did have extant themes that unfolded over the course of play (and some very, very tough moral decisions--which were asthetically pleasing to me and brought key enjoyment to the GM)--but they were not sought out as a focus by the players (i.e. we didn't seek those challenges, did not create them, had significant stretches of play where there weren't thematic moral issues in focus--especially in the begining, etc.)

So I would say that my goal was Immersion/Dist, the GM catered to that but had some Theme/Dec goals as well.

I would tentatively put it in Mixed.

Am I reading this right?

-Marco


Title: Re: More on 3D Model
Post by: Tobias on August 27, 2004, 12:11:49 AM
Quote from: John Kim
OK, I want to talk more on Mike's 3D model, which I think is quite good.  To review the basic formulation he made:
Quote from: Mike Holmes
  • ID - Immersion goal with Decentralized control (No game that I can think of specifically has this as part of the design - at best, GURPS and such might be played this way without problem)
  • [/list:u]



Say you're playing a wargame with miniatures with 3 players (3 armies) and no referee. Would that be an ID example - or would the centralized ruleset (the book) cause it to be Immersion/Centralised?

Of course, a wargame isn't neccesarily a RPG...


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Jack Aidley on August 27, 2004, 04:27:18 AM
One thing though: Why is this being refered to as the '3d Model' when it only has two dimension (theme/immersion/challenge and centralised/decentralised)?


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 27, 2004, 06:18:26 AM
I was just reading the original thread.

I think I now accept the idea of centralized vs decentralized play.  I do have a few comments:

1) Just an observation: the power (or influence) distribution scale is a measure of technique.  So unlike Creative Agenda descriptions, which speaks purely about observable player goals, the 3d model pairs player goal with technique.  This will produce it's own limitations, but may well be a useful analytical tool.

2) Associating a particular Creative Agenda with a box on the 3d matrix, must be seen as saying: "This is how the agenda is best supported."  Because, while the techniques used in play affect the rate of satisfaction, they are not required for the existance of an agenda.

3) I still object to the use of the word "theme" being associated with narraivist play.  As I said before, illustrating theme is not the goal of narrativist play, it is an incidental result of a series of premise addressing events, like chaff from threshing.  People are mistaking the value standard, which gives meaning to each decision event, for theme.  These are not the same.

4) I do however, agree that certain simulationist play can have theme as its goal.  It can also have story structure as a goal.  And you're right, these will be in the hands of a GM- centralized power.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 27, 2004, 10:24:52 AM
Quote from: Alan

3) I still object to the use of the word "theme" being associated with narraivist play.  As I said before, illustrating theme is not the goal of narrativist play, it is an incidental result of a series of premise addressing events, like chaff from threshing.  People are mistaking the value standard, which gives meaning to each decision event, for theme.  These are not the same.

4) I do however, agree that certain simulationist play can have theme as its goal.  It can also have story structure as a goal.  And you're right, these will be in the hands of a GM- centralized power.


I'm not sure of the evolution here, but I think that discussion of theme led from a distaste for "story as a goal." (for some very good reasons).

Mike said (and I have a lot of sympathy for this) that Address of Premise boils down, in some sense to emotional involvement of the player plus empowerment over the focus of that emotional involvement (i.e. the ability of choice on an emotional issue).

Whether or not this is literally or definitionally true of Narrativism (can someone "address premise" while exhibiting or feeling no emotional reaction? I would think so.) it's not, IMO, a bad way to encompass the usage. Narrativism is supposed to be games that have significant meaning to the player on an emotional level where the player is has the status of co-author.

That makes me think that there are two very different approaches to Narrativist play in practice (and Vincent and Nathan hit on them in the Author-Actor Stances thread).

In the case of a person who plays in Author Stance and is very cognizant of he statement he or she is making through play then creation of theme sounds like a pretty good description of the goal of play to me.

In the case of a person who plays in Actor Stance then, IMO, creation of theme is a less useful description.

-Marco


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 27, 2004, 10:30:41 AM
Quote from: Marco
Mike said (and I have a lot of sympathy for this) that Address of Premise boils down, in some sense to emotional involvement of the player plus empowerment over the focus of that emotional involvement (i.e. the ability of choice on an emotional issue).


I would agree that addressing a premise boils down to a choice made about something the player feels strongly about.  But such a choice is neither theme nor story.  Again, if one uses the words like story or theme for this, one is mistaking a side product for the events that create it.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: John Kim on August 27, 2004, 10:31:53 AM
Well, I don't claim any authority over what "the 3D model really is", but I'll try to express what makes sense to me.  And I agree that "3D" is a misnomer, but I think it works fine as a label for the moment.  

As I see it, Centralized and Decentralized refers to degree of control over the game's outcomes.  This is a subjective judgement, of course -- and there is vagueness of "control of what".  I would say the question is whether players have control over the focus of the game: i.e. Theme, Challenge, or Immersion.  That is, in Challenge/Decentralized, the players have high control over what sort of challenges they will be facing.  

To Chris Lehrich:
I'm not sure about the immortals game -- meaning our rotating-GM, modified Theatrix game set between 1100 and the present, with PCs Pyutz, Harkel, Odysseus, and Leminkainen.  While we rotated the GM position, each adventure was primarily directed by the GM-of-the-week (in my opinion).  To my mind, this has more in common with Centralized, but it's an interesting issue for the centrality distinction.  

To Marco:
I agree that "mixed" or "hybrid" sounds reasonable for the game as you describe it.  

To Tobias:
Yes, I agree that a wargame with no referee would be Decentralized, though it seems likely to have Challenge as a focus rather than Immersion.  Actually, I think that freeform LARPs (in the Australian sense) are a good example of Immersion/Decentralized.  Here "freeform" means that there is no defined plot and the organizers don't step in to keep things on track.  Rather, things happen spontaneously as a result of player actions.  

To Alan:
Quote from: Alan
3) I still object to the use of the word "theme" being associated with narraivist play.  As I said before, illustrating theme is not the goal of narrativist play, it is an incidental result of a series of premise addressing events, like chaff from threshing.  People are mistaking the value standard, which gives meaning to each decision event, for theme.  These are not the same.

4) I do however, agree that certain simulationist play can have theme as its goal.  It can also have story structure as a goal.  And you're right, these will be in the hands of a GM- centralized power.

I'm not sure how substansive the #3 is.  Is this based on a Forge-specific definition for the term "theme" -- or is it more general?  I'm not familiar with the term "value standard".  It isn't part of Ron's Narrativist essays, at least.  Do you think there are games which focus on things considered "theme", and in which the players are empowered to determine that, but which are not Narrativist?


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 27, 2004, 10:35:20 AM
Quote from: Alan

I would agree that addressing a premise boils down to a choice made about something the player feels strongly about.  But such a choice is neither theme nor story.  Again, if one uses the words like story or theme for this, one is mistaking a side product for the events that create it.


I think the question that determines if that's a good word is based on whether the player sees his or her actions as making a statement. If that is the case, then I don't think the terms theme or story are mistakenly used.

-Marco


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 27, 2004, 10:40:26 AM
Quote from: Marco
Quote from: Alan

I would agree that addressing a premise boils down to a choice made about something the player feels strongly about.  But such a choice is neither theme nor story.  Again, if one uses the words like story or theme for this, one is mistaking a side product for the events that create it.


I think the question that determines if that's a good word is based on whether the player sees his or her actions as making a statement. If that is the case, then I don't think the terms theme or story are mistakenly used.

-Marco


Ah, but my actions may make a statement, but my object is the emotional charge of the act, not the content that results.  The content produces the frisson, but is not the objective of it.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 27, 2004, 10:54:12 AM
Quote from: Alan
Quote from: Marco
Quote from: Alan

I would agree that addressing a premise boils down to a choice made about something the player feels strongly about.  But such a choice is neither theme nor story.  Again, if one uses the words like story or theme for this, one is mistaking a side product for the events that create it.


I think the question that determines if that's a good word is based on whether the player sees his or her actions as making a statement. If that is the case, then I don't think the terms theme or story are mistakenly used.

-Marco


Ah, but my actions may make a statement, but my object is the emotional charge of the act, not the content that results.  The content produces the frisson, but is not the objective of it.


If you read Nathan's Author vs. Actor stance thread on Narrativism, there are two separate things.

1. The player who's objective is to make a statement.
2. The player who's objective is to experience emotional impact.

As I said, I think both fit under the present Narrativist banner (assuming the player has some investment in his statement, yes)--but to say that a guy who goes "Thugar The Barbarian lowers his weapon, refusing to strike, proving, yet again that mercy is stronger than hatred" is not creating theme or isn't answering premise (assuming other relevant conditons are met) seems to me to be ignoring something.

-Marco


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 27, 2004, 10:58:11 AM
Quote from: John Kim


To Alan:
Quote from: Alan
3) I still object to the use of the word "theme" being associated with narraivist play.  As I said before, illustrating theme is not the goal of narrativist play, it is an incidental result of a series of premise addressing events, like chaff from threshing.  People are mistaking the value standard, which gives meaning to each decision event, for theme.  These are not the same.

I'm not sure how substansive the #3 is.  Is this based on a Forge-specific definition for the term "theme" -- or is it more general?  I'm not familiar with the term "value standard".  It isn't part of Ron's Narrativist essays, at least.  Do you think there are games which focus on things considered "theme", and in which the players are empowered to determine that, but which are not Narrativist?



From Ron's glossary:

Quote
Theme

    The point, message, or key emotional conclusion perceived by an audience member, about a fictional series of events. The presence of a theme is the defining feature of Story as opposed to Transcript. ...


This is exactly what I've been saying.  I've just pointed out that this definition means that theme is the result of a series of addressments of premise that have a consistent message - and that the consistency is _not_ the objective of narrativist play.

Value standard is not part of much or Ron's writing, thought I don't think that should invalidate it.  I think of the term as meaning the rule by which something is judge right or wrong.  You'll note that such a rule is not theme.  What makes theme is a series of events where a particular rule (or value standard) is the key source of emotional engagement.  Narrativist premise, in Ron's sense, is the confluence of situation: characters, setting, history; and a value standard.  As Marco observed, Premise doesn't exist without the emotional engagement, that engagement comes from a player's interest and understanding of a value standard.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: ErrathofKosh on August 27, 2004, 10:58:16 AM
Quote from: Alan

Ah, but my actions may make a statement, but my object is the emotional charge of the act, not the content that results.  The content produces the frisson, but is not the objective of it.


So the emotion that is evoked by the statement is your goal?  Interesting...

So, I ask two questions:

What is the goal you seek to attain through conflict?
  Your answer (IMO): To make a statement....
What is your reward for making such a statement?
  Your answer (again, IMO): An emotion evoked by said statement....

I see a parallel to something Marco said over in this post (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=133560#133560).  In Gam play it is defined that Gam players seek social "kudos."  However, both I and Marco have stated that we think there are other motives for seeking to overcome challenges.  SO, in this case, I could see a different motive for Nar play, i.e. emotion evoked by addressing Premise.

Just some thoughts...

Cheers
Jonathan


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 27, 2004, 11:02:16 AM
Quote from: ErrathofKosh

So the emotion that is evoked by the statement is your goal?  Interesting...

So, I ask two questions:

What is the goal you seek to attain through conflict?
  Your answer (IMO): To make a statement....
What is your reward for making such a statement?
  Your answer (again, IMO): An emotion evoked by said statement....


Not quite.  The emotion evoked by the doing is the goal - not the content of the statement.  That feeling is also the the reward.

Conflict (especially when supported by fortune) provides risk, which amps up the emotional charge.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 27, 2004, 11:15:48 AM
Quote from: Alan

Not quite.  The emotion evoked by the doing is the goal - not the content of the statement.  That feeling is also the the reward.

Conflict (especially when supported by fortune) provides risk, which amps up the emotional charge.


I'm not sure that one can separate the goal of feeling the feeling of making the statement from the goal of making the statement itself.

I think there can be different focuses. The writer-guy in the group will be playing with a different mindset than the actor-dude--and, indeed, those may be two very different things (writer-guy keeps inventing NPC's and demands you use 'em, actor guy interacts with the NPC's you set out).

I think the recurring element or consistent aspect of "theme" is a redherring in this discussion. Theme can also be an implicit idea or a "central one."

-Marco


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 27, 2004, 11:44:41 AM
Let me try it a different way:

Theme is created by consistently demonstrating a particular content (an implied value judgement).  ie, we see a particular premise with value standard approached from different angles, each event produces a statement.  Part of each statement is some element which is consistent with a greater message - that message being theme.

Narrativist play does not require any consistency in the content of the statments made.  The goal is to have a chance to make the statement, not to establish one of a number of statements all with a consistent argument toward an pre-envisioned theme.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 27, 2004, 12:04:20 PM
Quote from: Alan
Let me try it a different way:

Theme is created by consistently demonstrating a particular content (an implied value judgement).  ie, we see a particular premise with value standard approached from different angles, each event produces a statement.  Part of each statement is some element which is consistent with a greater message - that message being theme.

Narrativist play does not require any consistency in the content of the statments made.  The goal is to have a chance to make the statement, not to establish one of a number of statements all with a consistent argument toward an pre-envisioned theme.


I understand you can see it that way (correctly, IMO)--but I don't think you have to focus on the consistency. Theme can simply be the "main idea" of a story. If we play a short game and you set up a Premise question, answer it, and we play out the consequences, I think it is correct to say there is Theme (a central or main idea) to the story that has been created.

-Marco


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: ErrathofKosh on August 27, 2004, 12:31:01 PM
Quote from: Alan
Not quite.  The emotion evoked by the doing is the goal - not the content of the statement.  That feeling is also the the reward.


I'm not sure I completely understand.  

If no "statement" was made during some conflict, would there still be a possibility of the evoked emotion?  If so, what evokes it?

If not, I must point out that if the statement is necessary then it is a goal of the conflict, just not the end of the player's goals. (The player is rewarded by the fulfillment of his goals, yes...)




IMO, conflict produces three results:

Victory (or defeat)
A Statement (about almost anything)
Discovery (an implied statement about one of the elements involved)

It is these three results which elicit emotional responses.  Now, I could be misunderstanding which of these three avenues you are taking to gain the emotional response, but I do think you are taking one of them.  

And, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter if you rejoice in the creation of a statement or if you are moved because it spoke to you.  My question still is, "What do you intend the outcome of this conflict to be?"


Title: Re: More on 3D Model
Post by: M. J. Young on August 27, 2004, 08:03:01 PM
I've been called on the carpet; at least I know my sometimes verbose posting is invited on this thread.

Quote from: John Kim
Quote from: M. J. Young
I'm not persuaded that the categories you propose really align with the existing categories the way you suggest. As Ralph says, control is not the difference between narrativism and simulationism; it's only symptomatic of the difference historically.

I'm not quite sure what you're saying here.  Are you saying that centralized, GM-controlled Narrativism is possible, just that it hasn't happened historically?  My impression is that it is inherent -- i.e. by definition, you cannot have Narrativism with centralized GM control.  If so, then centrality of control is at least one inherent difference between GNS Sim and GNS Nar.

That's a good question.

My most basic problem is that I don't see centralized/decentralized as a switch, but as a potentiometer (er--a slide? a dimmer switch, for those who don't know the concept otherwise). Illusionism and participationism are probably one end of the range, freeform the other, and everything else is between the two. Thus the question of whether a particular game is "centralized" or "decentralized" must always include the parameter "relative to what?", and that throws the entire notion of using it as a determinative factor into doubt. The other axis is easy enough; it's a matter of which of these is most important to the player. However, few people would say that they would rather play freeform than participationist, or participationist than freeform, because that isn't really the choice. Most of us are on the range between the two.

Further, arguendo, even if narrativism must be "decentralized theme", that doesn't mean that simulationism can't be so. I don't think it's been demonstrated that you can't have decentralized simulationism (and I suggested this was possible in Applied Theory when it wasn't really at issue). I know that simulationism has generally been highly centralized; but then, this has in large part been (presumably) to prevent gamist creep. If you had a gaming group committed to simulationism, you could do simulationist freeform. In fact, I'd wager that most games of House are exactly that: let's explore what it's like to be grown ups who are married and have a family, you be the daddy, you be the mommy, you be the baby. That's fully decentralized simulationism. It doesn't have theme, but there's no reason it couldn't, that I can see.

That, though, raises what I think is an emerging issue concerning narrativism--the thing that has bothered Ralph for some time, and I think has bothered me, too. In most discussions the assertion is made that the referee is one of the players, acting in a specific role in the game. In discussing address of premise, though, it is not permitted that the referee should have too much control over it, or it is not narrativism. I'm struggling with that myself. If we hit the place where centralization results in illusionism, then no one except the referee has any power to do anything meaningful; but in that case, no one is expressing their creative agendum except the referee, because he is stifling their efforts (in ways that are presumably skillful enough that they don't know it). They aren't really expressing narrativism, or gamism, or (I would say) simulationism. In illusionism, we may watch players struggle to assert a creative agendum, and we may see a creative agendum emerge from the referee's efforts, but the entire process is extremely dysfunctional and difficult to analyze in any meaningful way.

Thus we're pushed back to the problem of centralization not being a switch. Since the amount of centralization is entirely a matter of degree, I think you could play a strongly centralized game that was narrativist, as long as there was still some room for player expression in address of premise. If there's no room for player expression, then player agendum no longer matters, as the players are themselves superfluous to the game--the referee is showing off his design and walking them through it.

If it could be shown that there was some clear incontrovertible line that separated centralized from decentralized play, I'd reconsider; but as it stands, we don't have any way to label any particular example of play as one or the other. We can say that an example of gameplay is more or less centralized than the average game, or than games I prefer, or than some specific benchmark game; but these are all arbitrary points on a relative scale, and not useful for creating categories.

--M. J. Young


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 27, 2004, 09:23:14 PM
Quote from: ErrathofKosh
Quote from: Alan
Not quite.  The emotion evoked by the doing is the goal - not the content of the statement.  That feeling is also the the reward.


If no "statement" was made during some conflict, would there still be a possibility of the evoked emotion?  If so, what evokes it?


A statement is made; my point is that narrativist play aims to participate in the _process_ of addressing premise - the actual statement that was intended, or that results, is secondary.  Ie focus on the "making" part rather than the "statement" part.

Quote from: Marco

I understand you can see it that way (correctly, IMO)--but I don't think you have to focus on the consistency. Theme can simply be the "main idea" of a story.


Well, you could be using a different definition of theme (there are a lot of them).  But if I assume you use "theme" to mean "The point, message, or key emotional conclusion perceived by an audience member, about a fictional series of events," then by definition that process requires some kind of consistency.  

Don't get me wrong, thematic consistency is not antithetical to narrativist play, it just isn't the primary objective.  In fact, a game like Sorcerer sets a consistent value standard with the Humanity mechanics.  This does two things: 1) it generates more opportunities to address premise; and 2) it tends to create a series of events, each making a statment, which taken all together, illustrate a point.  However, I strongly suspect that 1) is Ron's primary design goal for the mechanic; and 2) is secondary.  1) would be acceptable under a narrativist agenda, even if 2) did not occur.  

Narrativist play aims to participate in the _process_ of making a statement - the actual content of the statement is secondary.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: John Kim on August 27, 2004, 10:08:38 PM
Quote from: Alan
Narrativist play aims to participate in the _process_ of making a statement - the actual content of the statement is secondary.

Well, but do you agree that theme/statement is still central to this definition?  i.e. If the goal is the process of making a statement, this hinges on both "process" and "statement".  Now, maybe you consider that the "process" part is more vital, but theme or statement is also part of the definition, correct?  

This all seems to fit with the 3D model category of Theme/Decentralized, where Decentralization implies the empowered creating of Theme.  Now, there are lots of ways we could re-formulate this.  For example, we could call it Decentralized/Theme to emphasize the centrality first.  We might also find a different word instead of Decentralized to emphasize empowerment and process.  But this seems consistent at a broad level with 3D.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 27, 2004, 10:44:03 PM
Quote from: John Kim
Quote from: Alan
Narrativist play aims to participate in the _process_ of making a statement - the actual content of the statement is secondary.

Well, but do you agree that theme/statement is still central to this definition?


No, it is a secondary and incedental result.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 29, 2004, 03:09:12 AM
I've just thought of a good analogy:

Imagine a man directing a cart across a flat, muddy plain, studded with huge boulders.  Each time the cart approaches a boulder the man can choose at least two directions.

Addressing premise is one of those acts of choosing.

Later on another man sees the trail the cart left and thinks he sees a message in the pattern.  That's theme.

The cart driver is primarily interested in his choice.  How his trail turns out is incidental.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 29, 2004, 05:10:15 AM
Quote from: Alan
I've just thought of a good analogy:

Imagine a man directing a cart across a flat, muddy plain, studded with huge boulders.  Each time the cart approaches a boulder the man can choose at least two directions.

Addressing premise is one of those acts of choosing.

Later on another man sees the trail the cart left and thinks he sees a message in the pattern.  That's theme.

The cart driver is primarily interested in his choice.  How his trail turns out is incidental.


It seems to me that the player who is intentionally making a statement with his play is choosing the direction (to use this analogy) to make sure that the tracks go in this direction.

This is the case when a player, in Author Stance addresses Premise, with the intent of making a specific statement with the play of the game as his medium.

-Marco


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Alan on August 29, 2004, 07:46:46 AM
Marco,

I think I've taken this thread off topic.   I'll send you a private message.


Title: Re: More on 3D Model
Post by: John Kim on August 30, 2004, 09:22:43 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young
Quote from: John Kim
  I'm not quite sure what you're saying here.  Are you saying that centralized, GM-controlled Narrativism is possible, just that it hasn't happened historically?  My impression is that it is inherent -- i.e. by definition, you cannot have Narrativism with centralized GM control.  If so, then centrality of control is at least one inherent difference between GNS Sim and GNS Nar.  

That's a good question.

My most basic problem is that I don't see centralized/decentralized as a switch, but as a potentiometer (er--a slide? a dimmer switch, for those who don't know the concept otherwise).  Illusionism and participationism are probably one end of the range, freeform the other, and everything else is between the two.  

I don't see it as a switch, either.  On the other hand, I don't see any of the other style issues as a switch.  They are categories which are broad, and individual games can vary widely within that category -- but at some point a game may cross the line into a different category.  

One option would be to have more categories to cover the spectrum.  i.e. Rather than Centralized/Decentralized, we might have three categories: maybe Centalized / Guided / Decentralized.  Of course, you will still have borderline cases and the problem of how to draw the line.  But I don't think this is

Quote from: M. J. Young
  Further, arguendo, even if narrativism must be "decentralized theme", that doesn't mean that simulationism can't be so. I don't think it's been demonstrated that you can't have decentralized simulationism (and I suggested this was possible in Applied Theory when it wasn't really at issue). I know that simulationism has generally been highly centralized; but then, this has in large part been (presumably) to prevent gamist creep. If you had a gaming group committed to simulationism, you could do simulationist freeform. In fact, I'd wager that most games of House are exactly that: let's explore what it's like to be grown ups who are married and have a family, you be the daddy, you be the mommy, you be the baby. That's fully decentralized simulationism. It doesn't have theme, but there's no reason it couldn't, that I can see.  

OK, this is an interesting case to expand on.  Can you describe more about what such a game would be like?  Perhaps a hypothetical or real example?  By definition it is Theme/Decentralized, but not Narrativists.  So the players are empowered to control how the game goes, and they are focused on creating theme -- but the game is definitely not Narrativist.  Your house example is fine as Immersion/Decentralized, but as you say it doesn't have Theme.  

Quote from: M. J. Young
  That, though, raises what I think is an emerging issue concerning narrativism--the thing that has bothered Ralph for some time, and I think has bothered me, too. In most discussions the assertion is made that the referee is one of the players, acting in a specific role in the game. In discussing address of premise, though, it is not permitted that the referee should have too much control over it, or it is not narrativism. I'm struggling with that myself. If we hit the place where centralization results in illusionism, then no one except the referee has any power to do anything meaningful; but in that case, no one is expressing their creative agendum except the referee, because he is stifling their efforts (in ways that are presumably skillful enough that they don't know it). They aren't really expressing narrativism, or gamism, or (I would say) simulationism. In illusionism, we may watch players struggle to assert a creative agendum, and we may see a creative agendum emerge from the referee's efforts, but the entire process is extremely dysfunctional and difficult to analyze in any meaningful way.

Actually, this is a good point.  I think this is a relation between Mike's 3D model and Ralph's revised-GNS.  The 3D model has three different categories of centralized play.  Ralph (aka Valamir) essentially places all centralized play into a single bucket -- which is considered Creative-Agenda-less play.  However, I suspect that he is also more stringent about what is "centralized".  In other words, it has to be very heavily GM-forced to be CA-less.  

Offhand, I prefer the 3D model.  It seems to me that even within heavily GM-dominated play, there is still a distinction of focus (i.e. Theme, Challenge, or Immersion).


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 30, 2004, 09:34:22 AM
Hello,

M.J., when your "decentralized Simulationist" play does acquire theme through the decisions of the people involved, then it's Narrativist play.

It's also what you like to play most, John, if I'm not mistaken. One of these days, you'll say, "Oh! I guess I like to play Narrativst by the definitions of the Big Model," without perceiving it as a threat to your designation/definition of Simulationist according to the Threefold.

That'll be a nice day.

Best,
Ron


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: M. J. Young on August 31, 2004, 12:07:44 AM
O.K., the creation of theme through decentralized simulationism is problematic. Part of my problem is undoubtedly the use of the word "theme", which hits me (personally) more in its musical than its literary meaning. I can see theme arising incidentally from decentralized simulationism, but if you are pursuing theme it may be impossible to do so without engaging premise, and that would be narrativism.

Still, centralization is not a switch, and no matter how many categories you create there will still be increments between them. Creative agenda remains a switch--you have one of these primary during play, and by definition you can't have two primary. You can have hybrid design which facilitates either of two agenda, and there might be coherence when two agenda coexist in play, but you can't prioritize two agenda simultaneously.

I still have more trouble with the notion that narrativism does not exist outside decentralized play. If narrativism is creation of theme through address of premise, it ought to be so even in participationist play. Centralization of credibility is an independent variable.

Participationism is, of course, the hard case. It is difficult to see how it can be anything, but it is something, and I find it difficult to imagine that it's always the same thing merely because of credibility distribution.

--M. J. Young


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Jack Aidley on August 31, 2004, 03:00:36 AM
Quote from: Alan
1) Just an observation: the power (or influence) distribution scale is a measure of technique.  So unlike Creative Agenda descriptions, which speaks purely about observable player goals, the 3d model pairs player goal with technique.


As I understand it the 3d model is saying that centralised/decentralised is a matter of player goals, not just a technique for acheiving a goal. I think this an accurate representation of reality. For example, on the various D&D boards you can see discussions in which some players strive to define and seek their own goals and challenges and bemoan their GMs over-controlling ways; while others complain that their GMs aren't challenging them, or aren't giving them interesting plots, or whatever.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 31, 2004, 03:15:58 AM
I think my question about the observation of Decentralized Immersionist achieving theme and then declaring them Narrativist is this: what does The Big Model say that's useful about that? (I'm not saying it says nothing--I'd really like to know what, that is valuable, could come out of that categorization)

As someone who also identifies with that mode of play, I think there's a reason I'm skeptical of a lot of the Nar-centered dialog that goes on here that doesn't fit that model.

In a conversation with someone through PM's, I referenced a game I'd run and noted that the thematic questions (Premise and it's answer) weren't extant at the start of the game--they became so during the game and were answered in and around the climax.

I said that in order to bring those questions to the players up front, I'd have had to "start at the end."

He liked that (although he wasn't sure I'd have to 'start at the end') but said that I had to make sure that Premise was "up front and personal" to all the players (presumably all the time) for the play to be Narrativist.

Clearly if someone is playing under a Virtuality-mode that won't necessiarily/reliably be the case. But the idea that "we're doing star trek" so we're throwing out things that aren't star trek doesn't describe this play either (it's a virtuality, you can do whatever you think is apporpriate).

Now, missuse of the terms and ideas of GNS abound so maybe that PM conversation I had was misleading or misunderstood--but it does match many things I've seen unchallenged here in this forum.

-Marco


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 31, 2004, 07:38:48 AM
Hello,

M.J., you wrote,

Quote
I still have more trouble with the notion that narrativism does not exist outside decentralized play. If narrativism is creation of theme through address of premise, it ought to be so even in participationist play.


I'm willing to accept this ... except that we are only talking about words. Where's the example of play? Again, I am seeing a "participationism" in my mind that suits your claim, but I have no idea whether it maps to "participationism" in yours, or in Marco's, or in Mike's (who coined the term), and so on.

So let's turn to concrete play, actual instances, and see if we can get somewhere.

In our game of Fvlminata, I had to exert quite a bit of Force through scene framing in order for a story with a theme even to be possible. Or more accurately, since the system as such provided no means for a player to do this, we centralized this function onto me alone. That's why it became Force.

It was permitted Force. To have it be non-Force consensual scene framing would have been less fun, as the players and I were really putting a lot of emphasis onto "being Roman." For them to get the most out of that, they didn't do well to hop up into the overview, decide what sort of conflicts were going to ensue, and then hop down into their characters' heads.

(This might be termed the "Czege principle" - proposing and resolving one's own conflicts is problematic, or something like that.)

So the players and I basically just turned over the crucial role of where we go next, who gets there in time and who doesn't, and what information gets passed from whom to whom, over to me. As many an illusionist GM knows, mastery over these variables provides enormous personal authority over "how the story goes."

I think we played it Participationist. They knew I was exerting such effective control, and that their role in "theme making" was restricted to the limited sphere of what their characters said and did at the later end of a decision-making process. We had a fine time, even though this particular sort of GMing is tiring to me now (I used to be a master, but ultimately found it unsatisfying).

Did we get theme-stuff? I think so. Not, in my opinion, as effectively (in the artistic sense) as we could have. If it weren't for our aggressive use of the fascinating behavioral mechanics of the game (1st edition), it would have been like me drawing a chalk diagram on the sidewalk, lobbing a beanbag to a player, and instructing them to place it in that particular section of the diagram, and then all of us applauding when he did it.

But we did get the theme-stuff out. Narrativist play. Participationist techniques.

M.J., is that what you're talking about? If so, then I'm amenable. But in the name of all that's coherent, let's stay with concrete instances of play that really happened in order to work it out.

Best,
Ron

P.S. Whoops, editing this in, Marco - your example sounds Narrativist to me. But it's kinda sketchy in your summary, so maybe I'm projecting into it to say so. Can you start a thread about it with specific reference to techniques, interactions, and so on?


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: M. J. Young on August 31, 2004, 12:19:25 PM
Ron, I would agree with that as an example of highly centralized narrativist play. I can't say for certain whether it was "participationist", or whether it would be possible to put more credibility in the hands of the referee, but I think it makes my key point--that you can't distinguish "narrativist address of premise" from "simulationist creation of theme" strictly by centralization of credibility. I think that centralization eventually hits the point at which character players have no meaningful input, at which point no creative agendum can be expressed by the character players (efforts to do so being quashed by the referee). The referee may still be addressing his premise and creating his theme entirely on the fly, telling them the story as he creates it and ignoring their efforts to derail him. This may be narrativist (because theme is arising from address of premise), but it is dysfunctional because the character players are shut out of meaningful participation in the game (which would be true for any agendum).

So I'm going to go with three recognized agenda, one creating theme, one meeting challenge, and one acquiring knowledge, and leave centralization/decentralization of credibility as a range of techniques which can enhance or complicate play in different agenda at different points in the range and in conjunction with other techniques.

--M. J. Young


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 31, 2004, 12:23:59 PM
Hello,

Your dysfunctional image matches my "Typhoid Mary" description in the Narrativism essay.

What I'd really like to emphasize, however, is that pre-created or agreed-upon theme cannot fall into your "creating theme" category. That is something I've been trying to articulate over and over for about seven years now.

The distinction between a process which creates a theme (however hackneyed, doesn't matter) via play and one which is revisiting or confirming an already-established theme via play is immense.

Best,
Ron


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on August 31, 2004, 01:28:27 PM
Hi all,

I'd phrase it this way: in all play, decentralization of credibility is (as M.J. says) an independent variable.  But in Nar play, decentralization of authorship is required.  I think failing to seperate these two things (and they are tricky to seperate - I'm not sure how exactly to express the difference, even though I think I can feel it fairly well) is why people object to the Impossible Thing.  It is possible to author even with greatly constrained credibility - in fact, System Matters tells us that putting some constraints on credibilty can be a very good thing.

There are preferences regarding credibility distribution "styles" that can be very strong - but (IMO) a credibility-preference isn't in itself a CA.  I still think through my playtest of clehrich's  Shadows in the Fog with John (Kim) from time to time, and I've come to realize there was only one really strong conclusion I could draw  from the experience: many in that group don't like a lot of distributed credibility.  CA-wise, neither my GNS-acumen nor the "instance" of play were up to the task of making a meaningful evaluation.

Note that when I say "authorship" and "author" above, I'm referring (as Ron points out) to the address of premise in play.  Story-transcript oriented Sim play might be said to have decentralization of authorship of the transcript, but not of the premise.  Decentralize that, and it's Nar.

Marco's question is an interesting one, which looks like it may get it's own thread.  A few quick responses: it seems to me that knowing whether we're doing Nar-Virtuality (or Dramatism) or Sim-Virtuality(or Dramatism) makes for a great starting point.  I think the three GNS CA's were always intented as [sarcasm] mere [/sarcasm] starting points, and it is entirely appropriate (desperately needed, in fact) to discuss credibility preferences (and many other things) in detail.  Not in that it invalidates or changes GNS CA's in any way, just that it's something else that's really important.

I also have come to realize of late just how . . . unforced (he said, avoiding "unconscious" and thus hopefully the many possible side arguments that can spring from there) authorship (in the address of premise sense) can be.  When you have credibility-distribution mechanics in play, it's easy to "see" the authors at work, but susch things aren't needed.  At all.  As the claim that all three CA's have been around as long as the hobby has would require . . .

Gordon


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: John Kim on August 31, 2004, 10:39:34 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
M.J., when your "decentralized Simulationist" play does acquire theme through the decisions of the people involved, then it's Narrativist play.

It's also what you like to play most, John, if I'm not mistaken. One of these days, you'll say, "Oh! I guess I like to play Narrativst by the definitions of the Big Model," without perceiving it as a threat to your designation/definition of Simulationist according to the Threefold.

That'll be a nice day.

OK, so I'm seeing agreement from you, Ron, that Theme/Decentralized corresponds to Narrativism.  As for that day... what the heck.  "Oh!  I guess I like to play Narrativist by the definitions of the Big Model".  Actually, I'm pretty sure the day is in the past.  I've said before that I thought that my recent RuneQuest campaign would be considered Narrativist (that's the three-year one that used Whimsy Cards).  I've certainly never said that I don't like Narrativism.  

Quote from: Ron Edwards
What I'd really like to emphasize, however, is that pre-created or agreed-upon theme cannot fall into your "creating theme" category. That is something I've been trying to articulate over and over for about seven years now.

The distinction between a process which creates a theme (however hackneyed, doesn't matter) via play and one which is revisiting or confirming an already-established theme via play is immense.

Sigh.  Look, no one is disagreeing tha the difference is immense.  That's why it's such a central and explicit part of the 3D Model.  In 3D Model terms, there is an immense gap between centralized and decentralized.  

What the 3D model does is extend that gap and say that it is important for other games as well.  i.e.  Even if you're not playing for theme, it is important whether you are just accepting an agreed-upon input or creating something dynamically through play.  That is the centrality distinction, and the 3D Model highlights it by making it an axis of play.  

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
I'd phrase it this way: in all play, decentralization of credibility is (as M.J. says) an independent variable.  But in Nar play, decentralization of authorship is required.  I think failing to seperate these two things (and they are tricky to seperate - I'm not sure how exactly to express the difference, even though I think I can feel it fairly well) is why people object to the Impossible Thing.  It is possible to author even with greatly constrained credibility - in fact, System Matters tells us that putting some constraints on credibilty can be a very good thing.

My impression here is that by "decentralization of credibility" you mean things like Director-stance narrating of events.  Is that right?  I agree with this, and I think that the "centrality" axis of the 3D Model should be about centrality of authorship.  You can have decentralized authorship even if there is no such director-stance or otherwise non-traditional rules for credibility distribution.  

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
There are preferences regarding credibility distribution "styles" that can be very strong - but (IMO) a credibility-preference isn't in itself a CA.  I still think through my playtest of clehrich's  Shadows in the Fog with John (Kim) from time to time, and I've come to realize there was only one really strong conclusion I could draw  from the experience: many in that group don't like a lot of distributed credibility.  CA-wise, neither my GNS-acumen nor the "instance" of play were up to the task of making a meaningful evaluation.

I think that's fair enough as an evaluation.  Incidentally, would you be interested in playing "My Life With Master" with some of us?  We already did an introductory session, but I think new minions could join.  

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
Note that when I say "authorship" and "author" above, I'm referring (as Ron points out) to the address of premise in play.  Story-transcript oriented Sim play might be said to have decentralization of authorship of the transcript, but not of the premise.  Decentralize that, and it's Nar.

Urk.  OK, so now we have three grades of centrality.  
- Centrality of transcript authorship
- Centrality of premise authorship
- Centrality of credibility

I would say that in 3D, centrality of authorship is measured relative to focus.  i.e. So if the focus is on Theme, then centrality of authorship is primarily over authorship of Theme.  If the focus is on Challenge, the centrality of authorship is primarily authorship of Challenge (i.e. what is my challenge going to be).  If the focus is on Immersion, then the centrality of authorship is primarily authorship of subjective events -- i.e. transcript.  This means that we're not simultaneously measuring centrality of transcript authorship and centrality of premise authorship, but I think that's OK.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 01, 2004, 07:03:45 AM
Hello,

Are we all agreeing here? Mostly?

Holy shit.

Best,
Ron


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: John Kim on September 01, 2004, 03:22:52 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Are we all agreeing here? Mostly?

Well, Gordon still has disagreements with the 3D model, I think.  But I think I'll start a new thread for that.


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: M. J. Young on September 01, 2004, 06:36:36 PM
Quote from: Ron
What I'd really like to emphasize, however, is that pre-created or agreed-upon theme cannot fall into your "creating theme" category. That is something I've been trying to articulate over and over for about seven years now.

The distinction between a process which creates a theme (however hackneyed, doesn't matter) via play and one which is revisiting or confirming an already-established theme via play is immense.

I agree, but with some degree of caveat.

Let me start with the obvious case on the one extreme. We sit down to play, and I, the referee, say, "We're going to play through Othello with the serial numbers filed off. You'll play Othello, you're Iago, you're Desdemona...[and so forth]. In the end, Othello will kill Desdemona because Iago has driven him into a jealous blindness. Let's do it"--that's simulationist, I'm pretty sure. No one is really addressing premise; we're experiencing it, all of us.

At the other extreme, if I as referee start running the game and as it unfolds I decide that there's a really neat premise I want to address, and I want to bring out my moral for the story, so I systematically vacate all player decisions that would run counter to my story, but I still address the premise and create the theme, that's the Typhoid Mary type of Narrativism--dysfunctional, but narrativist.

The problem is, my players can't really tell the difference between me inventing the story as I go along, me working toward specific outcomes from a rough outline I've got in my head, and me corraling them into a story I've got written up here behind the referee's screen. If the theme is something I have decided to present through the game, but the other players don't know it, we're really in a gray area.

I would say that that gray area is borderline narrativism. It's still the Typhoid Mary referee, because he has addressed the premise and created the theme several steps ahead of where everyone else is at the moment but is revealing his thoughts through play.

If the players know what the theme is, what the moral of the story is going to be, how it's all going to work out in the end, then we've crossed the line out of narrativist play. But I think what's necessary for narrativist play is that at least some of the participants don't know what the theme will be, even if one or more of them are working toward making a specific statement that they plan to make through their contributions.

So I agree that playing to present an agreed-upon theme is not narrativist, but I don't agree that play in which someone is planning to reveal their chosen theme within the shared imagined space during play (but has already decided what they want to say) is not narrativist, as long as the experience for the group is that the theme is not generally known and becomes known through play.

I'm not sure I've worded that entirely well, and I admit it's a gray area so I might be persuaded otherwise, but that's how I see it at the moment.

--M. J. Young


Title: More on 3D Model
Post by: John Kim on September 01, 2004, 07:02:58 PM
Quote from: M. J. Young
 The problem is, my players can't really tell the difference between me inventing the story as I go along, me working toward specific outcomes from a rough outline I've got in my head, and me corraling them into a story I've got written up here behind the referee's screen. If the theme is something I have decided to present through the game, but the other players don't know it, we're really in a gray area.

I would say that that gray area is borderline narrativism. It's still the Typhoid Mary referee, because he has addressed the premise and created the theme several steps ahead of where everyone else is at the moment but is revealing his thoughts through play.  

Well, I'll call a topic check.  The topic is, after all, the 3D Model.  And in the 3D Model, the answer here is clear.  Whether the referee makes the story up ahead of time or improvises, this is still centralized because the referee is monopolizing authorship.  Thus: Theme/Centralized.  Would you agree with that?  

Now, the relation to current GNS is worth considering and valid to bring up, but I don't want this thread to be completely derailed into discussion of non-3D GNS by itself.