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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: talysman on November 14, 2005, 08:37:09 PM



Title: The Secret of Sim
Post by: talysman on November 14, 2005, 08:37:09 PM
On another forum, someone asked point-blank "what is Simulationism?" because he didn't quite understand it from the essays. This is understandable; although many of us have an idea of what Simulationism *is*, because we've experienced it, we haven't quite found that simple way of explaining it that feels like it fits with the definitions of Gamism and Narrativism. we can't quite seem to agree what "Exploration Squared" really is.

But I've been thinking about Simulationism recently. We know that Gamism and Narrativism are closer to each other than either is to Simulationism, and we know that Sim is *not* simple Exploration; purer forms of Gamism and Narrativism still have Exploration even when Simulationism is removed.

The extra "oomph" that makes Exploration more intense under Simulationism is missing from Gamism and Narrativism. Up to now, we have always tried to define what that extra bit is; but there's another approach: what's *missing* from Simulationism that's present in Gamism and Narrativism? When you read Ron's essays on Gamism and Narrativism, or read Vincent talking about his approach to game design (which, he admits, is mostly of use to Narrativist design,) you keep seeing social issues raised: Gamism is essentially about social esteem within the playgroup, and Narrativism is about sharing "statements" about moral premises through character decisions.

Now, although I like many people have had moments of Gamism or Narrativism in the middle of a game, I consider myself primarily a Simulationist. When Ron or Vincent or others say how roleplaying is all about the social aspect, the relationship of the real people around the table is the most important part of play, I kind of grouse to myself, because if I'm primarily interested in socializing, I have plenty of ways to socialize; roleplaying is not something I (or, I bet, other Sim players) do primarily for socializing, but primariily for something else.

It's about the Fiction.

We've skirted the issue many times. We've wondered what "The Dream" means. We've attempted to define Simulationism as being about some relationship to "The Dream", suggesting "Fidelity" or "Immersion" or other terms. Some people have decided that Sim is primarily about pastiche or fetishism or celebration towards a source material. All of these are not quite right, but they point the way to the real core of Sim: it places The Fiction over The Group, whereas Gamism and Narrativism place The Group over The Fiction.

This is the difference between Exploration and "Exploration Squared". Exploration is building The Fiction as a group; "Exploration Squared" says "decisions must be made in reference to The Fiction, not some priority outside of The Fiction". It's play centered around *things* rather than *people*.

If you reread the essays now, you'll see this definition of Sim is actually buried in there, but Ron can never come out and say it, as if he recoils in horror from what must appear to him to be the anti-social nature of Sim. We can see it also in the occasional disparaging remarks about Sim that surface in discussions with strong Narrativists and Gamists; they say they don't understand Sim or think it's just about wish-fulfillment or fanboyism, but you can see in their statements that on some level, they understand what it's really about.

Now, you can theorize about how the high number of "geeks" in the hobby helped spawn a Creative Agenda that reverses the "people vs. things" priority of the other two agendas; you can theorize about how much wish-fulfillment or fanboyism played a role in creating early Sim approaches. My point is that, once you come to grips with the fact that it's all about reversing that priority, you can see that there are potential forms of Sim that haven't been fully explored. For example, instead of emulating the Color of a specific body of popular fiction, it's possible to create a small set of Setting/Color rules that generate details during play; Exploration then becomes focused on a Fiction that didn't exist prior to play. Since techniques like this could be useful in Gamist and Narrativist designs as well, it seems like a fertile field for thought... but it's probably going to take a Sim designer to really push that boundary; the other agendas have their own boundaries to explore that are far more important to their approach to play.

I have much more to say, but I will need to meditate on this some more.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 15, 2005, 02:56:34 AM
Boy, do I disagree with you. Everyone's after the Fiction. Gamists need it to make strategic and tactical and strategic decisions and Narrativists need it as a medium through which to confront a theme.

If you're generating fiction in order to talk about some aspect of the human experience, however trivial, you're engaged in Narrativist play. Only if that Fiction is for the purpose of re-creation of a static, fictional environment can it be considered Sim.

That is, the creation of original, thematic fiction is Narrativist in nature.

Sez me.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: lumpley on November 15, 2005, 07:17:23 AM
John,

It's been my experience that once a person gets narrativism, it's easy for them to see what simulationism must be. The space it fits into is obvious.

When I first got the CAs (and forgive me for being hippie-dippie here) I experienced it as a sudden upward jerk in my perspective. I was like, OH! They're BIGGER than I was looking! And they all clicked into their proper place in my head.

Overwhelmingly, the people here at the Forge who thrash and flail at simulationism - the people who insist that our understanding of simulationism is flawed, that simulationism is problematic, that there's deep unsettledness here about simulationism - are people who don't get what it means to address premise with their friends. Even if they very clearly do it all the time, which some of them do.

Anyhow, if you want to understand simulationism - not just you, John, everybody - you have to understand all three. It may seem contrary, but if you find yourself struggling with simulationism, I'd recommend that you look to narrativism first.

-Vincent


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: MatrixGamer on November 15, 2005, 07:44:06 AM
I've grappled with narrativist play and think I sort of get it and thus have moved on to simulationist play to see how it fits.

I'll start with an example of a game I played in around 1988 that I think has some simulationist elements and see how it connects with your views.

The game was Call of Cthulhu, set in San Francisco in the 1890's. I was running an upperclass educated man from back East. The other people in the party included a Chinese man, a Native American, and an African American. I mentally put myself in the role of this character. There are a lot of social rules of etiquette (and racism) that go along with this. I wanted to act as the character would act but also to have the world work in a way that it would have at that time. We were on Knob Hill (high class part of SF) my party mates walked right up to the front door and knocked - expecting to be let in - expecting to be treated like human beings. Without thinking I tried to discourage them of this course of action. I suggested they go to the servant's entrance. That was the only place I could see them being let in at. I of course could go to the front door. (See the built in racism of the character? We were equal in the party but not if anyone else was looking.)

I emersed myself in the character and thus was not aware that the world was not working like that. The GM was perfectly okay with letting the Chinese character in the front door. Something I can not imagine happening in 1890's San Francisco.

We never figured out what was going on and it was a convention game so the session ended the game. The players liked my role playing so I "won". At the time I thought - You just don't get it. I was trying to play out a social system that is now really politically incorrect. This could have verged on narrativist play except that my motivation was not to grapple with racism but more to be true to my character.

I seldom go into emersion like this when I play so this game stands out in my mind.

It was about emersion (a word you used). It was about fiction. I was not focused on the group - but more focused on being true to a character. It wasn't about "winning" since it slowed us down and we never found out what the monster was. This then looks like sim play to me.

Am I wrong? Feedback encouraged.

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: lumpley on November 15, 2005, 07:47:42 AM
Being true to a character is a powerful motivation across the CAs.

-Vincent


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Nathan P. on November 15, 2005, 08:56:06 AM
Considering myself as someone who prefers Sim play, this is definitely something that I've been thinking about as well.

Here's the thing - I feel like there's a way in which it's easy to think that "Nar role-playing" is different from "Gam role-playing" is different from "Sim-roleplaying", leading to the (IMO false) divide between the traditional understanding of what role-playing is and "Forge-style" roleplay, or something along those lines. Like, the sense that playing a Nar-supporting game is somehow a different activity than playing any other kind of RPG.

But. ALL role-play lives under the umbrella that includes both social dynamics, and (as you term it) Fiction. It's a social activity - hence, there are social dynamics. It's a social activity in which the paticipants create something fictional - hence, there is fiction. The CA's live under these umbrellas, as I understand them. These are required dynamics for play. No fiction? No roleplay. No social dynamics? No roleplay. I don't think any kind of roleplay (functional roleplay, at least..though maybe even dysfunctional) places one in a consistently dominant role over the other.

Now, does Sim priviledge the Fiction? In some ways, yes. I absolutely think that Exploration on purpose is a key process of Sim play. But, as Josh says, Nar priviledges the elements of the Fiction that enable the players to address Premise. Gam priveldges those elements that enable the players to Step On Up. It's not like there's not Fiction there. I don't think that you're claiming that there's not Fiction in those CAs, but I wanted to point it out just in case.

So, basically, I disagree that there's this fundemental divide that you posit, Group vs. Fiction. I mean, all role-play is basically making stuff up with your friends. [Making stuff up] & [with your friends] are equally weighted.

The basic question - "what is Sim" - remains, I suppose. But in the same sense that the question "What is Narrativism" is still kicking around. The difference, in my mind, is that the Forge's focus has, for one reason or another, centered on Nar-supporting designs, so there's been more actual play and design of those kinds of games. Basically, I think the answer to the question will come out of more design and play of intentionally Sim-supporting games.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Josh Roby on November 15, 2005, 10:07:02 AM
talysman, I'd think the deciding factor on your forumlation would be if Sim play with strangers was just as worthwhile as Sim play with friends -- or a slightly weaker and more complex test, if the difference between Sim play with strangers and Sim play with friends was lesser than the difference between Nar or Gam play with strangers and Nar or Gam play with friends.  Obviously, this isn't strictly quantifiable, but I also don't think it's anywhere near true.  Sim play is more fun with people you know.  The social dimension is just as important in Sim as it is for the others, and the Fiction is not "more important" than the People -- in fact, I think you're comparing apples and oranges in that distinction.

For my money, I'd say that there's actually more than one CA in the big bucket we call Simulationism, which is why there's so much trouble pinning Sim down.  As I'm not too interested in that family of roleplay or in developing the Big Model, however, I'll leave the details of what it "really" is up to others with a stronger connection to the subject matter.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 15, 2005, 10:20:26 AM
Chris, I don't see anything there outside of Nar play. You were addressing a theme. You weren't reproducing just any part of the period; you were reproducing a part that was interesting and clearly problematic.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Jason Lee on November 15, 2005, 10:42:13 AM
Anyhow, if you want to understand simulationism - not just you, John, everybody - you have to understand all three. It may seem contrary, but if you find yourself struggling with simulationism, I'd recommend that you look to narrativism first.

I have to agree with Vincent here, at least as far as looking to Nar to define Sim. 

Simulationism as defined in the essay is in fact the Beeg Horseshoe Theory; you could also say compatible with the Beeg Horseshoe if you prefer omlets instead of hash browns.  The Beeg Horseshoe graphically shows the relationship between how you define Nar and how you define Sim.  How broad the concept of theme is to you (how common moral or ethical dilemmas seem to your perceptions) will define how much of those arms are Sim and how much are Nar.  The same applies to Gam and challenge, but a Nar preference is just overwhelmingly more common among Forge posters so Sim rarely gets hit from that angle.

So, I think your best bet for helping someone understand Sim as written is to use the Beeg Horseshoe.  Just don't mix your definitions of Sim.  The Beeg Horseshoe isn't compatible with the discovery definition of Sim.

If feel the focus on the social aspect of Nar/Gam is a quirk of the model.  I think it comes from the way Ron understands people and doesn't apply well to certain individuals.  John Kim earlier mentioned introvert versus extrovert, but I think if we wanted to classify such things Maslow's hierarchy of needs might serve us better.  Anyway, that doesn't really matter.  Role-playing is a social activity, so there is obviously strong basis for inclusion, even if I feel it is given too much weight.  I don't think discussion of the social feedback is missing from the Sim essay because it is thought to be absent, but because identifying a reward cycle for it is problematic (making discussion of the feedback cycle difficult).  I have no real evidence, that's just my hunch as to why the social aspect of Sim isn't discussed.  I think people would discuss Sim in the same way if they could figure out how.  I really just can't imagine Ron typing "Sim isn't social."

Issues of where the Beeg Horseshoe/Hybrid concepts and hard to find reward cycles place Sim in the model are likely to occur, but those are just flaws that have to be accepted because the definition of Creative Agenda outgrew Sim.

(Cross post with Chris, but I think I'll post anyway.)


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Jason Lee on November 15, 2005, 10:46:08 AM
(Cross post with Chris, but I think I'll post anyway.)

Err... Joshua.  Sorry, misread.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: komradebob on November 15, 2005, 10:46:50 AM
Quote
The basic question - "what is Sim" - remains, I suppose. But in the same sense that the question "What is Narrativism" is still kicking around. The difference, in my mind, is that the Forge's focus has, for one reason or another, centered on Nar-supporting designs, so there's been more actual play and design of those kinds of games. Basically, I think the answer to the question will come out of more design and play of intentionally Sim-supporting games.

May I suggest that some of the failure to "get" sim comes from the aversion to the Sim designs that we've seen commercially?

Those designs tend to have a whole lot of fat that maybe should be trimmed, but tradition has dictated that there are systems and subsystems within commercial/ trad/mainstream Sim designs that have come to be expected. Sim designs tend toward Sacred Cow bloat more than Gam or Narr designs.

Those sorts of Sim designs regularly give a whole tome of rules for doing stuff ( usually physical modelling), but no real direction to play.



Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 15, 2005, 10:48:47 AM
Bob, that's an interesting point. Let's see some functional Sim design from someone who groks it!


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: komradebob on November 15, 2005, 10:53:00 AM
Bob, that's an interesting point. Let's see some functional Sim design from someone who groks it!

Maybe we should convene a "We love Sim" thread?

Actually, all joking aside, it might be useful for Forge participants that identify themselves positively with Sim priorities to set down and hash out the thing. I hate to be all elitist, but "What is Sim" type threads inevitably have posts from folks who say they don't care for that CA and/or games that support that CA. It might be productive to have one for folks that like Sim and which people who don't politely remove themselves until later ( taking a primarily observer role for that thread).


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 15, 2005, 10:55:52 AM
Ah, well, I don't care about the Sim priority except from an academic perspective. I just want to see fewer sucky games. I'm really here just to give support.

I have no idea why someone would want real Sim play and I want some good, positive examples.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: komradebob on November 15, 2005, 11:00:11 AM
Ah, well, I don't care about the Sim priority except from an academic perspective. I just want to see fewer sucky games. I'm really here just to give support.

I have no idea why someone would want real Sim play and I want some good, positive examples.

Okay, then let me reverse the question abit:
Please name five things, possibly with examples ( short) and why you associate them with Sim priorities and why you find them negative. If you can, please tie them to your idea of "real Sim".

I'm not trying to put you personally on the spot, but it could be useful to me.

And yes, I would like to see less sucky games also. I hope a few of them will turn out to be Sim supportive.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: lumpley on November 15, 2005, 11:02:03 AM
"The beeg horseshoe," "trouble pinning sim down"... I'm telling you, that's not really how it is. Sim's well and solidly understood, by many of us, as its own thing and pinned down just fine.

That some people don't understand it doesn't mean that it's not.

(Ron's been saying this for a while now, of course. Like here recently: Re: Question for Vincent (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17299.msg183199#msg183199).)

My very straightforward advice, if you happen to be someone who doesn't understand sim and wants to: stop attending to the idea that sim's not theoretically well-developed here, accept that it's your understanding that's wanting, but apply yourself to understanding narrativism first.

My very straightforward statement, if you happen to be someone who feels that sim is not theoretically well-developed here: in fact, you don't understand the CAs. If you want to, see the previous.

-Vincent


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Jason Lee on November 15, 2005, 11:26:59 AM
"The beeg horseshoe," "trouble pinning sim down"... I'm telling you, that's not really how it is. Sim's well and solidly understood, by many of us, as its own thing and pinned down just fine.

That some people don't understand it doesn't mean that it's not.

(Ron's been saying this for a while now, of course. Like here recently: Re: Question for Vincent.)

My very straightforward advice, if you happen to be someone who doesn't understand sim and wants to: stop attending to the idea that sim's not theoretically well-developed here, accept that it's your understanding that's wanting, but apply yourself to understanding narrativism first.

My very straightforward statement, if you happen to be someone who feels that sim is not theoretically well-developed here: in fact, you don't understand the CAs. If you want to, see the previous.

This is button for me, so you'll have to excuse my tone.  Just because you don't agree with something doesn't mean you don't understand it.  Also, something can be fully understood and still be flawed; understanding involves understanding the flaws as well, not daydreaming about perfection.  And a flawed theory doesn't equate to an under developed theory.  Sim can be fully understood, fully developed, and still flawed.  It's like the Yugo of Creative Agenda.

Also, it would be helpful to know which definition of Sim you are refering to.  I would imagine it is either the dream definition or the discovery definition, but I'm unsure.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: MatrixGamer on November 15, 2005, 11:28:11 AM
Being true to a character is a powerful motivation across the CAs.

-Vincent

I see how in black white thinking if Sim is focused on being "true to character" it might imply that Narrativist games must not be. I don't believe that though. I'd say that players with different creative agendas are true with a different emphasis.

Say a Mormon Palladim blows into town to grapple with moral delimas. The player states their position. others state theirs. The shit hits the fan and they deal with the fall out. True to character is part of stating your beliefs. This addresses premise, making the story happen here and now during the game. Which is my understanding of Narrativism.

Say I'm exactly the same Palladin in the exact same town but this time I've come in to emerce myself in the character and setting. I don't care so much about grappling with a moral delima. True to my character this time could be making my thinking track along with what I think the character would think, empathizing with their emotions and acting out events in a way that was true to that understanding. I might use props (like a costume, Book of Mormon, or having an unloaded revolver on the table) to help put me in the mind set. I might use language that was appropriate to the time and place again for the purpose of putting me in the mind set. Regardless of actually dealing with the problem at hand my success would be feeling the whole bit of being a Dog in the Vinyard.

Meanwhile a Gamist player might view their character as a pawn to be used and expended. Ture to character might mean gaining that characters victory conditions but not involve emersion at all.


Okay - now for the Engle Matrix Game bit - (I'm predictable.) Say I'm running a Mormon Palladin in the Old West. I start the game by making arguments to define what is going on in the town. Half of my arguments don't involve my character at all. The ones that do try to give him a good position to solve the problem. I'm on the one hand creating the premise that I will eventually deal with. On the other I'm setting up my character to defeat it, but I can emerse myself in the world so that as long as it remains true to my vision and I feel it as it happens - my character could die the big death and I could still call it a personal victory because I got the emersion experience. The same person could engage in all three creative agendas at different times in the game. Each time being true to the character in different ways.

Chris, I don't see anything there outside of Nar play. You were addressing a theme. You weren't reproducing just any part of the period; you were reproducing a part that was interesting and clearly problematic.

It could have been Narrativist play but...

If I had set out to engage racism, then the way I played would certainly be Narrativist play. As it happened I was just acting out what I precieved the character would do, without thinking about the moral issue. It was only really after the game that I realized we had gone into that ground. I'm from Kentucky and remember when they desegragated the schools so I don't intentionally go down that road. Engaging color lines isn't fun - it's way too close to home.

So if my intent was to be true to the character and emerse myself in the role, isn't that part of Sim?

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: talysman on November 15, 2005, 11:36:47 AM
I think there are a few misconceptions in this thread about what I'm saying here. before I get to those, however, I'll answer Vincent directly.

I'm not struggling with Sim. I get it. I get Gamism and Narrativism, too. I like them in their lighter forms; I can think of examples of my past play where I'm playing mild Gamist or mild Narrativist, but lots of other times that are heavy Sim.

I think our disagreement comes from my not making clear what it is I'm saying about Premise, partially because I had a much longer article planned and then abandoned that addressed in detail what the similarity between Gamism and Narrativism really means. the short answer is that it's a something that exists in the person addressing the Premise; it's the player taking situations that arise in the game world, comparing them to personal experience and to other stories, and saying "here is what I think" through the actions of a fictional character.

the reason why this is hard to understand is because yes, if you shine a hard light on Sim, you see that *of course* there's a social component and *of course* the fictional events and characters were created by people around the table, again by comparing what has gone on before in The Fiction to their personal experiences and to other stories. but what I'm saying is: the Sim preference is to exalt The Fiction (Character, Setting, Situation and Color) over the needs of the individual.

it might be easier if I sidetracked and talked about two forms of communication we see in everyday life. there is communication between two people about relationships and there is communication mediated by an impersonal topic of conversation, such as a discussion about how a machine works. one form is personal, the other is impersonal; they can sometimes be confused, with a conversation about the weather or government actually carrying a personal subtext, communicated by body language or tone of voice. there are times when people communicate, but not in the same mode; the person expecting a personal connection considers the other person dry, boring, mechanical, while the other person considers the first to be too intense.

what I'm saying is that Gamism and Narrativism are based on the first form of communication, while Simmulationism is based on the second. Simulationism is *depersonalized*.

parts of what I said are not new. I'm really surprised that some people are having trouble accepting the "Sim exalts The Fiction" part, because Ron said it in dfferent words, and Vincent's said it, and so have others. my point -- the new part -- is the rest of the sentence: Sim exalts The Fiction and is antagonistic towards the personal; it attempts to minimalize the interactions within the group, either the "look at me! I'm great!" interactions of Gamism or the "look at me! I have a meaningful moral statement!" interactions of Narrativism. that sounds harsh, but I'm betting lots of hardcore Sim players think of hardcore Gma/Nar players as egotistical. I've certainly seen the disparaging comments flying around that seems to back this up.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: timfire on November 15, 2005, 11:38:53 AM
I completely agree with Vincent. For a while I was one of those who thought Sim was underdeveloped/misunderstood. But after a few key experience of seeing the three CAs in action, I came to the realization that Ron's celebrationism/emulationism (whatever he's calling it) works perfectly fine. I'll also be honest---I think most people who propose definitions of Sim hold a too narrow view of what Sim is.

I know there aren't many, but I know there are a few good, 100% Sim games out there. Metal Opera is the one I've played most recent (which was a while ago). I don't view this of a fault of the Forge, though. Ron has argued for some time that the percentage of *true* Sim-prefering players is actually pretty low. I think he's probably right, and I think that's why we don't see more Sim games.

(I think we also don't see as much Gam as we do Nar because there are other venues for people to scratch that itch.)



Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: John Kim on November 15, 2005, 11:53:24 AM

May I suggest that some of the failure to "get" sim comes from the aversion to the Sim designs that we've seen commercially?

Those designs tend to have a whole lot of fat that maybe should be trimmed, but tradition has dictated that there are systems and subsystems within commercial/ trad/mainstream Sim designs that have come to be expected. Sim designs tend toward Sacred Cow bloat more than Gam or Narr designs.

Actually, it seems to me the opposite.  That is, people like Vincent Baker and Chris Chinn have expressed extreme aversion to traditional commercial RPG designs that are labelled as GNS Sim, but they also support the current definitions -- claiming to "get" Sim.  If we're going to talk on a meta-level about who has problems with the current definitions vs not, does anyone have collections threads or suggestions about which posters we are talking about?  Here are some threads that I see as the recent varying takes on GNS and Simulationism in particular...

The Model as seen by Valamir (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=12181)
What GNS Is About (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=12404)
Referee/Player Sim/Nar Clash (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=12586.0)
Sim is Bricolage and makes myth - comments? (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=13909)

I guess there's also Joshua BishopRoby's Leaving the Big Model and GNS (http://ludisto.blogspot.com/2005/08/leaving-big-model-and-gns.html).  I know that M.J. has had theories about GNS Sim as "wanting the increase in knowledge from discovery" -- but I don't have a thread reference specifically on that topic.  As Valamir comments in his take on "The Model" --

Simulationism has long been a problematic agenda to understand.  In my effort to more clearly define it I have elected to replace the Right to Dream with Discovery, not as an additional term, but because I think Discovery more accurately relates to what Simulationism is about.  In my opinion, the Right to Dream is what all of role playing is about and is thus more accurately applied to Exploration than to Simulationism.  Dreaming is a rather passive endeavor.  But Discovery requires decisive action and focus and is more appropriately on par with the other two agendas.

To my mind, this is the basic problem with definitional debates.  That is, there's nothing wrong with a category of gaming which is about pursuing increase in knowlege (as M.J. suggests); or a category about bricolage (as Jay suggests); or about pursuing discovery (as Ralph suggests); or about celebration (as Ron suggests most recently).  However, these are overloading a single term.  


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: talysman on November 15, 2005, 12:11:41 PM
I would like to add that I hope the above addition answers some of the specific questions raised by Nathan, Joshua, and others. I'm not saying there's no social component to Sim, that there is no Group; I'm saying that Sim prioritizes The Fiction over The Group. perhaps, in some cases, pretending there is no Group, that the individual concerns of the people around the table don't really matter even when they do.

Joshua: I don't think the deciding factor is going to be whether playing Sim with strangers is closer to playing Sim with friends than playing Nar/Gam with strangers is to playing Nar/Gam with friends. for a couple reasons: first, because I'm not saying group dynamics and personal feelings have nothing to do with anything; I'm saying Sim disparages certain kinds of social interactions that Gam/Nar prefer. second, it's possible to make friends with strangers through roleplaying, with any agenda, which makes judging these things tricky. third, I have the sneaking suspicion that Nar/Gam with strangers works *better* than Sim with strangers.

the deciding factor, to me, is whether people who prefer impersonal communication over personal communication outside of roleplaying will prefer Sim or Gam/Nar. for an example, high-end autistics are known for getting more excited about things than about people, since they don't pick up on interpersonal cues; so, which Creative Agenda attracts the most high-end autistics?

I think Bob's suggestion about the lack of quality Sim design is dead on. I also think that, yes, part of the problem is that most of the discussion about Sim has been initiated or directed by people who fundamentally don't like Sim. I like Sim, but I'm pointing out what just might be the deep reason for the hatred people feel for Sim, as well as the antagonism Sim-only players feel towards Gam/Nar. I feel I've got a good grasp on the definitions of all three agendas, but I've been disappointed with the discussion of Sim because of the anti-Sim taint. even in Ron's essay on Sim, it's clear that Ron doesn't quite like it except as support for Nar/Gam and thinks there's something a little broken about people who play only Sim. Vincent's had some pretty harsh opinions of Sim, too. reading comments about Sim from people who prefer Nar/Gam means weeding out the hostile opinions from the true insights. and, to spread the blame around a little, it doesn't help the discussion that some Sim people react defensively towards this latent hostility, even to the point of defending their specific playstyle from other Sim people.

we need to look at Sim a little more clearly. and, as I suggested, there's a whole potential area of Sim that hasn't been fully explored: mechanical techniques to generate Setting and Color during play, from a minimal set of rules. Sim mechanical generation of Setting and Color has been limited to clunky random tables that are mostly used for GM prep, since use during play slows things down a bit, although there's always that one random table or two a GM will toss in. on-the-fly Setting/Color generation has usually been freeform and nonmechanical. I think this sharp distinction has caused some mistaken opinions about mechanics vs. freeform, but we can only be certain by exploring this.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Jason Lee on November 15, 2005, 12:12:38 PM
I know that M.J. has had theories about GNS Sim as "wanting the increase in knowledge from discovery" -- but I don't have a thread reference specifically on that topic.

As I recall, the original thread is: Understanding: the "it" of Simulationism (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=9715.0).  It's a bit old now, but probably still reasonable valid.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: lumpley on November 15, 2005, 12:29:21 PM
John L: Oh! Oh, I see.

Yes. If you mean by "exalting the fiction" basically the same thing that Ron means by "celebrating the input," then yeah, right on.

...as I suggested, there's a whole potential area of Sim that hasn't been fully explored: mechanical techniques to generate Setting and Color during play, from a minimal set of rules.

I for one consider that a whole potential area of game design. If you develop along those lines for a sim game, expect your work to inspire nar and gam games too.

-Vincent


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 15, 2005, 12:36:47 PM
You know, I had a whole response here about dysfunctional Sim, and then I closed the stupid window.

The gist was, give everyone an opportunity to play Sim, to celebrate your source material, and don't reserve the fun for the GM, and you'll have a fun game for those who want it. I don't think that exists.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: komradebob on November 15, 2005, 12:51:59 PM
You know, I had a whole response here about dysfunctional Sim, and then I closed the stupid window.

The gist was, give everyone an opportunity to play Sim, to celebrate your source material, and don't reserve the fun for the GM, and you'll have a fun game for those who want it. I don't think that exists.

It sounds exactly like how I use Universalis.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Josh Roby on November 15, 2005, 04:13:27 PM
"The beeg horseshoe," "trouble pinning sim down"... I'm telling you, that's not really how it is. Sim's well and solidly understood, by many of us, as its own thing and pinned down just fine.

The thing that really bothers me, Vincent, is that the people who "get" Simulationism generally don't like Simulationism, so I am extremely leery of accepting their definition and characterization of the agenda.  It's like a vegetarian telling you about steak.

To compound the problem, nearly every poster who does avow a preference for Sim repeatedly gets their observations drowned out by the people who don't.  I mean, hell, I don't like Sim, but I'd like to hear from somebody that does what it is that characterizes their preferences.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Mark Woodhouse on November 15, 2005, 04:30:05 PM
Okay. I completely and unreservedly endorse the definition of Sim as celebration/intensification of input, AND I like it. I don't like it as much as I do N - it's definitely candy and not steak for me - but I do really enjoy it. My particular brand is adventure stories - pulp, superhero, and action. My characters don't face or engage with genuine Premise - to the extent that genuine human issues are important in the material that I'm celebrating, the protagonists hardly ever engage them in any problematized way. Captain Crusader (yes, I've really played a character by that name) doesn't have a second thought about his ideals - and indeed, I'd be annoyed if a GM kept throwing him moral dilemmas. His universe doesn't have them. You beat the bad guys, they go to jail until the next time. You're a Hero. I'm not deconstructing, I'm not challenging, I'm revelling in something fun that I love with other people who love it too.

That's Sim as I understand it.

When I play the same genre, but choose to confront and interrogate the material? That's N.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: komradebob on November 15, 2005, 05:02:10 PM
"The beeg horseshoe," "trouble pinning sim down"... I'm telling you, that's not really how it is. Sim's well and solidly understood, by many of us, as its own thing and pinned down just fine.

The thing that really bothers me, Vincent, is that the people who "get" Simulationism generally don't like Simulationism, so I am extremely leery of accepting their definition and characterization of the agenda.  It's like a vegetarian telling you about steak.

To compound the problem, nearly every poster who does avow a preference for Sim repeatedly gets their observations drowned out by the people who don't.  I mean, hell, I don't like Sim, but I'd like to hear from somebody that does what it is that characterizes their preferences.

I actually find that the people who claim not to like Sim often give very good definitions of Sim.

What I find muddles the issue however, is that when folks who favor Sim point to what they like, inevitably someone comes along and co-opts it for another agenda. Matrix-Gamer's example screams Sim to me, yet someone immediately came along and claimed it to be Narr. That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. There seems to be this overwhelming need for any enjoyable experience to be lumped with Narr ( or more unusually, Gam) and anything dull, drab, overwritten or otherwise annoying to be labelled Sim.

Okay. I completely and unreservedly endorse the definition of Sim as celebration/intensification of input, AND I like it. I don't like it as much as I do N - it's definitely candy and not steak for me - but I do really enjoy it. My particular brand is adventure stories - pulp, superhero, and action. My characters don't face or engage with genuine Premise - to the extent that genuine human issues are important in the material that I'm celebrating, the protagonists hardly ever engage them in any problematized way. Captain Crusader (yes, I've really played a character by that name) doesn't have a second thought about his ideals - and indeed, I'd be annoyed if a GM kept throwing him moral dilemmas. His universe doesn't have them. You beat the bad guys, they go to jail until the next time. You're a Hero. I'm not deconstructing, I'm not challenging, I'm revelling in something fun that I love with other people who love it too.

That's Sim as I understand it.

When I play the same genre, but choose to confront and interrogate the material? That's N.

Yes. Exactly. What is so hard about that?

I really do think one of the underlying problems with understanding Sim is the examples of Sim game designs many of us have encountered. Frankly, I think a lot of those designs fail to deliver Sim reliably. Many techniques that have been developed here to support Narr designs have application in Sim designs. I would suggest that the push for "rules lite" type games is equally an attempt to deliver Sim reliably as it is to deliver Narr. Many Sim designs continue to utilize techniques that evolved out of Gamism supporting  mechanics from early rpgs. The fact that these techniques may not even be useful or supportive of Sim is never actually considered.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: ctrail on November 15, 2005, 06:01:35 PM
Just a thought here...

It really seems like Simulationism has been defined in a specific way for use in the GNS model. That's what I take Ron to mean in the thread that Vincent cites when he says that it is a labile term- that it could have very different meanings in different contexts, but that it is being used to mean a very specific concept in this context.

It also seems like a lot of people have a preconception of what Simulationism should mean. They either have a sense of what that word means in other contexts, and are using that, instead of Ron's definition, to decide what it means in this context, or maybe they feel like there is another Creative Agenda besides the ones listed in the GNS model, and that Simulationism should refer to that. So they find the definition of the term given by the GNS model problematic.

Perhaps it is useful to note that GNS, as a term in the context of roleplaying design theory, doesn't have an existing nature or meaning to be discovered. It isn't like Simulationism was something we all knew about before GNS, and that the GNS model was an explanation of what we already knew to exist. It is a system of classification, that invented the use of the term in this context. So in that sense, Simulationism means whatever they said it means.

Now, you could challenge that model as being flawed for some reason. For example, you might say that there is a fourth CA worth talking about besides the four listed, or that they should be divided differently. But this is different from trying to figure out what the terms mean. It seems to me, now that I have had it explained, that they have a reasonably clear meaning in this context.

I'm worried that this isn't concrete enough, so I'll comment on something a previous poster said from this point of view, which might make my point clearer.

Joshua, you compared the way Simulationism is defined to a vegetarian telling people about meat. But I think these cases are very different in an important way. Meat and vegetarianism were well defined before the hypothetical vegetarian made his argument. So when he explains what meat eating is, and how he dislikes it, he might have a slanted view point. But the case is very different if he were defining a new term. His new word means whatever he says it means, he can't really be biased in creating a new concept. If he describes something unpleasant, he can't really be said to be biased against his new concept, it just happens to describe something some find negative.

So the definition created here can't really be biased against Simulationism, because Simulationism wasn't a concept that existed before it was defined. Whatever the word was coined to mean, that is what it means. It might be confusing because the word has connotations besides what it actually denotes, but I don't see how the people who defined it could be wrong about what they meant by it. And if we are talking about Simulationism in the context of GNS, it seems like there are some very specific people who meant particular things.

This make sense to anyone else?


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Josh Roby on November 15, 2005, 09:51:28 PM
Ron has said many times, ctrail, that he didn't invent any of the agendas, he coined terms to fit what already existed.  I don't know if that still holds true under Big Model, which is blazing trails a little more than his first configuration.  Nonetheless, Ron still isn't making things up out of thin air; he's inventing terms to be applied to phenomena that already exist.  As such, his terms and their definitions may not actually fit what he proposes they fit.

I can invent the word "Carfoodle" and say that it's a piece of a space ship engine, but if I point at a giraffe and say that's a Carfoodle, I'm still wrong.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: talysman on November 15, 2005, 11:29:52 PM
John L: Oh! Oh, I see.

Yes. If you mean by "exalting the fiction" basically the same thing that Ron means by "celebrating the input," then yeah, right on.

then we're good. I don't disagree with Ron's definition, I just though it was missing something extra, and that missing something is at the core of a lot of bitter arguments about Sim.

and I, for one, will be working on the minimalist Setting/Color rules. don't have anything in production yet, but I have ideas on what might be possible.


Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
Post by: Silmenume on November 16, 2005, 01:59:24 AM
Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

I’ve been champing at the bit all day to get into this thread!

Hey John!

When Ron or Vincent or others say how roleplaying is all about the social aspect, the relationship of the real people around the table is the most important part of play, I kind of grouse to myself, because if I'm primarily interested in socializing, I have plenty of ways to socialize; roleplaying is not something I (or, I bet, other Sim players) do primarily for socializing, but primariily for something else.

It's about the Fiction.

This is the difference between Exploration and "Exploration Squared". Exploration is building The Fiction as a group; "Exploration Squared" says "decisions must be made in reference to The Fiction, not some priority outside of The Fiction". It's play centered around *things* rather than *people*.

I just want to just make available some parts of a thread that I think are very relevant and might be of some use to you –

So just like in regular play, the Big Model operates diagnostically to shift down the level of concern away from straight-up Social Contract.  If it’s really Social Contract that is disastrously breaking the game, we have to say, “Get new friends, these people and you will never get along,” or “You’re an asshole, it’s your fault, go away.”  Nobody wants to say that, if nothing else because it’s not tactful.

But why not?  That sounds like a stupid question, but it’s quite serious.

Answer:
    Because the whole elaborate structure here is socially constituted from the start to the finish, bottom to top and in reverse[/list]Which means...
      The whole structure of gaming is socially reinforcing[/list]



      …So why does it work at all?  Because each piece has now been tooled by us, ever so slightly, and that tooling and tweaking has told us, deep down, that we are okay as a game group.  The fact that it’s a horrible mess means nothing; we don’t care.  What we care about is that on a case-by-case basis, we can handle things in a way that makes us feel positive about our gameplay, which means that we feel positive about ourselves, individually and especially as a social group.

      I put the above in only to propose the idea to you that Sim is just as “socially” oriented as Gam and Nar play and why – its just that its in a form that is at right angles to those two.

      Now, you can theorize about how the high number of "geeks" in the hobby helped spawn a Creative Agenda that reverses the "people vs. things" priority of the other two agendas; you can theorize about how much wish-fulfillment or fanboyism played a role in creating early Sim approaches. My point is that, once you come to grips with the fact that it's all about reversing that priority, you can see that there are potential forms of Sim that haven't been fully explored. For example, instead of emulating the Color of a specific body of popular fiction, it's possible to create a small set of Setting/Color rules that generate details during play; Exploration then becomes focused on a Fiction that didn't exist prior to play. Since techniques like this could be useful in Gamist and Narrativist designs as well, it seems like a fertile field for thought... but it's probably going to take a Sim designer to really push that boundary; the other agendas have their own boundaries to explore that are far more important to their approach to play.

      I’m with you about the need of a reversal of priorities, but I don’t think it’s a matter of switching the priority of “people vs. things.”  The reversal that I have been pondering is a reversal of the “mechanics lead exploration” dogma.  IOW “exploration leads/follows mechanics.”  Ultimately, just like you were pondering, you start with something relatively simple and encourage the whole of the game to grow through Exploration – just give ‘em enough fiddly pieces (some Mechanics, some Setting – physical and cultural, maybe a little Color and if you feel everyone is going to staring at each other about what “to do” throw in a little bit on relationships) to start with.

      A little something to add to your musings, if you are so inclined.

      I am also with you in that Sim game hasn’t been fully explored.  Heck, I don’t think its even really been effectively done at the mass market level at all.

      "The beeg horseshoe," "trouble pinning sim down"... I'm telling you, that's not really how it is. Sim's well and solidly understood, by many of us, as its own thing and pinned down just fine.

      That some people don't understand it doesn't mean that it's not.

      (Ron's been saying this for a while now, of course. Like here recently: Re: Question for Vincent.)

      My very straightforward advice, if you happen to be someone who doesn't understand sim and wants to: stop attending to the idea that sim's not theoretically well-developed here, accept that it's your understanding that's wanting, but apply yourself to understanding narrativism first.

      My very straightforward statement, if you happen to be someone who feels that sim is not theoretically well-developed here: in fact, you don't understand the CAs. If you want to, see the previous.

      This is button for me, so you'll have to excuse my tone.  Just because you don't agree with something doesn't mean you don't understand it.  Also, something can be fully understood and still be flawed; understanding involves understanding the flaws as well, not daydreaming about perfection.  And a flawed theory doesn't equate to an under developed theory.  Sim can be fully understood, fully developed, and still flawed.  It's like the Yugo of Creative Agenda.

      I’m with Jason on this in a big ugly way.  My analogy is that the way Sim is currently explained is like the Ptolemaic model of the heavens with all sorts of Epicycles and Deferents, but there is no defined unifying principle.  Yet when threads about Sim are breached they typically get hammered by defenders of the Ptolemaic model or are lost by those seeking to add just one more epicycle to make it all work out.

      There are yet some basic assumptions about Sim that have not yet been worked out and on some levels it just does not share the same aspects as Gam/Nar.  To me the simplest indicator of the failure of current understanding of Sim is that its not defined by a process in a Model that is about processes.

      what I'm saying is: the Sim preference is to exalt The Fiction (Character, Setting, Situation and Color) over the needs of the individual.

      This path is riddled with a cancer that will ultimately lead to no good.  All functional modes of play require the Players at some level or another to place the needs of the group activity over that of the individual.  Nar is agreeing to address Premise and Gam is agreeing to address Challenge.  Players are shooting off willy-nilly in G/N scratching their own individual itches – there is a commitment, at least in a functional game, to mutually support one another in that process.

      what I'm saying is that Gamism and Narrativism are based on the first form of communication, while Simmulationism is based on the second. Simulationism is *depersonalized*.

      I’m afraid that I’m going to have to disagree with you most strenuously on that is one!  Suffice it to say that I have never played in or observed more intense play than the game I am in currently now.  It is Sim through and through (totally matches up the Chris’ Bricolage) and we have frequent emotional overloads with new Players – the game is so intense.  In one of the less *ahem* illustrious moments in the game’s history one Player took it so personally he tried to burn his own apartment down after a game.  He took the game extremely personally and while that was an extraordinary act his “personalization” of the game was not unusual.

      Sim exalts The Fiction and is antagonistic towards the personal; it attempts to minimalize the interactions within the group, either the "look at me! I'm great!" interactions of Gamism or the "look at me! I have a meaningful moral statement!" interactions of Narrativism. that sounds harsh, but I'm betting lots of hardcore Sim players think of hardcore Gma/Nar players as egotistical.

      I’m a pretty hardcore Sim Player, and while I haven’t particularly enjoyed G/N play, I’m concerned that your analysis will not serve you well.

      Hey John,

      To my mind, this is the basic problem with definitional debates.  That is, there's nothing wrong with a category of gaming which is about pursuing increase in knowlege (as M.J. suggests); or a category about bricolage (as Jay suggests); or about pursuing discovery (as Ralph suggests); or about celebration (as Ron suggests most recently).  However, these are overloading a single term.

      I’m a broken record here, and I apologize, but bricolage does encompass an increase of knowledge, pursuing discovery and celebration.

      I think Bob's suggestion about the lack of quality Sim design is dead on. I also think that, yes, part of the problem is that most of the discussion about Sim has been initiated or directed by people who fundamentally don't like Sim. I like Sim, but I'm pointing out what just might be the deep reason for the hatred people feel for Sim, as well as the antagonism Sim-only players feel towards Gam/Nar. I feel I've got a good grasp on the definitions of all three agendas, but I've been disappointed with the discussion of Sim because of the anti-Sim taint.

      Hear, hear!  As a data point, did you ever read my thread, [DitV] - I am an incompetent Narrativist! (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17157.0) over in AP about my DitV experience?

      Hey Joshua,

      The thing that really bothers me, Vincent, is that the people who "get" Simulationism generally don't like Simulationism, so I am extremely leery of accepting their definition and characterization of the agenda.  It's like a vegetarian telling you about steak.

      To compound the problem, nearly every poster who does avow a preference for Sim repeatedly gets their observations drowned out by the people who don't.

      You and me both.

      Hey Robert,

      What I find muddles the issue however, is that when folks who favor Sim point to what they like, inevitably someone comes along and co-opts it for another agenda. Matrix-Gamer's example screams Sim to me, yet someone immediately came along and claimed it to be Narr. That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. There seems to be this overwhelming need for any enjoyable experience to be lumped with Narr ( or more unusually, Gam) and anything dull, drab, overwritten or otherwise annoying to be labelled Sim.

      You have absolutely no idea how that particular prejudice just drives me completely insane!  Thank you for voicing that.

      I don't disagree with Ron's definition, I just though it was missing something extra, and that missing something is at the core of a lot of bitter arguments about Sim.

      The problem is that the definition of “celebrating” the input is applicable to all 3 CA’s.  I mean what is the oohing and aaahing of Player’s address of Premise if not the “celebration” of said Player’s input?  We’re still short a defined process and any governing principles.

      However, as a close, I just wanted to say, “Right on!”  Go make that game!


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: lumpley on November 16, 2005, 08:45:41 AM
      Jay, I'll repeat myself, just for you: to understand simulationism, you have to understand all the CAs. You don't understand the CAs. That's clear from what you've written and what you continue to write. If you'd like to understand simulationism, I think you'll have better luck pursuing an understanding of narrativism first.

      I'm certain that you don't feel that you don't understand the CAs - you've made that very clear too. I can't help that; all I can do is tell you the truth.

      -Vincent


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: ctrail on November 16, 2005, 09:25:32 AM
      Ron has said many times, ctrail, that he didn't invent any of the agendas, he coined terms to fit what already existed.  I don't know if that still holds true under Big Model, which is blazing trails a little more than his first configuration.  Nonetheless, Ron still isn't making things up out of thin air; he's inventing terms to be applied to phenomena that already exist.  As such, his terms and their definitions may not actually fit what he proposes they fit.

      I can invent the word "Carfoodle" and say that it's a piece of a space ship engine, but if I point at a giraffe and say that's a Carfoodle, I'm still wrong.

      I didn't mean to say that he invented the things that he refered to, but that he took a group of unclassified things and created a classification scheme. So it might be a bad classification scheme, by leaving something out or having categories which overlap or even by having terms which connote something other than what they denote, but I don't see how he could be wrong about what he meant by each term.

      In that way, I think it is very different from your Carfoodle example. This strikes me as more analogous- Nobody had ever thought about what to call the different parts of a space engine before, and then someone came along and looked at it, and decided that it had three basic parts, and he named each of them. One part he called a Carfoodle. Some people looked at the engine and thought they saw a part which hadn't been described, and thought it should be called a Carfoodle. Other people had an idea of what Carfoodle should mean, and wanted to apply it to different parts of the engine, and got upset when they were told they were not pointing at the Carfoodle, but at a different part. It is different from saying a giraffe is a part of a space engine, because we both knew what those terms meant before Carfoodle came up in the conversation.

      (Man, I hope that clarified my position, because I sure felt silly writing it.)

      When I first asked the question "What is Simulationism?", which launched this debate, I guess what I was asking was "What do you mean when you use the word Simulationism?" As I understand, that word didn't really have a meaning, at least in this context, before it was coined to address CA. So although that may be a more or less fitting word for the concept it describes, it seems like it refers to whatever the person who coined it meant it to mean. Was there another meaning to the word before it was used in GNS? Because I wasn't familiar with it. The word has certain connotation, which I think may be confusing people regarding what is meant by it, but it seems like it was defined however it was defined.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: talysman on November 16, 2005, 01:08:05 PM
      Collin:

      we're going to get sidetracked if we debate what the proper analogy for the naming process behind the three Creative Agendas is or should be. it's not really relevant to what I'm saying or what people are trying to do when they discuss Simulationism. I will say, however, that before there was GNS and The Big Model, there was GDS (Gamism, Drama, and Simulationism,) aka the Threefold Model; Ron developed GNS because he wasn't quite happy with what The Threefold Model was attempting to analyze (GM motivations,) because he had his own ideas about what was interesting. both forms of Simulationism get their name from repeated references in roleplaying texts to simulating an environment or fantasy world; there are reasons why "simulation" is considered a poor way of describing what's going on, but Simulationism is considered a good enough term to suggest the kind of activity we're talking about.

      Jay:

      I'm going to ask you to step back a bit from your insistence that Simulationism is about specific techniques and consider what I'm saying in terms of Simulationism as a Creative Agenda, not a Technical Agenda. it's been said many times that techniques cross agenda lines, and every technique you've described has shown up in Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism. even briccolage. even the question of which comes first, mechanics or exploration. I'm asking you to set these Technical Agendas aside because I play Sim, but I don't play the way you play, and whenever a Sim discussion rises, you claim that my way of playing and every other Sim player's way of playing isn't Sim. that's not going to lead us to anything useful.

      so, setting aside the Technical Agendas, let's focus on the whole social issue. I believe you've missed the comments I made about how Simulationism *is* a social process. I'm not saying there is no social activity in Sim; I'm saying something about the way social acitiviy is conducted; it's all focused on The Fiction, not on external matters.

      this doesn't mean that The Fiction holds no personal relevance, as you debate here:

      what I'm saying is that Gamism and Narrativism are based on the first form of communication, while Simmulationism is based on the second. Simulationism is *depersonalized*.

      I’m afraid that I’m going to have to disagree with you most strenuously on that is one!  Suffice it to say that I have never played in or observed more intense play than the game I am in currently now.  It is Sim through and through (totally matches up the Chris’ Bricolage) and we have frequent emotional overloads with new Players – the game is so intense.  In one of the less *ahem* illustrious moments in the game’s history one Player took it so personally he tried to burn his own apartment down after a game.  He took the game extremely personally and while that was an extraordinary act his “personalization” of the game was not unusual.

      I find it interesting that what you offer as a counterexample of my description of Sim seems to me to prove it even further, since you're talking about the effects of The Fiction on players. what you're responding to doesn't seem to use what I wrote immediately before the sentence you quote:

      Quote
      it might be easier if I sidetracked and talked about two forms of communication we see in everyday life. there is communication between two people about relationships and there is communication mediated by an impersonal topic of conversation, such as a discussion about how a machine works. one form is personal, the other is impersonal; they can sometimes be confused, with a conversation about the weather or government actually carrying a personal subtext, communicated by body language or tone of voice. there are times when people communicate, but not in the same mode; the person expecting a personal connection considers the other person dry, boring, mechanical, while the other person considers the first to be too intense.

      since you interpreted "personal/impersonal" in a manner completely different from what I said, let's approach it from a different angle: let's say you and I are roleplaying Traveller. we're playing characters on a scout ship, exploring new worlds and jump routes. if our play focuses on The Fiction of Traveller (or rather, the "official" Traveller universe plus any modifications we as a group have introduced,) then it's Sim. although we are communicating together and may have intense moments fighting smugglers or trying to save a dying planet, all of the flow of meaning comes from the imagined world -- The Fiction -- and flows to we, the players as individuals. our actions as a group and our social interactions are all focused on facilitiating that one-way flow of meaning. the only thing that flows the other way, from player to Fiction, is more fictional content, impliomented through the means of characters we control.

      if, on the other hand, I start focusing more on figuring out clever trade routes and looking for validation on my cleverness or strategy, I've switched to Gamism; our communication is no longer about just The Fiction, but is also about matters of esteem (Step On Up) and I am introducing myself the player into the discussion. you might allow a little of this, but once my desire for esteem begins to interfere with The Fiction, you're going to object, because we're talking about you and me instead of this third thing, The Traveller Universe.

      and if I start focusing on conflicts between governments and individuals caught in the machinations between governments, and if I keep changing The Fiction to introduce government characters trying to oppress individuals we meet so that I can set up conflicts between my character's ideals and his duty as a scout, then I'm switching to Narrativism; our communication is no longer about just The Fiction, but also about some moral principles I really think would be cool to address. again, you might let me get away with a little bit of a moral stance, especially if I wrote something about it in my character's backstory; but the more I let my personal interestes in expressing moral issues in The Fiction alter that Fiction, the more you are going to object, because again we're talking about me and my issues instead of this third thing, The Traveller Universe.

      now, if you don't object to either of those things as long as I don't introduce metagame mechanics to fascillitate them, then you have a Technical Agenda. if you *do* object, no matter what kind of mechanics we're talking about, then you have a Creative Agenda. Creative Agenda is all about how much of Character, Setting, Situation, Color and System I'm willing to change to get what you want. Exploration as a whole is that impersonal object, The Fiction which we *must* talk about in order to be roleplaying at all; when *something else* changes The Fiction, changes Exploration, we are interjecting personal matters into our roleplaying and thus diverging from Sim.

      there's one other comment you made I want to address directly:

      Quote
      The problem is that the definition of “celebrating” the input is applicable to all 3 CA’s.  I mean what is the oohing and aaahing of Player’s address of Premise if not the “celebration” of said Player’s input?  We’re still short a defined process and any governing principles.

      I'm not sure Creative Agenda should be described as a process at all. I suspect this is more confusion between Technical Agendas and Creative Agendas. I will have to think about that.

      but what I will say is: if you want all the Agendas to be described in the same way, why can't you accept "celebrating the source input" as Sim, since you see "celebrating the esteem input" as Gamism and "celebrating the moral decision input" as Narrativism?

      does this help you in any way?


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: John Kim on November 16, 2005, 01:36:54 PM

      To my mind, this is the basic problem with definitional debates.  That is, there's nothing wrong with a category of gaming which is about pursuing increase in knowlege (as M.J. suggests); or a category about bricolage (as Jay suggests); or about pursuing discovery (as Ralph suggests); or about celebration (as Ron suggests most recently).  However, these are overloading a single term.

      I’m a broken record here, and I apologize, but bricolage does encompass an increase of knowledge, pursuing discovery and celebration.

      But they're not definitionally the same.  That is, you can have celebration which is not bricolage, and bricolage which is not celebration.  You can have increase of knowledge which is not bricolage.  I accept that there is overlap, but these definitions also have significant differences from each other. 



      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: Joel on November 16, 2005, 03:02:22 PM
      talysman,

      you may not be unifying the simulationists, or even strengthening its definition, but as newbie to the Forge, you have certainly helped me understand G/N/S better. I have been "lurking" here trying to figure out where I even fit as far as a Gamist, Narrativist or Simulationist. I had initially thrown Simulationism out but now see that was my first and biggest mistake. The frustrations I have had in a number of the games I have played are a result of this "flow" or more specifically, lack there of.

      I play with two D&D (gasp) groups who have both adopted the "Forgotten Realms" fiction. They reference the novels, the source books, etc... Then Rule Lawyer for three hours straight, using none of the "color" they have chosen, nor focusing on using this imagined world for all it's amazing resources. I came in, created a character, filled him to the brim with back story set in this world, and then was plugged in as "The Ranger."

      I've found the few games I've played in where a Simulationist play as come to the fore front have "flowed" the best and been the most rewarding experience.

      I played the Cthulhu-Dark Ages Master's Tournament at this year's Gen-con, and those games were very Simulationist. I wish I had the time to go into it more here.

      I've digressed, my apologies. I'm just feeling much more enlightened. John may not have "defined" Simulationism as it is in the G/N/S, but he has, in my opinion, found its essence.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: Caldis on November 16, 2005, 08:37:25 PM

      Quote
      I play with two D&D (gasp) groups who have both adopted the "Forgotten Realms" fiction. They reference the novels, the source books, etc... Then Rule Lawyer for three hours straight, using none of the "color" they have chosen, nor focusing on using this imagined world for all it's amazing resources. I came in, created a character, filled him to the brim with back story set in this world, and then was plugged in as "The Ranger."

      I'm afraid Joel that the rules lawyering you seem to dislike is a big part of the sim CA.  Getting the system right can be just as important for Sim as the setting and the color.  That's why games like Gurps have traditionally been listed as supporting sim, no background setting info but tons of system.


       

       


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: contracycle on November 17, 2005, 05:19:06 AM
      I'm afraid Joel that the rules lawyering you seem to dislike is a big part of the sim CA.  Getting the system right can be just as important for Sim as the setting and the color.  That's why games like Gurps have traditionally been listed as supporting sim, no background setting info but tons of system.

      Yes, but that can still be about setting, not system - that is, the arguments are about the setting, and whether not the system "accurately" represents the setting.

      ---

      This "if you think Sim is problematic you don't undserstand the CA's" line of argument is bullshit - complete and utter bullshit from start to finish.  Arrogance is not a suitable substitution for argument.  I can, and will, respond to Vincent in exactly his terms - if you don;t understand the poroblem, Vincent, its quite oibvious that you don't understand any of the CA's.  And so now that we have exchanged broadsides, can we get on to discussing the meat?

      ---

      I agree with posters who have expressed the opinion that Sim has essentially been put into a box, and that box has been defined from how it looks from the Nar perspective.  And IME, this has lead to many non-fruitful discussions.  One that sticks in my memory is the "my guy" syndrome, where, rather anaologous to the co-option of a satisfying Sim play experience as Narr, this property of healthy character representation is construed as a form of disfunction, and as a result, any attempt to discuss and solve the problem from within Sim becomes effectively forbidden.  Similarly, the dogma that you have to "hook the players and not the characters" has become an impediment IMO, because while it is valid in the abstract that is no help at all in determining What To Do in order to hook a Sim player THROUGH their character.

      There is much work yet to be done on Sim, I think.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: lumpley on November 17, 2005, 08:59:54 AM
      This "if you think Sim is problematic you don't undserstand the CA's" line of argument is bullshit - complete and utter bullshit from start to finish. Arrogance is not a suitable substitution for argument.

      Gareth, I'm pretty sure that if you looked you'd find plenty of arguments leading up to my current position.

      -Vincent


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: komradebob on November 17, 2005, 09:29:15 AM
      Quote
      There is much work yet to be done on Sim, I think.

      Well, before this breaks up into a fight about how evil and elitist Narr fans are, perhaps we could more profitably look at what has come out of the discussions on Narr and Narr supportive design and look at how those results could have applications in Sim supportive design.

      I'll start.

      In exploring Narr supporting designs, folks have figured out just how important communication between participants is to functional play. Several Narr supportive designs very specifically hard-wire the concept of cgroup communication in to the structure of play. In fact these games cannot function, play cannot even begin, without dome preliminary communication between players ( including the GM).

      Contrast this with the average mainstream Sim supporting game. Often these games have absolutely nothing that requires communication between participants, at least at any level that shares the relevant information necessary for successful play ( coherent agenda play, anyway). Instead, Sim designs classically throw this sort of thing in the GM's advice section or in magazine/internet articles on "more successful play".

      Look at those two:
      One requires regular communication, the other leaves it in the realm of airy-fairy-new-agey-people-need-to-communicate-more-isms.
      Given that there isn't a whole lot of rules-mechanic enforced communication in Sim designs, is it actually a shock that players using Sim designs have weird Agenda cohesion problems?

      Unexamined GM Role/duties:
      Narr designs that we've seen around these parts frequently have some very clear takes on what a GM does. Trad Sim designs often don't. Instead, they have received wisdom and tradition. There has been a massive accumulation of duties to the position of GM since D&D first became an RPG. Narrs uppoortive designs often have a more focused vision of what a GM does, or which participant tackles on which GM duties in particular circumstances.

      Gamist Baggage:
      Sim designs often continue to contain a ton of gamist design baggage. Ironically, here at the Forge, when we see some indie Gam supporting designs, those designs often simply dump a whole lot od Sim baggage and are better games for that. So why do Sim designs hold onto many aspects of design that made sense in a Gamist context, but are just clunky in a Sim context?
      Admittedly, this one probably is likely to point towards an internal Sim design conflict between the Setting/Source material monkeys ( like me) and the physics modellers, but that seems as good as anything to hash out...

      Openness:
      Many Narr designs ( and some Gam) designs work on a much greater degree of opennness than we usually find in Sim design. In a way, I think this points to the Gamist/D&D unexamined baggage problem I was talking about. In D&D, having the GM have a bunch of hidden knowledge makes sense. It is part of what adds some Fog-of-War to the tactical challenges, and was one of the primary reasons for the style of minis-wargame that was a major inspiration for D&D.

      However, hidden material may not be as useful for many types of Sim design. Knowledge and open access to that knowledge strikes me as being more likely to produce results that "celebrate source material" than limited access to knowlegde on the part of participants.

      I've got more, but I'd best leave it for a later post.
      Best regards ( and a plea for civility)


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: timfire on November 17, 2005, 10:29:29 AM
      As there are always calls for people to design games that incorporate our current Sim ideas, I wanted to bring it people's attention that my upcoming game, In a Land Called, contains alot of what I consider to be "New Skool" Sim. If you want to discuss it, I've started [a thread] (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17639.0) over in Indie Design.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: Nathan P. on November 17, 2005, 11:07:22 AM
      Along those same lines, I consider Timestream to be a Sim-supporting design. Check out This thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16848.0) for some material on why I think so. Also, I just blogged about Sim (http://hamsterprophet.blogspot.com/), and at the bottom I talk more about why Timestream supports it. Also, Shadows In The Fog (http://www.auroragames.com/pdf/shadows.pdf) has a whole lot of Sim in it, IMO.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: M. J. Young on November 17, 2005, 11:46:48 AM
      "Beeeg Horseshoe" and "Big Model" are incompatible theories, to some degree; to say that you use the "Beeeg Horseshoe" to understand Simulationism is in essence to say that simulationism is not an agendum, but the absence of any agendum, the persistent quashing of both narrativist and gamist impulses.  The problem I have with such a position is that there is then no reason for anyone to like simulationism, because the agendum provides the "why we are playing", or more concretely "what is it about playing this game that makes it 'fun'". In the Big Model, the answer is still being debated; in the Beeeg Horseshoe, the answer is that there is nothing that makes simulationist play fun, and there is no motivation to play that way. Although Mike might object to this, even he admits that in his view of the model those in the middle are constantly drifting toward one or the other, middle-point simulationism being more like zilchplay in the Beeeg Horseshoe construction, play without any motivation or objective, play without an agendum.
      Please name five things, possibly with examples ( short) and why you associate them with Sim priorities and why you find them negative. If you can, please tie them to your idea of "real Sim".
      I have long been the poster child for drift, for enjoying games in different agenda and even for changing agenda during play of the same game. My own game has been labeled a "gem of coherent simulationist design" by Ron Edwards (something like that, in the GNS and Other Matters of.... essay). As such, I certainly don't think that there's anything "negative" about simulationism. However, leaving out that part of the question, let me try to provide some activities I perceive as simulationist, and why they fit my understanding of simulationism as discovery.
      • Playing in the Star Trek Universe to see what it is like to be in Star Trek. "It would be so cool," someone would say, "to be like Captain Kirk, flying around the universe in that cool starship, meeting aliens, quoting the Prime Directive." Would it be cool? What would it be like to be on such a starship, as the captain, or as the engineer, or as the bartender? I'm not necessarily interested in whether the Prime Directive is a good rule, or whether we can beat the Cardassians in a fair fight. I just want to see what it's like to be Federation. I discover and understand being on a spaceship in that universe by taking the part of a character in the game. I am discovering the Federation. I am exploring setting.
      • Playing a known character or character type, to "walk an imaginary mile in his mocassins", to understand that person better. Maybe you want to play Spock, to try to understand someone who always acts rationally. Several times I have role-played female characters in part better to grasp how women think and react and perceive themselves. I might try playing a free black man in the antebellum American south, to try to experience racial prejudice more directly. It's not that I want to make a statement about these things; it's that I want to know what they are like. I might get some of that from books, movies, or television, but at present the closest I can come to actually experiencing that is to play it in a good simulationist role playing game. I am exploring character.
      • Playing myself, or a character like me, in a dangerous or impossible situation. What would I do if I really came face to face with a dragon, or a vampire, or Cthulu? C. J. Henderson says of his Jack London mystery The Things That Are Not There (very good, incidentally) that when he tried writing Cthulu-esque stories he kept running into problems, because his characters kept trying to do something instead of just standing there gibbering senselessly. That's part of the question. If I can imagine myself face to face with something like that, what do I see myself doing at that moment? What would I like to believe I would do? What do I believe I would actually do? I am discovering myself; I am exploring situation.
      • Molding my own personality into something I admire by practicing it through an imaginary character. I was chatting with C. J. about his book, and he commented that the third in that series (publication delayed due to administrative problems) included a moment when the hero hires mercenaries from among science fiction and fantasy fans. One of his sidekicks asks whether it wouldn't be better to hire marines, and he explains that these people have already thought through a lot of what he's hiring them to face. "They're Shatner fans," he says. "They know all about thinking in the face of God." Roleplaying changes what you can imagine, and what you can imagine about yourself. I have used roleplaying games to create characters who embody aspects of personality I admire, and then moved myself closer to those characteristics by emulating those characters. I have discovered something about myself, by exploring character and situation.
      • Understanding what the world would be like were it different from what it is. I once had a long correspondence with a gamer who thought of games as a "great thought experiment". You can rewrite the rules of reality in any way you like. You can fundamentally alter physics or chemistry. You can change human nature. You can create the impossible. Then you can play it all out and see what happens. What if everyone adopted survival of the fittest as a moral code? How would the world be different if Christianity had never been founded, or had remained the essentially Jewish denomination it initially was? I can create that world, and then discover where it leads by exploring setting and situation.
      That's five, I think. I'm sure there are more. Since I see simulationism as driven by the desire to know, to understand, to discover, to experience--all aspects of the same concept--these are all related concepts within the single agendum, the desire to know, in the same way that the Crunch and the Gamble are related concepts within the single Gamist agendum.

      The Dream definition and The Discovery definition are two ways of expressing the same concept. The game is driven by the desire to know and understand and experience the imagined reality.

      As far as the social element of simulationism, an agendum by definition is what is it that this group of people hope to gain from this social interaction? You can, if you like, put the fiction at the center of that purpose, but you have not shifted the social part at all--the social part of gamism is that we interact with the purpose of proving ourselves to each other, that of narrativism is that we interact to make statements about issues, and that of simulationism is that we interact to learn or discover something. If it helps you to say it in the words that include that we are focused on the fiction, that's fine. I find it limiting, but perhaps I don't understand what you mean. If you mean that metagame is excluded, though, I think you are wrong, or at the least committing synecdoche. "Let's do Star Trek, Star Trek is like this" is itself metagame, and at any point at which you alter or conform events or actions to "what would really happen in Star Trek" you have engaged a metagame concern.

      Thus there really is no "exalting the fiction over the needs of the individual", because definitively within the agendum the individual needs to discover the fiction, and thus the fiction is what is serving the individual. Preserving the integrity of the fiction (often very important in simulationism) is not done because the fiction requires it although the needs of the individual might dictate something else; it is done because the needs of the individual are for the integrity of the fiction to be maintained.

      It is my impression, as one who I think does understand CA and has been cited for explaining it well, that Ron, Vincent, Ralph, and several others who have been cited as offering different views of simulationism, as well as I, all have a pretty clear agreement concerning what the thing is, and are more stymied by how to express it in language that communicates the same idea to others. Thus Vincent is right that if you don't really understand what simulationism is, you probably don't really understand Creative Agenda at all, or at least not well enough to see how they work. It's very much about why we play, or what we hope to get from play, or what is the objective of our getting together to play--about why is this fun. There is a very specific reason why simulationist is fun for those who enjoy it, one which at a fundamental level encompasses all that is called simulationism, but getting a description of that on which everyone agrees as to how well it describes that nebulous "it" has been problematic.

      It has been problematic to some degree in gamism and narrativism as well, but has been addressed somewhat more coherently. For example, when Ron introduced the concept of Step On Up as the essence of gamism it was an entirely new expression of an idea, but once understood it was clear that all that stuff about meeting challenge or beating the odds or winning the game was really motivated by this other thing, this quest for personal glory in which you get the praise of your peers because you succeeded or even just because you failed while standing in a place no one else had the guts to stand. What is missing from the discussion of simulationism is that coherent and generally accepted phrase that describes that nebulous thing that motivates players to play that way, and not the shared understanding of the thing itself.

      --M. J. Young


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: MatrixGamer on November 17, 2005, 02:06:07 PM
      The mechanical question of how to design a Simulationist game comes back to a question of what people think simulates a world.

      On one extreme we have Historical re-enactors - who want to be hit by swords, shot at by cannon, and taste the dirt in their coffee. Obviously for them, simulation is living it.

      Simulation can be done with an analog. So I build my world in a sandbox pour water on it and roll marbles to knock little men over. The miniature scale is not living it for real but does conform to some of the physical laws of the full scale.

      Simulation can be an algorithm. So I know from years of observation that the outcomes are X plus or minus Y. I apply a normal curve to it and feel like I understand what I'm looking at.

      Role play games and miniatures games almost always fall in the last group.

      Exactly what is "realistic" and what isn't - in other words, how well an algorithm is at simulating reality - is a debate that has raged in Wargame circles, well... forever. It boils down to a stand off between people who think tons of rules are more true, and people who think that simple elegant rules are more accurate. Personally I don't think that debate is an honest one. It isn't about which one is better it is more about which one is better at simulating what part of the reality sought after.

      For instance, a re-enactor can claim "authenticity" and point to their wool uniform, but they are not actually being shot at, there are not real political stakes at hand, and they can go home to TV that night so they are not experiencing the full reality either. Kind of like how SCA Pensic War attendees only "live the dream" for two weeks in August.

      I understand that simulation and simulationist are not synonimous but there are some interesting parralells here.

      For the two of you who have sim designs in the works, What part of the reality of your game world do you want players to experience?

      Chris Engle
      Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: Jason Lee on November 17, 2005, 05:49:28 PM
      "Beeeg Horseshoe" and "Big Model" are incompatible theories, to some degree; to say that you use the "Beeeg Horseshoe" to understand Simulationism is in essence to say that simulationism is not an agendum, but the absence of any agendum, the persistent quashing of both narrativist and gamist impulses.  The problem I have with such a position is that there is then no reason for anyone to like simulationism, because the agendum provides the "why we are playing", or more concretely "what is it about playing this game that makes it 'fun'". In the Big Model, the answer is still being debated; in the Beeeg Horseshoe, the answer is that there is nothing that makes simulationist play fun, and there is no motivation to play that way. Although Mike might object to this, even he admits that in his view of the model those in the middle are constantly drifting toward one or the other, middle-point simulationism being more like zilchplay in the Beeeg Horseshoe construction, play without any motivation or objective, play without an agendum.

      I suppose this is deserving of some clarification.  When I say look to the Beeg Horseshoe to understand Sim as written in the dream essay, I am referring only to that definition of Sim - which I refer to as either the "dream definition" or "exploration squared family of definitions".  That specific definition is compatible with the Beeg Horseshoe, as shown by the fact that it allows for hybrid play with Sim in a supporting role.  The Beeg Horseshoe is just a juiced up graphical representation of the concept of hybrid play.  And yes, I agree that the Beeg Horseshoe is incompatible with the Big Model, which is what I meant by:

      Quote from: Me
      Issues of where the Beeg Horseshoe/Hybrid concepts and hard to find reward cycles place Sim in the model are likely to occur, but those are just flaws that have to be accepted because the definition of Creative Agenda outgrew Sim.

      I also seem to remember Ron, during that time, agreeing that the Beeg Horseshoe and the definition of Sim in the essay were compatible.  I couldn't find a quote, so he can correct me if I'm wrong.  Also, I know his views on Sim have evolved, but I'm specifically speaking to the essay and that Ron who is frozen in time with the essay.

      This brought us to other definitions of Sim, such as the discovery definition.  Which I still feel is the only definition so far presented that is logically compatible with the Big Model, but am unsure if it correctly describes the type of play people seem to mean when they say Sim and is an active enough behavior to be a creative agenda.  Regardless, I'm in agreement with you (provided we get our definitions of Sim straight) up until this point:

      Quote
      The Dream definition and The Discovery definition are two ways of expressing the same concept. The game is driven by the desire to know and understand and experience the imagined reality.

      It is my impression, as one who I think does understand CA and has been cited for explaining it well, that Ron, Vincent, Ralph, and several others who have been cited as offering different views of simulationism, as well as I, all have a pretty clear agreement concerning what the thing is, and are more stymied by how to express it in language that communicates the same idea to others. Thus Vincent is right that if you don't really understand what simulationism is, you probably don't really understand Creative Agenda at all, or at least not well enough to see how they work. It's very much about why we play, or what we hope to get from play, or what is the objective of our getting together to play--about why is this fun. There is a very specific reason why simulationist is fun for those who enjoy it, one which at a fundamental level encompasses all that is called simulationism, but getting a description of that on which everyone agrees as to how well it describes that nebulous "it" has been problematic.

      I disagree that the dream definition of Sim and the discovery definition are compatible.  The definition of Sim in the essay (which I'm calling the dream definition) supports hybrid play and is linked to causality, whereas the discovery definition rejects hybrid play and is not dependent of causality - just to site a couple fundamental differences.  I don't think there is a lack of ability to describe the dream, discovery, or other definitions.  The problem is that the language cannot be found for a definition that encompasses them all because they aren't the same thing.  No amount of rewording is going to make concepts that take opposite stances the same.

      *****

      That's why it's so important to be clear about which definition you are talking about when discussing Sim.  If people here want to prove a point and make some Sim supporting games, then they need to know which Sim they are going to support because these definitions aren't all describing the same things.  You shouldn't expect them to.  These varying definitions came about because people felt another definition was logically flawed in the model.  Not just in their wording - real conceptual changes away from elements that might be covered elsewhere in the model (such as how exploration covers the dream sufficiently and actor stance covers bricolage sufficiently).

      This exalting the Fiction business is fine and good and all as another way to describe the exploration squared definition, but it won't fix the incompatibilities between that definition and the Big Model that we agonized over so much after the Sim essay came out - incompatibilities that lead to M.J.'s discovery definition.

      I have a rant brewing about how the GNS presented in the essays should be given a big red stamp saying "Final Version", the flaws accepted, and discussion of theory moved on to new topics, so that maybe concepts like a discovery agenda and Jay's bricolage playstyle can be discussed without GDS baggage.  Maybe later.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: talysman on November 18, 2005, 12:55:58 AM
      I disagree that the dream definition of Sim and the discovery definition are compatible.  The definition of Sim in the essay (which I'm calling the dream definition) supports hybrid play and is linked to causality, whereas the discovery definition rejects hybrid play and is not dependent of causality - just to site a couple fundamental differences.  I don't think there is a lack of ability to describe the dream, discovery, or other definitions.  The problem is that the language cannot be found for a definition that encompasses them all because they aren't the same thing.  No amount of rewording is going to make concepts that take opposite stances the same.

      I disagree with this. I think M. J. is correct when he says that Discovery, The Dream, Fidelity, Celebration, Exploration Squared and other propositions on what Sim is are all attempts to phrase one common idea that Ron, Mike, Vincent, and others all understand but can't quite find a way of phrasing with the same "Aha!" quality that we see in defining Gamism around Step On Up or Narrativism around Story Now.

      causality? it's there, even in Discovery, because Discovery depends on the theory that the things you are discovering exist in The Fiction for a reason.

      hybrids? hybrids are still possible under The Big Model and are possible under a Discovery model for Sim also. the key to seeing how is to recognize how hybrids work: they are not simultaneously Sim and Nar or Sim and Gam, but instead have prominent Sim phases that occasionally switch into Nar or Gam phases -- usually, its seems, mixing high Sim physical combat with Nar tools (The Riddle of Steel is usually cited as an example of this.)

      it would work the same way with Discovery: you would have Discovery phases which would switch to Nar or Gam at particular high moments.

      I do disagree with M. J. on a couple other points, or rather I think he mistakenly sees a disagreement in what I proposed.

      Quote from: M. J Young
      Thus there really is no "exalting the fiction over the needs of the individual", because definitively within the agendum the individual needs to discover the fiction, and thus the fiction is what is serving the individual. Preserving the integrity of the fiction (often very important in simulationism) is not done because the fiction requires it although the needs of the individual might dictate something else; it is done because the needs of the individual are for the integrity of the fiction to be maintained.

      M. J., I'm not saying that there's no social aspect to Sim -- I've said several times in the thread that there is -- nor am I saying that Sim doesn't fulfill an individual, personal need. I'm saying that the social aspects of Sim are restricted to a need relative to an impersonal object: The Fiction. the group shares this vision of what the fictional world should be. the group wants to explore (discover, celebrate, be faithful to) that vision. but the group does not want things outside The Fiction to interact with the fiction. specifically, it doesn't want person-to-person esteem issues or sharing of moral ideas to interfere with The Fiction.

      this is the crucial part of what I'm saying. I haven't disagreed with the basic understanding of what Sim is; by itself, "Exalting The Fiction" or "Focusing on The Fiction" is just another way of saying "Celebrate the source material". what's different is that I'm explicitly saying that players with Sim priorities don't want The Fiction to be altered by something outside The Fiction. I'm also making a statement about the way people have been communicating about the agendas: I think that some of the vicious arguments about Sim here on the Forge arise because Sim players and Gam/Nar players have incompatible ideas on how to socialize and what The Fiction is for[/].

      in Gamism and Narrativism, you show your guts or make a moral statement in the context of The Fiction. in Sim, you show The Fiction itself and don't talk about anything else.

      I'd like to get back to one other thing that has surfaced in this thread: the idea that Sim is currently too big and covers multiple agendas. I don't think this is true, at least not the way it is expressed. I think there are Technical Agendas (not a term I invented; I think it was coined by Mike Holmes, although perhaps Ben Lehman's Aesthetic Agendas are really the same thing.) Technical Agendas are preferences for specific procedures or kinds of rules, such as when a person prefers freeform, heavy use of Drama, or Fortune with high points of contact.

      a couple people in this thread have mentioned that they thought The Big Model doesn't define the process unique to Sim the way it describes the processes of Gamism and Narrativism. I puzzled over this, because the whole point of saying that Gamism and Narrativism being similar to each and distinct from Sim is that, although all three share the processes of Exploration, Gamism and Narrativism add a social processs, the direct, personal interaction of Step On Up or addressing premise, in contrast to the indirect, impersonal interaction about The Fiction. I didn't see the need for an extra process in Sim other than the now-familiar "Character + Setting = Situation, resolved by System, and embedded in Color".

      then it occurred to me: since Sim is focused entirely on The Fiction and objects to the direct, personal interactions of the other two agendas, Sim players focus much more on the Technical Agendas than do Gamist and Narrativist players. they become much more attached to techniques, because these are the tools used to manipulate The Fiction -- the all-important focus of Sim.

      I think this is why some people have felt the description of the process of Sim is lacking something, and also why there is such strong factionalization in the Sim agenda. "I don't want to be lumped together with THOSE GUYS. they don't play like me at all!" perhaps this will be of special help for Jay; rather than defining Sim as bricolage, he can recognize it as a specific technique that is extremely important to his method of Exploring The Fiction.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: contracycle on November 18, 2005, 01:17:39 AM
      Gareth, I'm pretty sure that if you looked you'd find plenty of arguments leading up to my current position.

      And I know for certain that there are contradictory positions.  You cannot simply presume your argument to be correct and dismiss any dispute.  And the longer and more consistent the differences are, the less sustainable that position becomes.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: contracycle on November 18, 2005, 02:04:30 AM
      I'm stongly in favour of the "discovery" idea in sim, and I don't think its that complicated really.  I also think that "the fiction" is a bad term to use, becuase the source material may well be factual rather than fictional.l

      You see, my perspective is that most games, especially games played by children, are forms of training.  Hide-and-seek, for example, is not a game about step-on-up, it is about kids practicing running, dodging, hiding, spotting.  "Lets pretend" and "doctor" are explorations of adult behaviour and roles.  Kids games have a function that is totally unrelated to games-as-entertainment, they are games as practice and discovery.  And this practice is so extensive its not even limited to humans, and may not even be limited to mammals.

      And thus I fully agree with Jason that the Discovery idea does indeed permnit gamist hybridisation, partly becuase the built-in motive to perform repetitive practive is the subjective experience of fun, and partly because the thing you want to discover and learn about my itself be a set of bounded interactions, that is, a game.  This is why Flight Simulations work so well as a game - the topic of intended discovery is easily abstracted into the console-and-monitor format.  And Flight Sims show precisely the same overlap with the Gamist agenda we see in RPG Sim - at the extreme ends you have totally realistic flight models with no combat at all, and infinite-ammo shoot-em-ups that are all combat all the time.  Most games fall in the middle, using a partly realistic flight model so the game has some veracity, and a mostly fun combat system to feed the demand for sensations of entertainment.

      But why, then, should sim gaming incorporate multiple people?  Well, precisely because they serve as a reality check on your errors.  Rather like hide-and-seek, its no good thinking you understand the flight model, or are good at hiding, if in fact you are not.  Exposure to others is a way of testing your understanding and your abilities, NOT becuase of some self esteem or status issue, but purely for self-satisfaction and verification of comrehension.  At the very least, such differences of perception can be aired and discussed and with any luck everyone will walk away better informed than they had been when they arrived.

      IMO, most games make most sense when understood as forms of training and practice.  In this regard, it is Narr that is the weird agenda, the odd one out, attempting to take a methodology of learning and use it for the address of moral premise, whereas gamism is easily explicable as the enjoyment of pure challenge.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: Jason Lee on November 18, 2005, 09:50:29 AM
      causality? it's there, even in Discovery, because Discovery depends on the theory that the things you are discovering exist in The Fiction for a reason.

      I knew someone would mention this after I made my post.  Of course, causality is present in discovery.  It's present just as it is in Nar and Gam.  Causality, verisimilitude, and fidelity are all Exploration thresholds and thus the same concept.  Discovery is never served by inconsistency, just as creation of theme and engagement of challenge are never served by inconsistency.  Pacing and accessibility to the audience may be served by inconsistency.  That may seem the same as theme creation, because we might use the word "dramatic" to describe both choices, but it's not the same.  Saying that theme or challenge can conflict with verisimilitude/causality is saying that Exploration can conflict with theme or challenge, and as Creative Agenda sits inside Exploration (an agenda exists inside the act of role-playing) that's not possible.  This is why definitions of Sim that rely on exploration/verisimilitude/causality/fidelity are incompatible with the Big Model.  Supporting such definitions requires you to apply the concept of opportunity costs across layers of the model - saying that by focusing more on explored elements more you are therefore doing less of Nar/Gam.  This is the old negative definition of Sim.  The concept of opportunity costs doesn't apply for fairly obvious reasons.  You can't agenda less by exploring more when agenda is fully contained inside exploration.  Thus, any definitions of Sim dependent upon exploration to explain them are incompatible with the Big Model.

      This is what is different about the discovery definition.  It is not dependent upon verisimilitude/causality.  It does not need the Exploration layer to define it, just as neither Nar nor Gam do.  That's the point.  That's why discovery is logically sound and exploration squared isn't.  It's also why they aren't the same.

      Quote
      hybrids? hybrids are still possible under The Big Model and are possible under a Discovery model for Sim also. the key to seeing how is to recognize how hybrids work: they are not simultaneously Sim and Nar or Sim and Gam, but instead have prominent Sim phases that occasionally switch into Nar or Gam phases -- usually, its seems, mixing high Sim physical combat with Nar tools (The Riddle of Steel is usually cited as an example of this.)

      it would work the same way with Discovery: you would have Discovery phases which would switch to Nar or Gam at particular high moments.

      Ok, I should probably just let M.J. handle the topic of hybrids.  Ah hell, I'll do it anyway.  Hybrid play is logically incompatible with the Big Model, which is why the discovery definition rejects hybrid play.  Why hybrid play is incompatible with the Big Model is because Creative Agenda is assessed as a dominant mode over an instance of play, and no more than one agenda can dominate a rewards cycle due to the requirement that agendas be able to conflict.  The big key to seeing why hybrid play isn't compatible with the Big Model is the instance of play concept.  The fluctuating atomic moments, the Nar highs and Sim backbone, are not what are used to assess Creative Agenda.  It is the overall pattern.  Again going back in time to the origins of the discovery definition, M.J. and Ron didn't have the same stance on hybrid play.  (See What is the Dream? (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=9268.15), with the disclaimer that views have probably changed (like mine), but seeing as I'm still talking about the essay I feel it's a valid thread to reference.)


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: contracycle on November 21, 2005, 02:23:49 AM
      Ok, I should probably just let M.J. handle the topic of hybrids.  Ah hell, I'll do it anyway.  Hybrid play is logically incompatible with the Big Model, which is why the discovery definition rejects hybrid play.  Why hybrid play is incompatible with the Big Model is because Creative Agenda is assessed as a dominant mode over an instance of play, and no more than one agenda can dominate a rewards cycle due to the requirement that agendas be able to conflict.

      Thats true, but its also an a priori assumption in the formulation of the model - having identified CA clash as a cause of dysfunction, it thyerefore predicts that any group without a single dominant CA will suffer conflict.  That might be true, but I think that a properly signposted and flagged system might be able to move from one to the other and back again.  It seems to me the observed dysfunctions may themselves arise from a lack of clarity and consensus on the change of agenda.  SO I think there is a possibility that such can still be built; but it won't be done by being casual, and won't be done by declining to design toward an agenda.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: Mike Holmes on November 22, 2005, 12:36:59 PM
      Man am I late to this party.

      But, um, I like sim. At least as much as I like narrativism. But I like that, too, Gamism, too.

      I'm pretty convinced that the Forge bias against simulationism comes directly from most games associated with sim having actually been badly incoherent. That is, the real culprits are things like the Impossible Thing, and standard Gamism/Simulationism incoherence. Which is so, so common amongst pre-Forge games.

      What's remarkable to me is that people like myself fought tooth and nail against Beeg Horseshoe, which says that sim is dysfunctional, to come up with the current definition because it's a definition of sim as a functional sort of play. Anyone who sees the definition as including dysfunctional play is merely seeing people's preferences against sim, which I think are largely extant because of the nature of previous sim designs. Note that, interestingly, people here are "OK" with gamism (though they don't play it), because they understand that it's supposed to just look like fun play of checkers or other pre-RPG games.

      And I have tried on several occasions to help with the explication process of what sim is. I don't think that I can be blamed for merely being about supporting the status quo when I'm so willing to accept alternate descriptions. I don't accept alternate definitions for the most part, but that's because it always seems to me that everybody is talking about the same thing with sim, just using different terms for it.

      Well, everyone but Jay. And I'd be willing to accept Jay's changes, too, if they didn't throw out large chunks of functional play (though if they didn't do that, then I think that Bricolage would be the same as discovery, etc, etc). Hell, I'll chuck all of the Big Theory and GNS later this afternoon if somebody presents me with a model that they can demonstrate is acutally superior.

      I don't think we have an adversity to changing the model, I think we have an adversity to changing the model just to match one person's point of view, when that doesn't match anyone else's. I mean how many people here would agree that their problem with simulationism is merely in the terms used to define it, and not what the scope of it is? As far as I can tell, Jay is the only person who has a problem with the implied nature of simulationism. Gareth has a problem with the bias (and perhaps rightly so), but not against the definition AFAICT. MJ merely sees "discovery" as more accurate. Marco has problems with how problematic GNS is, but not with what Simulationism is. I try to describe it every way under the sun, but it's pretty much always the same thing I'm describing. Ralph "quavers" from the ironclad definition only to accept MJ's term change. John Kim worries about the precise sim/nar line, but otherwise understands what it is. Chris Lehrich agrees with me apparently that it's best to see sim as part of hybrids where it's the primary mode. Jason says that it's problematic, but that, when push comes to shove, the definition works for day to day operations. John's thread here is using "fiction" as a replacement for exploration pretty much one for one (though saying that having a priority to explore the fiction that exceeds your priority is a contradiction - sim is player desire for "exalting the fiction" being higher than the other two by definition).

      Have I missed anyone?

      Seems like a tremendous non-issue to me. But, then, I'm probably just being a stubborn propoent of the CORE (Cult of Ron Edwards!) hegemony that seeks to arrogantly put down anyone who thinks outside the box. Oh, well, being brainwashed, I suppose there's nothing I can do...

      Mike


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: ewilen on November 22, 2005, 03:14:07 PM
      Hey, Mike. I have a problem with the scope of Sim. But the difficulty of discussing the problem on this board is extreme. So I believe that it's far more useful here to talk about CA in a flexible manner, as a coherent alignment of the layers of the Big Model, than to talk about fixed categories of play.

      I slipped up the other day, but since you ask, I'm raising my hand.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: Mike Holmes on November 23, 2005, 07:50:01 AM
      I'm sure that, in fact, there's no complete consensus on precisely what the scope of any mode is. And I wasn't trying to say that there would be nobody that objects to the definition of the scope currently - my point wasn't that nobody other than Jay could possibly disagree with the scope. In fact, I'm sure that there are probably some silent number of people out there rooting for Jay's theroy.

      But I think that even more people agree with you and I that it's time to move on from this. That is, it's Ron's theory, and he's stated that it's past time for us to move on away from this as well. That is, it's really just not that important to have a perfectly precise definition of the scope of simulationism. When I say that most everyone agrees on the scope and such, I'm saying that the general concept is well enough fixed in everyone's minds (including Jay's definition that's not completely out of left field or something, but rather just nailing down certain particulars) that given that we're moving on from GNS, "fixing" the imperfection of the definition has become largely academic.

      Basically it's largely distracting the debate from important things like "How can I create a functional agenda that includes rules-shifting?" to subjects that have dubious value. If people think that sim is somehow being missed out on, the one really good way to get people's attention would be to design a sim game that made the points in question. Otherwise I'd suggest that perhaps proposing whole new models of play with other goals might be a better option than trying to revise Ron's rapidly aging model.

      Why aren't we talking about Mendel's PCom3? Or looking at things more in terms of John Kim's Virtuality and some of his other theory? John Kirk's design patterns book? Costick's recent presentations on the future of gaming? Montola's upcoming doctoral thesis? All highly academic stuff for those who don't want to delve into actual game design. And all probably more important than the definition of simulationism.

      If it helps, I'll cop to having prolonged this by allowing myself to get dragged back into the discussion on the subject. I certainly can't resist a good debate.

      Mike


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: M. J. Young on November 24, 2005, 08:47:11 PM
      I have two things to add to this thread this week; one of them is directly relevant and the other probably needs it's own thread, but it's Thanksgiving for goodness' sake and starting a new thread that probably wouldn't go anywhere is not something for which I can spare the time.

      The directly on point matter is the idea that simulationism can never be influenced by metagame concerns. Assuming the discovery definition (and assuming the other definitions are other ways of trying to communicate the same idea--I'm just using the discover definition for the sake of the terminology appropriate to it) this can be shown not to be so.

      Let us suppose we are playing in a simulationist exploration of Middle Earth. We're in Fanghorn Forest. Suddenly someone--in most credibility distributions it would have to be the referee--thinks, what would happen if the Entwives returned? He then starts events that suggest that the Entwives have been seen somewhere near the edges of the map, and starts to explore what happens from that.

      The first point here is that the decision to bring in this event is still completely simulationist, but also entirely metagame, geared toward the question of discovering facts about Middle Earth and its residents by creating situations that reveal aspects of them not already known.

      The second point here is that the limitation that this can only be introduced by the referee is entirely arbitrary and not essential to simulationist play--it's only a strongly tendential preference within it. There is no a priori reason why Radagast the Brown's player could not introduce the idea by stating that he heard from one of the birds that there were Ents, or something like them, moving in the northlands. Author or even director stance could be used to initiate this as a new area of exploration, without breaking out of the mode of simulationist play.

      The question of hybrids is the other problem, the one that should have its own thread--except that I remember starting that thread a long time ago (or maybe someone else started it and I replied to it), and I have no clue how to begin looking for it. Thus I'm going to keep these somewhat off-point points brief, and hope that if there really is something to discuss here someone will open a new thread.

      No one debates whether it's possible to design a game that inherently drifts or openly transitions as part of play. Scattershot was supposed to do that with built-in mechanics. Multiverser does it from player/referee interaction. The Riddle of Steel is often cited for it.

      The question, though, is what we mean by "hybrid". If all we mean is that the game supports different agenda during different play phases or different situations, that's a given. However, there are three other possible definitions of the concept that have been discussed on this forum, and usually when the word "hybrid" is mentioned, it means one of those two.

      One, sometimes thought to be represented by The Riddle of Steel, is a simultaneous full commitment to two distinct agenda by each player. Given the Sim/Nar hybrid which TRoS is supposed to be, that would mean that in combat players are fully committed simultaneously to making moral statements based on the Spiritual Attributes and to experiencing the dream in terms of knowing what it might really be like to be in such a combat. The difficult question is whether it is really possible to have that complete commitment to two so disparate agenda during the same in-play events. Like Jason (who handled it admirably) I think this is not possible; in early "GNS" discussions my assertion that I "was all three" led to the conclusion that I "was only one at a time". That sort of drift/transition play is not at all that uncommon in my experience, in that given the right game players will move to different agenda in response to different situations. This sort of "I want both of these things absolutely right now, and will not sacrifice either for the other" play is questionable to me.

      The other theoretical hybrid is characterized by a word which I think I picked for it but can't remember (and Mike was citing me for it just within the past few weeks)--convergence? That might be it. Whatever the word was, the concept was that a game might be so designed that two different agenda would tend toward the same in-game decisions, thus facilitating coherent play between players with differing agenda. My model for this was a Viet Nam-type combat unit game. Gamism, narrativism, and simulationism would all tend to point to making the same choices in most of the situations that arose in play, and where they led to different choices those tensions would become support for all three agenda. For example, the question of whether to attack the village becomes a debate between the characters. For the narrativist, this is addressing premise, that the characters have this tension over a moral issue. For the simulationist, this is exploring what it was really like to be part of such a unit where the debates over what was the right thing to do compromised the effectiveness as a combat unit. For the gamist, this became one of the liabilities that had to be overcome to beat the odds, that he not only had to fight well against the baddies, he had to overcome the negative baggage at the same time. That game was never designed, so there's no certainty as to whether it could work. However, convergence as a hybrid concept is one of the possible definitions, which would mean a game which simultaneously supported different agenda among different players in such a way that their choices would mesh in play.

      The final definition of hybrid is a game which provides sufficient support for two different agenda that it can be played out of the box either way without discarding any of the rules, with minimal rules/agendum conflict for either choice. TRoS is also cited for this sometimes.

      The discussion of whether a hybrid is possible thus must first satisfy the question of what a hybrid is. In Ron's earliest discussions of GNS suggested that hybrids by the definition of players prioritizing more than one agendum were not possible. Later they became theoretically possible, and potential examples were suggested. Ultimately, I believe he concluded that they were at best extremely unlikely and never demonstrated to be possible.

      I personally think the term has little use, because its definition is so uncertain. By one definition they may well be impossible; by another I'm sure they're quite common.

      --M. J. Young


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: talysman on November 29, 2005, 01:18:08 AM
      I tried to reply to this while I was off on vacation, but ran into a technical problem.

      just to make things clear:

      • I don't agree with Jay that Sim is bricolage, but that's not what this thread is about.
      • I think hybrids are not only possible, but also have a clear design approach; that's not what this thread is about.
      • I know that SIm is just as social as Gamis or Narrativism; the presence/absence or quantity of social interactions is not what this thread is about.
      • I agree with M. J. (and disagree with Jay) that there are metagame decisions in Sim, but that's not quite what this thread is about.
      • I agree with Ron's definition of Sim, but would like it to be "grabbier", like Narrativism and Story Now. that's not even what this thread is about.

      what the thread is about is the quality of the social interactions and metagame behaviors in Sim. Mike, you say:

      Quote
      sim is player desire for "exalting the fiction" being higher than the other two by definition

      exactly. I'm drawing a conclusion from that definition, and from observed behavior. "Exalting the Fiction" is different from Exploration of the Fiction because the communication between the players at the table is indirect, mediated by the Fiction, in the same way that you might see two guys talking about a machine they are working on and pretending that personal issues of guts or moral opinions don't exist. the metagame in Sim is always about who has the right to add to the Fiction and under what circumstances.

      in M. J.'s "entwives" metagame example, even if it turns out that the player introduced the entwives for a later Narrativist purpose, the actual action at this point is still Sim: it expands the Fiction using the existing Fiction agreed upon by the players (which, in this case, includes the published material about Middle Earth.) it does not justify adding entwives as an ally to gain a tactical advantage, nor does it justify adding them to make a moral point (maybe a choice between finding the entwives or raiding a barrow?)

      or another example, from a game I played with friends this past saturday. the characters were trapped in the basement of an abandoned hotel. one of the players suggested finding the elevator; we did, but it had already been established that there was no power in the building. there was a very Simmy discussion about whether a person could restore power to a building that has been without power for years. we then pried open the elevator, discovered the elevator car was on the floor above; one player suggested that in movies (and perhaps in real life, but none of us were sure,) there would be an access ladder at the back of the shaft that we could use.

      this was a metagame negotiation, drawing not from personal concerns (tactical or moral,) but from an impersonal source: in this case, real life elevator shafts, or as close to it as we'd experienced, instead of source fiction as in the Middle Earth example. it was done through social interaction, but in an impersonal manner -- us discussing the Fiction and our understanding of the world, rather than what we as individuals wanted from the story, or using tactical resources to influence events. if one of us had raised one of these other reasons as justification to add to the Fiction, or even if one of us wanted to switch the Color of the Fiction from modern Los Angeles supernatural horror to 24th century "Star Trek" because we liked that better than supernatural horror, there would have been a serious breakdown in the social contract and a heated argument would have broken out, in part because  we're no longer treating the Fiction as an extra player, with its own "motivations" in play; we've reduced the Fiction to a thing to be manipulated instead of respected.

      if no one takes further issue with these comments about impersonal versus personal communications and the nature of the Fiction in Sim play, we can move on and close this thread. we can split off other issues, like hybrids, into separate threads. if, however, someone wants to question whether the personal/impersonal distinction is accurate, or doesn't think the Fiction acts almost like an additional player in a Sim game, or wants further clarification, or perhaps wants to discuss whether the Sim preference for the impersonal represents some social issues peculiar to pure Sim players, then perhaps we have more to discuss.

      thanks to everyone for participating in the thread.


      Title: Re: The Secret of Sim
      Post by: Ron Edwards on November 29, 2005, 06:17:42 AM
      Hiya,

      I'm validating the closure, and also stating that that final post contains just about anything and everything I'm interested in saying about Simulationist play.

      Best,
      Ron