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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Jake Norwood on November 05, 2002, 12:35:19 AM



Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Jake Norwood on November 05, 2002, 12:35:19 AM
Okay, gamism--probably due to the preferences of many Forgites--has the least positive rap around here.

But, let's face it...we all have an inner gamist...something within us that wants to win.

I want to talk about that little devil. I know we've got one. Are we repressing him? Have we out-grown him? Do we push him aside for all but once a month when we play monopoly?

Where is our inner gamist, what have we done with him, and why?

Jake


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Alan on November 05, 2002, 01:20:56 AM
Hi Jake,

I think I've sublimated my gamist into narrativism.  Instead of competing in the real world, I seek the thrill of winning in a fantasy world.

- Alan


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Matt Machell on November 05, 2002, 02:40:16 AM
My inner gamist got addicted to the LOTR trading card game.........

Actually, I've been playing around with gamist ideas of late. My iron game chef entry was about as gamist as you can get. I'll re-write it and put it on the web sometime soon.

-Matt


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Marco on November 05, 2002, 04:05:24 AM
My inner gamist is well sated by crunchy combat in most traditional games--especially ones where I can design a character to take advantage of tactical choices.

Ron cites Champion's 3rd as a prime mix of Narrativist and Sim design--but for me, that game gave me one of the most gratifying battle scenes I'd ever been in (a team of "junior" supers against a single, mind-controled power-house--I'd created the more powerful character as an NPC and we switched GM's. When we wound up fighting him it was high drama and a running tactical exercise as he more or less one-shotted us while we worked in a coordinated fashion to bring him down).

Complex, tactical combat a major strength of traditional RPG design for this very reason.

-Marco


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Valamir on November 05, 2002, 05:22:14 AM
For me personally, I think that I've decided that RPGs are just all around a poor vehicle for exploring that inner gamist.  When I'm in the mood for some of the deliciously crunchy combat that Marco described, the last thing I want to do is sit through a bunch of namby pamby story telling or GM exposition.  Yup, I'm the guy who, in the middle of the GM droneing on in yet another long winded revelation of the secrets of the world will say..."let's go kill something"...when I'm in that sort of mood.

So I find my inner gamist best satisfied with games designed specifically for that purpose...the original games designed for that purpose.  wargames (and when I can find an opponent, historical minis).  

For me, when I'm in that sort of brain stretching mood, alot of the hard core paper and counter wargames are just too slow.  Waiting 2 hours for an opponent to finish his move (or 4-5 hours if playing a monster like Home before the Leaves Fall...aka...Home before the counters fade) is just too long.  I want the return...now.  So I found myself more and more playing wargames of the faster playing more abstract variety...until I found the German games.  Plays fast, very competitive, quick to learn and master the intricacies.  I now have boxes and boxes of pure gamist mental puzzles with which I can lay waste to my feeble opponents.

Then when I got back into roleplaying, I found that since that particular itch was being thoroughly scratched elsewhere, I didn't need the usually inferior substitute scratching offered by RPGs and could now enjoy RPGs for the reasons that they are particularly superior at.  Namely being socially interactive in ways most board games aren't, and challenging more the artistic creative side of the brain rather than the tactical creative side.

That's not to say that I don't still enjoy some gamist manipulation when it comes to my RPing...its just no longer a priority.


Title: Whence The Gamist Has Gone
Post by: RobMuadib on November 05, 2002, 06:34:32 AM
Jake

I largely agree with Ralph here, my truly truly gamist side has been better served by Board Wargames and Combat Games. Back in the day me and guys used to play Battle-tech, a moderately challenging game with lots of SF/F flavor and feel, and Star Fleet Battles, an extremely complex and challenging game, that also has lots of SF/F feel. Oh, and then there was like Advanced Squad Leader, and like Axis and Allies, and similar bust out the counters kind of fun games.

However, I don't mind a little in game RPG fun, just that few games provide a worthwhile experience in that regard, TROS (Which I just got, pretty sweet Jake) and like RUNE being on the only new games I can think off, oh and I still want to actually play Phoenix Command with someone, and like some Living Steel:). Champions used to be somewhat like that, in that we tried to build the toughest character possible. But in general, RPG's are a weak medium for hardcore competition by their nature.

laterz

Rob


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Seth L. Blumberg on November 05, 2002, 07:55:48 AM
I'm 100% in agreement with Ralph here. Since I joined a semimonthly German game group, I'm becoming more and more Narrativist.

But wait...this is turning into one of those threads that usually make Ron wince. Can we address a broader issue or trend here, instead of swapping war stories?


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Jake Norwood on November 05, 2002, 08:37:31 AM
Let me try...

I think the trend here is that most of us *do* have an inner gamist, but we feel that RPGs aren't the best place to treat him (or her, or it), so we found other avenues (wargaming, boardgames, etc) to appease our competitive nature. Some RPGs have gamist elements that do work, such as Rune (which is a lot of fun as a gamist excercise, from the looks of it), and even the crunchy combat in games such as TROS (where as players we compete against our table-top opponents, though the stakes may very from death--like TROS--to embarassment or annoyance--Feng Shui, DnD with some).

In other words, what I'm hearing is that RPGs aren't very good at papering the inner gamist when compared to other kinds of game. RPGs are better at Sim/Nar type choices (or providing ground for those choices) than Gamist choices, and so we prefer to do it just that way.

Sound about right?

Jake


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Valamir on November 05, 2002, 08:57:20 AM
I think so.  I would trace this back really to a single primary point.  In most board games the rules are the rules.  They may have optional rules but those are still black and white rules that are decided upon before play.  In an RPG the rules are looser...both in the way they are written and in how they are enforced.  Rare is the RPG that doesn't direct the GM to change rules to suit.  Rare is the wargame that does.

In an RPG detailed knowledge of the rules and using every obscure clause to gain tactical advantage is widely labeled (incorrectly, but still the sentiment is there) as "bad roleplaying".  In a wargame high honors and status are heaped upon those who can claim encyclopedic knowledge of the rules system.

For a truly comptetive experience you need rules and you need those rules to be uniformly applied and enforced.  Since this rarely happens in an RPG, the experience is is somewhat disatisfying in this regard.


Title: Not for Me
Post by: Le Joueur on November 05, 2002, 09:16:43 AM
Sorry to disagree, but I can't get my 'inner gamist' satisfied outside of role-playing games.  I discovered him in junior high school when I was given two classmates and a thinly disguised Switzerland and went on to become the only class to ever prevent World War I.  I really get off on the 'court intrigue' type of gamist play and nothing else delivers that like role-playing games.

Past the personal example and 'on topic,' it's not just about 'crunchy game mechanics,' there's personal challenge and achievement too, isn't it?

Fang Langford


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Bankuei on November 05, 2002, 09:39:40 AM
My inner gamist brings me back to D&D, just when I threw my hands up in frustration.  He loves the crunchy bits, including the sick power rush of "leveling up".  For lesser escapades, he settles for Uno, Othello, and Dominoes.  

But my true crack addiction is Tenjo, a samurai wargame that can be played in about 3 or 4 hours, involves a lot of bluffing, deception and out and out betrayal....

Chris


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 05, 2002, 09:45:04 AM
Hello,

My only comment so far is to distinguish between "enjoying a fight" or "enjoying conflict," and Gamism.

The former concept is or can be an element of any and all role-playing. The latter concept is much more specialized to a metagame phenomenon among the real people. (Or more accurately, a variety of related phenomena, some of which are very distinct.)

Gamism, like Narrativism, is defined by the overt focus on a metagame priority. Enjoying a good combat or conflict during play isn't enough to garner that particular designation for describing the situation.

Best,
Ron


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Marco on November 05, 2002, 10:48:05 AM
Eh?

Is enjoying the manipulation of character-generation and application of tactical rules to combat enough to earn the designation?

Fang: I highly agree--it doesn't have to be combat--that just happens to be where I most enjoy it.

-Marco


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 05, 2002, 11:02:30 AM
Marco,

My answer to your question: No. It is not, no more than enjoying elements of character and generation for any other purpose defines that purpose.

This isn't a difficult concept but I think the distinction has flown over just about everyone's heads. I've given so many examples of Gamist play and decision-making that I'm not inclined to go over them again. I only wish people would take the time to read over them and try to distinguish what I'm saying from what they bring to the discussion.

It's related to the disturbing frequency with which "multiple-GNS" design is bandied about lately on the Theory forum, usually regarding designs which are no such thing, but I'll save that issue for some other time.

Oh, and Jake - I can find no evidence whatsoever that Gamism has a bad rap at the Forge. I strongly suggest reading over the GNS and Design forums, starting at the beginning and going by thread titles, to find very strong evidence to the contrary.

Best,
Ron


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Tim C Koppang on November 05, 2002, 11:02:42 AM
So far I see (1) people who are digging the crunchy mechanics as a requirement for solid gamist roleplaying, and then (2) we have the more elusive conflict or personal challenge type of people.  I'm sure that the two groups aren’t nearly as separate as I’m making them out to be.  In my experience one and two blend together in some ratio.  But my questions:

1) How can we design gamist mechanics in a way that would satisfy gamers who are looking towards other types of games (e.g. Ralph and Rob)?

2) Is there some way to encourage a more strict interpretation of rules that would then in turn encourage better competition?

I think as far as my second question is concerned, the hang-ups players tend to have arise from the “disregard any rule you don’t like” style of play traditionally included in many older games.  But still, GMs and players alike have a tendency to decide a lot of outcomes by social contract rather than via a rule, if the rule produces an undesirable outcome.  From my own experience on the Forge, I’ve begun to think that an adherence to roleplaying rules is just as important as is following the correct procedure in a Monopoly game for instance—especially if you follow a system does matter philosophy.


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on November 05, 2002, 12:21:27 PM
My inner gamist wrote Donjon.

Going against all convention, I'm just going to make an "I agree" post in regards to Ron. Gamism is beloved here, but it seems this thread belies a serious misunderstanding of it.


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Andrew Martin on November 05, 2002, 01:09:23 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
In other words, what I'm hearing is that RPGs aren't very good at papering the inner gamist when compared to other kinds of game. RPGs are better at Sim/Nar type choices (or providing ground for those choices) than Gamist choices, and so we prefer to do it just that way.


I don't know, but I and my friends have been playing my S combat system as a table top wargame (6' x 8' table, lots of terrain, with two or multiple players). We even demonstrated an older version of S at a local show last year. I guess it depends on the RPG rules?


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: MK Snyder on November 05, 2002, 02:52:02 PM
My Inner Gameist counts cards in Blackjack and memorizes strategies for video poker. As well as enjoys all kinds of board games.

Since there are already so many "pure" venues for gaming without any role playing, I am coming to the conclusion that what the RPG playing gameist seeks is social reward for demonstrating cleverness. This can be acheived by the gamists who do not play to "win" as defined by the RPG itself, but to demonstrate holes in game design, to frustrate the GM, or meet some other private "victory condition".

As a blackjack player, I get money, at the expense of social recognition; I have to keep my skill hidden from the casino and other players as much as possible.

Since the "victory condition" of such a gameist is privately generated, I don't see how game design can prevent or discourage this form of play.


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Jake Norwood on November 05, 2002, 03:03:55 PM
Re: Gamism's "Bad Rap."

Okay, so maybe I was a little strong here. I think its safe to say that most of the posts on the Forge represent Narrativist tendencies. I think that a great deal of us, based on the discussions that I've seen, are rooted in a large amount of Simulationist Play. Gamist isn't so much "unpopular"--this thread proves that--but rather it seems to be seen as the most "childish" of the three. It's the realm of munchkins and D&D--which, deny it or not, has a pejurated status (is pejurated even a word?).

It is true that a lot of game designs have gamist elements in them anymore, and that many of them are very good (Donjon, for example). This is lifting "gamism" in my eyes, but I confess that I feel that my inner gamist is disruptive to other's fun *in many circumstances* because it denies that "What is an RPG" slogan: "There's no winner in RPGing--all the players are winners."

So is a lot of the bad rap in my subconcious? Sure it is...but it wasn't there before I started haunting the Forge (at least not "as such").

So there...I wasn't trying to assault anything or anyone, just stating my impression. Note that this thread wasn't about "why do we suppress our inner gamist," but rather, "what do we do with our suppressed inner gamist." The responses have shown that I'm not way off base here.

Jake,
who thinks that internet boards are a decent place for one's inner gamist.


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: MK Snyder on November 05, 2002, 04:24:55 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood

This is lifting "gamism" in my eyes, but I confess that I feel that my inner gamist is disruptive to other's fun *in many circumstances* because it denies that "What is an RPG" slogan: "There's no winner in RPGing--all the players are winners."


I don't see anything wrong or immature about gamist focused play in RPG's. If that is what the group as a whole enjoys either in aggregate or in contract, that's fine.

The single rabid Narrativist focused player can just as easily disrupt the fun of a group composed of Gamist focused players! (says the player criticized for "dragging things out with long descriptive passages nobody can understand...")

As for the "There's no winner..." slogan, oh, piffle and poppycock.  Perfectly fun RPG's can have winners and losers, if that's what the gaming group enjoys. An RPG does not *have* to have winners and losers (unlike a satisfying casino game, which must).

That does not mean that every RPG *must not* have winners and losers.


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Rich Forest on November 05, 2002, 05:42:34 PM
My take:

I’d argue that the poor reputation of gamism has not, in general, been perpetrated so much at the Forge as in various other venues, including numerous RPG texts, “how to GM” chapters, RPG magazines, and other discussions.  In my experience, derogative uses of terms like “munchkin” and “power gamer” are actually less common at the Forge because they are not very useful to rigorous discussion.  I think MK Snyder’s point is a good example of this, and of course, Jake has pointed out that this thread has gotten a pretty popular response.  Once upon a time, I started a thread about gamism (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1672)  that also received a similarly energetic response, with no negativism in sight.  

I do think that Jake’s perception of gamism’s negative image is on track, but I would argue that it is not a product of GNS or the Forge.  Rather, pejoratives like “munchkin” and “power gamer” predate GNS, and the negative connotations have been a part of roleplaying culture for a while.  I think that it is only through retroactively conflating “power gaming” (and its connotations) with “gamism”  that a negative perception of gamism is produced.  In general, the Forge discussions that I’ve observed since I started lurking here a year ago have avoided saying "gamism=bad."  However, we all bring a set of assumptions to GNS based on prior experience, and it’s easy to assume that “gamism” must also carry the same negative connotations as terms like “power gaming” and “munchkin.” This is what I did when I first encountered GNS.  

This tendency to base our interpretations on prior assumptions is natural.  How else would we approach the terms?  Additionally, it is by no means exclusive to the term "gamism."  It is, in fact, the source of a lot of the "I have a problem with GNS because of X" threads, where X equals a semantic confusion of one of the GNS terms based on previous uses of the word.  Nothing wrong with the confusion, in and of itself, and it often leads to useful refinements of how we describe the theory.        

As to my own “inner gamist,” he is alive and kicking, and maybe I can’t even call him my “inner gamist.”  In fact, he’s pretty “out” there, so I guess my answer to the initial question of what we do with our suppressed inner gamist is that I don’t suppress him.  I let him run free.  When choosing a game, my group consistently looks for elements in the rules that are conducive to gamist play.  And looking back, we were doing it before we really knew it.  In addition, I’ve consistently built gamist scenarios into all of our most successful campaigns, regardless of the game.  That solid, and consistent, drift on our part has helped keep us happy.  Of course, now that we know what we’re looking for, it’s gotten even easier to find it.    

As far as the “gamism in roleplaying” vs. “gamism in other games,” I find myself more in the “gamism in roleplaying” category of preference.  My own gamist needs are not satisfied in the same way by strategic games without roleplaying elements.  I’ve noticed this for a long time, and while I can enjoy a good, strategic board or war game, neither gives me the satisfaction of a good gamist roleplaying game.  Why?  Personally, I just don’t become invested enough in the game without the involvement of roleplaying and fictional characters as additional elements.  Plus, as someone who typically takes the GM role, there's a lot of "coming up with cool ideas" activity that's so much easier to get in RPGs.  I don't enjoy my gamism as much when it is so pure that I don't get to include other aspects that make roleplaying so much fun.

Rich


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 05, 2002, 06:55:13 PM
Hi Rich,

Great post. I agree with you in full.

I usually try to avoid posting like this, but sometimes it's just too right.

Best,
Ron


Title: Getting in touch with our inner gamist
Post by: C. Edwards on November 06, 2002, 01:03:20 AM
Rich wrote:
Quote
I don't enjoy my gamism as much when it is so pure that I don't get to include other aspects that make roleplaying so much fun.


After reading this, I couldn't help but think of gamism in role-playing as "gamism on the rocks".

As for my inner gamist, he really only comes out during paintball, volleyball, and other physical activity.  In most board-games I usually have relevant winning conditions for myself other than those in the rules.  A classic example would be RISK, winning is not as important to me as causing as much chaos and hardship as possible.  I like to win, and often do, but that usually isn't my top priority.

-Chris