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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Johannes on January 24, 2003, 11:19:20 AM



Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Johannes on January 24, 2003, 11:19:20 AM
In the GNS-essay it says that narrativism is expressed by the creation, via role-playing, of a story with a recognizable theme. It also says that
it is defined by the metagame attention to creating a story of critical merit. I am a bit confused here: these are two different things.

As far as I understand a story can be good without a recognizable thematic content. Just think about a situational comedy -style of gaming. The players are on a meta-game level aiming at producing a story with a comic plot with as many funny coincidencies and suprises as possible. This is in line with the second definition but not with the theme-definition. I think this is true also in situations where the GM is trying to create a complicated plot and narrative suspense. I guess these are both exploration of situation but I'm uncertain if these qualify as narrativism. I would say so because they are not gamist or simist either. Or what about a anarchist player who does things because no-one expects them and he wants to rock the boat?

Which one is more important - theme or critical merit? I personally think that the critical merit part might be better definer than the theme. Theme is so narrow and it's not an issue in many stories - even good ones. Critical merit is of course controversial but if we define it as "something that people enjoy in a book or film" we can shift that problem to the well developped fields of criticism and the discussions and debates there. I might have my head in my -- here so I'd llike to her your thoughts on this issue.


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: jburneko on January 24, 2003, 11:47:25 AM
Hello There,

I'm sure Ron will clearify this better but I'll start off with a basic explination.  I think you're misunderstanding Ron's use of the word "Theme."  And I think you're taking "critical merit" too far.

Narrativism is based on players addressing a Premise.  Premise is defined as a moral or ethical question that the characters are directly or indirectly dealing with.  Theme, is the individual answers each character demonstrates.  I think of Premise as the global to the story, while Theme is localized to each character individually.

When one uses the words "critical merit" all that stuff from English Lit comes to mind, "Wuthering Heights", "A Tale of Two Cities" and so forth.  But all well constructed stories have Premise and Theme, even if the Premise and Theme are not all that "deep" or "profound."

You mentioned Sit-Coms.  Most Sit-Coms are built on nothing BUT Premise.  How many Sit-Coms have you seen that have featured a "Sexual Harrasement" episode or a "Homosexuality Episode."  Those are Premises.  How the characters chose to deal with those issues (be it humorous or serious) is that characters Theme regarding that Premise.

So, yeah, well constructed stories have Premise and Theme, from A Tale of Two Cities through Aliens, past Buffy The Vampire Slayer, around Sienfeld, even all the way down in All My Children.  Premises and Theme are what hold our attention in stories.

Two Additional Points:

1) Your point about Simulationism [Situation or Character] was correct.  This style of play is just players doing 'stuff' with no focus on Premise.  In hindsight a Premise and Theme may be visible but it wasn't the active goal of play, so it wasn't Narrativism.

2) The disruptive "jerk" player actually falls outside the model.  GNS is about focused functional play.  The "jerk" player is operating on the social level (the level above GNS) not the focused "goal of play" level.

Ron, I'm sure will get me on a million technicalities.  In any event, I hope that was clear.

Jesse


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 24, 2003, 01:50:24 PM
Hi,

Actually, Jesse nailed it pretty damn well.

I especially want to support the idea that stories that we perceive as light or funny are often the most deadly-intent on a given Premise, not the least.

Seinfeld is not, and has never ever been, "about nothing."

Best,
Ron


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Johannes on January 25, 2003, 03:13:04 AM
Thanks for your replies. I wrote the post above when I was quite tired and when I am tired I have troble expressing my ideas in English so I'm afraid I was too general. Sorry. I now try to be more spesific with these examples.

1. A GM bases his decicion during actual play on narrative suspense. He chooses the alternative which is the most thrilling. He decides to ignore the issue of probability and possibility (sim?) and knows his decicion is likely to make it difficult (or even impossible) to interpret any recognizable theme from the game (narrativism in the essay).

My instinct would say that this is narrativism because the GM is considering the game as a story and tries to achieve something that many people regard as an good element in a story (narrative merit?). However the GM is not focused on a theme but on the plot and its twists.  Do you think this is narrativism? Or what is it?

2. A player makes his character retire after an adventure because the player thinks that it will satisy the aristotelian need for a story to have a begining, middle and an end. However no regognizabe theme has yet risen in the game. I would consider this narrativism for the above reasons. What do you think?

3. The jerk player. Actually I didn't mean a jerk player but a player who likes the plot to have impulsive and unpredictable (and even "impossible") twists because s/he thinks that polts that follow the usual human narrative patterns are boring. By rocking the boat I don't mean that s/he wants to disrupt the game. S/he just wants to destroy the feeling of safety which is created by the familiar plot patterns. This is sort of postmodern thing. Her play isn't necessarily disuptive to the game if the other players like the same sort of thing. Again I would say this is narrativism because the "jerk" player is considering the game as a story and her decicion is based on some kind of critical merit. However no theme has to be involved. Whats your take?

4. Sit-com. I suppose I mean the absurd kind a sit-com (not Seinfeld) where things are scripted just because thay will produce comic and supprising results. I agree that a theme will usually emerge from a narrative of sitcoms but it doesn't have to. The sit-com gamer is philosophically similar to the suspense GM so I won't here give an example of it. You can still comment if you like.

I took the adjective recogizable (theme) to be important in the definition of narrativism so I have ignored the philosophical question of all narratives having a theme. I understand that Ron means that for a theme to be functional in a RPG situation it has to be recognizabel - and forget the speculation about unknown themes for the purposes of the essay.

The point of these posts is that I'm wondering if narrativism could be defined by other critical/literary categories (like plot) than just the theme. Here are some hypothetical examples:

Plot-narrativism: player is trying to narrate a "good" plot even if no theme will emerge. (see above)

Poetic-narrativism: player is using metric verse or other anomalous form of speech in his narration and fictive dialogue. The focus is not a theme but the poetic function of language.

Anti-immersive-narrativism: players decicions aim at making it impossible to immerse in the game.

Meta-narrativism: the aim is to make the narrative mechanisms of the game visible. (this is close to the anti-immersive)

Again I agree that a recognizable theme can emerge from any of the above but it is not necessary.


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Cadriel on January 25, 2003, 06:19:43 AM
Johannes:

A lot of what I get from Narrativism is that the story has a dramatic Premise with a capital P, along the lines of Lajos Egri's The Art of Dramatic Writing.  Trying to tell the "most thrilling" story would probably be a certain kind of Simulationist Exploration of Situation (I think; one could certainly correct me if I'm wrong).

I would argue, on Egrian lines, that the second example seems foolish; if there has been a beginning, middle, and end to the game, in Aristotelian terms, then there has been rising action and a climax and a denouement, all of which imply significant conflict along story lines.  If the group has been consciously seeking these, there is probably an unconscious Premise that they have in mind.  That said, I don't think Aristotle works well for Narrativist RPGs.

For the third example, I think it's a bit of the tail wagging the dog.  Essentially, the main problem that I see with "unpredictable" turns in the plot is that, in Egri's terms, they tend to lead toward jumping conflicts (that is, a conflict where a character moves from step 1 to step 8 without going through steps 2-7).  I have a bit more commentary that will come in a few moments, but essentially that's at the heart of it.

For the last...I think that an absurdist sitcom, with no Premise, would actually be so bad as to be unwatchable.  It'd be like watching an extended episode of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and however much I love "Whose Line," you couldn't keep up anything sustained more than a few minutes in that kinda format.

I think what you're doing is feeding more Aristotelian literary criticisms into the concept of Narrativism, including the primacy of "plot."  (This would be, obviously, in your "Plot-Narrativism.")  Essentially, plot is defined by Egri as being the result of a three-dimensional character, aimed toward a Premise, placed at a turning point in his or her life, and being set free amongst balanced obstacles.  Focusing on plot, as per Egri, is not in and of itself useful.  Every work worth reading has a point [observe the common reactions to a story without one]; the Narrativist's intent is to create a story of literary merit; hence, attempting to simulate postmodern "themeless" works is not a good Narrativist goal.  Furthermore, I'd submit that any of them that were any good had a Premise and just didn't admit it.

Poetic-Narrativism just confuses me as a concept; what are you aiming for there?  Primacy of diction certainly never led to any worthwhile literary stories.  As for Anti-immersive Narrativism...well, to be honest, in RPG discussion "Immersion" is rather like the word "Liberty" in classical Roman rhetoric:  it means (usually) whatever the speaker wants, and it is contradicted by whatever his opponents want.  So that's undefinable.  And as for "Meta-Narrativism," it just seems like a bizarre postmodern exercise.

While theme may not result in any of these, I would argue that likewise any literary or filmic or other form of work that really has no theme (it's possible to fake having no theme) has no merit; and that therefore the literary merit criterion is not met, and it is not sound Narrativism.

-Wayne


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on January 25, 2003, 07:22:33 AM
Hello, Johannes

I would suggest you try re-reading the GNS essay. I know I needed to reread it a few times before I was even close to getting it and I suspect the language barrier may be hampering you a bit. Pay special attention to the parts addressing immersion and the Great Impossible Thing To Believe Before Breakfast.


Title: More Like Dramatism
Post by: Le Joueur on January 25, 2003, 07:47:17 AM
Hey Johannes,

You're in good company about your confusion over Narrativism.  I wrote a piece (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=15014#15014) that I am thinking of turning into a full article called "Is Narrativism Turned Inside Out?"  It is based exactly on the types of examples you cite.

Quote from: Johannes
[list=1]
  • A GM bases his decision during actual play on narrative╣ suspense. He chooses the alternative which is the most thrilling. He decides to ignore the issue of probability and possibility (sim╣?) and knows his decision is likely to make it difficult (or even impossible) to interpret any recognizable theme from the game (Narrativism in the essay).

My instinct would say that this is Narrativism because the GM is considering the game as a story▓ and tries to achieve something that many people regard as an good element in a story▓ (narrative╣ merit?). However the GM is not focused on a theme but on the plot and its twists.  Do you think this is Narrativism? Or what is it?

  • A player makes his character retire after an adventure because the player thinks that it will satisfy the Aristotelian need for a story▓ to have a beginning, middle, and an end. However no recognizable theme has yet risen in the game. I would consider this Narrativism for the above reasons. What do you think?
  • The jerk player. Actually I didn't mean a jerk player but a player who likes the plot to have impulsive and unpredictable (and even "impossible") twists because s/he thinks that plots that follow the usual human narrative patterns are boring. By rocking the boat I don't mean that s/he wants to disrupt the game. S/he just wants to destroy the feeling of safety which is created by the familiar plot patterns. This is sort of postmodern thing. Her play isn't necessarily disruptive to the game if the other players like the same sort of thing. Again I would say this is Narrativism because the "jerk" player is considering the game as a story▓ and her decision is based on some kind of critical merit. However no theme has to be involved. What's your take?
  • Sit-com. I suppose I mean the absurd kind a sit-com (not Seinfeld) where things are scripted just because they will produce comic and surprising results. I agree that a theme will usually emerge from a narrative of sitcoms but it doesn't have to. The sit-com gamer is philosophically similar to the suspense GM so I won't here give an example of it. You can still comment if you like.[/list:o]
I was in a similar situation to you, but there were also a group arguing about the concept promoted on the newsgroup rec.games.frp.advocacy (I think) called Dramatism.  I'm no expert on "The Threefold Model," but I could see how, compared to Narrativism, Dramatism is about story▓, any kind of story▓.  Now Ron has a point (Narrativism is his word after all), Narrativism is when decisions made during individual 'instances of play' are prioritized to address an Edwardian│ Premise (a thematic 'question' posed by the game at large); through action (whether self-conscious and deliberate or not) the participants in the game produce an Edwardian│ theme (answer that 'question,' this often takes the form of a thematic message or statement delivered).  This is the crux of Narrativism.  The things you've described put an emphasis upon story▓, rather then Edwardian│ theme within the story▓.

Ron has determined that what commonly goes as Dramatism (definitions held in common on the internet are usually a bit 'blurry') fits into the GNS model as Simulationism╣ with accent upon attention to the Situations of the game (I think, it may have changed some).

Trying to create a dynamic to allow Dramatists (people who prioritize story▓ in most forms) to relate to Narrativists (people who prioritize addressing an Edwardian│ theme), I suggested that perhaps Dramatism wasn't a good fit within Simulationism╣ and that therefore Narrativism is inside out (my original presentation of the idea) (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=15014#15014); you'll have to follow the link to find out why.

What you've presented are different priorities within the scope of story▓ as an explicit quality.  All are very relevant and very important, but don't have anything to do with Narrativism because of the importance of the Edwardian Premise in it.

I hope this illustrates more of the situation you are addressing.  Ron isn't interested in changing any part of his model, but there's no reason you can't form your own; I did (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1662).  Trying to add to the classification Narrativism, pell-mell, won't work because that isn't what Narrativism is about according to the theory's author.

Fang Langford

╣ Simulationism is not actually associated with the act of simulating, nor is Narrativism with all things narrative.  Many have complained that these names are inherently misleading.  I myself have come up with an alternative theory (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1662).  ...Which also brings up another issue that generally gets lost in readings of the GNS model.  According to the introduction, the GNS is of primary use diagnosing problems a group is already having based upon contrasting priorities demonstrated by analyzing 'instances of play' taken by each participant.  I created The Scattershot Model (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1662) to discuss one's preferences before actually entering play; it's a way to 'get on the same page' before starting.

▓ There are many problems with 'story' as a term to be used when discussing gaming.  The most obvious has to do with the enormous confusion when conflating story-result with story-intent.  Any series of event can be called a story because, as sequential, they result in a narrative.  If you set out to make a sequence of events that, through internal relationships, becomes more than simply a narrative, regardless of subscribing to a literary theme, suiting a metaphor, or simply doing the crisis-climax-resolution thing, this is a story that is more than the sum of the parts.  It is a story you intended to do, like most of your examples.

And that's just the first confusion that the term 'story' causes.

│ Why all the 'Edwardians?'  Because Ron uses a peculiar-to-him derivation of each of these words (which I have tried to illustrate parenthetically), while they have a lot in common with the same literary criticism terminology, they have been modified to be used with Ron's model for role-playing games.  For example Lajos Egri has written a lot about premise in writing for theatre, but the way Ron presents it is markedly different from Egri's work.


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Walt Freitag on January 25, 2003, 09:40:10 AM
Hi Johannes,

I've been there too. See this thread: One order of Narrativism, hold the Premise please. (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2273)

My own current belief, which appears similar to Fang's, is that focus on the in-play creation of plot is a valid way to think about play. But it's just not there in GNS. That doesn't mean GNS cannot describe your play if you play that way, just that GNS will not describe your play in the way that you're used to thinking about it. The reason for this is in the end quite simple: "plot" is something that can only exist in the outcome of play (outcome = the simple narrative of "what happened" during play, whether or not it has any story-like qualities). GNS does not address outcome in any way. GNS is fundamentally about how players observably behave at the instant of play. Observation of the outcome actually obtained isn't relevant.

Unfortunately, the description of Narrativism as being "the creation... of a story with a recognizable theme" makes it sound like Narrativism has something to do with outcome. The principle of "Story Now" clarifies the real meaning of GNS Narrativism as something concerned with what happens in the present moment rather than with what the outcome looks like.

Of course, most Narrativist players probably have reason to believe that Narrativist decision-making at the instant of play will result in outcomes with qualities they're looking for, qualities like "literary merit." But that's not part of the GNS definition of Narrativism.

This focus on the instant of play is GNS's greatest strength, because it counters a widespread tendency to put too much stock in outcomes when discussing RPGs. "How to GM" and "how to play" sections in RPG texts are rife with "outcome prescriptions" exhorting GMs and players to create a good story (and even describing what a good story should look like) without any clue about how to actually use the game system to do so. Advice in the form of "don't let X happen" and "make sure Y happens" is everywhere. And very hard to utilize.

The difference between GNS's prescriptions and the more commonplace outcome prescriptions is, in more general theoretical terms, the difference between an algorithm (GNS) and a constraint system ("make sure X happens"). Wolfram's spectacular book A New Science, Kind Of has a lot of discussion about the differences between the two. Algorithms tell you how to proceed, but don't always tell you where you'll end up (and sometimes make it impossible to tell where you'll end up, by any means short of actually performing the algorithm). Constraints tell you where to end up, but they don't tell you how to get there. Algorithms  in general are fundamentally easier to compute (that is, deal with) successfully than constraint systems. Note that many familiar examples of constraint systems are puzzles ("arrange twelve toothpicks so that they form six squares," or "color this map with four colors so that no two colors border each other") or famous mathematical conundrums, solved and unsolved ("find an integer solution to A^n + B^n = C^n, where n > 2").

In other words, "play so as to create a good plot" is a lot like a puzzle, while "play so as to prioritize [something] at the instant of play" is far more likely to be readily doable. That's the value of GNS.

HOWEVER... y'know, some people are really good at puzzles! For example, many authors writing novels probably don't think in terms of prioritizing some specific principle in the sentence they're writing right now. They know what kind of outcome they want and they write each scene or each sentence with those outcome qualities in mind, even when they haven't pre-planned the specific outcome. Human brains are exceptionally good at solving at least some types of constraint system, such as figuring out how to move hundreds of different muscles in order to catch a line-drive. And they do it by concentrating on the outcome constraints ("get the ball in the glove"), not by the procedure ("let's see, I think we need six more newtons of contractile force on the left femoral adductor muscle"). Some players have no problem making decisions based on desired eventual outcome qualities such as "a good plot" or even "literary merit" and only in retrospect (if ever) would they think about what priorities they used at each instant of play in order to get there.

Now, here's the thing. If you observe such a player, and it turns out, as it likely often will, that their commitment to literary qualities in the outcome did in fact cause them to prioritize exploration of Premise, then that play is Narrativist. There was Narrativist decision-making and that makes it Narrativist according to GNS, even without a conscious commitment to Narrativist decision-making nor to a specific Premise. So GNS can describe their play without being (as it does not intend to be) a model of their thought processes of how they approach it. In other words, GNS doesn't care whether or not decision-making prioritization of exploration of Premise is prescriptive for or descriptive of the player's play.

But a player might.

It's debatable (and the debate is in the arena of literary theory, possibly not appropriate here) whether or not the outcome quality "literary merit" can be achieved without play that prioritizes exploration of Premise. It probably depends on exactly how "literary merit" is defined (and for the whole question not be circular, the definition has to be a self-contained property of the work, not a "...resulting from" prescription). But in any case, there are many other outcome qualities that players might desire, including humor, comedy (not the same thing), suspense, poignancy, genre conventions, page-turner pacing, surprise, mystery, or neatly resolving everything just before little brother's bedtime.

In all those cases, play intended to do "whatever it takes" to bring about an outcome with the desired qualities will often not fall conveniently into any one GNS mode, nor will adhering to any one GNS mode necessarily be of any help at all in bringing about the desired qualities of outcome. GNS isn't about outcome. Players who prefer to think in terms of outcome constraints rather than algorithmic methods of play will find that the model doesn't match their thinking.

- Walt


Title: Re: More Like Dramatism
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on January 25, 2003, 09:53:29 AM
Quote from: Le Joueur
You're in good company about your confusion over Narrativism.

I can agree with this. It's kind of difficult to understand just what "story" means in "creating a story through play."

I don't have a lot of time to go into it now, but I can say that there are several concepts that are thought of as story that as not Narrativist. Things like a published metaplot or the GM as primary author in the Impossible Thing to Believe Before Breakfast or the Bobby G scenerio.


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 25, 2003, 09:55:15 AM
Hello,

Fang wrote,
Quote
Ron isn't interested in changing any part of his model,


... and I'd like to maintain that this is neither true nor fair. The current essay represents a great deal of change based on the debates from the previous two years, and I'm hard at work on three essays right now (one for each mode) that represent my extensions, clarifications, and modifications provided by many people, not the least of whom is Fang.

Best,
Ron


Title: Sorry, Not What I Meant Exactly
Post by: Le Joueur on January 25, 2003, 04:17:39 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Quote from: Fang
Ron isn't interested in changing any part of his model,

...and I'd like to maintain that this is neither true nor fair. The current essay represents a great deal of change based on the debates from the previous two years, and I'm hard at work on three essays right now (one for each mode) that represent my extensions, clarifications, and modifications provided by many people, not the least of whom is Fang.

Sorry, I was trying to be brief.  What I was trying to say was that changing Narrativism into substantially more than 'addressing the Edwardian Premise,' such as what has loosely been defined as Dramatism or focussing it more on 'story' than premise, is something you have expressly said you weren't interested in.  I took all of Johannes' qualifications as something along these lines and therefore highly unlikely.

I never meant it as universal or arbitrary as it sounded.  Sorry.

Fang Langford


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 25, 2003, 07:42:06 PM
Hello,

Another thing people tend to miss - and this is fully in admission that I never should have put the "literary merit" thing in anyway - is that I say, Narrativism may be understood as the attempt to achieve "literary merit," which is to say exactly that - the attempt. Not the success thereof, but making such a thing a priority.

So there's two problems with that set of phrasing: (1) that people confuse process/priorities with results and (2) "literary merit" is a po-faced, obnoxious, misleading term. I much prefer the address-a-Premise approach that seems to have worked much better in terms of communicating the ideas to people in dialogue here at the Forge.

Best,
Ron


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: M. J. Young on January 26, 2003, 07:05:58 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Another thing people tend to miss - and this is fully in admission that I never should have put the "literary merit" thing in anyway - is that I say, Narrativism may be understood as the attempt to achieve "literary merit," which is to say exactly that - the attempt. Not the success thereof, but making such a thing a priority.

So there's two problems with that set of phrasing:

Which were not the two I'd have expected; or perhaps rather, there are two logical conclusions of this that people miss:
[list=1]
  • Narrativism might not achieve the desired "literary merit" outcome ans still be functionally narrativist in play.
  • Non-narrativist approaches to play might incidentally produce something with "literary merit" without becoming functionally narrativist.[/list:o]
    That in itself might clear up a lot of confusion.

    --M. J. Young


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Johannes on January 27, 2003, 01:45:45 AM
Quote from: Cadriel


For the last...I think that an absurdist sitcom, with no Premise, would actually be so bad as to be unwatchable.  It'd be like watching an extended episode of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and however much I love "Whose Line," you couldn't keep up anything sustained more than a few minutes in that kinda format.

- If we are talking about individual instances or moments of play it doesn't have to go on for long. You are also value judging here.

Quote from: Cadriel

Every work worth reading has a point [observe the common reactions to a story without one]; the Narrativist's intent is to create a story of literary merit; hence, attempting to simulate postmodern "themeless" works is not a good Narrativist goal.  Furthermore, I'd submit that any of them that were any good had a Premise and just didn't admit it.

- Are you saying that postmodern "themeless" works don't have literary merit. If you are that's a value judgement. I don't like them either but I admit that they have literary merit in the sense that many people like them and do get much out of them. Hell they even devote entire careers into researching and preaching about them!
Quote from: Cadriel

Poetic-Narrativism just confuses me as a concept; what are you aiming for there?  Primacy of diction certainly never led to any worthwhile literary stories.  

- See above. I can easily think of many non-sense poems that are worthwhile.
Quote from: Cadriel

As for Anti-immersive Narrativism...well, to be honest, in RPG discussion "Immersion" is rather like the word "Liberty" in classical Roman rhetoric:  it means (usually) whatever the speaker wants, and it is contradicted by whatever his opponents want.  So that's undefinable.

- I perheps used the term immersion too hastily without explaining my position with it. I apologize. I use it on the lines of literary theorist Marie-Laure Ryan who has defined and used it rigorously in her book Narrative as Virtual Reality. When I have time I will start a thread about it.
Quote from: Cadriel

 And as for "Meta-Narrativism," it just seems like a bizarre postmodern exercise.

- I see it happening all the time in the sessions of our group. Sort of exploration of the whole medium of RPG or something.
Quote from: Cadriel

While theme may not result in any of these, I would argue that likewise any literary or filmic or other form of work that really has no theme (it's possible to fake having no theme) has no merit; and that therefore the literary merit criterion is not met, and it is not sound Narrativism.

- This takes us back to the recognizable part of "recognizable theme".

Well anyway I now see that I have tried to do violence to the GNS-model and agree that it can categorize my examples under its current headings (well ═'m not sure of the meta-narrative). I was hoping to use the model in my thesis to describe the reasons why players decide to narrate (play) in a certain way but I guess I will have to come up with something a bit different. Not that the GNS-model couldn't adress the issue but I don't think that it adresses it in a way that is easily incorporated to the criticism/literary theory -framework of my paper. Thank you for all the insights you have given me.  

I will not post anything "new" into the thread but I will of course respond to posts addresses to me (Cadriel perhaps?:-).


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 27, 2003, 07:50:59 AM
Hello,

Here are some older threads to look over:

Can a game designer work for all three (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3396)
Seven major misconceptions about GNS (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1578)
GNS decisions, I think I'm starting to get it enough to talk (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2806) with special reference to my second post in this thread, 25 Jul 2002 12:34

Best,
Ron


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Mike Holmes on January 27, 2003, 11:38:51 AM
Quote from: Johannes
I was hoping to use the model in my thesis to describe the reasons why players decide to narrate (play) in a certain way but I guess I will have to come up with something a bit different. Not that the GNS-model couldn't adress the issue but I don't think that it adresses it in a way that is easily incorporated to the criticism/literary theory -framework of my paper.

Ron has been clear on this before (and I support him on this) that GNS does not address motives. Other than circular motives such as saying "a player makes Gamist decisions because he gets somthing out of them that apparently he feels can only be gotten by making gamist decisions".

What you are probably looking for is the original Threefold (GDS) which is all about motive. That is, a Dramatist wants story by definition, while a Gamist wants competition (or somthing like that). Which says little about play, actually. Basically, GNS says that desiring "Story" can lead to any of the three GNS categories of play potentially. So, while Threefold describes motive, GNS describes play, and shows the lack of distinct link between the two (note that proponents of Threefold would most likely disagree). This is the basic nature of why Ron created his schism origianlly, if I'm not mistaken in my analysis.

Mike

P.S. I'd love to hear about the book by Marie-Laure Ryan that you mention. A definitive take on Immersion would be much appreciated and helpful.


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Johannes on January 28, 2003, 03:31:25 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
What you are probably looking for is the original Threefold (GDS) which is all about motive.

-snip-

P.S. I'd love to hear about the book by Marie-Laure Ryan that you mention. A definitive take on Immersion would be much appreciated and helpful.


Where can I find this GDS-model? It could be usefull, even though these questions are of secondary interest to my paper which focuses on narrative discourse and fiction/plot in RPGs.

I most strongly recommend anything written by Marie-Laure Ryan to just about anybody! :-) I will post about her views on immersion as soon as I find some time to do it properly (it's likely to be a rather long post).


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: Mike Holmes on January 28, 2003, 11:21:45 AM
Well, the newsgroup upon which it emerged and was most heavily debated in the early days was rec.games.frp.advocacy (if I have it correctly spelled there, and assuming I am remembering my history correctly. After that, I cannot say where the discussion may have gone, or if they still debate it over there.

Anyone know the current status of Threefold?

Mike


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: John Kim on January 28, 2003, 09:59:22 PM
Much of this discussion sounds familiar to me from years on rgf-advocacy.  Certainly the threefold was a bone of contention on that newsgroup, which could at times choke out other discussion.  (Thus, I think it is a very good thing that The Forge has shuffled discussion of it off into its own group.)  

Ultimately, what I feel is still good about both GNS and rgfa's threefold (aka "GDS") is that they are mainly positive labels.  There are people who will proudly accept the label of "Simulation" or even "Game" as things which they sometimes strive for.  In turn, I think a negative tendency is to try to force the labels on people who do not agree that it applies to what they do.  

One of the differences between Ron's article and my rgfa FAQ is that one of my main points was that I (and others) did not consider the threefold to be complete.  Rather, we simply stopped at three because we ran into dissension over how to categorize the remainder.  My FAQ, at least, encouraged discussion on what the 4th or more style was -- but there was little agreement over it.  


Quote from: Cadriel
I would argue, on Egrian lines, that the second example seems foolish; if there has been a beginning, middle, and end to the game, in Aristotelian terms, then there has been rising action and a climax and a denouement, all of which imply significant conflict along story lines.  If the group has been consciously seeking these, there is probably an unconscious Premise that they have in mind.


I am extremely leery of theorizing that there is an "unconcious Premise".  It sounds to me as though you are denying the validity of seeking closure for its own sake as compared to "exploring a Premise".  It is essentially telling someone that you know what they really like better than they do.  

It is important to remember that the important part of the GNS definitions is that they are what the participants are attempting, not the results.  i.e. If a game fails to produce a themed work of true literary merit (something I consider easily possible), it can still be Narrativist if that is what the participants tried for.  The flip side of this is that even if a work happened to have a theme and literary merit -- it is not Narrativist if the participants did not consciously intend that.  

Quote from: Cadriel
While theme may not result in any of these, I would argue that likewise any literary or filmic or other form of work that really has no theme (it's possible to fake having no theme) has no merit; and that therefore the literary merit criterion is not met, and it is not sound Narrativism.


Again, I am concerned that you are defining things by the quality of results rather than the intent.  Moreover, requiring judgement of the literary merit of something to classify it is extremely problematic, since people are of course going to disagree over the merit of any particular work.  Labels which work, IMO, are labels which people accept and agree with.  

I think it is good, in many ways, that "Narrativism" is more sharply defined than "Drama" in the rgfa threefold.  However, this opens up the question of what to do about things which fall outside of the more sharply defined lines.  As a specific example, I would ask about humorous games such as "Toon" or "Teenagers from Outer Space".  These are largely anything-goes-for-laughs, but I submit that it doesn't make much sense to classify them as Simulationist.


Title: Newbie question on narrativism and plot
Post by: John Kim on January 28, 2003, 10:05:38 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Well, the newsgroup upon which it emerged and was most heavily debated in the early days was rec.games.frp.advocacy (if I have it correctly spelled there, and assuming I am remembering my history correctly. After that, I cannot say where the discussion may have gone, or if they still debate it over there.

Anyone know the current status of Threefold?


Discussion of this sort has pretty much died out on rgfadvocacy.  The newsgroup is still there, but threefold issues have pretty much disappeared as topics -- perhaps partly because of burnout over many arguments over it in prior years.  I still have my FAQ archived at http://www.darkshire.org/~jhkim/rpg/styles/index.html, together with an assortment of other articles.  However, it has been many years (3 or 4?)  since I wrote the current version,  and it really no longer applies to discussion there within the past year or so.