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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: greyorm on July 26, 2003, 12:37:05 PM



Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on July 26, 2003, 12:37:05 PM
Larry D. Hols has just put up an article entitled "Criticism of the Threefold: Criticism of the RGFA Threefold and similar theories." It can be found here http://www.carrollsweb.com/crkdface/3foldcrit.html.

Though mainly aimed at the Threefold, he mentions GNS in a few paragraphs, and states both in the article and previous on the list whereon it was originally discussed that his criticisms apply equally to all Threefold-based models (RGFA, GNS, GENder, etc).

During the conversation we had about it on RPGCreate, Larry had stated does not read these boards, but said I was free to post the URL for the article for the Forge's perusal, and pass any comments on to him for future revisions of his criticisms. So, let's discuss the article as it deals with GNS.


Title: Re: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: crkdface on July 26, 2003, 12:55:44 PM
Hallo,

"During the conversation we had about it on RPGCreate, Larry had stated does not read these boards, but said I was free to post the URL for the article for the Forge's perusal, and pass any comments on to him for future revisions of his criticisms. So, let's discuss the article as it deals with GNS."

Speak of the devil....

I just popped in today to look for the third article (on Narrativism) in support of the general GNS article so I could have it to write a detailed critique of GNS for my site. I registered to post in another thread to ask about when it would appear.

I'll comment here about things to consider in my rough of the Threefold critique. A major problem I have is that the theories purport to describe intent and then fail to consider all intents, trying to reduce all intents to but three. Another problem is that the theories attempt to posit intent as style.

I also offer up the rough material on a play style description theory that addresses those issues, Channel theory (which began life called thread theory, so if you hear me mention threads....).

The explicit discussion of GNS in the Threefold critique touches on the definitions and is only a very brief look.

Larry


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Hunter Logan on July 26, 2003, 02:30:51 PM
Criticism is easy, but it desn't mean a lot without adding something to the discussion. Larry hasn't really said anything that hasn't been said before, and he hasn't done anything to make it better. To that end, I think the ideas posted by people like Fang Langford, the GENder theory, GNS itself (as many people have certainly spent a lot of time making it do something, and it is a reaction to the 3-fold), even my own Big List (which is my response based on my own criticisms of GNS and the other 3-folds) are more meaningful than Larry's article.

Like it or not, agree with the models or not, the 3-folds have made people stop and think. These models (perfect or imperfect though they may be) always contain within them lots of neat ideas. More, they have given people cause to design games they might not otherwise have designed, to play games they might not have played, and to look for different solutions to problems that come up in play - All this instead of just playing the same old game.

For all that, I can only thank all the people who have dedicated their time and energy to making these models exist, and congratulate the people who got the real message: The theory itself doesn't matter. What matters is what you do with it. Do you just complain, or do you go try to play/design a better game? At that point, it really doesn't matter if you're working because of or in spite of the theory. It only matters that you're doing something.


Title: On contribution....
Post by: crkdface on July 26, 2003, 05:26:00 PM
"Criticism is easy, but it desn't mean a lot without adding something to the discussion. Larry hasn't really said anything that hasn't been said before, and he hasn't done anything to make it better."

   To make what, exactly, better? The criticism? The critique offered is intended to render a varied look at the topic in one place, nothing more. That rough draft will be expanded as I write new versions to clarify points--and that as I get feedback as to specifics that need to be addressed.

   As for doing something to make the discussion of intent and style better, I do offer the Channel theory to that end. Did you read those articles? Channel theory describes play style without trying to reduce intent to three areas, without conflating intent with style, and without leaving a great deal of preference unrepresented.
   Just considering the element channels alone, Channel theory offers better definition of intent and a better model of how varied intents can work together as components in a style.
   I figure that's enough of an addition to be worth noticing. I was also involved in the discussions on RGFA in which the Threefold arose, so I contributed to the discussion of these matters long before other theories appeared. Is that enough for you?


"[These other theories] are more meaningful than Larry's article."

   Meaningful in what fashion, exactly?

"Like it or not, agree with the models or not, the 3-folds have made people stop and think."

   Thank you. That's what we intended with the Threefold.

"For all that, I can only thank all the people who have dedicated their time and energy to making these models exist, "

   Again, thank you.


"The theory itself doesn't matter. What matters is what you do with it. Do you just complain, or do you go try to play/design a better game? At that point, it really doesn't matter if you're working because of or in spite of the theory. It only matters that you're doing something."

   So what is it you think I'm doing or not doing?

   I'm trying to figure out what your point was. That you don't like that somebody might post criticism of a theory you like, and by doing so implicate one of your own? That you were trying to slag off my comments in an attempt to feel superior?

   I know I've every right to criticize the Threefold because I helped birth it. I figure I also have the right to criticize other theories on the topic because of that. I also offer a new take on the same thing and offer it for criticism because I happen to care about RPG theory. You may not like what I have to say, but to disparage my comments without a sound reason is a damned silly thing to do.

   If you want to offer sound rebuttals to my comments, I welcome them.

Larry


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Hunter Logan on July 26, 2003, 06:00:15 PM
Edit: I'm rewriting this post.

Larry,

These theories have been argued to death. Your criticism is not any sort of revelation. Everyone knows threefolds are imperfect. The results of pro wrestling matches are predetermined, too. At this point, I can only say, so what? All the relevant models of rpg play are filled with interesting ideas, and the sight of two 250-300 pound monsters tossing each other like sacks of grain is still an amusing spectacle.

My point is, this thread didn't start with "Hey, I have some articles. They're about my thread theory and my channel theory. They're alternatives to 3-fold, and I'd like to know what you think."

It started,"Here's my list of complaints about 3-fold, help me improve my complaints." Well, that's how I read it, anyway. Clearly, you didn't understand my message to you. 3-fold is pixie dust. It had a purpose, and it has done some good, but it's over. The battle ended a long time ago. GNS, same thing. GENder, same thing. Your complaints seem valid enough as far as they go, but people have been saying stuff like that for a long time. Saying it again won't change anything. Spitting in the wind, really. All a person can do is make peace with it and move on.

If you can't or won't understand what I'm saying, then I probably don't have the language to have a discussion with you. In any case, I've said all I care to about this. I'll look at your other theories, but I have no interest in debating you. I don't get anything out of doing that, so have fun and good-bye.


Title: Re: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on July 26, 2003, 06:00:56 PM
Heya Larry,

I'll drop a few quick comments before I have to run and watch the kids. Now, I know you aren't very familar with GNS or its nuances, so keep these following items I mention in mind when you are thinking about or criticising GNS theory.

Quote from: crkdface
A major problem I have is that the theories purport to describe intent and then fail to consider all intents, trying to reduce all intents to but three.

GNS does not reduce all intents to three intents (actually, it doesn't even rely on intent, but I'll get to that in a moment). Each of the three categories given can be subdivided further into discrete style categories.

In fact, two micro-categories from the same macro-category may and often are incompatible play styles, despite that they share the main category. Why?

Everyone's looking for something different...two Simulationist may not be looking for the same explorative experience. Gareth (contracycle), frex, is really into setting exploration via Simulationism (something he's mentioned in the past here). Peter Knutsen, whom you know as well, is all about character exploration via Simulationism (or I gather this from recent and dated statements on the list -- I may be wrong, but this is just an example).

Their play styles would conflict, despite the fact that they are both looking for Simulationist experiences.

Quote
Another problem is that the theories attempt to posit intent as style.

This can't be GNS you are referring to, since GNS isn't about intent: that is, it is not about what you, the player, want or intend to do or experience. GNS is about discrete episodes of behavior at any given time examined on a temporal scale and mapped out to determine overall behavior patterns, because we all know how useful "intent" is for actually measuring anything.

Additionally, people are more than capable of (and often do) make different GNS decisions at different points in a game, which vary as well dependent upon the game being run.

Now, take this into account with the idea above that any given individual will be operating in a micro-style, and you have a panorama of possible decision-making points which are not "boxed into" three areas.

Unfortunately, the GNS "heavy-hitters" who have a much more comprehensive view of GNS than I are away at GenCon right now, but as soon as they're back, I'm hoping you'll see some in-depth commentary.

EDIT: Logan, Larry, I'm not a moderator, but I play one on TV...plus, this is my thread (I started the sucker). Play nice. I shouldn't have to say more.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Hunter Logan on July 26, 2003, 06:42:42 PM
I am playing nice, but apparently I am speaking some bizarre foreign language, so I bid you adieu.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on July 26, 2003, 07:10:51 PM
Logan,

Looks like we cross-posted...or rather, you posted your edit as I was posting my statement. So, no, you aren't speaking some foreign language, I was referring to the earlier version of your statements. Sorry for the confusion.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Hunter Logan on July 26, 2003, 07:36:35 PM
Hey Raven,

I think they use the phrase, "no blood no foul" here, so no problem.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Caldis on July 26, 2003, 09:05:31 PM
From reading the article I can understand where the author is coming from in his problems with the Threefold.  I have many of the same problems with that theory, or at least the current version of it the last time I attempted discussing it in rgfa.  

GNS on the other hand is much more complex and well thought out and therefore does not fall victim to the same problems.  I think Ron's article "GNS and Other Matters of Role-playing Theory" at this url http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/1/ shows the differences.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 27, 2003, 04:10:07 AM
I've got two comments--

1. I don't see, in any of the GNS or GDS documentation a discussion of the model's weaknesses.

2. The "intent" vs. "observable behavior" thing is *really* murky too (in the essays).

The individual essays certainly do deal with intent on a personal level (step-on-up or competion are as well circumscribed by intent as observable behavior--and the Gamist article makes no distinction).

An essay on both of these points would be useful and relevant.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 28, 2003, 01:42:32 PM
Quote from: Marco

The individual essays certainly do deal with intent on a personal level


Where? Ron doesn't, as far as I'm aware, even believe in the idea of intent. In any case, he's said repeatedly, clearly, and in no uncertain terms, that the theory is based on behaviors, and not at all on motive or intent. So the repeated straw-man has to be burned. You can't critique the theory on it not addressing intent properly, when it does not speak to intent at all.

You could possibly validly argue that in not addressing intent, that there was some problem; though I can't think of how that argument would go. The point is that the theory only states that, observably, people have preferences, and incoherence occurs. It does not say why they have their preferences. Only that by removing problems of Incoherence that you can improve play.

Let's look at some of Mr. Hols' other concerns. On the issue of terms he writes the following:

Quote
"Game" as used in GNS is weak. It leaves out issues related to enjoyment of game elements, which leaves the definition lacking. It limits all game preferences to two issues, neither of which is necessary to a strong affinity for game elements, thus making it useless as a definition. Indeed, one of the two game elements mentioned can be argued to be a social concern and not a game concern at all.
The definition of "Game" is not addressed in GNS at all, and is unimportant. The theory only intends to address one specific problem that relates to the activities labeled RPGs, and as such doesn't have to look at other "issues related to enjoyment of games". That makes it sound like GNS is supposed to be some overarching theory of all stylistic preferences which it is not (nor do I think any theory could entail in detail).

Quote
"Simulation" as used in GNS is more in line with the dictionary definition of the word, which is good. However, because it reflects the dictionary definition (and underscores a lack of understanding of the Threefold definition), the term encompasses so much as to be useless in highlighting differences. Play that simulates three-act movie plot structure is far removed from the complete lack of story concern as shown by attempts to only simulate reality. That simulation can involve simulating story structures means any differentiation between wanting story and not wanting story is useless, thus removing any need for a dramatist intent.
This is incorrect because, again, GNS seeks to draw the lines where the conflicts in style occur. Thus the "size" of the modes is (not only debatable but) irrellevant. It only matters where the problems occur. There is no need for them to be somehow "equal".

Quote
GNS replaces "dramatist" with "narrativist." With simulation absorbing many plotting and story structure concerns, what is left appears to be essentially a definition of one basic stylistic approach to play, reducing its utility as a measure of general concern in play style.
In fact all GNS modes are "Basic stylistic approaches to play". They only need to demarcate where conflicts arise, and so the modes do not need to become complex in description. Indeed we have to state over and over that within each mode of play there are many differences in approach.


The problems of reduction do not apply to GNS. First, as mentioned, the intent issue is irrelevant. Secondly, GNS fully admits that, as decision making styles, players switch between GNS modes all the time (for whatever reason). The Problems of Equation do not pertain again becuse intent is never addressed. The Problems of Incompletion do not apply, again because GNS does not attempt to delineate all styles but merely to demarcate where problems with clashing modes both occur, and can be fixed in a broad manner. Any attempt to break down into much smaller elements results in so many delineations that analysis of potential problems becomes impossible. GNS doesn't attempt to address these problems, only those that a model reasonably can.

In terms of problems of application, certainly any model can be abused. But we who are proponents of the theory have gone a long way to trying to analyze just what can and can't be predicted with the theory. And we shoot down more than we suggest that it can predict. So, in terms of the theory proper, and not crackpot applications of it, the theory is applied well to that small and specific area that it intends to cover. GNS had the problems of Threefold already behind it so that we could avoid those same pitfalls of scope.

Now, are all predictions by the model correct? No, certainly not. Nobody would claim that any model is a perfect determinant of reality, however. GNS has been shown, however, to have been repeatedly of a practical use. So apparently it has some use in application. To deny that we can analyze games in this manner is to deny that we can do anything to prevent the sorts of problems that such models attempt to fix. Personally, that seems like a very pessimistic assessment of the situation. I think that GNS has evolved considerably from the problems of the Threefold (further I think than the author understands), and does not in fact have any of the problems that this essay would ascribe to it.

I would be glad to discuss any of the particulars of any of these points in more detail.

Mike


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 28, 2003, 06:23:34 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: Marco

The individual essays certainly do deal with intent on a personal level


Where? Ron doesn't, as far as I'm aware, even believe in the idea of intent. In any case, he's said repeatedly, clearly, and in no uncertain terms, that the theory is based on behaviors, and not at all on motive or intent. So the repeated straw-man has to be burned. You can't critique the theory on it not addressing intent properly, when it does not speak to intent at all.

You could possibly validly argue that in not addressing intent, that there was some problem; though I can't think of how that argument would go. The point is that the theory only states that, observably, people have preferences, and incoherence occurs. It does not say why they have their preferences. Only that by removing problems of Incoherence that you can improve play.

Mike


I'm not sure if you read the rest of my post: the intent-vs-observable behavior aspect of GNS is not (AFAIK) addressed in the essays. When reading (say) the Gamist essay, one sees step-on-up and competition as levels. Both of those imply intent as much as observable behavior. If I am analyzing my own play, I *must* analyze by intent since I can't observe my behavior out of context.

When someone comes here, reads the stuff, and starts going off about "intent" the fact that "the articles don't say anything about intent" is insufficient, IMO to make it clear.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on July 29, 2003, 07:26:12 AM
Heads up,

Larry PM'd me about troubles he's having reading the forums. His machine is too old to handle the .php script on the boards and thus IE keeps unpredictably crashing on him when he posts or when he tries to navigate the boards.

He is considering starting a Yahoo group for those interested in discussing his essay and providing feedback, so he can at least be directly involved in the process. When I know more, and if he goes the above route (assuming he can't get anything worked out with his machine) I'll let everyone know.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on July 29, 2003, 08:31:31 AM
I have some quibles with the strict wording of the essays as they stand too.  So maybe we can all chip in together and pay for Ron do do this for a living instead of his real job, and then we can press all the demands for perfect work we like.

Only its Never Going To Happen, is it.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 29, 2003, 08:37:38 AM
Marco,

What you feel the articles "imply" is, I'm fairly sure reading in things that aren't intended. In any case, because people have felt like you do, Ron has stated in multiple posts that the theory has nothing to do with any sort of underlying motivations behind the GNS behaviors.

Like this one in response to the idea that GNS is about motivations:
Quote from:  "Ron Edwards"
GNS really is about observable behaviors, like those that I list in the Simulationism discussion in the essay.


Sure, motives must exist, but it's pointless to debate them. It doesn't matter that Player A wants Simulationism because he likes to feel immersed, and Player B wants it because he sees the other modes as interfering with his particular Exploration of Setting. Or any of an infinite number of other possible motives. Because we can't have a model with infinite variables. And it doesn't matter why people have the preferences they do, only that they display them in their decision making in play. Behaviors. It only matters that these problems occur (assuming they do; the subject of our long-running debate), and what might be done to fix them. That's GNS.

Mike


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 09:12:38 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Marco,

What you feel the articles "imply" is, I'm fairly sure reading in things that aren't intended. In any case, because people have felt like you do, Ron has stated in multiple posts that the theory has nothing to do with any sort of underlying motivations behind the GNS behaviors.

Like this one in response to the idea that GNS is about motivations:
Quote from:  "Ron Edwards"
GNS really is about observable behaviors, like those that I list in the Simulationism discussion in the essay.


Sure, motives must exist, but it's pointless to debate them. It doesn't matter that Player A wants Simulationism because he likes to feel immersed, and Player B wants it because he sees the other modes as interfering with his particular Exploration of Setting. Or any of an infinite number of other possible motives. Because we can't have a model with infinite variables. And it doesn't matter why people have the preferences they do, only that they display them in their decision making in play. Behaviors. It only matters that these problems occur (assuming they do; the subject of our long-running debate), and what might be done to fix them. That's GNS.

Mike

Mike,
no, no, no--this isn't a *language* thing--it's a fact of the theory thing. Ron does *not* involve a question of intent in analysis of other people's behavior--but if I am analyzing my game and I ask "what type of decision making will this rule assist/promote/force" my answer can only be one of intent--specifically my intentded form of play when creating the rule.

When I examine my experience with a Gamist rule as in Ron's T&T game, how that rule will effect *my* play is purely intent based--therefore how I design games with an intended focus will be intent based (in playtest I may observe behaviors of others--and who cares about their motives). From the standpoint of the designer it's all intent--it's all what kind decision will this rule engender.

Looking at GNS from the decision-vantage point, applying the theory to one's own game, intent must not only be involved--it's *all* that's involved (until playtest--which is another story).

Contra, I can't tell if yer being facietious or not these days.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Valamir on July 29, 2003, 09:25:46 AM
FWIW, I've made the same arguement in the past Marco.

My perspective:  Underlying all player behavior is intent and motive (even if subconcious).  But because we are not mind readers and people often have trouble evaluating their own motives accurately, we can not ever reliably know what these motives are.  Therefor they are unavailable as data points.  Fortuneately the end result of the motivation is ultimately captured in observable behavior so we can ignore motive all together and just concentrate on behavior.

Ron's perspective (as expressed at the time):  No, motive and intent are completely irrelevant to the theory right from ground zero, and not simply as an artifact of being unable to measure.  Only observable behavior matters.


My realization:  I say Blah Blah, only observable behavior matters.  Ron says Blech Blech, only observable behavior matters.  Either way...only observable behavior matters and the whole debate become moot.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 09:39:27 AM
But the point doesn't become moot when you're trying to figure out what you like about a game or how to design a game that promotes your preferences.

That's the one real strength GNS has.

I'll go you one further: what does observing the behavior of someone else get you? What does it get you with GNS added?

Bill jumps up and down like a monkey when he beats a monster and sits quietly the rest of the time therefore he'll love T&T (when all he's played so far is D&D3rd?). No--it doesn't tell you that. It tells you he might not like Sorceror? You needed a theory for that?

Observing behaviors through GNS is, maybe--maybe useful to designers during playtest. But that's the most biased examination concievable.

So yes: who cares about intent when analyzing someone's behavior.

But: why analyze someone else's behavior with GNS anyway? What does it predictably tell you? It's a parlor game.

Therefore: the predictable value of GNS lies in analyzing your own play and design and preferences--and these are wedded to intent (and therefore, also, reliably accurate).

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Matt Snyder on July 29, 2003, 11:01:05 AM
Quote from: Marco

But: why analyze someone else's behavior with GNS anyway?


Because it's not tea for one. Social, social, social.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on July 29, 2003, 11:15:26 AM
Quote from: Marco
But the point doesn't become moot when you're trying to figure out what you like about a game or how to design a game that promotes your preferences.


Fair point.  But that only goes to prove how difficult it is to analyse motive.  So I agree, I have or had some ambivalence about where I fell along the spectrum.  But this was not eased by the fact that without some sort of model to discuss, the conversation (between myself and others or myself alone) was heavily distorted by value loaded labels like realism and roll vs. role etc.  So to respond to your next point:

Quote

That's the one real strength GNS has.


I offer this, from the introduction to GNS and other Matters of Roleplaying Theory:

Quote
My goal in this writing is to provide vocabulary and perspective that enable people to articulate what they want and like out of the activity, and to understand what to look for both in other people and in game design to achieve their goals.


My emphasis.  I think the virtue in the proposed taxonmy is that is allows something to be discussed wit more rationality than value judgement.  The same applies to GDS, at least it is something to be looking for and discussing.  It allows me to frame questions better so as to elicit more useful information.

Quote

I'll go you one further: what does observing the behavior of someone else get you? What does it get you with GNS added?


My sense that a player I know tended toward Sim was reinforced by the fact that he mentioned to me that he liked the idea of the TROS wound system because, and I quote as best I can from memory "the system provides a strong image" as opposed the the rather vague and imprecise resolutions in other systems.  If I have a coherent theory of sim, I can generalise from others experience to what this player is likely to enjoy, and load my games with appropriate scenes and feedback.  Similarly, I can hopefully mine the principles of sim to choose systems that will tend not to disapoint this players interests.

I may not, of course, succeed.  But at least I ahve a framework to use to order my observations and use them in some sort of purposeful manner, rather than relying on dumb luck and the above mentioned value-laden dialogue.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 11:22:41 AM
Indeed: vocabulary and perspecitve.

For the theorist. Not for the non-theorist. GNS is designed to change a theorist's perspective--and to provide a vocab for discussing that. The reader is not expected to force the group to communicate in these terms (such an attempt reliably meets with failure).

If you are dealing with another theorist across the table, you need not infer motive--you can ask it.

And you may well discover your observation of behavior drove the wrong conclusions (as it certainly will some of the time).

Saying that intent doesn't figure into the *model* ignores a huge portion of its strength (analyzing your own intent). Saying it doesn't figure into analysis of someone else's behavior is, well, not saying a whole lot since when you do analyze someone else's behavoir with GNS you get, at most, a dim correlation (he likes Gamist play--He'll LOVE Nicotine Girls!)

Edited to add:
As for the TROS example: I agree that a stated preference is handy for deciding what the guy likes--but your description doesn't hinge on a description of 'Simulationism' but rather a specific instance.

It doesn't mean he'll like CoC's insanity system (a good solid description of how you go insane when you see a 'thu). It doesn't mean he'll like Mekton's life-path (a good solid character background). It doesn't mean he'll like RoleMaster (lookit those detailed critical hits!)

In short the "Sim" aspect of what he described is minute next to the hard-specifics (I like a combat system that gives me a good image). A game master *without* access to the theory will, I think make as many correct judgments based off that statement as one without it.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Valamir on July 29, 2003, 12:23:25 PM
There is no crystal ball, GNS or otherwise that will tell you based on a set of inputs whether a player prefers die pools or percentile systems.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 12:36:23 PM
Precisely, which is why I think the analysis of other people's GNS mode is not *all that* valuable a part of the theory.

But analysis of one's own mode whether as a player or designer is very valuable.

And there you will use *intent*--NOT *observed behavior.*

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Valamir on July 29, 2003, 01:02:45 PM
Somewhere you're making a leap of logic that I'm not following.

I suspect the root of it is your approach to observed player behavior.

You are noting that an individual data point like "player jumps around cheering after a roll" doesn't tell you much.  That's a given.  Its been understood that way for years.  A search on "Instance of Play" will turn up many threads on the uselessness of individual data points to the process.  Whether one subscribes to the idea of atomic decision points being mapped out over the course of an instance of play or whether you believe that this is an ineffective approach and advocates a more organic definition of "instance of play" is largely itself moot.

Either way, we all know that there is neither a 1:1 correlation of individual player behaviors that = G N or S; nor is there a 1:1 correlation between G N or S and individual mechanics.  You seem to be seeking a way to tie individual player behaviors observed with X to specific other mechanics Y using "intent" as some kind of lens linking the two.

I can only shrug and say that if that's the case...I don't believe it will work.  Nor has the theory ever suggested it would work.  Nor has the theory ever had as a goal getting that to work...save perhaps as a handful of wishful thinking posts early on.

If that's not the case, I can only ask you to help clarify what it is you are hoping to be able to accomplish through developing the idea of "intent".  A specific example of a potential application would be most helpful.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 01:12:42 PM
Incredible. Forget about analysis. That's an aside.

Ralph: this whole thing started with whether or not there was "intent" in the GNS model. I'm not trying to map behaviors to anything--I don't believe it's reliable even with much observed behavior.

I am saying that when a person analyzes their own behavior they do it in terms of intent.

I'm saying that's the only 100% valid way to analyze a decision or preference in GNS terms (Did I do that to 'win,' did I do that because it makes a better story? Did I do that to learn someting?).

That's all about intent--not observed bheavior.

And that's where I see the real value of GNS (self-analysis, not analysis of anyone else).

Man. Could this be any less effecitve of a way to communicate?

Edit: you asked for an example.

I am getting ready to go on an adventure. My character purchases the battle axe because I believe for whatever reason that it's statistically superior and will make it easier for me to 'win.' I analyze that the character load-out scene was played in a Gamist fashion because my intent with each choice of gear was to maximize my efficency in step-on-up.



-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Valamir on July 29, 2003, 01:32:28 PM
I'm hearing you Marco, believe me.  I've said it myself.  Even your example is something that I'd said in the past.

Do a search on "Instance of Play", "Atomic", and "Congruence".

We've had alot of discussions about this sort of thing.

Maybe I'm not seeing where you're going because I've already read those threads (and threw alot of electrons at them) and haven't made allowances for you starting from scratch.  i.e.  I can't tell if you've read those threads and are looking to build on them, or if you're retracing the same steps we trod before.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 29, 2003, 01:37:54 PM
Quote from: Marco
I am getting ready to go on an adventure. My character purchases the battle axe because I believe for whatever reason that it's statistically superior and will make it easier for me to 'win.' I analyze that the character load-out scene was played in a Gamist fashion because my intent with each choice of gear was to maximize my efficency in step-on-up.


So the motive is to win? OK, now that we know that, what do we do with that info?

Quote
I analyze that the character load-out scene was played in a Gamist fashion because my intent with each choice of gear was to maximize my efficency in step-on-up.
I analyze your behavior of looking over the list and going "aha, that does the most damage" as Gamist. And it doesn't matter why. Because I know that's going to bug player B because he's dead set on people playing Sim. Or not. That's the analysis.

That's GNS. What are you going to do with your "intent" as you've discerned it. To say that there's some "intent to make a Gamist decision" behond each Gamist decision is both obvious and pointless in terms of the theory. Mr. Hols is distinctly talking about the reasons that people make the decisions that they do when he mentions intent. He's saying that GNS is invalid because we don't (and can't) say that gamist do what they do because they have an urge to win or any other single reason. The potential reasons are multitudinous. But it doesn't matter. Because GNS is a funnel. It's the choke point at which whatever your motive or intent is, the different sorts of decisions tend to become problematic with each other.

If you want to stop people from speeding, does it matter why each individual speeds? Or is it better just to put out a traffic cop to get them to stop? I mean, it's only the behavior that you want to change, not the motives.

Mike


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 01:40:11 PM
Hmm ...

Okay, well do this for me:

Show me how you analyze your own GNS play instances *without* using intent (i.e. the knowledge of why you did what you did or what you were trying to do).

I'm not--not--not ... boy oh boy not--saying you can infer intent in someone else's actions.

And: I think the fact that you don't have clear intent with the case of other people's behavior makes any GNS-based attempt of analysis of their behavior not-very-useful.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 01:49:45 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: Marco
I am getting ready to go on an adventure. My character purchases the battle axe because I believe for whatever reason that it's statistically superior and will make it easier for me to 'win.' I analyze that the character load-out scene was played in a Gamist fashion because my intent with each choice of gear was to maximize my efficency in step-on-up.


So the motive is to win? OK, now that we know that, what do we do with that info?

Quote
I analyze that the character load-out scene was played in a Gamist fashion because my intent with each choice of gear was to maximize my efficency in step-on-up.
I analyze your behavior of looking over the list and going "aha, that does the most damage" as Gamist. And it doesn't matter why. Because I know that's going to bug player B because he's dead set on people playing Sim. Or not. That's the analysis.

That's GNS. What are you going to do with your "intent" as you've discerned it. To say that there's some "intent to make a Gamist decision" behond each Gamist decision is both obvious and pointless in terms of the theory. Mr. Hols is distinctly talking about the reasons that people make the decisions that they do when he mentions intent. He's saying that GNS is invalid because we don't (and can't) say that gamist do what they do because they have an urge to win or any other single reason. The potential reasons are multitudinous. But it doesn't matter. Because GNS is a funnel. It's the choke point at which whatever your motive or intent is, the different sorts of decisions tend to become problematic with each other.

If you want to stop people from speeding, does it matter why each individual speeds? Or is it better just to put out a traffic cop to get them to stop? I mean, it's only the behavior that you want to change, not the motives.

Mike


Ah ha!
Confusion-source Alpha 2501 located: My two points were related to someone else's post saying "Intent is not part of GNS"--I was saying "hell it's not--the most valuable part of GNS is analyzing how one's own intent is helped or hurt by the game system."

Dig it? No "how is my very own observable play aided or discouraged by the game." The way the game acts on my intents.

I see the self-analysis of how actions during gaming relate to one's own preferences as the absolute core of GNS--the foundation of the theory.

Your extrapolation to Player B is telling: he has to impute an intent to my choice of weapon before he can get annoyed.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Matt Snyder on July 29, 2003, 01:52:14 PM
Quote from: Marco
Hmm ...

Okay, well do this for me:

Show me how you analyze your own GNS play instances *without* using intent (i.e. the knowledge of why you did what you did or what you were trying to do).

I'm not--not--not ... boy oh boy not--saying you can infer intent in someone else's actions.

And: I think the fact that you don't have clear intent with the case of other people's behavior makes any GNS-based attempt of analysis of their behavior not-very-useful.

-Marco


Marco, even if Mike does that, what's the point? GNS only becomes useful when you align (or don't align, causing problems) your preferences with other people. Sure, Mike can maybe know his own intent, and why he chooses the things he does or why he likes S over G and N, maybe. So what? You have admitted he can't know anybody else's intent.

All Mike can do is observe behaviors, not intent, in other people (probably his own gaming group, or a new group he encounters). Then, he can align himself with people whose behaviors he finds compatible. Or not, and he likely will encounter dysfunction that he'll have to deal with.

The idea that because you can't know intent and therefore GNS based analysis is invalid just doesn't fly with me. The theory never said it would analyze intent. We can't know it. Period. This has previously been discussed here and in the thread Ralph referenced.

But, we can observe behavior, and decide whether or not, regardless of the intent behind it, that we'll jive with the person we're observing. Let the good, functional, fun gaming begin!


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 29, 2003, 01:53:14 PM
First, it doesn't matter whether or not I can analyze it in terms of intent. Let's say I can't ignore my intent. That doesn't prevent one from making accurate analysis.

But as it happens, I can certainly ignore my intent. In my Hero Wars games, for example, I tend to do a lot of "Now where do you go" sort of Sim prompting. Josh prefers Narrativism, and I think that occasionally this bugs him. So I've been attempting to do more scene framing to accomodate (also because I don't think it hurts Sim much to do so).

There, GNS analysis that doesn't take into account intent in any way.

Mike


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 02:00:25 PM
Quote from: Matt Snyder
Quote from: Marco
Hmm ...

Okay, well do this for me:

Show me how you analyze your own GNS play instances *without* using intent (i.e. the knowledge of why you did what you did or what you were trying to do).

I'm not--not--not ... boy oh boy not--saying you can infer intent in someone else's actions.

And: I think the fact that you don't have clear intent with the case of other people's behavior makes any GNS-based attempt of analysis of their behavior not-very-useful.

-Marco


Marco, even if Mike does that, what's the point? GNS only becomes useful when you align (or don't align, causing problems) your preferences with other people. Sure, Mike can maybe know his own intent, and why he chooses the things he does or why he likes S over G and N, maybe. So what? You have admitted he can't know anybody else's intent.



Matt--

I disagree abjectly.

1. To observe the behaviors you have to game with these guys or audit the group for a while, yes? Therefore throw GNS out the window. If you're having fun--you're good. If you're not--bail. No theory necessary.

2. I game with people with different preferences all over the GNS spectrum. The idea that these have to align in some way is the biggest myth perpetrated on this board (I'm sure you really meant that the GNS modes don't have to be identical--just that everyone has to get along, right? Then leave mode out of it. No theory necessary.

3. GNS can't make "Joe" more agreeable. Can't make him more mature. Can't make him more invested in cooperation than conflict. Nothing can. And that's *all* that'll help. No theory necessary.

What Mike *can* do armed with the GNS analysis is go make a game that caters to his preferences and decision making modes. It'll be a great game for him and everyone who thinks just like him (the more like him they think, the more the'll dig it).

That's the value.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 02:09:00 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
First, it doesn't matter whether or not I can analyze it in terms of intent. Let's say I can't ignore my intent. That doesn't prevent one from making accurate analysis.

But as it happens, I can certainly ignore my intent. In my Hero Wars games, for example, I tend to do a lot of "Now where do you go" sort of Sim prompting. Josh prefers Narrativism, and I think that occasionally this bugs him. So I've been attempting to do more scene framing to accomodate (also because I don't think it hurts Sim much to do so).

There, GNS analysis that doesn't take into account intent in any way.

Mike


That's a good example--I should have said in-character actions, since I *do* see the GM as significantly different from the players in most ways (and what you're doing is asking for an in-character action from Josh).

But even so--yes, it seems possible to usefully analyze a game-related action apart from intent (in this case you recognize a Sim question and switch to Nar-style delivery): but you can also analyze the same question ERT intent--perhaps more usefully.

Why do you pose the Sim questions even if it's annoying someone? Habit? Actual preference? Lack of narrative vision that you're looking for the players to provide?

These questions *do* hinge on intent--and the idea that that's not part of the theory (that it's all about "observed behaviors" is ignoring the vast potential of self reflection).

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on July 29, 2003, 02:48:12 PM
Marco, to the conclusions of your points above I say "Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit." And I mean that. They are bullshit points based on either-or fallacy or fictional situations -- hence the strong word.

1. Suppose you wish to continue playing with the group, rather than ditch them? Suppose one member of the group is not having fun and you and he wish they were? You ditch a group or an individual when they cause problems, not simply because they or you aren't having fun.

"Oh, you're not having fun? I'm sorry, you can't play with us, then." Otherwise, you are suggesting to me I should have dropped my group two years ago, and one player in particular, because he wasn't enjoying playing the character he had created. Such a suggestion is bullshit.

Here, the theory is necessary. WHY are you having fun? What makes the game fun? How do we maximize our fun with a particular rule-set? How can we have fun with this game?

Case in point: GNS provided the framework to repair my game so it was enjoyable to all participants. Once that was done, we had a great ride.

2. I've played in many games with people all-over the GNS spectrum. The idea that every player, including the GM, can have their own goals and still have fun is a ridiculous myth.

Perpendicular play goals do not result in fun or enjoyment; I've had far too much personal, direct experience with the dysfunction of competing styles to believe it is "just a myth."

To achieve understanding of other styles of play and cater to all of them successfully in a game, theory is necessary.

3. GNS can make "Bob" more agreeable, and hence more mature, and more interested in cooperation than causing conflict with the group -- if Bob chooses to understand the GNS theory and thus the principles behind it.

Bob is not having fun. The game is not providing enjoyment on a regular basis. He hates the gamist-munchkin nonsense of the other players. Understanding "everyone has different modes of play they enjoy" makes Bob more agreeable. He either gets into the spirit of the mode identified by the group, or finds a new group. This is also part of maturity.

Bob is not having fun. The GM is a dick who keeps short-circuiting his character's moment in the limelight with tight-assed movement rules. The GM won't listen to him, so he decides to be the asshole gamer and ruin it for everyone else, too. Understanding the intent of the GM and his own intent, and being able to clearly express those ideas to others without value-judgements, leads to cooperation: do I want to help the GM and other players out with their ideas for how the game should work, or am I playing the wrong game/in the wrong group?

Understanding GNS prevents ridiculous, noisome arguments about "the best gaming system is X because it is realistic!" and "Munchkin power-gamers suck! Quit trying to min-max!"

Despite the fact that we're using fictional characters who respond to the writer's whim like puppets on strings, this can be shown: Theory does help.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 29, 2003, 03:37:13 PM
Raven,

Firstly: My response was to the line "GNS only becomes useful when you align (or don't align, causing problems) your preferences with other people."

I take it you agree with that--and therefore see no value in using GNS to design one's own games or to analyze one's own play? No? Okay.

Secondly (and most importantly, right, because the context of my statement wasn't what was important--it was the possible global meaning of it): look up--scroll the mouse--there you go: there's my post where I say that GNS can "provde a vocabulary and prosepctive for the theorist."

Check it out. Now, You cite examples of the vocabulary and perspective of GNS clearing things up for your puppets (but maybe not for my puppets, right?)

So either I'm internally inconsistent--or my point was addressing the idea that everyone has to be congrent in terms of GNS style to play together. Which I was. And you don't have to be.

Unyielding perpindicular play (GNS interests at extreme odds) may indeed not work together--but reality is often much more of a compromize. That's what my personal experience has shown me anyway (they say I'm sheltered).

Okay--so let's look at Bob and his dick of a GM.

Bob, armed with his vocabulary goes up to the dick and sorts things out. Right? Maybe. Maybe not. All that's gonna sort this out is if the "dick" of a GM decides not to be a dick. Now, you made him a dick--and not someone who's just unaware of what's going on--that someone's unhappy--and that's good.

Because until the GM decides to stop being a dick no theory in the world will have any impact. I think we have to agree on that. Right? Yes, the theory will aide communication--but remember, this guy's a dick.

Now, Bob decided to be an asshole when he wasn' t happy. Bob, we think, didn't have the vocabulary so hey, naturally he's an asshole.

Huh? Since when, Raven? Not having GNS jargon is way the hell distant from not having a language to discuss what you do/don't like. The GM stealing the lime-light isn't a GNS issue at all, man--or if it is, it could be any mode so as to be so broad it might as well just be a game-rules debate.

Bob shoulda sat his mature ass down and said "I don't like it when you employ those tight-assed movement rules--it's really ruining the game for me." He needs no dobule speak for that. You know he doesn't.

Why are you even trying to sell that?

Now the GM--let's say he's not a dick--says "well, those are the rules."

At that point they can either change the rules or amend them or change Bob's character or just try to be more the hell sensitive to the situation. None of this needs any GNS jargon.

What it needs is maturity.

The idea that someone needs a vocabularity to be mature is astonishing to me.

Can it help? Sure. Is that all it's good for? Hell no. Is what's most likely to help with a dysfunctional group? You decide--but I think one bullshit would've sufficed.

-Marco
Edited opening comment that was unnecessary.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on July 29, 2003, 03:37:59 PM
hmm - I may need to read this thread in greater detail to see just where the dispute is centered, but as a quick reaction:

When this "intent" thing comes up, Ron and others often make a point of saying it doesn't really matter.  I see Marco as getting confused because it's only in considering what he WANTS that the value of GNS kicks in (for him).   I think the reason it ("intent" vs. "observable behavior") doesn't matter is that we can label "what Marco wants" as either an "observable behavior that Marco exhibits" or an internal mental state, and except in a (important to some people in some ways, unimportant in others) very strict sense, we're talking about the exact same thing.

Think about GNS.  Think about what you actually did during the play session (and any prep, etc.)  Think about what actually happened.  Are you satisfied with that?  That's all you *need* to get value out of GNS, and it avoids debates about internal mental states and such.

Now, maybe in order to determine your satifaction, you think about what you "intended" to have happen (as an experience, not particular in-game details) vs. what actually happened.  You "wanted" to create a story and ended up arguing about rule details.  But again - that can be seen as just another observable behavior, where you indicate displeasure with one experience and a desire for something else.

At no stage does GNS *require* that you consider intent - but mostly, it doesn't matter if you do.  What one person labels intent another labels as an additional observable behavior.

Hope that helps,

Gordon

(PS - I find there to be a value in taking intent out of the equation because focusing on what you did and what actually happened can provide insights that "what I meant was" can often obscure.  Then again, I think "I wanted x" is a totally GREAT replacement for "I now indicate via the speech I am currently making that I would have had greater enjoyment if circumstances had followed x path, and in fact I now make the claim that my earlier actions were an attempt to acheive that, even though I failed in that effort.")


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on July 29, 2003, 11:56:30 PM
Quote from: Marco

Your extrapolation to Player B is telling: he has to impute an intent to my choice of weapon before he can get annoyed.


Sure.  And if the only thing you address is intent, then they are perfectly right to do so.  So cue the accusations - you only took the axe becuase it did the most dfamage, you're only roll playing not role-playing.  Sigh. back at square one.

INTENT IS NEXT TO USELESS.  The devil made me do it.  I only did what I thought was right.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Quote
But analysis of one's own mode whether as a player or designer is very valuable.

And there you will use *intent*--NOT *observed behavior.*


Fine, gloves off: only if you are an idiot.

Are you really so arrogant as to believe that the complex psychological states that affect so many people leave you alone immune?  Are you so arrogant as to assume that you, alone, have the clarity of vision to insightfully inspect your own thoughts and motives without bias or self-endorsement or self-interest.

Then I bow to you, and ask you to go out and heal the sick with the hem of your gown, because this is fucking miraculous.

If NOT, I strongly recommend that you take a step back from intent and start looking at what you actually do, rather than the explanation you came up with for yourself.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 30, 2003, 02:43:56 AM
Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: Marco

Your extrapolation to Player B is telling: he has to impute an intent to my choice of weapon before he can get annoyed.


Sure.  And if the only thing you address is intent, then they are perfectly right to do so.  So cue the accusations - you only took the axe becuase it did the most dfamage, you're only roll playing not role-playing.  Sigh. back at square one.

INTENT IS NEXT TO USELESS.  The devil made me do it.  I only did what I thought was right.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Quote
But analysis of one's own mode whether as a player or designer is very valuable.

And there you will use *intent*--NOT *observed behavior.*


Fine, gloves off: only if you are an idiot.

Are you really so arrogant as to believe that the complex psychological states that affect so many people leave you alone immune?  Are you so arrogant as to assume that you, alone, have the clarity of vision to insightfully inspect your own thoughts and motives without bias or self-endorsement or self-interest.

Then I bow to you, and ask you to go out and heal the sick with the hem of your gown, because this is fucking miraculous.

If NOT, I strongly recommend that you take a step back from intent and start looking at what you actually do, rather than the explanation you came up with for yourself.


Just a second Gareth,

It wasn't *I* who stipulated that player B got annoyed--it was Mike. Player B in *his* example has already addressed the issue of intent. In my examples I take responsibility for my own interpertations other than to stipulate that the choice seems out of character (i.e. the character in question is a musketeer who has chosen a battle axe). Read carefully. Especially before getting upset.

Since I think, with you, I'd better be *real* clear:

IFF you postulate a player becoming mad because "I'm playing Gamist when he wants Sim."

THEN *you* are the one dealing with intent and motive (either giving me mine or at least stating that the player has already imputed a motive to me).

ELSE you can either cite observable behavior ("I choose the axe and Bill got nasty")

OR if speaking for yourself you can offer your real motives ("The axe is the best weapon--until that changes, it's always mine.")

In the example above the guy who postulated the whole situation was breaking those rules--and I pointed it out.

I am not suggesting you use only imputed intent: I am saying when you make the decision you can bring your intent into the picture. And that you can do that with atomic decisions--something you can't do when discussing other people's actions.

And secondly, I think that when I make an in-game decision I'm the number-one authority on why I did it. We're kinda discussing "why I chose to see the movie Pirates of the Carribean instead of Seabiscuit" here rather than "why I got in an argument with my wife."

If 'teh drama' is high and tempers are raised then yeah, it might be good to take a step back. But, you know, one can be anylytical of one's own play without being in a heated dysfunctional situation--and the theory's good and interesting *there* too.

Maybe the problem is this: I find GNS valuable without having to experience major dysfunction first. It's a valuable insight as to why I play the way I do (functionally)--it's a good vocabulary to discuss with *willing* and *interested* fellows. And yes, it's even a good way to form perspective about how I deal with *my own* game design.

So, no, I don't think I have to be an idiot to be using that data.

And you know--if you let yourself admit it--that observable behavior is exactly subject to all the same biases and self-deceiptions that exist in self-analysis. The idea that being honest with one's self is a miracle on order of healing the sick is ... overly dramatic?

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on July 30, 2003, 07:25:31 AM
Marco's, there's a whole cottage industry of hokey medicine and astrological mumbo jumbo all based on "being honest with yourself".  Thats not to say that introspection is not worthwhile, but frankly having other people observe you would be more reliable than self assesment.

Quote
IFF you postulate a player becoming mad because "I'm playing Gamist when he wants Sim." [/quote[]

But I'm NOT.  If they were able to articulate the fact that they had different desires, there would be no problem.  But if its a slanging match based on who is playing "reponsibly" or "properly", without any extenral referrent for what 'properly' means, then all it can be is finger pointing and a sense of persecution. "Bob's cheating" "No you just don't know how to play".

Quote
THEN *you* are the one dealing with intent and motive (either giving me mine or at least stating that the player has already imputed a motive to me).


Not really.  I donlt care if you  make a given decision becuase your cat told you to do it ort not; all I care about is whether there is a discernable pattern to your choices.  And if your expressed intent and your behaviour do not coincide. then I take the behaviour as a more relaibale guide.  Becuase that is, after all, how you are actually behaving.

Quote
ELSE you can either cite observable behavior ("I choose the axe and Bill got nasty")


Only after seeing the behaviour for some time.  Isolated decisions out of context are just as difficult to assess as intent; therefore patterns of behaviour are more reliable.

Quote
OR if speaking for yourself you can offer your real motives ("The axe is the best weapon--until that changes, it's always mine.")


Well can you?  You obviously have some insight thats going to put the entire field of psychiatry out of business.  Not to mentiona revolutionise politics.

Quote
And secondly, I think that when I make an in-game decision I'm the number-one authority on why I did it.


You may think that, I dont.  Human behaviour is very complex and full of ratiobnalisations, self-decpetions, and subtle dishonesties.  So no, your self-report is not authoritative in my eyes.

Quote
And you know--if you let yourself admit it--that observable behavior is exactly subject to all the same biases and self-deceiptions that exist in self-analysis. The idea that being honest with one's self is a miracle on order of healing the sick is ... overly dramatic?


Obviously the process of observation is susceptible to bias; thats why it has to be carried  out over a period so that you have some basis for thinking your observations are reliable, that the observed symptom recurs.  But at least thats external - in self-assesment, both the assessor and the assessed are subjective and indeed the same being - so yes, it is less reliable.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on July 30, 2003, 09:17:48 AM
Weird...I recall writing a response to this, but I don't see it...so, here we go (again?).

Quote from: Marco
Firstly: My response was to the line "GNS only becomes useful when you align (or don't align, causing problems) your preferences with other people."

You addressed some fairly broad ideas in your response, so I guess I didn't see that as the only thing you were responding to.

Quote
I take it you agree with that--and therefore see no value in using GNS to design one's own games or to analyze one's own play? No? Okay.

I'm sorry, for some reason I'm not parsing your full statement (specifically the "No? Okay."), so I'll ignore everything but the question. I do, in fact, see value in using GNS to design games and analyze one's own play. I'm also aware that GNS is not designed to support such, so I'm being a heretic.

Quote
I say that GNS can "provde a vocabulary and prosepctive for the theorist."

But not the gamer -- and I disagree with that emphatically.

Quote
Check it out. Now, You cite examples of the vocabulary and perspective of GNS clearing things up for your puppets (but maybe not for my puppets, right?)

Actually, I'll come clean, my puppets are all actual people with the serial numbers filed off. Bob is, in fact, me.

Quote
So either I'm internally inconsistent--or my point was addressing the idea that everyone has to be congrent in terms of GNS style to play together. Which I was. And you don't have to be.

I'll agree. But you have to be able to understand your differences and talk about them with a shared vocabulary in order for this to work effectively. Hence why I stated "theory is not necessary" is bullshit.

Quote
Okay--so let's look at Bob and his dick of a GM.

Now, you made him a dick

Actually, Bob made him a dick. I should have been clearer, but the first points were spoken from Bob's POV without understanding theory. Bob's GM is not really a dick; Bob's actually being the dick from his GM's POV. Open lines of communication where the two individuals can understand the other's POV reveal this (ie: neither is a dick) -- but in order for that to happen, you need a common ground of understanding. That's where theory comes in.

You're right that if Bob's GM is honestly a dick -- theory or no -- nothing's going to be worked out. However, Bob's GM will have less chance of being a dick if he understands theory because the understanding of it carries with it some degree of empathy for your fellow players, and the desire to understand their POV.

Obviously, this also means that both sides need to be able communicate from the same base understanding, even if their preferences differ. Most people, however, don't. Most people speak from their preferences as the base understanding, rather than shared ground, and thus even polite, mature conversation results in the utterly unsatisfying "We'll just have to agree to disagree." (ie: no resolution)

Quote
Huh? Since when, Raven?

Go back and read that again,  Marco. Bob decides to be a dick because he either doesn't have the understanding of what is wrong with the game for him to present why he isn't having fun, or the GM tells him he's out of luck. So he reacts by doing everything he can to annoy the GM -- either consciously or unconsciously -- choosing to force his play-style for his character into the game, and being a jerk when he can't (consider: Overbearing Munchkins, Rules-Lawyers, and similars).

Quote
Not having GNS jargon is way the hell distant from not having a language to discuss what you do/don't like. The GM stealing the lime-light isn't a GNS issue at all, man--or if it is, it could be any mode so as to be so broad it might as well just be a game-rules debate.

I think you've misunderstood the example. The GM isn't "stealing the limelight." The GM is preventing the player from achieving his play goals by insistence upon the use of different play goals for the game.

This is a GNS conflict. In this case, we have a conflict between Narrativism and Simulationism -- the rules used by the group aren't supporting the player's desired mode, but they are supporting the GM's desired mode.

Also consider: the GM might be completely unhappy switching modes, so it isn't simply a case of "let's change the rules so you can have fun, Bob" and everyone going on their merry way -- because then Bob's GM is unhappy.

Quote
Bob shoulda sat his mature ass down and said "I don't like it when you employ those tight-assed movement rules--it's really ruining the game for me." He needs no dobule speak for that. You know he doesn't.

Bob's GM replies: "I'm just following the rules, and they're realistic. I'm sorry, but what would you have me do? Just let you move whevever you want whenever you want?"
Bob says: "No, but let me get into the action so I can do those cool things my character can do!"
Bob's GM says: "Sorry, you'll just have to plan better so you can make it there in time, or try to role-play the effects not getting there and being cool is having on your character."

This is a pleasant, mature conversation, no shouting or name-calling, logic is being used, people are trying to communicate, and Bob's GM sounds eminently reasonable with the above suggestions. It doesn't matter. BOB STILL ISN'T HAPPY. If he keeps arguing, he'll be seen as a dick since the GM has presented a reasonable solution (two, in fact) for him.

That's where theory comes in. Shared understanding and the vocabulary to discuss it to the satisfaction of all participants.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 30, 2003, 09:52:38 AM
Raven,

The coversation outlined is a great one.

Haven't much time now--I'm curious what GNS insights gave/would've given you by way of solution?

-Marco
[Before reading any GNS, my solve wouldve been to either play Exalted where you can leap like a rocket-propelled monkey at will or to simply run combats so that when the action started players got to say more or less where they were ... within some kind of reason.]


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on July 30, 2003, 10:10:35 PM
A message from Larry (crkdface) that he's asked me to pass on, since his ability to communicate via the Forge is currently technologically hampered:
Quote
I created Uncle Larry's Open Forum in the general role
playing section of Yahoo! groups. Anybody who wants to respond to my
articles there is welcome. I apologize for the inconvenience this
involves for Forge regulars.

Larry

The URL for the group is here http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UL_Forum/


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on July 30, 2003, 11:31:46 PM
Quote from: Marco

[Before reading any GNS, my solve wouldve been to either play Exalted where you can leap like a rocket-propelled monkey at will or to simply run combats so that when the action started players got to say more or less where they were ... within some kind of reason.]


Which would put you in danger of:  

Quote
consider: the GM might be completely unhappy switching modes, so it isn't simply a case of "let's change the rules so you can have fun, Bob" and everyone going on their merry way -- because then Bob's GM is unhappy.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 31, 2003, 03:44:28 AM
Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: Marco

[Before reading any GNS, my solve wouldve been to either play Exalted where you can leap like a rocket-propelled monkey at will or to simply run combats so that when the action started players got to say more or less where they were ... within some kind of reason.]


Which would put you in danger of:  

Quote
consider: the GM might be completely unhappy switching modes, so it isn't simply a case of "let's change the rules so you can have fun, Bob" and everyone going on their merry way -- because then Bob's GM is unhappy.


But Contra,

I was speaking as though I *were* Bob's GM--and that would've been one of my first solutions. Nothing Raven's said so far looks like a GNS mode issue. Certainly not the movement thing. The idea that you see playing Exalted as a mode-change speaks volumes of your mind-set.

And anyway, since you seem to honestly believe that my own internal monologue is so distorted as to be entirely irrelevant, how would I even know what I like? Or what about it I like?

I imagine you standing in a grocery store and looking at two comparable foods, one brand you like more, the other which costs less. Suddenly you make a decision and in a fit of victory you whip out your cell phone to call the university's psychology department "I just made a decision," you yell "and I know why!"

If that seems a little over-the-top, the idea that it's arrogance to know why I chose a long-bow for my elf instead of a crossbow just amazes me.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on July 31, 2003, 07:01:38 AM
Quote from: Marco

I was speaking as though I *were* Bob's GM--and that would've been one of my first solutions. Nothing Raven's said so far looks like a GNS mode issue. Certainly not the movement thing. The idea that you see playing Exalted as a mode-change speaks volumes of your mind-set.


Marco, the example IS OF A GNS MODE ISSUE.  That is why it was given.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 31, 2003, 10:08:39 AM
Enlighten me. I'm not saying it's not there ... just that it's not clear which two modes are at stake or what the proper GNS solution is.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on July 31, 2003, 05:54:08 PM
Marco, I don't know how you missed it, but I'll requote myself: "This is a GNS conflict. In this case, we have a conflict between Narrativism and Simulationism -- the rules used by the group aren't supporting the player's desired mode, but they are supporting the GM's desired mode."

Reread the conversations given: this is exactly what the conversations point to.

Now, if you're going to say I didn't say all that in the first post, you're right. I wasn't attempting to outline everything in detail, it was an example for that situation.

We've moved on and it can't be focused on as the end-all, be-all of style-conflicts within that game -- I could have easily detailed a number more arising from the same basic style conflict.

So, let's take this into the larger-than-one-example realm: Bob feels consistently deprotagonized by the rules of the game. But Bob has no idea how to say this to his GM -- he doesn't even know what the hell protagonism is in an RPG or that you can be deprotagonized by the rules.

All Bob knows is that he is consistently hampered by the rules from doing the things he think his character should do. And that's likely as coherent as Bob's explanation is going to be -- and there's no way it will ever hold up to his GM's rebuttals.

As shown in the "conversation" post above, the GM, working from an entirely different set of style assumptions, is going to provide "the correct answers" to Bob.

Contra has the right of it when he says the Exalted solution you present will only reverse the position of the two: the GM will be unhappy with the "be anywhere you want kung-fu action" though Bob will be happy with the greater freedom.

(More later when the kids stop yelling at me.)


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on July 31, 2003, 06:34:23 PM
I didn't miss it. I'm asking you to refine it (in a PM someone told me it was maybe Nar vs. Sim or Gam). To me it could be any of those modes. How does Nar play into it--how did you know it was a Nar issue?

Even GNS enabled, how could the GM know? Protagonization issues can exist across any mode (by Mike's defn', anyway).

I also want to know what the solution was/should've been.

And I think it's interesting that you discount Exalted too: It's plenty Simmy. If this was purely a *mode* issue the GM shoulda been fine with it under your scenario as presented thus far.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on August 01, 2003, 02:48:31 AM
Quote

And I think it's interesting that you discount Exalted too: It's plenty Simmy. If this was purely a *mode* issue the GM shoulda been fine with it under your scenario as presented thus far.


Not really.  Becuase the GM is "playing correctly" by their own lights, and that was what was frustrating the player.  The player did not experince it as correct play.  Therefore they will go to a new system and the same problem will likely  recur: Bob will still feel that the tight rules-lawyering (from Bob's  perspective) is bogging down play.  

And in fact the adjustment to Exalted may well aggravate the situation; because now the GM will feel agrieved that they tried to accomodate Bob and Bob is still unhappy.  Why... he must be doing it deliberately becuase nothing will make him happy, apparently.

Quote from: Marco
I didn't miss it. I'm asking you to refine it (in a PM someone told me it was maybe Nar vs. Sim or Gam). To me it could be any of those modes. How does Nar play into it--how did you know it was a Nar issue?


It could be any one of them given the few specifics provided.  But given the sense that the movement ruiles were a problem, it is likely that Bob is less interestd in the unity of cause and effect than getting on with the cool stuff; thats likely to be Narr.

Quote

Even GNS enabled, how could the GM know? Protagonization issues can exist across any mode (by Mike's defn', anyway).


Because when the GM finds out that Bob feels that the movement rules are bogging down play, this may serve as a signpost to the fact that Bob is one or other particular style, and adjust accordingly.  It also means that the GM does not assume the Bob is just a wanker out to destroy the game and can instead try to accmodate a different play priority in a mature fashion, rather than going into arsehole GM mode.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on August 01, 2003, 04:32:44 AM
In order
1. NARRATIVIST?: You're writing off Exalted because you already *know* it's Narritivist play at stake so *that won't work.* All we know actually from the example given is that it's movement rules that keep the player away from the action. Look a little deeper: your conclusion isn't based on the data ... it's based on the conclusion (the player did not argue that it was "incorrect play" as in "you're screwing me." He more or less said that the play was "unsatisfying.")

In other words: how do we know it's a Narrativist issue? Raven told us it was. How could he know that?

2. MODE: The GM's statements indicate a Sim preference on that side to me too. But after that: unclear. I'd see it as Sim vs. Gam (Sim is you're far away, Gam is I want to get in and do my thing). Doing "cool stuff" is across the board too. Gamist like cool powers as much as anyone. It could be Sim-resolution-vs-things-didn't-go-my-way (not every result will always be to everyone's liking, and someone may choose to complain about that). It could be a mechanics issue: my character is a high-level Monk, he oughta be able to leap further! That's sim-vs-sim. I'm still not convinced there's enough there to make any such determination. Well, there is, but it's contentious:

CONCLUSION
You're dismissal of Exalted and declaration of Sim-vs-Nar relies on a statement of intent in both cases (i.e. Raven knows what was going on in his head, so we can say his conflict was Narrativist in complete lack of identifying signposts).

We're presented with an atomic instance that could be multi-modal and is certainly unclear as to what the real conflict is. You claim you know--you know because Raven told you so. The observable behavior is opaque with-out it: If Raven says "hey, I knew my decisions for the betterment of the story were getting slapped down in favor of decisions based on situation" I'd go 'yeah, Narrativist vs. Sim' but your whole argument here is that Raven can't say that.

Note: you do not cite a string of observable behavioral instances, nor did Raven. That aspect is absent. You might infer it from his statement that that's what it was, in which case your reply to me would have looked like this:

"We knew it was Sim-vs-Nar because there must have been ample evidence for both of those. That evidence isn't presented, but it's the only way we could know."

You didn't say that. You analyzed particulars ... and made predictions about the GM based on what you precieve his internal state to be. If he's just interested in playing by the rules and Raven is just interested in getting to the action, there should be no reason to dismiss Exalted. It's when you factor in intent-to-play-narrativist that you can start saying that might not work.

3. PROTAGONIZATION: I'm still unclear on "adjust accordingly?" What's the GNS enabled guy to do exactly? In the stated example of conversation, the GM didn't presume Bob was a wanker and that was without GNS. It's got to be more than that.

NOTE: If Bob starts trying to destroy the game, I think the GM is justified in treating Bob like wanker and taking whatever steps he chooses to in order to preserve the game (or just throw the towel in and all be friends if that's more important).

What is "adjust accordingly?"

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on August 01, 2003, 06:38:01 AM
Quote from: Marco
In order
In other words: how do we know it's a Narrativist issue? Raven told us it was. How could he know that?


Becuase that was his scenario, and rthat is how it typically plays out.  What is so hard to understand about this?

Quote

2. MODE: The GM's statements indicate a Sim preference on that side to me too. But after that: unclear. I'd see it as Sim vs. Gam (Sim is you're far away, Gam is I want to get in and do my thing).


Good god, AT LAST.  So do you finally see that it is entirely possible that the kind of at-the-table dispute described could be a GNS conflict, and could be worked around through the application of GNS.  Yes?  No?

Quote

It could be a mechanics issue: my character is a high-level Monk, he oughta be able to leap further!


Of COURSE its a mechanics issue.

Quote

You're dismissal of Exalted and declaration of Sim-vs-Nar relies on a statement of intent in both cases


In fact it does not.  The GM will not succeed in making Bob happy no matter how much he might INTEND to do so if they have incompatible game play BEHAVIOURS.

Quote

We're presented with an atomic instance that could be multi-modal and is certainly unclear as to what the real conflict is. You claim you know--you know because Raven told you so.


No, I know becuase I have seen very similar behaviour in real life, and becuase I don't go around just lablling people dicks in order to avoid dealing with them.  

Quote

The observable behavior is opaque with-out it:


No, the observable behaviour just is.  The intent behind the behaviour is opaque.

Quote
Note: you do not cite a string of observable behavioral instances, nor did Raven. That aspect is absent. You might infer it from his statement that that's what it was, in which case your reply to me would have looked like this:


Now you are just dodging and weaving.  THe example was not about diagnising what kind of GNS preference a given person has; but how GNS can be used to make a personal argument impersonal.

Quote

You didn't say that. You analyzed particulars ... and made predictions about the GM based on what you precieve his internal state to be. If he's just interested in playing by the rules and Raven is just interested in getting to the action, there should be no reason to dismiss Exalted. It's when you factor in intent-to-play-narrativist that you can start saying that might not work.


The intent to play narratavist may be there without anyone knowing - even the player.  Thats the whole point; thats why "just change to another system" does not help, if their behaviours are incompatible anyway.

Quote

What is "adjust accordingly?"


Realise that the other dude is not objecting becuase they "want to destroy my game, boohoo I'm so oppressed" but has a different play preference.  Then you could nefgotiate a way to play you both agree on, or agree not to play together, or Whatever.

Take your answer "I'd see it as Sim vs. Gam " and YOU tell ME what you would do, knowing that.
[/b]


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on August 01, 2003, 07:33:31 AM
Quote from: contracycle
Quote from: Marco
In order
In other words: how do we know it's a Narrativist issue? Raven told us it was. How could he know that?


Becuase that was his scenario, and rthat is how it typically plays out.  What is so hard to understand about this?



Where is the 'typically plays out'? There's no past history in the hypothetical. You submit that most movement conflicts are Narrativist in nature? Even the cool-things is shaky: the conversation doesn't suggest that the game system disallows cool things, only that the situation didn't bear it out.

So we're back with 'Raven told us it was.' Well damn, man--that was my whole point on this thread--for him to know that, he has to recognize that it's his preference for Narrativist play that is being denied. Which I agree he *can* know--which you disagre with on the basis that his ability to self-reference would have to be, literally, miraculous.

Quote

Good god, AT LAST.  So do you finally see that it is entirely possible that the kind of at-the-table dispute described could be a GNS conflict, and could be worked around through the application of GNS.  Yes?  No?


In the description of the conversation, yes, of course. I follwed up with agreement immediately (scroll up). In the original hypotehtical where the guy in question is declared "a dick," I submit there's stuff at play other than a misunderstanding with an honest attempt at cooperative agreement. Such an atempt  (the GM says "Hey--I'm lookin' out for you, let's sit down and talk about it") is not the behavior I think that would lead Raven to qualify someone as a "dick."

To be a "dick" (as the hypothetical suggests) it implies that the person shows an observable string of abusive uncooperative behavior that clearly antagonizes the speaker. If past performance does indeed predict future behavior, I would not count on that person changing their behavior based on a theory since they've been clear they are both abusive and quite content with me being unhappy with them.

Quote

You're dismissal of Exalted and declaration of Sim-vs-Nar relies on a statement of intent in both cases.

In fact it does not.  The GM will not succeed in making Bob happy no matter how much he might INTEND to do so if they have incompatible game play BEHAVIOURS.

Let me see if I follow:

Stated problem: I can't get to the action because of the movement rules

Your Inference: Your preference for story-thematic decisions is being hampered by the application of the rules.

Possible Solution: The movement rules in question will be changed to allow you to get to the action (by playing Exalted, for instance).

Conclusion: That can't possibly work because both people have incompatible behaviors.

That looks to me like a non sequitor.

Firstly your inference (that it's Nar) is based on knowing what's going on in Bob's head. I'm cool with that, cause he told us. But you've argued that's not vaild.

Secondly the possible solution (change games so the GM can apply the rules and the player can get to the action) is rejected because you claim to know that Bob will never be happy until ... what? That's where I'm lost--what *is* your solution.

Quote

We're presented with an atomic instance that could be multi-modal and is certainly unclear as to what the real conflict is. You claim you know--you know because Raven told you so.

No, I know becuase I have seen very similar behaviour in real life, and becuase I don't go around just lablling people dicks in order to avoid dealing with them.  

Sure, you can categorize observed behavior--but from a minimalist description you can't honestly claim to do that accurately without a real strong indicator ("I'm a narrativist").  Had I described a movement-action argument without stating an intent (as Raven did) I submit you'd say "could be a number of things--you can't tell without a lot more context."

See the threads here where that happens all the time. Be honest with yourself. Someone complaining about movement rules is hardly "always Narrativist." Someone claiming they didn't get to do their cool stuff because they didn't get to the action in time would be far more common as a Gamist complaint, I think.

The point is, without a personal statement of intent, you really don't know.

Quote

Now you are just dodging and weaving.  THe example was not about diagnising what kind of GNS preference a given person has; but how GNS can be used to make a personal argument impersonal.

No, I'm not. The first hypotehtical had a personal argument where the GM is a "dick" which implies, I think, some kind of abusive behavior and the player decides to torpedo the game.

The argument becomes personal when there's abuse and revenge. Both of those were implicit (abuse) or explict (revenge) in the first situation.

In the second there *is* no personal argument--even without GNS. The two people have sat down and guy A has said to guy B "I don't know how to make you happy." Guy B's solution of changing the movement rules (drift?) isn't working--that's hardly a dead end.

Saying "well, I really don't dig that. It ruined the evening for me--let's see if there's something else we can do--" is the next rational step, not okay, grumble, I'll ruin it for everyone.

The lack of GNS doesn't make the argument personal. The decisions of the people involved make it personal.

But again, I come to a dead end:

I'm the GM, I'm willing to work with you, you've read GNS, what do you suggest? What's the resolution to the argument?

You suggest we negoitate a way to play we both agree on. Well, duh. Exlated is one great way to do that (rules + movement).

Clearly the GM doesn't want to drift. Where do you take it?

Gareth,
Note that in the second example--the one where we agree communication and cooperation can work things out--there is no victimization (unless Bob is harboring great anger towards the GM or vice versa--something I don't get from the text--and as you've said, we can't know if it's there). There is no personal argument. The GM is not crying that Bob is gunning for him.

The way this plays out when the speaker are GNS enabled is similarily vague (I still don't have a concrete answer): if there is some GNS-cooperative solution you see that's really the heck likely to work so they can play together, tell me. I've yet to see a cooperative play mode the theory suggests for this case (although I expect there is one). But if there's not, the idea that GNS is needed for both people to respect each other enough to not play together if they can't get along is ridiculous.

It's like saying "how could anyone possibly be mature without GNS?"

Do you really think the standard of civilized, cooperative problem solving behavior where the GM, even though he doesn't see himself at fault can respect Bob's distress enough to work with him is unreasonable? These guys need a theory just to take each other seriously? I think you're putting a lot of faith in the theory and none at all in the people.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on August 01, 2003, 08:45:25 AM
Quote

No, I'm not. The first hypotehtical had a personal argument where the GM is a "dick" which implies, I think, some kind of abusive behavior and the player decides to torpedo the game.


No.  The first scenario was a GNS dispute, only without GNS vocabulary.

Quote

I'm the GM, I'm willing to work with you, you've read GNS, what do you suggest? What's the resolution to the argument?

You suggest we negoitate a way to play we both agree on. Well, duh. Exlated is one great way to do that (rules + movement).


Don't you think it would be useful at this point to have some sort of vocabulary with which we can negotiate?

If we are stuck with "my way is the cioorrect way", and fail to recognises other legitimate choices, how can we succesfully negotiate?

Quote

The way this plays out when the speaker are GNS enabled is similarily vague (I still don't have a concrete answer): if there is some GNS-cooperative solution you see that's really the heck likely to work so they can play together, tell me.


Thew way this plays out when they are GNS enbabled is that they do not see each other as dicks, and the mutual acrimony does not arise.  Because of instead of mutual accusations of bad, improper or frustrating play, they can move constructively on recognising their preferences.

Quote
It's like saying "how could anyone possibly be mature without GNS?"


Don't tar me with your brush, boyo.  I'm not saying that GNS is required to be mature; the virtue of the threefold models was to establish that there WERE multiple legitimate ways to play, in fact.

Quote

Do you really think the standard of civilized, cooperative problem solving behavior where the GM, even though he doesn't see himself at fault can respect Bob's distress enough to work with him is unreasonable? These guys need a theory just to take each other seriously? I think you're putting a lot of faith in the theory and none at all in the people.


You have it in a nutshell.  Does that explain to you why people value GNS?

You keep saying that you don't understand what utility GNS has.  GNS is an aid to constructive dialogue as an alternative to accusatory dialogue.  
Is that clear yet?


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on August 01, 2003, 09:13:07 AM
Quote

...how can we succesfully negotiate?


I understand you think Bob has no vocabulary to express his desires without GNS. I don't agree. Mostly, I don't think GNS will even even factor into a real problem-solving attempt as a tool for resolution. Sure, it *can* help to articulate preferences--but if people are really willing to talk and listen, I think very little jargon or theory is needed. That, combined with the fact that mostly people have a hard time understanding GNS will limit it's utility there:

"I was deprotagonized" is obscure.
"You keep having the orcs show up anytime I'm away from the group" is a real complaint.

"I want more Narrativist play" is nearly meaningless.
"If my character is in peril and might die--and it wouldn't mean anything if he did--that sucks" is actionable.

What's missing for you, it looks like, is the concept that Bob and GM could respect each other without GNS: I absolutely reserve the right to hold them to a higher standard than that. And, frankly, it isn't all that high a standard.

The failure of the GM to see that Bob is unhappy as something that needs addressing is a people-failure, not a nomenclature or vocabulary failure.

Look at all the text that says "hey, having fun is the primary goal of the game. If you aren't having fun you're doing it wrong. Ignore a rule if you have to." Everyone thinks that text sucks, right? But look:

If you think playing right is more important than everyone having fun, that, right there is the issue. Not the rules, not the vocabulary--the fact that you've put playing by the rules (as you interpert them and apply them--a tricky thing in and of itself)--above being in any kind of community with your buds at the table. Bingo, contra--you just nailed it. Bob's GM needs to look at Bob's dissatisfaction as a real friend in distress that needs to be dealt with rather than ignored regardless of any understanding of theory. Even if he thinks he's right.

It probably says so in black and white in the manifesto on the inside cover of the book.

Now, that fuzzy text is problematic right? It doesn't tell you what to do when someone's not having fun--it doesn't say which rule to ignore or how to resolve that. It gives no guidance on how to achieve that compromise.

I'm still wating on that answer myself--from this thread, actually. It seems like it's still something people still have to work out for themselves GNS or no.

-Marco
[Edited to add: I think there's a great deal of utility in GNS--I think the idea that it's primarily a tool for addressing dysfunction is a serious mistake. I think it's far better at other things. ]

Also Edited: It occurrs to me that you think people will NOT be willing to talk and listen without understanding there are "other ways to play." If that's the case and GNS helps that (i.e. they'll sit still and absorb it)--then cool. It's clearly the missing link.

Again, I think your perception of how common that occurrs and how tractable that is to address with GNS differes from mine. But I can see it's utility there.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Valamir on August 01, 2003, 10:26:44 AM
Marco, I really don't want to jump into the middle of your discussion here.  But I think you really need to realize just how fortuneate you are.  Everything you've said about your group and play marks it as one of the smoothest least dysfunctional groups I've ever heard tell about.  You should be applauded for your successful negotiation of social contract issues, but I think your experience leaves you ill prepared for just how dysfunction many groups are(I'd say most but I don't have more than anecdote to support that word).

Quote
What's missing for you, it looks like, is the concept that Bob and GM could respect each other without GNS: I absolutely reserve the right to hold them to a higher standard than that. And, frankly, it isn't all that high a standard.


There was a panel discussion at GenCon about players and their group problems.  I didn't attend, but the summaries I heard were full of the petty bickering infantile nonsense that IMO is pretty much the norm and falls well below the standard you hold.  Maybe we can get Ron (who was on the panel) to chime in with more info but play groups whose members have little difficulty in dealing with their problems without resorting to accusatory tactics in my experience are few and far between.


Quote
"I was deprotagonized" is obscure.
"You keep having the orcs show up anytime I'm away from the group" is a real complaint.


Interestingly I see those sentences in reverse order.  "you keep having the orcs show up" doesn't tell me anything about why this is a problem for the player.  He loves orcs and resents missing them?  He hates the fact that the rest of the group is racking up XPs for killing them while he's away?  He has a really powerful thematic scene he wants to initiate the next time he meets an orc, but they keep showing up when he's not around so he hasn't been able to?  What?

On the other hand "I was deprotagonized" is very clear (to those who understand what deprotagonized means...hense the need for a common vocabulary).  As a GM, I hear a player say this and I immediately know what he's talking about and can begin examining recent play to identify those points where I caused this to happen.


Quote
"I want more Narrativist play" is nearly meaningless.


wow...I couldn't disagree with that more.  If that sentence is true, you might as well throw out the whole theory.

For me, if you were to say that...and use the word correctly (that whole shared vocabulary thing again), it would tell me ALOT about what you were wanting.  Not everything, because as we saw in the Simulationist and Gamist articles there are lots of shades within each category...but I'd be well ahead of starting from zero.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on August 01, 2003, 12:35:01 PM
Hi Ralph,
Good post--friendly in tone--don't worry about jumping in. I'd like to hear about the pannel too.

I actually think I am, at least mildly, prepared for dysfunction. In highschool games power-struggle was rampant, sometimes coming close to physical violence. One of my closest friends and I have sparred continually in game and out. Even today there are points where we need to stop and resolve things. In the group I took over, one player refused, game after game, to play anything but a psychotic, pyromaniac, halfling thief with a crossbow. The former GM gave up a game in disgust when the theif player set random important NPC's on fire.

I play with a rules lawyer who's now a trial lawyer--and won't let anything go if he thinks he has a case. I played with a power-gamer who did things with Champions and Fantasy Hero that appalled and astonished me--and refused to back down. I had a player in college who the other players felt was beyond random and a game wrecker. I refused to kick him out--but did my best to manage it ... and learned a lot in the process.

I'm now running two groups of 6 people. Both contain people I don't know well at all. Both contain several brand-new gamers as well as far more experienced ones (and their experience is vastly different from mine). One member is a 17 year old who has no RPG experience other than online MMPORGs.

My favorite GM--who I know and respect--and shares my outlook--has started a group in NYC that's fielded several munchkin-vs-story conflicts successfully.

Both these goups are working. After each game, I post an After-Action-Report on a site (or we discuss it). I'm consistenly told the games are excellent and people are engaged. I'm careful to thank everyone involved and let them know how much I appreciate their particiaption.

Now, I have the advantage of being the GM in both large groups--which, traditionally makes me a moderator--but as Gareth will tell you, not everyone finds me easy to get along with.

What's been working for me? Three things.
1. When I show up I'm more committed to haivng fun than being "right" (winning a power-struggle).
2. I do my damndest to treat everyone with respect and at least, apologize if I fail.
3. If I do get into power-struggle, I take responsibility for my being in it, meaning that if things aren't working for me I don't go into feeling victimized by the other person. I don't--or at least I do my best--which is pretty good--not to take it personally.

The people I play with have responded to that. Communication *is* key--but in my experience that just means talking plainly (and not taking things personally goes a long way towards talking plainly) and listening. Yes, things may not be clear the first few times around--but it's been my experience that if someone feels you're listening to them and committed to a mutual positive experience they cut you a LOT of slack before getting frustrated/passive aggressive.

I really do think GNS as a vocabulary can help communicate things (although if I tell you I was "deprotagonized" do I mean in Mike's sense (disempowered), Paul's sense ("unable to engage observers properly, a more general sense of "wrongfully denied a rightful option"?) but the sheer fact that people seem to have a hard time understanding it limits GNS's value as an enabling tool.

I also think the focus of addressing dysfunction coupled with game-design creates an unfortunate mix--and stands in the way of delivering a clear message.

And it really isn't *that* clear a message: I've yet to see a real solution for Raven's problem. Gareth seems to think that just to have a respectful conversation they need to digest theory. I say, if they can't muster enough compassion/respect for each other before the theory to resolve things I see no reason they'll have it after the theory. Christanity teaches a lot of powerful things about being good to each other. Converts have often proven more righteous with it than kind.

Edited to add: That said, there is powerful testominy from people who *did* absorb the theory and *do* feel it changed their gaming experience. I can't discount that. That is obviously a massive benefit that some people get and as Gareth says, that justifies it's existence.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on August 02, 2003, 06:53:30 PM
Holy shit...Marco, take breath. You're trying too damn hard to find the flaws, and you're either picking at nothing or making anthills into mountain chains.

First, I told you I wasn't going to go into a big, long description of the whole game. If that's what you want or you get to declare the example doesn't work -- well, too bad, I'm not typing up a three month history of a game group and the various decisions in it just to make the point work for you. It's an example situation to illustrate the point, sorry to be harsh, but live with it or shutup.

Second, I agree with everything Gareth has said so far. End.

Quote
I say, if they can't muster enough compassion/respect for each other before the theory to resolve things I see no reason they'll have it after the theory.

I covered that already. Scroll up and reread.

Second, you're making strawmen here. Note that in my examples, the individuals have been compassionate and respectful towards each other, but things still don't work out.

Bob's GM sincerely wants to help Bob.
Bob is friends with his GM and brings up the problem in a mature way -- no accusation, just a definition of the problem.
They talk without accusing each other or bickering.
The problem of an unhappy player persists.

The problem, as I've repeatedly stated, is their inability to successfully communicate their true desires, based on their different baselines of play.

Bob wants Narrative play -- he doesn't enjoy the GM's basline style of carefully detailed, realistic cause and effect. On the other hand, Bob's never been involved in anything but that type of gaming -- so he wants to do cool stuff like you see in the movies, but doesn't have the rules to do it.

Bob's GM doesn't see how gaming could work successfully without using the rules to reflect and guage exacting, real standards, to get the most believable result possible (Simulationism) -- if it isn't believable, he feels it will not work and will seem fake. However, he's never thought of it in those terms: he's acting out the behavior the Lumpley principle was detailed to correct: For Bob's GM, rules HAVE to accurately reflect the way the world works, because -- common gamer experience tells us -- that's just the way it is.

And no, they can't talk about it just like I did above, because neither of them knows a rat's ass from a hole in the ground about this problem. Neither of them understands their own baseline, so how the hell can they understand someone else's baseline, let alone cater to it?
They'll be talking past each other for weeks.

Doesn't happen? This is a group I was involved in for four years of weekly play as a player. This was my group two years ago, positions reversed, with me as the GM. We talked, and talked, and tweaked, and tweaked, and eventually argued, became frustrated, and the campaigns eventually simply broke down despite the best efforts of player and GM.

My current game was well on the way to the same damn thing: then I "got" GNS. There's a few hitches here and there, mostly because the game doesn't match our play style, but now I know why its happening and how to fix those problems -- I can even choose games that will definitely appeal to my players.

How does GNS fix the above problem?

After their last conversation, Bob and Bob's GM now know GNS theory.
Here's the new conversation:

Bob: "Like I said before, I don't like it when you employ those tight-assed movement rules--it's really ruining the game for me."

Bob's GM replies: "Like I said before, I'm just following the rules, and they're realistic. I'm sorry, but what would you have me do? Just let you move whevever you want whenever you want?"

Bob says: "Within reason, yeah...well, I want the game to be more like a movie than a simulation. The realistic limitations you place on movement are seriously hampering my character's ability to do anything really neat, like movie-type action stunts, showing up suddenly in the middle of combats, crashing through windows, and such. That's what I like."

GM: "So...what, like scene-framing and stuff? You know this game doesn't really support that. Movie stunts are all choreographed by the writers ahead of time, and I don't know if I want to start mixing up the game like that. I like the detailed realism because I feel it makes you think about what you can do, or what you have to do."

Bob: "Ok, sure, it does. I'm not really into that though. I don't like detailing every move my character makes just to position him to do something."

Bob's GM: "Yeah, I see where you're coming from."

I know you're going to argue: "But why can't they just do that without theory?" Seems reasonable, right? Reasonable is very rarely actual, however. These two, even though they haven't used GNS terms in the conversation, are working from base assumptions about overall play that match, based on what they know about different play styles.

Before this, they were taking two entirely seperate positions, assuming their position was the reasonable position, unaware or unable to express that the other person had other ideas about how games really work, or that there were other codified ways to play.

In fact, let's backtrack, if Bob and his GM go through much of the above conversation without having a shared vocabulary and understanding of the gamut of gaming, Bob's GM is still going to say: "That's not realistic! I won't allow it. Everyone will be doing crazy stunts, and making things up as they go along. How will I maintain creative control of the game?"

How do I know? I've seen it on dozens of lists where the ideas codified as Narrativist play are brought up without reference to GNS. It's the same reaction every time: "It's not realistic! It would sow mass chaos! I would lose control of the game! Nothing would make sense! Everyone could cheat! I couldn't keep track of it all!"

Above, however, Bob and his GM can approach the issue at its heart: Bob wants a different style of play than his GM is willing to provide, and they both know and can articulate that problem exactly like that.
This is better than, "(Listen up, bossy GM-man!) Why don't you just let me...?" "(Are you stupid? How can you miss the obvious?) It would ruin the game's realism!"


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on August 03, 2003, 06:46:46 AM
Quote from: greyorm
Holy shit...Marco, take breath. You're trying too damn hard to find the flaws, and you're either picking at nothing or making anthills into mountain chains.


No, you're missing my initial response: when you posted the conversation, I followed up immediately with this:

Quote

"Raven,

The coversation outlined is a great one.

Haven't much time now--I'm curious what GNS insights gave/would've given you by way of solution?"



My followups to Gareth were due to not being provided with exactly what you've done here. Let's look at that:

My assertion was/has always been--

1. It's not what's key for people respecting each other.

your second example of conversation without GNS shows that the two people respect each other--to the point that I'm surprised that you described the guy as a "dick of a GM" in your first example.

2. That if people are communicating as in your second example then a theory that expands the vocabulary is of benefit.

Which it is--but note that in your third (GNS-enabled) example you aren't using the vocabulary outside of the word "framing" which is applied only in the sense of a movie.

3. That it won't help if there's some other commitment to powerstruggle (in the conversation you gave, the GM did not in any way appear to me to be a "dick of a GM")

The GM might've calmly said: "As the GM, I'm going to continue to make calls as I see them. You agreed to the rules when we sat down to play and I designed the adventure. We'll play it out that way and consider revising next time."  No help there, right? I wouldn't think much of the guy but nothing about the theory makes him wrong to say that.

4. That even with the theory there will still have to be an indepth discussion about the specifics that, as in your example, doesn't use much/any jargon (framing, again, being notable--but not used in the GNS sense of scene framing).

And you didn't. You didn't say "Yo! GM-man. More Narrativism over here. And he didn't say "Oh, I get it--you have a problem with the movement rules."

Finally,
I'm unclear as to what the actual resolution was--but note that in both examples the GM cites "realism" as a factor(despite your statement that GNS would remove realism as a primary point of argument from the disagreement--and maybe it does--I can't tell whether the tactical exercise is more important to the GM than some reflection of realistic abilities--but it is still there (an expectation of Sim, right?)).

I may be missing an outcome but this is what it looks like one of the following:

1. The GNS-enabled GM despite, stating this: "I like the detailed realism because I feel it makes you think about what you can do, or what you have to do." gives up on his enjoyment of tactical play

2. Bob feels heard and respected and decides that he can continue to play even if it isn't entirely optimal.

3. There is some actual rule modification or play-style compromise made that satisfies both people (still has some element of tactical choices but allows cinematic stunts):

(And, though you dismiss it, Exalted* comprises both stunts and tactical play--I really think it'd work for these two guys from what I've seen of them if the GM doesn't switch to it under protest and Bob realizes that for the GM to be happy there will need to be some level of tactical play at some level of abstraction).

If the answer is 3, then while the theory might help both sides reach that agreement, I think a push to teach some creative-team-work social skills ("Creative teams work best when there's a willingness for compromize!") would work as well as GNS (which has a whole lot of game design that wasn't used here built into the theory).

-Marco
* and I don't know what "boiler plate" Exalted comes with, if any, but if it did say "Having fun is paramount--even over following the rules and therefore if a rule isn't working for your group, change it" that would be awfully close to a GNS dictate that says "for functional play with this game between these two people, drift will be required either at a mechanical level or at a rules-implementation level." The latter is just much harder for people to understand.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on August 03, 2003, 09:42:48 AM
Quote from: greyorm

Second, I agree with everything Gareth has said so far. End.


Gareth, if I understand him correctly (and he's been pretty explicit in PM's, I think) believes you will be unable[/u] to articulate your problems without knowing GNS.

You seem well able to do so here:

Quote

Bob says: "Within reason, yeah...well, I want the game to be more like a movie than a simulation. The realistic limitations you place on movement are seriously hampering my character's ability to do anything really neat, like movie-type action stunts, showing up suddenly in the middle of combats, crashing through windows, and such. That's what I like."


and here:

Quote

Bob: "Ok, sure, it does. I'm not really into that though. I don't like detailing every move my character makes just to position him to do something."


There is, in the common parlance, a great deal of understanding of cinematic games vs. "gritty" or "realistic" ones. The concept of "like a movie" is irrelevant to GNS specifically.

This may be a bad example of a problem *requiring* GNS terminology--but I see no reason that a player who was unhappy with how the movement rules were appling to his character couldn't make a statement either *exactly* like, or incredibly similar to the above without GNS.

Of course, Gareth *also* says the GM would be unlikely/unable to give it any credence without having absorbed the theory--which you seem to be arguing as well.

That might be the case for individuals.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on August 03, 2003, 11:44:00 AM
Quote from: Marco
This may be a bad example of a problem *requiring* GNS terminology--but I see no reason that a player who was unhappy with how the movement rules were appling to his character couldn't make a statement either *exactly* like, or incredibly similar to the above without GNS.

Marco, the central point you seem to be missing here -- by focusing on the details -- is that Bob and his GM are unable to have the above conversation and achieve actual resolution of the issue without a theoretical framework of understanding they both can use as a baseline.

That is: the baseline's the thing.
If they've developed this already in their group without GNS, then no problem. But in the example given, they definitely haven't. They both have very seperate ideas of how role-playing works -- how each believes it MUST work, in fact.

The second big point I think you might be missing is that Bob and his GM aren't just characters I've made up and made to dance with strings; as I've said, they're me and my GM, and one of my players and I. This is a real situation that has happened more than once -- twice with me as the GM, once with me as the player.

Without that GNS theory framework, the situation was unresolvable because neither individual understood the exact source of the problem --that is, "I want movie-type action stunts" is not the source of the problem.

Even if they play Exalted, as you suggest, there's still going to be a style conflict underneath it all -- and Bob's going to find something else that doesn't mesh with his desires, or Bob's GM is going to be tweaked by the player control involved in the stunts.

This is why I said "you can tweak, and tweaK" and still not find a resolution without that base understanding -- whever you get it from.

---EDITED for (hopefully) clarity---


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on August 03, 2003, 12:41:35 PM
Well, I'm focusing on what you've given me--which I have to--because I don't accept your premise that things are unresolvable without the GNS framework.

Gareth seems to think the two people can't have a respect for each other without that framework--but that's clearly not the case in your second example.

You say that tweaking won't work because it doesn't address the source of the problem. Treating the symptoms as it were.

But surely whatever solution for functional play you envision would involve some form of change of observable behavior on one or both sides that would resolve the problem.

Certainly the right "tweaks" would lead to that behavior change as well. Or does "treating the source of the problem" rely somehow on intent?

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: greyorm on August 03, 2003, 02:50:26 PM
I think what has been lost in the whole either/or black/white argument is the idea of chance and time. Let's start over.

Having a theoretical framework for mutual discussion and understanding leads to respect for another individual's play style, and moreso, understanding of how that playstyle actually works (even why and how it is to be enjoyed). Note: this happened in my case.

Respect and understanding do not necessarily come solely from theory, however, but they increase the chance that an individual will have such. All things being equal, if you have someone who knows the GNS theory, the chance of that individual being respectful towards and understanding other play style preferences are greatly increased simply because of the basics of the theory. Agree?

Respect and understanding also take a great deal of time and effort for a group where they do not already exist. Having a foundation such as GNS to explore and understand differences results in less time taken trying to form such through conversation and re-invention of the wheel (as it were). That is, everyone is not starting out with a blank slate and trying to figure out what the other person means or wants when they say something, which takes a great deal of time, frustration, and experience. Agree?

This assumes the individuals involved realize the common vocabulary (munchkin, rules-lawyer, roll vs. role, etc.) and understanding of gaming (anti-Lumpleyism, etc.) are misguided and so loaded or skewed as to be useless for the purposes of honestly effective communication.

Also, there must be desire to engage in such a discourse and hash out a common understanding instead of just saying, "These are the rules, play them this way this time. We'll try something you like next time." While that is a functional response which neatly solves the issue, it is also one that doesn't actually solve the long-term problem, nor does it promote understanding of the reasons behind the problems in the first place.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Paganini on August 03, 2003, 03:07:18 PM
This isn't *exactly* on the subject of the Raven / Marco dialogue, but one thing about GNS that I really like that seems to often get lost in the shuffle is that it's enlightening not just for solving group difficulties, but for identifying personal preferences.

I was confused for a long time about what I liked in RPGs. See, conflicting GNS priorities can ocurr in an individual gamer, not just in a group. Understanding GNS helps you understand your own personal preferences, so you can identify and separate conflicting desires. You can enjoy many different games, depending on your mood. You can even successfully play (and design!) games that you don't particularly enjoy, if you want to for some reason. Say, your group is trying something out that you don't particularly like. You don't want to be a party pooper, so you play anyway. By understanding GNS, you can "appropriatize" your play mode to the situation.


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on August 04, 2003, 04:17:47 AM
Actually, that was my dead-bang on point about personal preference (which I was describing as intent-to-play-a-certain way) that started this whole thing.

I think that's mega-value.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Paganini on August 04, 2003, 06:22:43 AM
Oh.

Well... cool! :)


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: Marco on August 04, 2003, 12:16:56 PM
Quote from: greyorm
I think what has been lost in the whole either/or black/white argument is the idea of chance and time. Let's start over.

Having a theoretical framework for mutual discussion and understanding leads to respect for another individual's play style, and moreso, understanding of how that playstyle actually works (even why and how it is to be enjoyed). Note: this happened in my case.

Respect and understanding do not necessarily come solely from theory, however, but they increase the chance that an individual will have such. All things being equal, if you have someone who knows the GNS theory, the chance of that individual being respectful towards and understanding other play style preferences are greatly increased simply because of the basics of the theory. Agree?


I Agree. I think my response that started this whole thing was interperting someone as saying the theory was necessary to resolve the conflicts.

Quote

Respect and understanding also take a great deal of time and effort for a group where they do not already exist. Having a foundation such as GNS to explore and understand differences results in less time taken trying to form such through conversation and re-invention of the wheel (as it were). That is, everyone is not starting out with a blank slate and trying to figure out what the other person means or wants when they say something, which takes a great deal of time, frustration, and experience. Agree?


Almost totally. I think respect can be had for another friendly person even if you think their request is unreasonable--and the presence of that--a recognition that a bud who'se not enjoying themselves for reasons you don't see as vaild is as worthy of assistance as someone whose reasons you do see as valid--is high up on the list of things that make any creative team work.

After all, not every breakdown will be a GNS related issue.

So I think understanding can take a great deal of time. I'd suggest at least some focus on reminding people that holding everyone at the table at a certain level of regard will minimize dysfunction too. And that shouldn't take a whole lot of time.

Quote

This assumes the individuals involved realize the common vocabulary (munchkin, rules-lawyer, roll vs. role, etc.) and understanding of gaming (anti-Lumpleyism, etc.) are misguided and so loaded or skewed as to be useless for the purposes of honestly effective communication.

Also, there must be desire to engage in such a discourse and hash out a common understanding instead of just saying, "These are the rules, play them this way this time. We'll try something you like next time." While that is a functional response which neatly solves the issue, it is also one that doesn't actually solve the long-term problem, nor does it promote understanding of the reasons behind the problems in the first place.


That response was an example of a vaild one that would be impenetralble to GNS. Sometimes it might even be a "good" choice if "next time" is right around the corner and both parties can see the benefit of driving on for the moment.

-Marco


Title: Criticisms of the Threefold
Post by: contracycle on August 04, 2003, 11:29:52 PM
Quote
After all, not every breakdown will be a GNS related issue.
[

Who ever said that it was?