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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: John Kim on January 09, 2004, 07:27:32 PM



Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: John Kim on January 09, 2004, 07:27:32 PM
OK, so Ian and Ron have suggested a separate thread to discuss the following point which I made in The Dream vs Story Now!:
Quote from: John Kim
As far as I can tell, this just goes back to what I said.  What you are saying is that Narrativism maintains the Dream just as well as Simulationism.  There are two possible conclusions here:

1) Simulationism is all about pursuing the Dream to the exclusion of other priorities.  However, it is futile extra effort.  It excludes Story Now in favor of the Dream, but the Dream is no more whole or complete than in the case of Narrativism.  In short, there is extra effort which excludes Story Now but there is no gain.  

2) Simulationism gains something other than the Dream.  So both Narrativism and Simulationism fully maintain the integrity of the Dream, but Simulationism gains a different quality.

OK, so Ron suggests that these two cannot be rigorously distinguished, but rather it is "a personal judgment that reflects one's aesthetic preferences".  I have trouble making a personal judgement between the two, I think because I don't have a strong concept of what "The Dream" is.  

Again, if I go back to rgfa discussion, I know what this represented.  This debate was over the debate between a system like, say, the HERO System (Simulationist) and a system like Theatrix (Dramatist).  The Sim systems gained qualities which were appreciated by Simulationists, but which never had an agreed-upon name other than "simulation".  Threefold Sim was defined negatively in terms of methods which it rejected rather than qualities which it strove for -- primarily because terms like "realism", "consistency", and "believability" were all equally claimed by Dramatism and Simulationism.  

The key point was over detail and patterns over time.  Both rejected the idea of having a single atomic event that broke realism or believability, but Simulationism called for further effort to record more detail and eliminate patterns of bias.

So does maintaining the Dream simply consist of avoiding events which are by themselves clearly in violation of character, background, or realism?  Or is it something further?


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 09, 2004, 08:39:35 PM
Hello,

That's an issue that remains open, John.

Paul Czege and I tend toward the view that cognitively (and perhaps emotionally), Simulationist play is best understood as a rejection and a diminution of aspects of Gamist and Narrativist play.

However, I also acknowledge (and respect) that procedurally, we are talking about a distinct set of behaviors, standards, and professed aesthetic concerns.

So is it a "thing" or the absence of a "thing"? Depends on what set of phenomena you're interested in talking about. Typically, I like to focus on the procedural/social side of things, as you know, so that's why I go with my "however" paragraph. In fact, that's why I have a section about that in the GNS essay and a whole essay devoted to Simulationist play. From that perspective, Simulationist play is indeed a "thing."

I also call attention to the possible cognitive/emotional side in the Gamism and (upcoming) Narrativist essays, which I think will be better articulated on my part when both those essays may be read side by side. In a nutshell, I am interested in the observation that dedicated (rather than supportive) Simulationist priorities apparently must be trained rather severely in newcomers to role-playing, whereas Narrativist and Gamist priorities seem to arrive full-blown.

Mike Holmes is currently the chief advocate of a position that Jared Sorensen described as "The Beeg Horseshoe Theory," so called because a horseshoe is more-or-less a circle with a piece missing. This is a little bit more like the cognitive/emotional interpretation - going so far as to say that the fully-Simulationist mode remains a hypothetical construct which no one actually achieves; that Gamist and Narrativist "drive" remain even when all of one's procedural behavior keeps trying to shut it down.

Mike suggests (and correct me if I'm wrong in this, Mike) that Gamism and Narrativism are at the ends of one axis, and that "plausibility" is an independent axis. When attention to the plausibility becomes so focused as to diminish and (attempt to) ignore the first axis, that's Simulationist play. Mike suggests, in accordance with the Beeg Horseshoe, that such attention is not ultimately satisfying, and that efforts to make that attention central are, essentially, an exercise in futility. But nevertheless the plausibility axis is a real thing and should always be considered a powerful tool for reinforcing priorities in play.

That's why Mike is fascinated by "hybrid" GNS modes: specifically S-under-G and S-under-N, and why he is also interested in congruent (not hybrid) G-N.

Do Mike and I disagree on this issue? Not much at all. I'm mainly reluctant to say, "this is it!" because (a) it represents too much a shift toward emotional/cognitive variables rather than social/procedural ones, and (b) I'd like to learn more about people's alternative "structural" ideas about the modes at the Creative Agenda level before embracing one particular structure. So officially, I remain mildly neutral about that.

Best,
Ron


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 09, 2004, 11:00:58 PM
My position is actually rather simple.  I can't think what this extra thing the Dream would gain is in option #2, so the choice seems pretty obviously #1.

As the Dream is adding nothing beyond Exploration, Sim isn't needed in the Creative Agenda later - it's just confusing clutter.  It's simpler to say that some people enjoy different levels of commitment to G/N or Exploration (as well as Social Contract, Techniques, or Ephemera).

I know Gordon's got a counter-point to this somewhere in his head.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ian Charvill on January 10, 2004, 06:14:51 AM
It seems to me like people are ignoring the obvious:

Within gamism we diminish imaginative elements that do not contribute to the step-on-up.  So if it isn't a challenge or a means to overcome a challenge within the shares imagined space, it's colour and not particularly interesting colour at that.

Within narrativism we diminish imaginative elements that do not contribute to the address of premise. If it's not emotionally resonant with some ethical or moral question, and provide in some sense and means of resolving or expanding the premise, it's just colour and not particularly interesting colour at that.

Simulationism has more scope than that.  All imaginary elements can be granted weight regardless of whether they fulfil a metagame agenda.  We thus have freedom to create without boundries.  The "a world of endless possibilities where the only boundries are your own imagination" is coming out of this facet of simulationism.  Gamism and narrativism are boundries on the imaginative process.

To subvert Ron's jazz analogy - narrativism is jazz on a pre-exisiting theme - where the rule is 'everyone is playing variations on this melody'.  Simulationism offers something freer than that where themes can appear but disappear just as quickly, because the theme isn't the priority, invention or exploration is the point.  To chart new territories.

Which is why retconning is a feature of a lot of sim play.  Play charts out the territory in the freeform wandering wherever we want sense and then litarary form is given to it in retrospect.  Kind of like the difference between the travel and the travelogue.  Travel is experience and the travelogue shapes it.  Sim gaming is the experience and retconning shapes it.

Functional simulationism is not avoidance of premise/challenge it's freedom from premise/challenge.

It may be that simulationism is harder to do well than gamism or narrativism because of the lack of defining boundries.  So people fall back on spatchcocked groups, railroaded plots and cliche instead on inventions.  But when it comes together simulationism allows you to invent things beyond your preconceptions and boundries, things you would never have thought up sat in a room by yourself, and that have an intensity and freshness because of that.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Mark Johnson on January 10, 2004, 02:17:35 PM
Quote from: Ian Charvill
It seems to me like people are ignoring the obvious:

Within gamism we diminish imaginative elements that do not contribute to the step-on-up.  So if it isn't a challenge or a means to overcome a challenge within the shares imagined space, it's colour and not particularly interesting colour at that.

Within narrativism we diminish imaginative elements that do not contribute to the address of premise. If it's not emotionally resonant with some ethical or moral question, and provide in some sense and means of resolving or expanding the premise, it's just colour and not particularly interesting colour at that.

Simulationism has more scope than that.  All imaginary elements can be granted weight regardless of whether they fulfil a metagame agenda.  We thus have freedom to create without boundries.  The "a world of endless possibilities where the only boundries are your own imagination" is coming out of this facet of simulationism.  Gamism and narrativism are boundries on the imaginative process.


(Warning: I am writing this from the top of my head with my own definitions of the terms, they may or may not relect Ron's model of GNS.)

For Simulationism all imaginary elements can be granted weight; but since most individual instances of Simulationism tend to be weighted more toward more toward some elements of Character, Setting, Situation, System and Color than others.

I.E. Within simulationism we diminish imaginative elements that do not contribute to the exploration of whatever mix of character, setting, situation, system and color that the players have chosen to explore.  In my opinion, this is one reason why simulationism is so hard to pull off.

Example from a theoretical Vampire campaign:  All the players are engaged in simulationism, but with different approaches.  The GM is really into the setting and has studied in loving detail all the sourcebooks.  Two of the players are really into exploring their characters, one as "deep immersion" role player and another who simply writes long essays about character history and game jourals etc.  They both get bored with all the setting detail the GM is throwing at them when it has nothing to do with their characters. Meanwhile there is a player who just loves the color of the game and is peaved that the game is not as "gothic" as he wished.  One gal loves monkeying around with the system and wishes she could GM since the current GM just seems to like a travelogue rather than really figuring out all the cool things that could be done with the system (she is probably a closeted game designer too.)   And the last guy came up with a cool situation for his character that he wants to see played out, but the GM seems to be more interested in other things.

That Vampire campaign is probably screwed.

Individual simulationist facilitating game texts have different mix of emphases, GURPS is great for exploring system for example.  I think most "game system lite" texts are also really about exploring system, even though many include (sometimes multiple) diatribes about "getting the system out of the way so you can just roleplay."  Yes, I am looking at you The Window.

Anyway, to repeat myself, I do think that Simulationism does exist at the metagame level for players, this is probably the squared in what Ron calls exploration squared.  However, there are different types of exploration and these competing types of exploration can lead to disfunctional play as readily as GNS level issues.

Feel free to tear apart.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on January 10, 2004, 02:24:40 PM
Quote from: Ian Charvill
It seems to me like people are ignoring the obvious:

...

Within narrativism we diminish imaginative elements that do not contribute to the address of premise. If it's not emotionally resonant with some ethical or moral question, and provide in some sense and means of resolving or expanding the premise, it's just colour and not particularly interesting colour at that.


Possibly because it's not quite so obvious. I've been doing some digging, and it appears to me that narrativism is a bit more than simply addressing premise, much like how cooking is more than pan frying.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: greyorm on January 10, 2004, 02:47:58 PM
Quote from: Ian Charvill
Simulationism has more scope than that.

I recall that theory being brought up before, and my rejecting it by stating that Simulationism was still limited in scope by its "broad" limits, and thus no more wide nor narrow than the other two.

Anyone recall that discussion? I can't seem to find it.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: pete_darby on January 10, 2004, 03:24:14 PM
Well, for me the acid test tends to be along the lines of, given a choice, does the group want to find out more about the situation, or change it? Most of the time, G & N players want to change it, S players want to deepen it...

Horrendously over simplified, but there you go.

Mark, sure that campaign is screwed, but so is a Nar campaign where no-one can agree to co-operate on the method of address of permise (it ends up looking like really bad soap opera, bad brechtian drama or the issues of Chris Claremont X-Men all your cool friends mocked...), or Gam session where no-one knows whether your pitting yourself against the GM, the other players, the scenario designer, the games designer, or merely a cruel and malicious god for making you this way. Agreement on CA doesn't guarantee harmony, sadly.

Jack... wait for Ron's essay, but it really is that easy in essence. The problem is making sim/gam designed systems feed the ever hungry mouth that is story now...

As for limits of any agenda... I think we only perceive them as limited when we're getting a Jones for something that another CA supports. The play in each is infinitely variable, but not all encompassing (or else, there'd only be one CA...)


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 10, 2004, 04:30:50 PM
Quote from: Ian Charvill
Functional simulationism is not avoidance of premise/challenge it's freedom from premise/challenge.


As we established in the parent thread, adding theme to a pure dream game doesn't diminish the dream (excluding our maginal weird case).  So, should you choose to actually do anything with this freedom, then you're no longer in Sim turf (because maintaining the dream doesn't exclude G/N).  Once a conflict comes along (something requiring the player to decide how to proceed), the player has got to decide how he'll address the conflict.  'As the character would', with true integrity, will lead him down the path of Nar, as the character's beliefs begin to shape events.

Now, I guess this could still technically be Sim if the player didn't give two shits about the character's beliefs, how beliefs shaped events, how beliefs originate from a setting, and so on; if he was just going through the motions of Exploration without caring about any of it.  I guess he'd also have to not give two shits about anything challenge relate too.  I find that a pretty implausible style of play, though I could imagine it.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: John Kim on January 10, 2004, 10:01:49 PM
Quote from: Ian Charvill
  To subvert Ron's jazz analogy - narrativism is jazz on a pre-exisiting theme - where the rule is 'everyone is playing variations on this melody'.  Simulationism offers something freer than that where themes can appear but disappear just as quickly, because the theme isn't the priority, invention or exploration is the point.  To chart new territories.

Which is why retconning is a feature of a lot of sim play.  Play charts out the territory in the freeform wandering wherever we want sense and then litarary form is given to it in retrospect.  

You know, this is exactly what I think about rgfa Threefold Simulationism. For me, rgfa Sim means that I start the game out knowing a lot about the setting and the NPCs -- but I have very little idea what the story is going to be.  While I have very little (if any) retconning, I do find that the session summaries for my Vinland game are very important -- and the in-character blogs of the Buffy game I'm in serve a similar function.  I found an intriguing quote from Stephen King's book On Writing:
Quote
"When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story" he said.  "When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.

Gould said something else that was interesting on the day I turned in my first two pieces: write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.  Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out.  Once you know what the story is and get it right -- as right as you can, anyway -- it belongs to anyone who wants to read it.

This style (related to rgfa Simulationism) could perhaps be described as "Story Later" -- which is parallel to King's idea of writing first for oneself.  There may be elements of a story in Sim play -- i.e. there can be lots of interesting characters, action, moral choices, and so forth.  However, there is also a lot of stuff which turns out to not be a part of the story.  One can edit the session into something which seems like a finished story, but only in retrospect.  

Quote from: Ron Edwards
  I also call attention to the possible cognitive/emotional side in the Gamism and (upcoming) Narrativist essays, which I think will be better articulated on my part when both those essays may be read side by side. In a nutshell, I am interested in the observation that dedicated (rather than supportive) Simulationist priorities apparently must be trained rather severely in newcomers to role-playing, whereas Narrativist and Gamist priorities seem to arrive full-blown.  

That seems fairly straightforward to me, actually.  Narrativism seems to identify closely with writing of plays/novels/movies.  Gamism identifies with boardgames, card games, and so forth.  However, Simulationism is a mode relatively unique to RPGs.  

Quote from: cruciel
  As we established in the parent thread, adding theme to a pure dream game doesn't diminish the dream (excluding our maginal weird case).  So, should you choose to actually do anything with this freedom, then you're no longer in Sim turf (because maintaining the dream doesn't exclude G/N).  Once a conflict comes along (something requiring the player to decide how to proceed), the player has got to decide how he'll address the conflict.  'As the character would', with true integrity, will lead him down the path of Nar, as the character's beliefs begin to shape events.  

OK, you say that you can imagine it, but I have no mental picture then about what it would mean to be "Simulationist" from what you say.  What would play look like?


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 10, 2004, 11:20:25 PM
Quote from: John Kim
Quote from: cruciel
As we established in the parent thread, adding theme to a pure dream game doesn't diminish the dream (excluding our marginal weird case).  So, should you choose to actually do anything with this freedom, then you're no longer in Sim turf (because maintaining the dream doesn't exclude G/N).  Once a conflict comes along (something requiring the player to decide how to proceed), the player has got to decide how he'll address the conflict.  'As the character would', with true integrity, will lead him down the path of Nar, as the character's beliefs begin to shape events.  

OK, you say that you can imagine it, but I have no mental picture then about what it would mean to be "Simulationist" from what you say.  What would play look like?


I'm going to quote M.J. Young for this one.  I'm not trying to take this out of context, or drag him into the discussion, he's just the person who sticks out in my mind as providing really good examples of Sim (making it easy to remember where an example was).  This is taken from the Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6663).

Quote from: M.J. Young
We could debate for hours whether Gettysburg would have gone otherwise had commanders acted differently; but below that debate (which we could settle in quite gamist fashion by setting it up and playing it out) there's another issue: how much differently from the way they acted could they have acted, and still been true to who they were? We could play that wargame with all of us playing all sides, deciding together what each unit is most likely to do, given its nature, the character of its commander, the information they have available, and the changes we've made. We could really be playing it to find out how it would have come out with just this one change, with no gamist nor narrativist impulses involved. What would Pickett have done were it not for that order? What would Lee have done had he better intelligence on the Union artillery? We can play this just to see how it comes out, with no desires to influence that on the part of any player. You could play such a game all by yourself. Maybe I'm crazy; I sometimes play Bridge all by myself, because I'm curious about how the game works and don't have three other players. I'm playing to learn about the game. I could play to learn about Gettysburg or Normandy, with no desire to bring anything to this event other than what would actually have happened.


The emphasis is mine, because I think it's the key statement - that scientific detachment from what happens in play.  As a theoretical play style (or a not so theoretical one in this case), I can imagine it.  It seems horribly marginal too me, but that's not necessarily a reason to discount it.  However, I see nothing added; I just see Exploration absent of any other goal.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: John Kim on January 11, 2004, 01:59:13 AM
Quote from: cruciel
  This is taken from the Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6663).
Quote from: M.J. Young
  We could debate for hours whether Gettysburg would have gone otherwise had commanders acted differently; but below that debate (which we could settle in quite gamist fashion by setting it up and playing it out) there's another issue: how much differently from the way they acted could they have acted, and still been true to who they were?
   ...    
We can play this just to see how it comes out, with no desires to influence that on the part of any player.  

The emphasis is mine, because I think it's the key statement - that scientific detachment from what happens in play.  As a theoretical play style (or a not so theoretical one in this case), I can imagine it.  It seems horribly marginal too me, but that's not necessarily a reason to discount it.  However, I see nothing added; I just see Exploration absent of any other goal.

Wow.  This sounds remarkably close to rgfa Simulationism, like my Water-Uphill World campaign.  I would agree that rgfa Simulationism is a marginal style that rarely appears in a pure form.  Still, to me it has been a huge eye-opener.  My non-pure-Sim campaigns are still heavily influenced by my Simulationist experiences.  

I guess my quibble would be with your phrase "scientific detachment", which implies a lack of emotion and/or interest.  I think anyone who has worked with scientists knows that they are often quite passionate about their work.  They fervently want to discover.  They are not simply puttering about with tests for the sake of puttering about.  There is scientific discipline to stick to certain methods, but there is no lack of emotion or interest.  

I would say the same thing about Simulationism.  With the Water-Uphill World campaign, we tossed four children into a bizarre fantasy world and looked at the results of what happened.  I was interested by it, but I didn't know what would happen and I very deliberately did not want to influence it by how I thought the plot should go.  It could have gone in many different directions.  In retrospect, I think the most interesting part was about how the kids grew up in the face of pressure -- particularly Noriko's accepting of responsibility.  But I think it would be fair to call this "Story-By-Accident" (as opposed to Ralph's "Story on Purpose") or "Story Later" (as opposed to Ron's "Story Now").  There were many things which did not have to do with this idea, because we didn't know that was important until after it happened.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 11, 2004, 04:17:05 AM
Quote from: John Kim
I guess my quibble would be with your phrase "scientific detachment", which implies a lack of emotion and/or interest.  I think anyone who has worked with scientists knows that they are often quite passionate about their work.  They fervently want to discover.  They are not simply puttering about with tests for the sake of puttering about.  There is scientific discipline to stick to certain methods, but there is no lack of emotion or interest.


I'm not gonna bother too much with whether or not 'scientific detachment' as a phrase misrepresents scientists, because it probably does.  I'll just go ahead and go with 'lack of emotion or interest'.  

Quote from: John Kim
I would say the same thing about Simulationism.  With the Water-Uphill World campaign, we tossed four children into a bizarre fantasy world and looked at the results of what happened.  I was interested by it, but I didn't know what would happen and I very deliberately did not want to influence it by how I thought the plot should go.  It could have gone in many different directions.  In retrospect, I think the most interesting part was about how the kids grew up in the face of pressure -- particularly Noriko's accepting of responsibility.  But I think it would be fair to call this "Story-By-Accident" (as opposed to Ralph's "Story on Purpose") or "Story Later" (as opposed to Ron's "Story Now").  There were many things which did not have to do with this idea, because we didn't know that was important until after it happened.


No desire to actively effect the plot, not realizing the importance of an event as it happens, or just seeing what happens all fall under the 'you can play Nar even if you don't mean to' clause.  

Obviously analyzing an instance of play based off a single sentence is certain to be flawed, but...  (the bolded portion)

The fact that a key interest was how a character grew up when pressured denotes addressing a theme - one of personal growth by facing adversity, a coming of age sort of theme. (Assuming this was at some level interesting while you were playing it.)  As I see it, Interest equals prioritize/address/author/whatever-you-wanna-call-it.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: John Kim on January 11, 2004, 10:25:38 AM
Quote from: cruciel
 No desire to actively effect the plot, not realizing the importance of an event as it happens, or just seeing what happens all fall under the 'you can play Nar even if you don't mean to' clause.  

Obviously analyzing an instance of play based off a single sentence is certain to be flawed, but...  (the bolded portion)

The fact that a key interest was how a character grew up when pressured denotes addressing a theme - one of personal growth by facing adversity, a coming of age sort of theme. (Assuming this was at some level interesting while you were playing it.)  As I see it, Interest equals prioritize/address/author/whatever-you-wanna-call-it.  

What you say suggests that rgfa Simulationism and GNS Narrativism are actually compatible.   rgfa Sim is deliberate following of internal cause, and when things of interest to the players occur in the results those are considered the theme which was addressed (i.e. GNS Nar).  However, I think Ron would quite disagree, in particular based on discussion in my Simulationism Revisited thread.  In other words, just being interested in an instance of play doesn't make it a theme in Story Now.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 11, 2004, 12:42:32 PM
Quote from: John Kim
What you say suggests that rgfa Simulationism and GNS Narrativism are actually compatible.   rgfa Sim is deliberate following of internal cause, and when things of interest to the players occur in the results those are considered the theme which was addressed (i.e. GNS Nar).  However, I think Ron would quite disagree, in particular based on discussion in my Simulationism Revisited thread.  In other words, just being interested in an instance of play doesn't make it a theme in Story Now.


If rgfa Sim is compatible with Nar, I wouldn't know.  Maybe it is?  If so, and you see GNS Sim as identical, that would cause some logic problems wouldn't it?

Not just interest in the instance of play, interest in what pushes the characters (players) through conflicts.  Be it interest in the challenge of the events, or interest in how the character approaches the conflict from his established character concept.

Starting to lose cohesion here and talk about the specific meaning of 'interest', or worse yet the timing of when the word is used - getting all tied up in the 'unintentionally addressing theme' business.  Which is really all my point about interest is saying.  

To go back to 'What is the Dream?', here are my list of "facts":

1) Theme does not damage the dream, in fact the dream supports theme.
As established in the parent thread.

2) GNS looks at an instance of play.
Isn't anything to argue here.

3) Creative agendae are exclusive priorities.
GNS priorities are each exclusive, because they can conflict.  Again, not much to argue - this is how GNS works.

4) Hybrid Sim play exists.
This is supported by #3, and seems to be in direct conflict with #1.  If adding theme to a dream intensive game does not damage the dream, then the play would then be simply Nar, not a hybrid right?  This is also in conflict with #2, if you're looking at the dominant pattern over time, can you have two dominant patterns?  Especially considering a Sim priority does not diminish a Nar priority.

5) Sim's metagame agenda is verisimilitude.
This is in conflict with #1.  Verisimilitude is just as valid an agenda in Nar (this goes back to your original post), so you can hardly claim verisimilitude as an exclusive agenda.

6) Sim exists as a creative agenda.
This is in conflict with #5.  As agenda are exclusive, this leaves Sim without a metagame agenda it can call its own, and hence nothing to define it.  This is supported by #3, and the conclusion in #4.

Also:

7) Causality can create Nar play.
The unintentional thing we keep getting hung up on - supported by #1 which states that you needn't prioritize theme over the dream for the dream to hold.  #5 is also in conflict with this, but as this seems to be a sticky spot I'm simply making a note about it.  This isn't necessary to the point.

This is, as you see, simply an expansion of your original post.  A list of "facts" that all seem to conflict each other.  If you ignore the connection between #4 and #6, ignore #7, and say that #1 isn't true, everything else holds.  It's fine to ignore #7 because if you declare #1 untrue, then #7 has nothing to stand on anymore (which opens up a big can of worms about intentional addressment, but not the point).

However, all we had for #1 being untrue was a marginal case.  If #1 is only untrue in marginal cases, then Sim exists only as a marginal case.

These are the things I personally cannot reconcile in my head with the current model.  I'm hoping the Nar essay has some answers.  Solutions that make Sim something other than G/N seem to solve the inconsistencies, like the Beeg Horseshoe and similar.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: M. J. Young on January 11, 2004, 10:00:30 PM
That's what I get for taking Saturday's off, particularly when I finish early on Friday.

Someone messaged me and asked if I could throw any light on this mess; I seem to have emerged as one of the defenders of simulationism, and I hope I can help here.

The first note that I've made to myself pertains to John's suggestion that Narrativism fully contains The Dream plus something else, and that this leads to the conflict that either Narrativism doesn't fully contain the dream or Simulationism has nothing that Narrativism lacks. This overlooks the problem inherent in opportunity costs--an essential economics concept that states, as I'm sure you know, that each individual has only so much capital, and any investment he makes in X represents capital he cannot invest in Y. Thus the dream in narrativism (and in gamism, for that matter) is, or can be, fully consistent and adequately realized, but part of the focus has been shifted to the narrativist (or gamist) priority, and to the degree that we have moved the focus to this, we have reduced our ability to address the Dream itself.

The first time I read Perelandra, back in college, I was starting to get bored with the long descriptions of the oceans, the floating islands, the color of the skies, the total darkness at night, the strange plants--I had never had trouble sticking with a C. S. Lewis book before, and frankly if this had been the first I'd ever read (and it wasn't a course assignment) I don't know that I'd have finished it, or picked up another. I went back to it a couple years ago (twenty some years later) and was absolutely enraptured by the scene he painted, a world I am so dying to convert to game play, because it is so utterly different and fascinating.

My complaint in college was that nothing was happening in those chapters; it was all setting and color. There was no theme, and there was no action. Yet looking at it now, I can see that Lewis could have given us an adequate idea of Perelandra in a few pages, and gotten on with the moral story he was going to tell, and moved more quickly through it to the action sequence that forges the climax--but it would have meant that we had a much poorer image of that world.

So, too, in role play, to the degree that we are focusing our attention on premise or challenge, we are taking it off the dream; and in so doing, we are saying that the dream is less important, need not be so rich or detailed.

John might object that his game prep is very detailed; but that doesn't make the play simulationist. Yes, all that detail is there, behind the story--but do the players really attend to it? That feels to me more like he is prepared to reveal whatever they discover, but that there may be reams of material they will never know. If premise and challenge don't get in the way, they will know more of the dream. If they turn to premise or challenge, the part of the dream they know will remain coherent, but it will be less rich. It has to be, because time is finite and information transmission rates are finite, and any of these resources that are diverted to gamist or narrativist priorities are diverted from the dream.

The Beeg Horseshoe theory is very tempting; but it seriously misses this. It assumes that simulationist players are actively trying to avoid gamist or narrativist tendencies, when in fact simulationist players are actively trying to explore the dream, and are so overwhelmed by it that, at least for the moment, they aren't interested in gamist or narrativist priorities. Some people will give up sex for food, and some will give up food for sex, and some will give up both for money. Most recognize that it's difficult to get all three at once, and to the degree that they pursue one they're ignoring the other two.

I agree with John that the desire to discover can be very emotional; I agree with Jason that it can be very detached. Both are simulationist, in the same way that a friendly game of chess and an international competition between grand masters are both gamist.

One of the problems with most examples of simulationism is that many simulationist games drift; a corresponding problem is that most narrativist and gamist games look like simulationism when they aren't addressing their agendae directly. I think that the Water Uphill game is an example of one of these, but I'm not sure which one. At one time, I thought it was simulationism transitioning to narrativism when situation was introduced; then I came to think (as I am now inclined) that it was completely narrativist, a setting in which were situations geared to trigger play addressing premise, but that when those situations were resolved and there was no immediate premise to address (or no immediate way to address a premise) the system fell back to exploration. I'll say more on this in a moment, I think, because I want to address Jason's seven points, and one of them lands here.

I don't know that Threefold preference is particularly relevant to Creative Agenda. Simulationism appears to be most focused on in-game consistency and causality, which can be CA simulationist in a simulationist setup, but it can be narrativist in a front-loaded narrativist setting, and it can be gamist in a front-loaded gamist setting. To use a gamist illustration, if I, the referee, tell you that you, the player character playing yourself, wash up on the shore of a tropical island and are taken in by the host, who then at dinner a few days later announces that to repay him for his kindness in helping you survive, you are going to serve as prey for his hunting expedition starting tomorrow morning and lasting three days, it is perfectly in-game for you to decide you're going to beat this guy at his own game--and absolutely gamist play, if you as player take it as a personal test of your ability. Although Creative Agenda is built on the foundation that was Threefold, John has made it fairly clear that Threefold is about techniques directly; CA is about priorities, with techniques impacting only to the degree that they support priorities.

O.K., time to deal with Jason's seven points.

Quote from: Jason
1) Theme does not damage the dream, in fact the dream supports theme.
Yes, but as established above, theme limits the dream through opportunity costs.

Quote from: Then Jason
2) GNS looks at an instance of play.
Isn't anything to argue here.
Of course, we can argue about what constitutes and "instance"; at the moment we won't.

Quote from: He next
3) Creative agendae are exclusive priorities.
GNS priorities are each exclusive, because they can conflict. Again, not much to argue - this is how GNS works.
Ah, but they can conflict in multiple ways. In essence, they conflict through opportunity costs in all cases, but sometimes also through overall direction--that is, we can have the greater conflict that pursuing the address of premise at this moment means we are acting in a manner that clearly frustrates gamist goals; but we can also have the lesser conflict that our decision to pursue the premise at this moment means we're not going to get to the gamist goals tonight, and maybe not next time either, because we're going the wrong way. So, too, gamist and narrativist agendae can conflict with a simulationist agenda by taking time and attention away from that part of play and putting it somewhere else. More clearly, simulationist play can directly conflict with gamist and narrativist priorities when the player decides he doesn't want to go there, and goes somewhere else instead.

Let me pull out a Multiverser example. I was test-running Orc Rising, a setting rife with moral difficulties. The short version is that it's a post-fantasy world in which magic is fading and pre-gunpowder lifestyles are on the rise among elves, dwarfs, and men; these "free peoples" are destroying the jungles in which the orcs live in primitive tribes, and are enslaving the orcs they capture, because that's "better for the orcs" than living their primitive lives in the jungles (we give them the benefits of civilization, a work ethic, better living conditions, longer lives, and some of our advanced knowledge). I can drop people in this world and they turn it into a narrativist issue-driven game in minutes. However, the first player I brought there made a game of exploring how the men and elves and dwarfs were building their worlds, how the economies worked, how they traded with each other--he skirted the moral issues almost completely, getting no deeper than to buy himself a slave, inform the orc that he should consider himself free, but probably should stay with him so that there wouldn't be any questions about his status. Had there been other people in the same world at the same time, his avoidance of the moral issues could have led to dysfunctional play, because prioritizing the exploration of the world creates the opportunity cost that you have less to invest in the exploration of the premise (and conversely because prioritizing the exploration of the premise prevents you from being able to dig as deeply into the world, given the same amount of time).

Quote from: Then he
4) Hybrid Sim play exists.
This is very controversial, and it has not been demonstrated.

As I suggested above, when narrativist play is not immediately addressing theme, it defaults to quiet exploration; when gamist play is not immediately addressing challenge, it defaults to quiet exploration. The error is to think that this means it has become simulationist play. The error is to think that consistency in the dream is necessarily simulationist. It isn't. It is an element of exploration, and is a foundational necessity for all modes. (Even in those cases in which the dream changes arbitrarily, this itself is the consistency: the rule is there is no rule. We must know the degree to which the world will be consistent to play in any mode. Even simulationism can play in a constantly changing unstable world; it then becomes an exploration of that which is unstable.)

No one has yet demonstrated a game in which G is subordinate to N but above S; or G is above N which is in turn above S. I think this is because the notion of hybrid is illusory, at least at this point. People don't really "fall back on simulationism" as a second mode. They maintain consistent exploration, looking for opportunities to address their CA once again, possibly preparing for these.

If they were truly prioritizing simulationism, then when narrativist or gamist opportunities arose, they would ignore these in favor of simulationism. If a player ignores gamist opportunities but pursues narrativist ones, that doesn't mean he's playing nar with a sim secondary; it means he's not interested in gamism, and is marking time looking for narrativist opportunities.

The hybrid play notion is at this point a red herring. No one has really demonstrated that it exists (TRoS notwithstanding) as an approach to play (game design that supports multiple agendae does not demonstrate multiple agendae in play).

Quote from: He next
5) Sim's metagame agenda is verisimilitude.
You're right to question this one, because it's not really true. Sim's metagame agenda is discovery*; verisimilitude is a necessary factor for discovery to have meaning.

Quote from: He then
6) Sim exists as a creative agenda.
This is in conflict with #5. As agenda are exclusive, this leaves Sim without a metagame agenda it can call its own, and hence nothing to define it. This is supported by #3, and the conclusion in #4.
Since I've shown that #5 is incorrect, #6 no longer conflicts with it. The sim creative agenda is the pursuit of knowledge; that is its metagame. It is most easily pursued in a system that is internally consistent. #3 does support it, even as qualified above; I've rejected #4 because I don't believe that hybrid play exists (even if hybrid design does), so it is irrelevant.

Quote from: Finally, he
7) Causality can create Nar play.
The unintentional thing we keep getting hung up on - supported by #1 which states that you needn't prioritize theme over the dream for the dream to hold. #5 is also in conflict with this, but as this seems to be a sticky spot I'm simply making a note about it. This isn't necessary to the point.
Yes, causality can create narrativist play. I don't think #5 is in conflict once it's been re-examined. You don't need to prioritize anything in order for the dream to be present; you need to prioritize the dream for its own sake to be truly doing simulationism, because you're after an understanding of the dream itself.

One problem that it has taken me a while to realize is that setting, system, color, situation, and character are so thoroughly intertwined that each of them must be considered part of each of them. That's important, because we otherwise get confused into thinking that this "system" is simulationist, and it doesn't matter what we do with it because it will continue to encourage simulationist play. The thing is, as soon as you place premise-ridden characters or premise-rich settings or premise-loaded situations into this, they become part of the system, and suddenly the system contains the address of premise as part of itself. If the players pursue that, you've got narrativist play arising entirely from within the structure of the game; if they ignore it (as my Orc Rising player did), and go for exploring non-premise aspects of the structure, you've got simulationism, demonstrated by a prioritization of discovery of whatever there is to discover.

I hope this helps.

*Discovery might not be the perfect word, since arguably the exploration of premise is a road to discovery, and even gamist play can be about discovery. I thought of enlightenment, but that seems to have even more narrativist implications. Simulationism is about knowledge and understanding. Discovery seems the best word for this.

--M. J. Young


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ian Charvill on January 12, 2004, 03:49:53 AM
A brief note - I don't have time to contribute fully at the moment, which I regret, it's an important thread I feel - I heartily concur with M.J's points.  Especially his latching onto opportunity cost as an important issue, I'm kicking myself for not employing that one.

Also a note on usage: agenda is already a plural - of agendum.  Agendae has no foundation at all and is not good usage.  I would venture to say that aganda is typically treated as singular in modern English, and so there is no great sin in pluralising it though: just use the standard English -s addition for plurals though: hence agendas.

Carry on.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 12, 2004, 06:02:06 AM
Hi M.J.,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Best,
Ron


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: John Kim on January 12, 2004, 11:59:24 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young
(Re: C. S. Lewis' Perelandra)

My complaint in college was that nothing was happening in those chapters; it was all setting and color. There was no theme, and there was no action. Yet looking at it now, I can see that Lewis could have given us an adequate idea of Perelandra in a few pages, and gotten on with the moral story he was going to tell, and moved more quickly through it to the action sequence that forges the climax--but it would have meant that we had a much poorer image of that world.

So, too, in role play, to the degree that we are focusing our attention on premise or challenge, we are taking it off the dream; and in so doing, we are saying that the dream is less important, need not be so rich or detailed.  

I just wanted to point out that this is nearly the same as what I suggested in the thread Writing Style, Detail, and Simulationism.  I didn't mention Perelandra, but I cited works like Melville's Moby Dick -- which also has many complete chapters with no action, and just description of whaling life.  Now, there was disagreement about how far the analogy goes.  Most people (like Mike Holmes, Gordon, and Vincent) seemed to agree that there is some relation, but that no author is actually Simulationist.  

Quote from: M. J. Young
  John might object that his game prep is very detailed; but that doesn't make the play simulationist. Yes, all that detail is there, behind the story--but do the players really attend to it? That feels to me more like he is prepared to reveal whatever they discover, but that there may be reams of material they will never know. If premise and challenge don't get in the way, they will know more of the dream.  If they turn to premise or challenge, the part of the dream they know will remain coherent, but it will be less rich.  

It's hard to say exactly what level of detail we're talking about, but I think Gordon (who played with my group in our Shadows in the Fog playtest) can back me up in saying that the detail tends to be pretty dense in our group.  Tor and Gordon were of the opinion that that was overall GNS Simulationist.  I would add that it was pretty representative of the sort of detail that happens in our Vinland game.  

For example, last session featured a journey to the spirit world where the members of the Brygjafael clan were trying to win the acceptance of the mustang spirit for it to become their clan totem.  We spent a while establishing the details of the ritual.  We played out an extended family discussion about who would take part in the ritual.  I then tried to cover the ritual itself.  For example, I originally said that they didn't have any hallucinogens per se.  Someone argued that they would have some sort of hallucinogen such as mushrooms.  We discussed it for a few minutes, I think.  Now, this was a little jarring to discuss but at the same time I felt it was important to establish this one way or the other.  

So later we had established that everyone was fasting, smoking, and singing in the sauna room for over a day.  As people started to get delirious, there was an impromptu contest between men and women, started by a spat between two younger cousins.  The contest was that everyone ran from the sauna to jump into an ice-hole.  As this was happening, Liz looked up hypothermia online with her laptop (which has a wireless connection).  Meanwhile, though, I winged it and said that everyone should make CON x 2 tests to see whether they can get out of the ice hole without help.  We rolled for all the people involved (8 NPCs and 3 PCs).  After everyone came back from that they fell into trances and we went into the vision quest where they were tested by the mustang totem (after a break as Liz and I put our son Milo to bed.)  

So is this all detail for detail's sake with no interest or emotion?  I don't think so.  And yet, having someone look up hypothermia online during play is a pretty striking feature of the game IMO.  Gordon played in the SitF playtest, and I think that similar use of detail in that session influenced his impression that it was overall GNS Simulationist.  I'm not saying that Vinland can't be Narrativist, but that there are very important differences between this RuneQuest-variant campaign and, say, games like The Pool or Primetime Adventures.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 12, 2004, 12:09:48 PM
As always, M.J.'s full of insight.  Rather than address the whole post, I'm just going to hit the points of disagreement.  I'm also not going to bother plugging my counter-points back into the original seven points, at least not until there is a consensus of some sort - that'd be a big waste of time.  Seems a shame to hack up such a nice post into smaller, non-contiguous chunks, but...

*****

Quote from: Up at the beginning of his post M.J. Young
The first note that I've made to myself pertains to John's suggestion that Narrativism fully contains The Dream plus something else, and that this leads to the conflict that either Narrativism doesn't fully contain the dream or Simulationism has nothing that Narrativism lacks. This overlooks the problem inherent in opportunity costs--an essential economics concept that states, as I'm sure you know, that each individual has only so much capital, and any investment he makes in X represents capital he cannot invest in Y. Thus the dream in narrativism (and in gamism, for that matter) is, or can be, fully consistent and adequately realized, but part of the focus has been shifted to the narrativist (or gamist) priority, and to the degree that we have moved the focus to this, we have reduced our ability to address the Dream itself.


Quote from: Then way down at the bottom he
One problem that it has taken me a while to realize is that setting, system, color, situation, and character are so thoroughly intertwined that each of them must be considered part of each of them. That's important, because we otherwise get confused into thinking that this "system" is simulationist, and it doesn't matter what we do with it because it will continue to encourage simulationist play. The thing is, as soon as you place premise-ridden characters or premise-rich settings or premise-loaded situations into this, they become part of the system, and suddenly the system contains the address of premise as part of itself. If the players pursue that, you've got narrativist play arising entirely from within the structure of the game; if they ignore it (as my Orc Rising player did), and go for exploring non-premise aspects of the structure, you've got simulationism, demonstrated by a prioritization of discovery of whatever there is to discover.


Why those two quotes?  Well, I'm in agreement with the second one, except for maybe the conclusion about Sim (based on where I'm going with this).  The second quote is basically where I'm starting from to disagree with the whole concept of opportunity costs as being applicable.

The entanglement of exploration elements extends to theme.  Now I'm going to quote myself from (out of laziness, I suppose):  Writing Style, Detail, and Simulationism (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9197).

Quote from: Somewhere in page two I
My theme is 'What is freedom worth?" And blammo! I've got character, setting, and situation. I've got a setting where oppression exists, a character suffering from oppression, and a chance to break free from it (or whatever, examples only). Not everything I need to play, but once I'm playing System and Color show up. It goes in reverse: One slave (Character), One society with slavery (Setting), a chance to run for it (Situation), and I've got myself the theme.

So I've got theme, but not Nar yet. What I need to do to get Nar is address this in play, which occurs if I remain committed to he explored elements that comprise the theme. 'Cause the explored elements and theme are the same thing, we just put 'em in different little boxes for analysis. Remain consistent with the explored elements that initially created the theme, and you continue to address the theme. Continuing to address the theme means remaining committed to the explored elements it was spawned from (in one fashion or another).


So my conclusion is that the Nar agenda is a structure of explored elements, not an extra something added after the explored elements.  There is no opportunity cost here, because a player is as committed to exploration as he's willing to be regardless.  The difference lies in the shape of the exploration, not the intensity.

So, a couples holes I see here are: Could not Sim have its own unique structure, one of discovery?
To that I would say:  it is the lack of structure that defines Sim play; Sim's options are open.  The discovery itself is not a structure - it's what's happening, not how it's happening.  So, no Sim does not have a structure.  However, even if discovery is a structure this doesn't seem to harm my statements about opportunity costs, but is instead a question of Sim's metagame agenda.

Also:  What is meant by structure?  
Common elements that point to an agenda.

*****

We seem to be in agreement on hybrid play, as we both deny its existence.  And I take your point here:

Quote from: M.J. Young, in response to point 6
Since I've shown that #5 is incorrect, #6 no longer conflicts with it. The sim creative agenda is the pursuit of knowledge; that is its metagame. It is most easily pursued in a system that is internally consistent. #3 does support it, even as qualified above; I've rejected #4 because I don't believe that hybrid play exists (even if hybrid design does), so it is irrelevant.


about it being irrelevant.

However, the rejection of hybrid play is very counter to what I thought was accepted theory.  Because I just have to know, I'm going to address this question directly to Ron:

Does Sim hybrid play exist?

*****

Quote from: M.J. Young
Quote from: Jason
5) Sim's metagame agenda is verisimilitude.
You're right to question this one, because it's not really true. Sim's metagame agenda is discovery*; verisimilitude is a necessary factor for discovery to have meaning.

...
 
*Discovery might not be the perfect word, since arguably the exploration of premise is a road to discovery, and even gamist play can be about discovery. I thought of enlightenment, but that seems to have even more narrativist implications. Simulationism is about knowledge and understanding. Discovery seems the best word for this.


I'm going to try to avoid quibbling over the word usage.  Suffice it to say that we start with the assumption that Sim has something for a meta-game agenda.  My question is, is this something unique to Sim?  Or is it present in Nar, even if it is 'quieter'?  If so, I think the inconsistencies that spring from point five remain.

*****

Just because I feel like a clarifier is in order before it becomes an issue: My purpose is not to disprove the existence of Sim play.  My purpose is to point out how the points from the beginning of the thread disprove Sim's place in the Creative Agenda layer.  Well, actually I suppose my purpose is to figure all this crap out, but that's more of my 'always purpose'.

****

Quote from: M.J. Young
I hope this helps.


Of course it does!


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 12, 2004, 12:27:44 PM
Hello,

Jason, I have a couple of responses.

1. I have no objection whatsoever to your phrasing of the "structure of the explored elements" over the "add-on to the explored elements." I consider that a phrasing that suits your personal sensations and lacking any particular necess

Or to put it differently, I am making no specific claims about the relationship between Creative Agenda and Exploration that you're disputing. My only claim is that one cannot "do" Exploration, in the sense of actually role-playing together, without having a Creative Agenda at all.

2. You ask whether Simulationist hybrid play exists.

I'm going to dispute, first and foremost, that I am the ultimate authority for this or any related issue. I am only the authority over what I'm trying to say, not over How Things Really Are.

Therefore the question I'm going to answer is, "Ron, what do you think about Simulationist hybrid play?" With full acknowledgment that someone else's take on it, M.J.'s or whoever's, may well be a better take.

Here's an excerpt from the upcoming Narrativist essay, which is just an ace away from being done as we speak. To orient you, this follows just after a discussion of the N-S "blend," which I claim is merely Narrativist play and not a shred of Simulationist at all. Then,

Quote
... what about subordinate hybrids? Simulationist play may be a functional underpinning to Narrativist play, insofar as bits or sub-scenes of play can shift into extensive set-up or reinforcers for upcoming Bang-oriented moments. Such scenes or details can take on an interest of their own, as with the many pages describing military hardware in a Tom Clancy novel. It's a bit risky, as one can attract (e.g.) hardware-nuts who care very little for Premise as well as Premise-nuts who get bored by one too many hardware-pages, and end up pleasing neither enough to attract them further.

Historically, this approach has been poorly implemented in role-playing texts, which swing into Simulationist phrasing extremely easily, for the reasons I describe in Simulationism: the Right to Dream. You cannot get emergent Narrativist play specifically through putting more and more effort into perfecting the Simulationism, no matter how "genre-faithful" or "character-faithful" it may be. I consider most efforts in this direction to become reasonably successful High-Concept Simulationism with a strong slant toward Situation, mainly useful for enjoyable pastiche but not particularly for Narrativist play at all.

The key issue is System. Narrativist play is best understood as a powerful integration and feedback between character creation and the reward system, however they may work, in that the former is merely the first step of the latter in terms of addressing Premise. Whereas the usual effect in High-Concept Simulationist play is to "fix" player-characters appropriately into the Situation for purposes of affirming the story-as-conceived, especially in terms of varying effectiveness at specific task-categories, and reward systems in these games are usually diminished and delayed to the point of absence. Games which stumbled over this issue include Fading Suns and Legend of the Five Rings, both of which require extensive Drifting to achieve even halting Narrativist play despite considerable thematic content.

The more successful primarily-Narrativist, secondarily-Simulationist hybrid designs include Obsidian, to some extent, possibly Continuum if I'm reading it right, and The Riddle of Steel as the current shining light; I also call attention to Robots & Rapiers, currently in development.

[note: TROS play does tend to include distinct Drift toward either less-S-detours or throw-out-N-stuff versions, as you can see in the relevant forum.]

How about the reverse? Can Narrativist play underlie and reinforce a primarily Simulationist approach? I consider this to be a very interesting question, because it's not like Gamism in this regard at all. What happens when Premise is addressed sporadically, or develops so slowly that the majority of play is like those hardware-pages? Whether this is "slow Narrativism" or "S-N-S" or just plain dysfunctional play is a matter of specific instances, I think. But I do want to stress that it's not the "N/S blend" as commonly construed, which is to say, both priorities firing as equal pals.


Best,
Ron


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 12, 2004, 01:09:00 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Or to put it differently, I am making no specific claims about the relationship between Creative Agenda and Exploration that you're disputing. My only claim is that one cannot "do" Exploration, in the sense of actually role-playing together, without having a Creative Agenda at all.


Ah.  It seems to me that you cannot 'do' Exploration because 'doing' is how Creative Agenda is defined.  You can't really argue with ground-rules, lucky for me you don't have to agree with them either ;).  This is most likely an impasse based on differences in perception, or a perceived subtly that doesn't really exist (from one side or the other).  Though what I'm proposing does conflict with the ground-rules, the Beeg Horseshoe does not appear to (because it treats Sim differently without removing it from CA).

Quote
I'm going to dispute, first and foremost, that I am the ultimate authority for this or any related issue. I am only the authority over what I'm trying to say, not over How Things Really Are.

[snip]


Heh, sorry.  Didn't mean it to come off that way - I was just being direct.  Better phrasing would have been, "Ron, I specifically remember you believing in hybrid play, is this true?"  Then maybe the bold letters wouldn't have seemed so much like 'Fine!  I'm asking daddy!' (They were meant to catch post skimming.)

Anyway, I'm wandering... (Fascinating though it is to figure out where communication breaks down.)

Thanks, curiosity satisfied.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on January 12, 2004, 05:21:00 PM
Hmm.. MJ's post gives food for thought. Some table scraps:

I am reminded on the thread Sim Essay: reading the book is the start of play?
 (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5047&highlight=) What brings this up are some of the examples brought up such as Perelandra, Moby Dick, etc. I confess to enjoying the fiction of Michael Crichton who also tends to provide passages of info-dumping. And I do enjoy these nuggets. I have notice two types of these portions of what Jared Sorensen might call "info-dumping"
[list=1]
  • Passages which contain information about the setting, either daily life sort of things or an otherwise (hopefully) interesting bit. This bit of information has little or anything to do with the plot at large. The item described is not encountered by the protagonist and the influence of this item effects the character by six degrees of separation. As a minor example, in the Hobbit, Tolkien notes that the King of Eagles eventually becomes the King of all bird, but Bilbo never sees him again. That is, that the King of Eagles eventually gets a promotion is neither here nor there for the story of Bilbo Baggin tagging along with a group of Dwarves, but Tolkien notes it anyway.
  • The second type is very much like type 1. but it is necessary to the plot. Ideally, any such exposition will be woven into the story itself so it's not a large block of text that can be readily identified as such. However, sometimes this is unavoidable if the factoid is a little involved. To keep the audience from being confused about what's going on, it maybe simple be necessary. Example: in Crichton's Great Train Robbery, the characters needed to get copies of the keys to the safe. One of the possessors of one said key came down with a venerial disease. For the reader to understand the events, Crichton had to explain a myth in Victorian society that having intercourse with a virgin would either relief the symptoms of, or cure venerial disease. Without this passage, then the reason why the protagonist setting the fellow up with a virgin makes no sense.* [/list:o]

    But what I'm thinking about here is that in either case, the passage has a similar flavor as an encyclopedia entry, regardless of writing style. Which is pretty much like the setting section or worldbook of an RPG.

    So, if reading the book can be part of Sim play. What goes on at the table?

    I suppose that it is a matter of what the players want, right?


    * Interesting aside. I had met one person who had read Critchon's Great Train Robbery. He dismissed it as being mostly about how men in Victorian England would have sex with virgins to cure venerial diseases. That's like saying the movie Silence of the Lambs is about a guy who tucks his penis between his legs so that he looks female.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 12, 2004, 08:23:09 PM
Hello,

John, can you provide some focus for this thread?

Best,
Ron


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: John Kim on January 12, 2004, 10:03:18 PM
OK, so the initial impetus for this thread was the essential contradiction: if Narrativism supports "The Dream" just as well as Simulationism, then what is Simulationism for?  If the former tenet is true, then it questions what "The Dream" is and whether Simulationism is really pursuing it.  

Now, MJ's post suggested that there was "opportunity cost" for Narrativism, and that by spending opportunities on theme instead of world, Simulationism will have more deeply realized elements like setting, character, and so forth -- even if Narrativism maintains "adequate" consistency.  Jack seems to be suggesting similar -- that Simulationism will have long exposition-like blocks of detail which may not have anything to do with the story.  

I am not very satisfied with this.  It makes Sim-vs-Nar into a sliding scale of how much detail you would like.  However, outside of RPGs many stories have much more detail than is necessary to understand the plot  (like Perelandra, Moby Dick, and Lord of the Rings.)  

So I don't have an answer for my initial contradiction, but I am not satisfied with the one presented.  

------

SIDE NOTE:  It occurs to me that there is a bias against detail from starting with Egri's work on Dramatic Writing.  Playwriting or screenwriting is different than novels, because the playwright skips a lot of detail.  That detail is added in later by the actors, costumers, production designers, and so forth who take the screenplay and generate lots of detail (sets, movement, expressions, etc.) to surround the raw lines.  Thus, for dramatic writing Egri suggests cutting out detail that doesn't directly address premise.  But I've now read his later book on Creative Writing, and interestingly he makes much less about premise and more about character in that.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ian Charvill on January 13, 2004, 03:26:35 AM
John

I wouldn't think of it as extra detail, I'd think of it as extra stuff.

It's like the excision of Tom Bombadil and the Barrow Wights from the film of The Fellowship of the Ring.  They're entire episodes that we've had to miss because we were spending the limited amount of screen time on something else.  Without a central driving thematic concern, you're free to have side episodes like this with the only criterion being is everyone having fun?

It's not that we're free to spend half-an-hour having a conversation with Mr Cuttymeat the butcher - rather than the ten minute premise driven one - it's that were free to have ten minute conversations with Mr Cuttymeat, Mr Doughneeder and Mr Waxshaper.  I mean, you could have the half hour conversation, it's whatever floats your boat.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on January 13, 2004, 07:40:19 AM
Hi,

John touched on an idea I've been nudging forward for a while.  Ian just illustrated it again.

It's this: Ron, through Egri, built narrativism off the bones of dramatic narrative (play, movies).  A lot of people use "stories" as examples of what they're talking about, and use examples from movies/plays and novels interchangebly.  I don't think this can be done.

Though all these forms of storytelling produce stories, they are wildly different in their concerns as *forms*.  There's a lot more breathing space in a novel, and thus a lot more room to "dream."

I suspect that when people talk about "long campaigns, you know, like Lord o the Rings," there's a dirrect connection between the sim desire of the campaign with a desire to be back in that feeling of wallowing in a novel.  Where as narrativism, as Ron's defined it, and a lot of the techniques support it, are drawn from the traditions of dramatic narrative.

(Covering my ass time (but I think it's true): when folks with Nar priorities use books or prose fiction as examples, check out what they're doing: almost invariably they're picking the parts a screenwriter would most likely keep as an adaptation to the screen.)

So, I think there's a difference in terms of *what kinds* of details one can afford to have in different media.  I'd say "the dream" is much more novelistic in the details.  The Novel, for example, as it was once known, explored society -- and as much of the different social strata as the author wished.  Which meant it could go all over the place.  Details about doilies were often the norm.  Dramatic narrative needs to keep moving and needs to be much more tightly focused.  The details are fewer.  

I type all this to offer to everyone using books and movies and plays as examples of the "dream" that's inherent in all stories: be aware that the nature of the dream varies on the nature of the media.  And, in closing, that these different expectations of different media affect what sorts of details and "dream" different players will bring to the table.

Christopher

PS

(For illustrations of this conflict of how much "dream" is dream enough (or not enough), check out the Aint It Cool News Lord of the Ring Wars.  There you will find the people who wanted their "deam" experience of reading the trilogy to be recreated on the screen, and the people who really wanted the "dream" experience a great movie can offer, argue it out over how the movies failed (because they weren't the dream of the book) or succeeded (because they are a movie lover's dream.)


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 13, 2004, 10:51:57 AM
I'll remind Christopher of his valuable insights in this thread about Film vs. Novel as N-model (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=2315), and suggest that issue go in a new thread if we want to discuss it.

Another post about the two-point controversy in just a bit . . .

Gordon


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 13, 2004, 11:36:22 AM
OK, here's a long post - I think it is all/mostly focused on John's issue with "what is it that Sim does that Nar does not?"  I think that *is* more than just the opportunity cost/addition-by-subtraction others have alluded to, and I think the Nar essay may help show that, but until then - Let me start by building a bit on MJ's excellent (to my eye) analysis:
Quote from: MJ Young
John might object that his game prep is very detailed; but that doesn't make the play simulationist. Yes, all that detail is there, behind the story--but do the players really attend to it?

I added emphasis to "really" because both G and N can and will attend to detail.  "Really", in GNS terms, asks if the point of this whole thing (as demonstrated during play) is all about "it" (and yes, I'll revisit the question of what "it" is in just a bit).

I see MJ as fully in agreement with that - I just wanted to emphasize it even more.  When he says . . heck, let me go ahead and quote again a bit others have quoted
Quote from: MJ Young
The thing is, as soon as you place premise-ridden characters or premise-rich settings or premise-loaded situations into this, they become part of the system, and suddenly the system contains the address of premise as part of itself. If the players pursue that, you've got narrativist play arising entirely from within the structure of the game; if they ignore it (as my Orc Rising player did), and go for exploring non-premise aspects of the structure, you've got simulationism, demonstrated by a prioritization of discovery of whatever there is to discover.


That's asking us to look for what's prioritized - what the most important point of play is.  Is it really attending to "it", period?  That's Sim.  Though I think the "premise-load" issue is interesting and a bit more complex - I'll get back to that.

First, though, what do we call "it"?  The Dream, Exploration?  MJ throws in discovery, and I'll add creation, or invention - all possible descriptions.  All terms for a thing that G and N can be said to use in pursuit of their goals.  But only S sees it (under whatever name) in itself as the point of play (note - not "with no interest or emotion," or at least not as a requirement).  The relationship that S has with "it" is different than the relationship that G or N has with it - that's what defines S.  For some people, the experience of Exploration Squared (the Right to Dream) is profoundly different than the experience of Exploration (the Dream) on its' own - and for GNS, what we see when Exploration is Squared is very different from what we see when it serves G or N.

All Creative Agenda (G, N or S) are, in a way, about the relationship the people playing have with the act of play as a whole (and Jason, it is because I see them sharing this relationship that I see them as all the "same thing," rather than seeing S as something outside CA).  S is married, blood and bone, to the act of exploring the imagined environment as a creation (or as a voyage of discovery - which is more accurate is, I think, more a matter of opinion than something to determine through rigorous analysis).  Look at how these pieces go together - how neat!  How amazing!  How cool!  Let me add this - ah, see how it adds to the creation?  Who would have thought we could tinker with something so marvelous, and make it even better than it was before?  And there's more - we may never run out of things to discover in this incredible artifact of our joint imagining.

The problem Jason points to, of injecting theme into the imagined elements and therefore "just" exploring them but producing Nar play (which I'll say is equivalent to MJ's premise-loading), seems to ignore that CA is NOT about the imagined elements, it's about what you do with 'em.  WHAT you do with them, NOT just that you include them.  If what you do with 'em is CREATE theme (address Premise) as you play, and jazz on that as a group, you do Nar.  If you put "theme" in the elements-mix and jazz on it as a creation of the exploration in itself, you do Sim.  It is not that the theme is connected to addressing Premise that you are jazzing on, it is that it is connected to your Right to Dream.  Unless you DO jazz on adressing Premise - at which point you ARE doing Nar, even though you thought of it as nothing except introducing the explored elements into play.

To take an example (and yes examples are always a bit problematic) from John's Vinland game, and think about it from an S-standpoint: the insight about the size and type of living space due to the change in availability of timber.  How wonderful, say (in various ways) the people playing!  This means that visitors from Iceland are going to feel uncomfortable here.  Oh, their temper's may flare - things may get interesting in Vinland soon.  That detail might even have been introduced to support a thematic issue - the conflict of tradition with progress, say.  But in an S-Priority it drives the evolution of imagined events, rejoicing in the creation of more and more imagined space, simply because it is a joyous thing to do - including the issues around tradition and progress, as neat explorative elements.  Or (to allow for the more "scientific" approach referred to earlier in this thread) an intriguing exploration of the consequences of the imagined elements.

From a G-standpoint, perhaps this Dream-element now presents a challenge - oooh, a new morale factor is in the mix!  Native-born Vinlanders will be much more comfortable than those more used to Icelandic living conditions.  Perhaps this can be useful.  An N-angle would see this new creation as an opportunity for addressing Premise: wow, this will really help underline how different things are here - the question of tradition vs. progress is even more powerfully illuminated and RIGHT NOW, using that, we can look at that as an issue through the lens of play.  NOT as an element of the imagined world, but as an actual issue itself.

As far as I can tell, the people playing in the S-approach can still "learn" something about the issue itself.  I'm just saying that they aren't looking at it as such while they play.  By not seeing it as an issue itself, but rather "just" an element of the imagined world, they gain a purity of exploration that going Nar would of necessity lose.  Any "learn about the issue" payoff must explicitly be outside play.  Or if they do see it as such, and sacrifice that purity, they are doing Nar.  

The question is, what do you do with the Dream?  Use it (towards G or N), and you are not doing S.  Revel in it (where sure, in some sense "it" can include "theme") as a thing in itself, and you are doing S.  Which is not to say that G and N don't revel in it - but they don't revel in it as a thing in itself.  Nor must all G and N "stuff" be absent from S play - S play just isn't primarily concerned with them.

At least, that's how it looks to me.

Moving on to a bit of a side issue - I agree with Ron that it is quite natural for humans to use the Dream to pursue G or N, but I'm not so certain that rejecting that and enjoying the thing itself is something that must be learned.  S is not necessarily a behavior that needs to be acquired so much as it is what is "naturally" left when G and N are absent.

To which I supose you could say that we need to learn about rejecting G and N for them to be absent.  Or UNlearn our compulsion to persue them.  Chicken and the egg problem perhaps.  But stretching metaphors (applying GNS to the "root" action of imagining rather than applied imagining in an RPG), I'd guess that the Dream (in the simple sense of idle daydreaming) happens at a very early age, and it is only later that we learn to use it towards a goal.  Maybe if it wasn't useful for anything, it would not persist - but in our earliest experiences with the impulse behind the Dream, there was no priority, only the Dream itself.  As we learn, we become increasingly aware of priority, perhaps even realizing that we are incapable of operating without a priority - so we make the purity of the Dream a priority in and of itself.

And that's why Sim is simultaneously the MOST and LEAST "natural" of all the GNS modes.  Maybe.

Gordon

PS: I will add - explicitly injecting "theme" as an explored element, actually USING that injection as an element of play (as opposed to ignoring it and focusing on other elements), and then NOT doing Nar does strike me as a kinda unnatural act.  That probably doesn't happen very often - most of the time, if you clearly inject theme you will eventually end up doing Nar.  It's real work not to.  Of course, for lovers of that style of Dream, it's work that's well worth it.  On the other hand, maybe there are some folks who don't really care so much about Dream as an overarching priority to play, but they have been trained/trained themselves to think "I'm not supposed to really look at stuff outside the imagined environment."  For them, it's work that's entirely unnecessary.  That's where the personal preferences issues start, and they of course build from that.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 13, 2004, 11:46:17 AM
Hi there,

Quote
for GNS, what we see when Exploration is Squared is very different from what we see when it serves G or N.


My GNS essay in a nutshell. I agree, Gordon, with everything in your post. John, that also explains why I don't really understand how you see a contradiction in the first place. Jason, I hope that Gordon's phrasing works for you in terms of that "Nar without Nar" stuff you were talking about," because for the life of me I can't come up with a better explanation than his.  

Best,
Ron


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on January 13, 2004, 02:08:41 PM
Hi Gordon,

Thanks for reminding me about that thread.  I had forgotten about it.

That said, I think the thread you referenced addressed a different issue than what I was trying to bring up here.  The other thread was about issues of scale, breadth and length of the tale.

What I was tryingt to get at here was that no matter how long the story, different people play for different reasons, and those reasons often have to do a lot to do with their expectations.  And often, we bring to RPGs expectations of different kinds of stories we've read or seen.  And often people say, "But this story..." or "that story..." missing the fact the different stories where built with completley different tools, techniques and priorities.  Thus, when John reference certain novels showing what he means by options for the Dream, I think its prudent to point out that differnt forms of fiction use details to different ends.

In short, what the writer does with the details, and how they serve the story.  Or not.  Sometimes, just building a big complicated world that all fits together really cool is cool... And you just need a few characters to wander through it, so the reader has a POV to experience the cool world and delight in its complexity.

Of course, what a writer's priorities are will affect which techniques he uses, and produce different kinds of results.  Thus, there are different forms of story telling.  Thus there are different styles of RPG play.

Which is a long way of saying, your post was great.  I didn't go into all the different techniques between playwrighting, screen writing and writing novels...  And I shouldn't have.  But your thread illustrated how the specific differences in techniques for people of different taste and expectations prioritize different forms of play and produce different results.

And that I thought was great.

Take care,

Christopher


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 13, 2004, 02:36:24 PM
Christopher,

That all makes great sense to me - thanks.  In particular, I want to emphasize your notion that we take expectations from a novel (or movie, or play, and etc.) and try and map them into our RPG play - I think that "story forms expectations, expectations then brought to RPG" model creates a separation between a story-work and a RPG that is very, very important, without destroying the clearly real association between the two.

For purposes of this thread, I find that important because those expectation issues seem to me mostly independant of GNS issues - sometimes overlapping a bit, but often not, and never fully equivalent.  So - cool stuff, IMO,

Gordon


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on January 13, 2004, 03:23:31 PM
"....mostly independent of GNS issues..."  

Absolutely.  

Something I'm always aware of, but, I realize, not always clear about in my posts.  I assume anology and influence between *all* media is constant, valuable and natural.  I also assume everyone knows I'm not assuming a one to one ratio when identifying anologies between media.

The fact that people look for a one to one ratio when I refence between media always catches me off guard.  I could say, for example, I know my screenwriting is getting better because of my study of drawing and efforts to clearly commnicate human anatomy on a two dimensional surface to a viewer.  But am I saying a drawing of a human being is a screenplay?  No.  

My concerns in these anologies are *always* about the process, technique, priority and disciplines involved with the media.  It's all the underground wiring, nuts and bolts stuff --- not what on the surface.  I think the more people playing RPGs know about the nuts and bolts of different kinds of media they love, the nuts and bolts of different kinds of stories they love, they'll have a better chance to find anologous nuts and bolts to apply to their sessions.  And I think that applies to people's expectation of "detail" elements and exploration of setting (whether that be the detailed environment of John Varley's "Titan" books or the bare bones sketch of a setting in the movie "Aliens".)

So, sorry if it looked like I was trying to yank the thread earlier.  Not my intent at all.

Take care,
Christopher


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: M. J. Young on January 13, 2004, 08:58:53 PM
I apologize for missing yesterday; I had a headache when I awoke, and it only worsened during the day, so I gave up somewhere in the midst of my e-mail and took the rest of the day off. (Does that make it a mental health day?) I do hope there isn't a "thread closed" tag at the end of all this, because there's so much here that I've had to start composing responses only part way through reading what's written.

Thank you, Ian, for calling attention to the agendum/agenda usage.

I also apologize that in my very long post, in using a book as an illustration I failed to mention that I was invoking it by analogy. I do not think that Perelandra or any other novel is simulationist; I was distinguishing those sections as being like simulationism. To expand this, and simultaneously respond to something later in the thread that I've misplaced for the moment:
  • If you were to play a game based on Perelandra in which the focus was entirely on the conflict between the player character and the villain Weston, and the outcome of the debate and the battle, that would be gamist.
  • If you were to play a game based on Perelandra in which the focus was entirely on the moral issues of choice in an unfallen world, that would be narrativist (even if as part of that a fight broke out between the player character and Weston).
  • If you were to play a game based on Perelandra from which you removed Weston entirely, such that all that remained was exploring the vast strange unfallen world of floating islands (with or without the presence of the lady), that would be simulationist.[/list:u]
    Lewis is of course primarily interested in his theme; these chapters are wonderfully expository of the alien world in which he is setting his story, but they are mostly setting and color--and I'm going to come back to that.
    Quote from: Jason
    Suffice it to say that we start with the assumption that Sim has something for a meta-game agenda. My question is, is this something unique to Sim? Or is it present in Nar, even if it is 'quieter'? If so, I think the inconsistencies that spring from point five remain.
    Gordon has, I think, nailed this with his comments about prioritization; I'm going to bring out three aspects I think are important.

    The first is that prioritization can show itself in discovery. A gamist may be involved in the sort of discovery about the world that seems to suggest simulationism, but while he is so involved he is using that (at some level) to prepare himself for the challenges ahead. Similarly, a narrativist may be picking up a great deal of information about setting and situation through exploration, but this information ultimately serves the address of premise, and does not exist for its own sake.

    The second is that drift might be happening in any game. Players don't necessarily always prioritize one thing constantly. The Vinland game could very well be drifting between moments of discovery of the nature of life in that world and moments of serious address of premise. It is doubtful that they are doing both at once, but they might be moving between them.

    In this regard, I'll observe that John is a very experienced gamer/referee who may well navigate such drift by the seat of his pants without any thought to it.

    I'm currently reading someone's excerpts and comments on Aristotle's Poetics (I wanted the original, but apparently this was what was available). I've realized that a lot of the things I did in writing Verse Three, Chapter One and in drafting the subsequent books were very much in accord with what Aristotle described as good drama--but I wasn't thinking of it that way at the time. When we feel at home in a medium, we tend to use it well without considering what we're doing, so it's quite possible to drift games without thought. I know that I did it for years in running OAD&D and Multiverser, in response to player actions and interests, without ever realizing that there was a difference between the combat in the dungeons, the complications of whether good characters can torture suspected assassins to get information, and the exploration of how to conduct a trial in a medieval world. This makes analysis of games difficult, because whatever is happening right now might not be happening at another time within the same game.

    The third point has two parts to it: the creation of fictional worlds, from a dramatic point of view, is always flawed; those flaws are a good thing. Someone has cited Hitchcock's (?) suggestion that if there's a shotgun over the fireplace in the beginning of the movie, it has to be used by the middle of the movie. That may be true for cinema, and I think Aristotle would agree--but for books and role playing games, I don't think that's true. I'll pull an example from my book.

    There is a moment in which a secondary character gives one of the protagonists a bag containing five objects, all magical. When I wrote that scene, one of those five objects was clearly important in my mind, and was going to be used in the events immediately ahead; the other four were there precisely because if that one object was the only one in the bag, it would have called undue attention to itself as "the thing that matters here". I had no immediate idea what the other four would be or do, or how I would use them. Before I'd gotten much further, I devised functions for three of these, but two have never been used, and the third is not used until the second book. The final object I realized while writing the second book was going to be a major piece of a puzzle I was building, to be finally understood in a major climactic moment in the third. Yet through all that, there were still two objects in that bag that have not mattered at all, beyond being color--and yet they did matter very much at the moment they appeared, because their presence takes your eyes off the two objects that are important, and prevents it from feeling contrived.

    Hitchcock and Aristotle, both of whom would be wonderful narrativist referees, would shudder at the idea that I wasted any time on a couple of objects that have no place in the core drama of the story. Anything that is mentioned in the story should matter to the story. Some narrativist play may be like this, so completely focused on premise that nothing exists without reference to premise. Some gamist play may also be like this, where nothing matters other than that which can be used tactically. Yet most play includes the exploration of elements which will never matter to the premise or the challenge. This is good, in game play. It is good in part because we don't know which elements might be useful to serving our agendum; when I threw those objects into that bag, I didn't know that the character would use one of them extensively in the second book, or that one of them would come to have such a central role in tying together the first three--nor did I know that two of them would lie around unused through three entire novels. It is good in part because the presence of details that don't matter, that we never bring to bear on our creative agendum, negates the feeling that this is all contrived and railroaded. There were things that might have mattered but didn't. We explored them, but never found any use for them.

    Thus exploration of detail does not demonstrate simulationist play, even if some of the detail is never part of gamist or narrativist agenda.

    I think Jack may have highlighted this: those information dumps give us data, much of which is not really useful; but often the answers we need for the story are buried in that data. If Crichton gave us only the data we need, it would seem like he was telling us the answer; if he never gave us the data we need, we wouldn't get it when the answer came. By giving us more data than we need, he assures that we get the information we need without calling attention to it.

    I'm going to tip my hat to Rowling on this. Her Harry Potter series is our current bedtime story reading, and it's my second time through. As I now have a much better notion of what's going to happen (I don't remember all of it), I'm seeing the ways she provides the bits and pieces that are necessary to understanding the end without calling attention to them, by dressing them as mundane details, bits of conversation, miscellaneous events, information learned in class, and other minor ordinary things. So, too, in play we may explore much detail that doesn't matter to our CA in order to pick up and identify the things that do matter without making them seem artificial.
    Quote from: Thus in regard to what John
    I am not very satisfied with this. It makes Sim-vs-Nar into a sliding scale of how much detail you would like. However, outside of RPGs many stories have much more detail than is necessary to understand the plot (like Perelandra, Moby Dick, and Lord of the Rings.)
    I was a bit unclear, I suppose, on this. It's not how much detail you have; it's the degree to which the detail matters for its own sake, as opposed to mattering in the pursuit of premise or challenge. If you have said that the thing that matters is wrestling with the moral issues, the opportunity cost is that the exploration of the detail does not matter in the same way; if you have determined that the understanding of the setting/situation is what matters, then the moral issues become interesting asides to be resolved in whatever way fits the world and then left behind as background in the interesting place you are discovering.

    Looking back to Perelandra, there were a lot of details in the world description that didn't matter at all. To some degree, none of them mattered to the theme, beyond the fact that they defined the stage on which the theme would play. Yet some of those details did matter, as they defined the limitations and obstacles that Ransom would face, within which he would have to overcome evil and protect the unfallen world. Lewis doesn't tell us which will matter later; when they matter, we accept them, because they're part of the established description of the world. That kind of detail (and I suspect Melville is similar in this regard, although it has been far too long since I had a copy of Moby Dick) establishes the reality sufficiently that when the action occurs within it, we as readers, or as players, know the parameters that matter as they arise. Thus not all the detail served the theme, but the presence of the detail served the theme by providing the context within which the important bits were conveyed to us.

    Sorry for another long one, but there's a lot in this thread.

    --M. J. Young


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: John Kim on January 13, 2004, 11:18:07 PM
Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
  To take an example (and yes examples are always a bit problematic) from John's Vinland game, and think about it from an S-standpoint: the insight about the size and type of living space due to the change in availability of timber.  How wonderful, say (in various ways) the people playing!  This means that visitors from Iceland are going to feel uncomfortable here.  Oh, their temper's may flare - things may get interesting in Vinland soon.  That detail might even have been introduced to support a thematic issue - the conflict of tradition with progress, say.  But in an S-Priority it drives the evolution of imagined events, rejoicing in the creation of more and more imagined space, simply because it is a joyous thing to do - including the issues around tradition and progress, as neat explorative elements.  

I sort of agree with you here -- but I suspect that you're missing a big piece here.  The reason why this came up in-game was because of Kjartan's marriage.  Kjartan had just married a wealthy young woman, Thjohild.  The question is whether they would have a private bed-closet within the family longhouse.  Within Icelandic tradition, only the head of the family would tend to have a private bed-closet, while all others slept in the common area.  So it's a question of whether he has to have sex with his wife with thirty other people around, or whether they can have sex in private.  

Now, if they do get to have their own bed-closet, then that becomes an extremely visible change of living for Thjohild -- who like all unmarried children had been sleeping in the common area of her home.  That affects their relationship.  And that is why Kjartan's player was interested in the question.  

Now, was she thinking "Ah, this question is important for the Premise of progress-vs-tradition?"  Well, no.  She was thinking "Dude, are we going to have to do it in front of everybody?"  And that made it important for how she imagined Kjartan's life.  

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
  As far as I can tell, the people playing in the S-approach can still "learn" something about the issue itself.  I'm just saying that they aren't looking at it as such while they play.  By not seeing it as an issue itself, but rather "just" an element of the imagined world, they gain a purity of exploration that going Nar would of necessity lose.  Any "learn about the issue" payoff must explicitly be outside play.  Or if they do see it as such, and sacrifice that purity, they are doing Nar.  

Here I think I agree with you.  It's impossible for issue-learning to be entirely outside of play -- but Simulationism (at least Threefold Simulationism) at least de-emphasizes it.  The issue-learning is meta-game and thus shouldn't be used for in-game-world decision-making, so it will tend to be put off until after the game.  People will always analyze on some level, but techniques can suppress that.  Like Stephen King's suggestion for novel writing, finding the story is something that comes after creating the story.  

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
  To which I supose you could say that we need to learn about rejecting G and N for them to be absent.  Or UNlearn our compulsion to persue them.  Chicken and the egg problem perhaps.  But stretching metaphors (applying GNS to the "root" action of imagining rather than applied imagining in an RPG), I'd guess that the Dream (in the simple sense of idle daydreaming) happens at a very early age, and it is only later that we learn to use it towards a goal.  Maybe if it wasn't useful for anything, it would not persist - but in our earliest experiences with the impulse behind the Dream, there was no priority, only the Dream itself.  As we learn, we become increasingly aware of priority, perhaps even realizing that we are incapable of operating without a priority - so we make the purity of the Dream a priority in and of itself.  

I think that is pretty insightful.  Threefold Simulationism is definitely about un-learning our compulsion to say "what should the story be?"  -- and instead just tap into what we imagine and going with that.   What I find strange is that many posters think that pure imagination (i.e. "idle daydreams") lacks issues or meaning -- that issues have to be forced into  our imaginings by System, because otherwise it would be "just dreams".  To me, dreams are overflowing with issues, and the more raw and unquestioned the dream -- the more meaning it has.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 14, 2004, 02:29:35 AM
We've got good posts from Gordon and M.J. pointing to what I think is the same answer:

Quote from: Gordon
First, though, what do we call "it"? The Dream, Exploration? MJ throws in discovery, and I'll add creation, or invention - all possible descriptions. All terms for a thing that G and N can be said to use in pursuit of their goals. But only S sees it (under whatever name) in itself as the point of play (note - not "with no interest or emotion," or at least not as a requirement). The relationship that S has with "it" is different than the relationship that G or N has with it - that's what defines S. For some people, the experience of Exploration Squared (the Right to Dream) is profoundly different than the experience of Exploration (the Dream) on its' own - and for GNS, what we see when Exploration is Squared is very different from what we see when it serves G or N.

[snip]


Quote from: M.J. Young
The first is that prioritization can show itself in discovery. A gamist may be involved in the sort of discovery about the world that seems to suggest simulationism, but while he is so involved he is using that (at some level) to prepare himself for the challenges ahead. Similarly, a narrativist may be picking up a great deal of information about setting and situation through exploration, but this information ultimately serves the address of premise, and does not exist for its own sake.

[snip]


What seems to be said here (I think Gordon really focused on this in his post and it made sense to me) is that the answer to John's original option two:

Quote from: John Kim
2) Simulationism gains something other than the Dream. So both Narrativism and Simulationism fully maintain the integrity of the Dream, but Simulationism gains a different quality.


is yes.  Yes, Sim gains something else.

I'm going to think out loud now, so bear with me.

Just this Monday we had a kind of choppy, and for me, irritating combat.  A few hours ago I was talking to Tara about it and she says, "I think the problem was we all, and I mean everyone, had different goals.  We all wanted the combat to evolve and end differently."

I go off on a little tangent and bitch about GM force, but she eventually drags me back to the point.  While we're trying to figuring out what everyone's goal was she asks, "What do you think my goal was?  I just want to know if you understand why I do the things I do."

(What she did in the combat was walk out of the subway train, get shot in the chest, and then proceed to bleed on the floor.  Later, still bleeding on the floor and barely conscious, she shot the guy who was strangling my character through the throat. There was also some "Ugh, I've been shot", and some "Don't worry about me", and a little "What's going on?".  BTW - It was her choice to get shot, and she actually had quite a bit of fun in the combat.)

So I say, "Ummm... you wanted people to be concerned about Jeremiah?"

She says, "No.  I thought you'd say that.  I wanted to convey the image of what I think a gunfight is.  If you get shot you should be hurt, that should mean something, it should seem real."  (She keeps expanding on this for a while, talking about realism, detail and her mental image.)

In my head I'm thinking "Wow, that's all just exploration stuff.  That's so Sim. Huh... that doesn't make sense.  There's no way that's why she did it - she's about as Nar as it gets."

Out of my head I say, "Believe it or not, I'm going to disagree with your opinion about what you want."  Insert that, 'this better not be one of your condescending moments' look.

Here I go, "Ok, but why are wounds being serious more interesting?"

She thinks about it and says, "If everytime they get hurt they just shrug it off, or have it healed right away they begin to seem immortal.  Then they begin to even act like they are immortal when they should be concerned for their health.  It does nothing to express how fragile their lives really are.  It waters everything down."

I get all excited and say, "Ah!  There it is that's the theme!"

We talk for a while more, and come to the mutual conclusion that this is her addressing the mortality themes she's been into as of late.  Stuff about living life to the fullest and how wounds lacking lethality blocks addressing that, because then mortality does not exist in the game.

Before I asked "Why?" all we had was exploration.  I think on this and what's been said in this thread, and it seems to me that Creative Agenda is simply 'why you play.'  So Sim, or any other Creative Agenda, has precisely dick to do with detail, verisimilitude, creation, invention, discovery or whatever else we want to call Exploration; it isn't even slightly about Exploration.

Why do you play? (What Sim gains in answer to John's option two.)
Nar - To make a statement.
Gam - For the challenge.
Sim - For its own sake.

If I say "Why did you climb that mountain?", and you say "Because it was there.", then I give you an irritated look and say "You didn't answer the damn question".  Doing something for its own sake doesn't seem like much of a reason.  This is hypocritical behavior on my part because I'll say "knowledge is an end unto itself."  I'll have to think on this a bit and decide where I stand, but at the moment I don't see any particular argument that falsifies doing something for its own sake.  Hence, the Sim agenda holds.

I know the concept that Sim has nothing in particular to do with Exploration (it is not Exploration squared) is really contrary.  Then again, that would explain why Creative Agenda is the "doing", because it is the 'why' behind the actions.

Though, the problem I see here is that I can't figure how doing something for its own sake conflicts with doing something for one of the other reasons.

I'm not certain if this solves anything, helps anyone, or is even remotely correct, but it has given me something to think about and doesn't seem to conflict with the established model.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: contracycle on January 14, 2004, 02:52:59 AM
Hmm.  I sympathise with that description of the significance of combat as given; I'm not inclined to see it as theme at all.  That is, the sanitisation of violence that occurs in most media gets on my nerves as a fact quite independant of any RPG.  Thus, when I engage in RPG, my own act of creation, that "error" is one I consciously "correct".

Now, perhaps it is true that that for this specific player, there was a theme they were in fact addressing and the Sim rationale was just that, a rationale.  But its so closs to one of my own bugbears, I wonder.

Therefore I disagree that sim is unconcerned with detail with and verismilitiude, but instead use "becuase its there" in a different way.  I think that all games are a sort of self-teaching behaviour; the importance then of coherence and realism is to make that learning experience valuable, something that I can generalise into my own, real, life.  If the rules are teaching me Wrong Things, then my behaviours and responses are being trained to those Wrong Things through the reward/feedback structure.  Potentially, this can be worse than useless, it could be dangerous.  All of ewhich is to say that I think there is a valid defence of Exploration for its own sake as a play-motivating goal.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ian Charvill on January 14, 2004, 05:12:17 AM
Jason

I think it might be interesting to turn this one around.  If narrativism is about making a statement - then why not just have the ethics discussion?  Why go to all the trouble of engaging with all of the imagined elements if all you're interested in doing is making a statement.

By roleplaying you're getting 'making a statement' plus X - however you define X.  Standard answer as per creative agenda is exploration.  If the statements you want to make are insufficient to hold your interests by themselves then you must really like some effect that the X has.  You could express simulatinism merely as liking the effect of X more than you like the 'making a statement'.

In order to have imaginative play by human beings that doesn't make a statement you would have to have narrativist play - because only by constant attention to premise could you ensure that theme did not emerge.  Human beings have no choice in a shared imaginative arena but to draw from their experiences - and what experiences do they have if not human ones - and what can they do but express those in ways that are comprehensible to other human beings - otherwise, what else is being shared.

Only narrativist play could reliably exclude theme - simulationist and gamist play will, by necessity, be lousy with it.  Hence John's comment:

Quote
What I find strange is that many posters think that pure imagination (i.e. "idle daydreams") lacks issues or meaning -- that issues have to be forced into our imaginings by System, because otherwise it would be "just dreams". To me, dreams are overflowing with issues, and the more raw and unquestioned the dream -- the more meaning it has.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: John Kim on January 14, 2004, 11:11:42 AM
Quote from: cruciel
  She says, "No.  I thought you'd say that.  I wanted to convey the image of what I think a gunfight is.  If you get shot you should be hurt, that should mean something, it should seem real."  (She keeps expanding on this for a while, talking about realism, detail and her mental image.)

In my head I'm thinking "Wow, that's all just exploration stuff.  That's so Sim. Huh... that doesn't make sense.  There's no way that's why she did it - she's about as Nar as it gets."

Out of my head I say, "Believe it or not, I'm going to disagree with your opinion about what you want."  Insert that, 'this better not be one of your condescending moments' look.

Here I go, "Ok, but why are wounds being serious more interesting?"

She thinks about it and says, "If everytime they get hurt they just shrug it off, or have it healed right away they begin to seem immortal.  Then they begin to even act like they are immortal when they should be concerned for their health.  It does nothing to express how fragile their lives really are.  It waters everything down."

I get all excited and say, "Ah!  There it is that's the theme!"  
...(brief skip)...
Before I asked "Why?" all we had was exploration.  

OK, I don't know if this applies to you, but I have been pretty annoyed by similar conversations in the past.  It seems to me that you had an answer which you were looking for (theme), and when the first answer didn't fit you poked and prodded until you got something which was vaguely like a theme -- then you quickly declare that you have found the real answer, and that the first answer was mistaken self-deception.  

I don't think that's right.  You can always poke and prod at any story or RPG play, and you can come up with an explanation -- i.e. a theme.  But if you poke and prod some more (or if someone else pokes and prods), you might find a totally different explanation -- a whole different theme.  In a good story, you will find many different (and contradictory) explanations for what it means.  But the story isn't any of those explanations.  The story is itself, and it is more than any single moral metaphor which you tease out of it.  

Quote
  Why do you play? (What Sim gains in answer to John's option two.)
Nar - To make a statement.
Gam - For the challenge.
Sim - For its own sake.

If I say "Why did you climb that mountain?", and you say "Because it was there.", then I give you an irritated look and say "You didn't answer the damn question".  Doing something for its own sake doesn't seem like much of a reason.  This is hypocritical behavior on my part because I'll say "knowledge is an end unto itself."  I'll have to think on this a bit and decide where I stand, but at the moment I don't see any particular argument that falsifies doing something for its own sake.  Hence, the Sim agenda holds.  

Well, here's my two cents: four-word answers for "why" are never true.  Human motivation comes from a million different factors.  Ask me why I like chocolate, or why I like hiking, or why I like singing -- and I can't give you a short sentence which conveys my whole reasons.  For one thing, I don't know my whole reasons.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Valamir on January 14, 2004, 11:27:43 AM
Heh.  This last exchange between Jason and John hits exactly on something I've said for awhile and IMO it boils down to "you're both right".

I'm not a believer of the "there is no intent behind Creative Agendas" theory.  In fact, I think that Creative Agendas are primarily about intent.  Jason's probeing questions are an attempt to get to the intent...the "why" behind the creative agenda...and I fully agree and believe there is a "why" there at the root of it all.  

But I also fully agree with John, that attempting to assertain the "why" is completely fruitless.  A person is rarely cognizant of all of the reasons why they do something or all of the nuances of their preferences.  People are also capable of prodigious feats of self delusion so even if they think they know the why it isn't necessarily so.

Therefor attempting to use intent or questions designed to elicit why is doomed to failure.  Alls you'll wind up getting is a lot of circular talk and very little definitive anything (I think Johns commentary here on asking leading questions is not only telling, but quite common in this sort of thing).

This is why so much effort has been expended to keep intent and why out of diagnosing Agendas.  Its completely and utterly futile.  I won't agree with the position that some take that it isn't there.  But I will agree that there or not it does us no good to look for it.


Title: The 'whys' of it
Post by: Blankshield on January 14, 2004, 12:47:54 PM
Quote from: cruciel
Why do you play? (What Sim gains in answer to John's option two.)
Nar - To make a statement.
Gam - For the challenge.
Sim - For its own sake.


This struck me as really getting to the crux of it, but I think you're short-changing Sim in your followup comments.  Play for it's own sake is I think much more a real motive (and much more common) in gaming than you seem to imply.  A quick aside - I've only been reading seriously on the forge for a month or so, so if I'm missing some big chunk of the model, or rehashing old ground, feel free to squash me like a bug. :)  I'm also thinking aloud a bit as a write, so forgive me if I wander a bit.

In a lot of the stuff I've been reading here(this thread and its progenitor specifically), it seems like Sim is getting a bad rap.  Either it's classed as Nar without Story Now, or it's the servant to either Game or Nar, and in and of itself is of little purpose.  This seems really counterintuitive to me, because there are scads of things out there that aren't roleplaying that strongly support Game or Nar agendas (boardgames and theatre being two obvious examples) - so if Sim in and of itself holds little appeal, why are we trying to make RPGs fit those agendas instead of going to things that are Game or Nar right from the get-go?  It seems obvious to me that we're ultimately here for the Sim.

So if Sim is that pervasive, isn't all play to some degree hybrid play?  That brings us back to the root question here, which, in the context of what I've just written, becomes: "What is Sim being when it isn't being something else?"

I think that playing Sim is actually fairlystraightforward - We're looping back to the 'why do you play' question and I'm going to modify cruciel's three answers slightly:

Game: Because it's fun and challenging
Nar: Because it's fun and makes a statement
Sim: Because it's fun.

Which is not to imply that people playing mainly Sim can't enjoy challenges or make statements, but that's not a big part of why they're at the table.  I suspect people are playing Sim most of the time, but it's hard to see from the table, just like it's easy to see trees but hard to see the forest.

If I pick up a gaming book in the store, flip through it and say "this looks cool" buy it and and play with my friends - we're playing Sim.  We're mostly exploring System and Setting (and probably Color), since that's typically what a gaming book provides.  If we like the game and keep playing, our play might drift, but it will drift because of *why* we like it - and if why we like it is "because it's a fun game", we may not drift at all.

Right now I'm playing in a MLwM game(*) that is overtly Nar - we sat down before the game and discussed CA (about the first or second time our gaming group has done a serious CA, historically it's been mostly subtext), and we came up with strong premise(s) that we are exploring fairly distinctly.  But I would argue that the game is at least half Sim, possibly more, because a large chunk of why we're playing it is because Harlequin said "this looks like fun, lets try it" and we said "OK."  Half the reason we're at the table is to play with the system and see how it meshes with our group and our Social Contract, but at the same time we're exploring our premise(s) and holding to them very closely.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Sim play isn't about The Dream.  A group playtesting a new system - especially in the early stages - is going to have to routinely throw The Dream out the window.  They will need to drop out and discuss mechanics, or push into hardcore Game to see if the game's layering and currency is "broken" [aka: obvious dominant strategy].  However, while they are doing that, they are still at the table, still (presumably) having fun, still roleplaying.  Still doing Sim.  Exploring System and Setting for it's own sake.

If a label must be attached to Sim play, don't make it The Dream - The Dream can be Sim, sure, but it's fairly tightly tied to Sim-Color and Sim-Setting, and sometimes Sim-Character.  If I were to give Sim play a label, I would say that while Game is about Step On Up and Nar is about Premise, Sim is about Concept.  You are playing Sim when your focus is not on "why are we doing this" but on "what is this that we are doing".

Flweh.  I didn't realize I was going to be so long-winded.  Sorry. :)

*At Seven Bells, run by Harlequin.  He's been posting on it over in the Actual Play forum


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ian Charvill on January 14, 2004, 02:16:42 PM
Hey Blankshield, welcome to the Forge!

You seem to be fairly solidly on beam, except for where you're conflating exploration in support of Narrativism/Gamism with Simulationism.  For all the electrons we spill over it here, for large portions of most game sessions no conflict over creative agenda would occur, because actions would be congruent for all three agendas.  It's all exploration.  Which is where we came in on the thread - the question of sim is exploration plus what?

As far as Concept goes, it's a fair enough term.  When I think of Sim, I think of Invention, the power to make stuff up (TM).  When Ron thinks of Sim he thinks of the Dream.  When you think of Sim, you think of the Concept.  It's all good, I feel.  None of these terms really contradict each other, there just different takes on the same broad idea.

(and the sheer breadth of each of the three agendas, in terms of play styles, is something that took me a while to catch hold of)


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 14, 2004, 02:21:13 PM
When I think out loud it doesn't have all those nice qualifying statements so often needed for online communication.

First off, the direction I've taken with the previous post is contradictory, mostly, to what I've been saying in this and the parent thread.  I don't know if I agree with it, but Gordon and M.J. seem to have provided an answer of 'yes' to option two and I'm seeing where that takes me.

Quote from: contracycle
mm. I sympathise with that description of the significance of combat as given; I'm not inclined to see it as theme at all. That is, the sanitisation of violence that occurs in most media gets on my nerves as a fact quite independant of any RPG. Thus, when I engage in RPG, my own act of creation, that "error" is one I consciously "correct".

Now, perhaps it is true that that for this specific player, there was a theme they were in fact addressing and the Sim rationale was just that, a rationale. But its so closs to one of my own bugbears, I wonder.


Quote from: John Kim
OK, I don't know if this applies to you, but I have been pretty annoyed by similar conversations in the past. It seems to me that you had an answer which you were looking for (theme), and when the first answer didn't fit you poked and prodded until you got something which was vaguely like a theme -- then you quickly declare that you have found the real answer, and that the first answer was mistaken self-deception.

I don't think that's right. You can always poke and prod at any story or RPG play, and you can come up with an explanation -- i.e. a theme. But if you poke and prod some more (or if someone else pokes and prods), you might find a totally different explanation -- a whole different theme. In a good story, you will find many different (and contradictory) explanations for what it means. But the story isn't any of those explanations. The story is itself, and it is more than any single moral metaphor which you tease out of it.


This is definitely something specific to this player.  In my post I cut the conversation after I got to the 'why' part and summed up.  When we wer talking about it we bounced it around for a while, made connections to other stuff, and talked about where the hell she's been going with the character in general.  It wasn't particularly difficult to get to the theme because she's got a good sense of what she's trying to say, but it wasn't terribly obvious either.

I did the same sort of thing in the previous session, for a totally-different-but-still-Nar reason.  A while back my character accidentally killed someone with magic.  Since then she's been suppressing it - not using it.  She got shot in the leg and I assigned it to an artery.  The tricky part is, because of the suppression I had her bleed fire.  Rather hard to stop the bleeding when it's on fire, isn't it?  So I had her almost bleed to death.  In this case my preference for a lethal bullet wound was because I was addressing a theme about denying yourself and how it's doomed to failure.

Someone else would have a different answer for 'why'.  If that answer comes down to 'just because', instead of 'blah theme' or 'blegpth advantage', I'd say Sim and probably be confused.

Quote from: John Kim
Well, here's my two cents: four-word answers for "why" are never true. Human motivation comes from a million different factors. Ask me why I like chocolate, or why I like hiking, or why I like singing -- and I can't give you a short sentence which conveys my whole reasons. For one thing, I don't know my whole reasons.


I won't disagree.  Those were concise example statements only.

Quote from: Ian
By roleplaying you're getting 'making a statement' plus X - however you define X. Standard answer as per creative agenda is exploration. If the statements you want to make are insufficient to hold your interests by themselves then you must really like some effect that the X has. You could express simulatinism merely as liking the effect of X more than you like the 'making a statement'.


Where this goes doesn't seem to disagree with you.  If Sim is 'The Right to Dream', then the Creative Agenda is 'The Right'.  Nar and Gam have an equal right to the dream, but Sim takes the right 'just because'.  It's the answer to "Why do you like X?"

Quote from: Ralph
I'm not a believer of the "there is no intent behind Creative Agendas" theory. In fact, I think that Creative Agendas are primarily about intent. Jason's probeing questions are an attempt to get to the intent...the "why" behind the creative agenda...and I fully agree and believe there is a "why" there at the root of it all.

But I also fully agree with John, that attempting to assertain the "why" is completely fruitless. A person is rarely cognizant of all of the reasons why they do something or all of the nuances of their preferences. People are also capable of prodigious feats of self delusion so even if they think they know the why it isn't necessarily so.


I'm in agreement with both of those statements as well, and I agree that asking 'why' is just trying to dig out the intent.  Where I've gone with this is that Creative Agenda is simply the intent, and that Sim's intent is 'just because'.  Sim has no more reference to Exploration than any other Creative Agenda.  If Sim is fundamentally about Exploration, then I end up circling back to my earlier arguments about how Exploration is not an exclusive priority.

EDIT:Little side note:  We were analyzing the combat to determine where the fun went (why it was dysfunctional).  When it came down to it she had fun because she was getting a chance to address her theme, and I didn't have fun because I wasn't getting that chance.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 14, 2004, 02:29:57 PM
Hmm, this may just be a rephrase of what Ralph said, but let me try anyway - for GNS purposes, "why" is not important.  CA does not ask "why" you play, it asks where does play demonstrate your focus to be.  

What matters is what actually happened.  Did (per the e.g.)  Tara's portrayal of an injured PC contribute to play that reveled in the Dream?  Did it help in imagining what happens in a gunfight as fully as possible, such that the group as a whole got a buzz off the thrill (in whatever form) of it all?  Or did it contribute to Story Now in a way that made everyone feel comfortable with the "shape" of the imagined situation, such that they could - and DID - communicate something about the premise effectively?

(A Gamist explanation could also fit here, of course - either directly to Step On Up or through the Explorative elements)  

Sometimes what play demonstrates will line-up with a statement about why, and sometimes it won't.  If they don't line-up, that MIGHT be a sign that there's a GNS problem in play - but not neccessarily, the whole why thing can get really complicated and it may be that the mis-match is just personal taste/interpretation on basically satisfying play.  For Tara in the example, if what she wanted was to emphasize issues of mortality and provide herself and others an opportunity to address some sort of premise about how to live life when confronted by the ultimate unavoidability of death  . . . sounds like it didn't work.

As an instance of play, it sounds like the subway shootout wasn't enough to draw a strong GNS conclusion - that's OK.  It's also OK if an instance does show a strong Sim conclusion even though the folks involved like Nar.  People may be OK with that for any number of reasons.  But when over time they feel the need for that like of Nar to match up with play, staying in a Sim-instance will NOT be fun.

Moving back to what John said - it doesn't look to me like your details of what was "really" going on with Kjartan and room-size change anything.  It looks like a group reveling in the creation/exploration/discovery as a thing itself.  The only caution I'd add is that the rgfa-metagame issue isn't really the GNS-Sim issue.  Reveling in the Dream *can* happen with what folks call metagame, and N or S can be quite metagame-averse, though perhaps not with the purity that some rgfa-Simfolk look for.  As I think I and others have said in other threads, "Metagame" is an independant variable closely associated with personal taste - though if your taste is particularly extreme, you might find it hard to do anything but Sim in GNS terms.

And "meaning" in raw and unquestioned dream - also a matter of taste.  A Sim- or Game-prioritizing approach can care or not care about meaning being present for examination after play.  GNS just says that if during play you focus on dealing with that meaning, you are doing Nar.  

Oh, and I'll just add - great discussion, all.  Thanks,

Gordon


Title: Re: The 'whys' of it
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 14, 2004, 02:52:22 PM
Hi Blankshield -

Welcome to the Forge!  I'm gonna address a couple of things that seem a bit "off" (from a GNS-understanding) in your post - but overall, you seem to have a good grasp of a lot of the issues.  Just didn't want you to think that your whole post was wacky beaucse I pick on the pieces that look like they need clarifying . . .

First of all - "just" because it's fun isn't going to cut it as an explanation for anything - one of Ron's earlier essays makes that pretty clear.  Second, "System" is one of the five explored elements that are part of the Dream - any impression that the Dream is equivalent to "realism" or living in the imagined world without metagame is NOT valid, as I just tried to make clear with John.  Exploration is EVERYTHING we do when we imagine together.

So . . . I'd change your last entry (caveats about four-word summaries and GNS-is-about-what-we-see taken as given, I hope) to "Sim:  Because it's fun to Dream, as a thing itself."  The "thing itself" part (or something like it, such as changing the entries from "because it's fun to . . ." to "the priority of play is to  . . . ")  is needed because everyone thinks the Dream is fun.  It's only some people (a good number of 'em - Sim's not meant to be a "lesser-child" in GNS) that want it to be all about the Dream.

Gordon


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ian Charvill on January 14, 2004, 03:53:01 PM
Quote from: cruciel
Quote from: Ian
By roleplaying you're getting 'making a statement' plus X - however you define X. Standard answer as per creative agenda is exploration. If the statements you want to make are insufficient to hold your interests by themselves then you must really like some effect that the X has. You could express simulatinism merely as liking the effect of X more than you like the 'making a statement'.


Where this goes doesn't seem to disagree with you.  If Sim is 'The Right to Dream', then the Creative Agenda is 'The Right'.  Nar and Gam have an equal right to the dream, but Sim takes the right 'just because'.  It's the answer to "Why do you like X?"


Jason, you're missing my question, which I'd like to explicitely state isn't rhetorical.

For you, when you play, what is it you like about gaming in addition to making the statement?  Why do you, personally, game rather than having an ethical discussion with your gaming group?

The thing is, your "just because" sim example is recursive.  We could apply the same model to narrativists: why do you game? to make a statement; why do you make a statement? just because.  What does that tell us about sim that it isn't telling us about narrativism.  Same question; same answer - but of course the question needs pointing at the creative agenda in each case.

When playing sim, as players, we're getting aesthetic pleasure from the imagined elements and social reinforcement from the other players when they take the ball and run with one of our imagined elements, or otherwise indicate the coolness of one of our ideas.

When playing narrativist, Jason, why do you muddy your ethical and moral discussions with make believe stuff?  Why does one need demons to talk about co-dependency issues, or dwarves to talk about honour?

[I'm explicitely pointing this just at Jason, although I'd actually be interested in answers generally BUT that would really take the thread off course.  If anyone else does feel like answering it, new thread?]


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 14, 2004, 03:58:34 PM
Gordon,

I think we cross-posted.

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
Hmm, this may just be a rephrase of what Ralph said, but let me try anyway - for GNS purposes, "why" is not important.  CA does not ask "why" you play, it asks where does play demonstrate your focus to be.


Does my response to Ralph address this?  The asking of 'why' is just how to dig out the intent.  I take intent to be why, but the word 'why' could carry a different meaning if you've got a slightly different context applied.

Quote from: Gorndon
What matters is what actually happened.  Did (per the e.g.)  Tara's portrayal of an injured PC contribute to play that reveled in the Dream?  Did it help in imagining what happens in a gunfight as fully as possible, such that the group as a whole got a buzz off the thrill (in whatever form) of it all?  Or did it contribute to Story Now in a way that made everyone feel comfortable with the "shape" of the imagined situation, such that they could - and DID - communicate something about the premise effectively?

[snip]


Did my response to Contracycle and John, plus the fact that we were talking about an instance of dysfunctional play, address this?  I don't see how successfully addressing theme is a prerequisite for prioritizing theme.

Lemme know if neither response addressed your point.


Title: Re: The 'whys' of it
Post by: Blankshield on January 14, 2004, 04:38:03 PM
Quote from: Gordon C. Landis


First of all - "just" because it's fun isn't going to cut it as an explanation for anything - one of Ron's earlier essays makes that pretty clear.  Second, "System" is one of the five explored elements that are part of the Dream - any impression that the Dream is equivalent to "realism" or living in the imagined world without metagame is NOT valid, as I just tried to make clear with John.  Exploration is EVERYTHING we do when we imagine together.

So . . . I'd change your last entry (caveats about four-word summaries and GNS-is-about-what-we-see taken as given, I hope) to "Sim:  Because it's fun to Dream, as a thing itself."  The "thing itself" part (or something like it, such as changing the entries from "because it's fun to . . ." to "the priority of play is to  . . . ")  is needed because everyone thinks the Dream is fun.  It's only some people (a good number of 'em - Sim's not meant to be a "lesser-child" in GNS) that want it to be all about the Dream


Hmm.  I had gotten the impression (rather strongly, actually) from Ron's essay that System was outside The Dream.  He talks about how "The game engine [...] is not to be messed with", that causality is king, and there must be strong real-person/character boundaries.  A good chunk of the essay goes over how different mechanics can support or take away from The Dream.  A particularly relevant quote (emphasis mine):
Quote

Two games may be equally Simulationist even if one concerns coping with childhood trauma and the other concerns blasting villains with lightning bolts. What makes them Simulationist is the strict adherence to in-game (i.e. pre-established) cause for the outcomes that occur during play.


This pretty much says flat out that Sim play is all about the in-game, which Ron sums up with The Dream.  I am suggesting that Sim play can be much more than just The Dream.  The examples I gave above are (I think) fairly clearcut examples of Exploring System, and in both cases - especially so with a playtest group - it's not about The Dream at all, but it's still role-playing, just role-playing that's heavy on metagame components - and it's fairly obviously not Nar, or Game (unless perhaps it's "can they make a system we can't break" which seems an A-OK Gameist agenda).

My other instant reaction is to say "Why isn't fun enough?"  

If we took some hypothetical roleplayers who best enjoy Sim play, and ask them why they play, we might we get answers like:
  • I love the feel of being inside a story - being able to go between the pages and see what the author doesn't show us.
  • Role-playing lets me "be" people I'm not, and explore situations and experiences as through a different set of eyes.
  • As a kid I always wanted to be Conan - roleplaying lets me pretend that I am.
  • [/list:u]
    All of these are fairly strong Sim agenda, and barring a psychoanalysis of the people involved, reduce down to "Because it's fun."

    I would also dispute that for Sim, it has to be all about the Dream (apologies if that's not how you meant it, that's how it read) - that's the other side of the coin to saying that a Game-oriented player is all about the challenge.  He can't be - otherwise he'd be doing something that didn't distract him with all this exploratory overhead.

    It sounds like you're wanting a higher purpose than "role-playing is fun" for Sim play, and I think you're going to have a hard time reducing it.  I'll admit that one of the big stumbling blocks I've got with Ron's model in general is that Sim seems to be the catch-all "not here for challenge, not here for story" catagory.  If "Just here" isn't a good enough answer, I'm not sure you're going to find a single better one.  I do like your suggested rephrasing as "the priority of play is to...", because that doesn't exclude the other modes nearly so strongly as "all about the Dream".  Further, if The Dream is meant to include things that aren't specifically playing "in the game", then I'd be quite happy with "The priority of play is to Dream" as a good descriptor of Sim agenda.

    thanks,

    James
    (forgot to sign the last one. :)


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 14, 2004, 05:54:17 PM
Jason,

Yup, we cross posted.  Your why/intent conversation clears up some things - but in looking at what happened in play, "digging up intent" isn't going to be any help, IMO.  To paraphrase something I said elsewhere, "I meant to adress premise but instead I prioritized the dream" is meaningless in GNS terms.  What happened - did you address premise or prioritize the dream?  Figure that out.  ("Neither/None" and/or "I don't know" based on the bits of play under consideration are valid answers, BTW)

Maybe the word "successfully" is tripping us up a bit - I do NOT take it to mean "well done" or "entirely satisfying."  But I DO take it to mean that premise addressing happened - and yeah, actually addressing premise is a prerequisite for prioritizing the address of premise.  Does that make sense/help?

If Tara "had fun" because she got to address theme as some kind of internal mental state, that is NOT evidence that Nar was going on in play.  Evidence that Nar was going on in play would be that the players SAW that theme, grooved on it, and built from it.

GNS doesn't look at what you are telling yourself is fun - it looks at what the players are demonstrating is fun.

And to get back to Sim - what we see when Sim is happening is that the players are grooving directly on the creation/discovery of stuff in the imagined space, without connecting it to any particular challenge or meaning that stuff might represent.  Everyone can - in fact, to some degree as dictated by taste they MUST - groove on the imagined stuff, but only in Sim can you get the pure, undiluted Dream.  It leads somewhere where there is no challenge, or too much challenge?  That's OK, we aren't worried about that.  It leads to a place devoid of meaning, or where a particular meaning shines forth with undeniable brilliance?  That's also OK, we understand such things happen.  We're here to follow the Dream where ever it may lead, guided only by our tastes about the Dream.  G and N "stuff" is there in play - challenge and meaning are parts of the human mind, you can't avoid them, just like they can't avoid the Dream - but G and N stuff are in not the priority that we're there for, when we play Sim.

Hope that brings it back on-topic - we may be done with this thread by agreeing that the answer is 2, Sim does have something special identifying it, and we can take figuring out what that is elsewhere.

Gordon


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: John Kim on January 14, 2004, 06:43:23 PM
Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
  Everyone can - in fact, to some degree as dictated by taste they MUST - groove on the imagined stuff, but only in Sim can you get the pure, undiluted Dream.  
...
It leads to a place devoid of meaning, or where a particular meaning shines forth with undeniable brilliance?  That's also OK, we understand such things happen.  We're here to follow the Dream where ever it may lead, guided only by our tastes about the Dream.  G and N "stuff" is there in play - challenge and meaning are parts of the human mind, you can't avoid them, just like they can't avoid the Dream - but G and N stuff are in not the priority that we're there for, when we play Sim.  

I don't agree with this.  In fact, I consider it a baseless fear to think that the Dream will lead you to a place devoid of meaning.  As I said, human imagining is inherently packed full of meaning.  Pure, undiluted Dream has more meaning than one could possibly hope to consciously arrange.  

Is this meaning irrelevant to me?  Not at all.  It is precisely because of the richness and variety of meaning that I enjoy Simulationism.  Now, I agree with you that much of the meaning comes only after the session (i.e. Story Later instead of Story Now).  But that doesn't mean that it isn't important.  

By analogy, imagine that I watch two movies.  The first one I can immediately see the moral message behind it as I watch it.  In the second, I don't.  However, after watching it I talk excited with my wife about it -- and as I ponder it I see all sorts of relations and interesting meaning that I didn't recognize at the time.  

In short, "Story Now" is not the same as "Story".


Title: Re: The 'whys' of it
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 14, 2004, 06:48:30 PM
Hi James (we do like havin' those real names here at the Forge - thanks!),

The five Explored elements are Character, Setting, Situation, System, and Color.  I think Ron's use of "in-game" and the common use of "no metagame" are very different things.  Now that I think about it, I bet that trips up many people and leads to a number of problems, and I don't know if we've ever adequately adressed that issue.  I'll think on that one a bit . . .

As far as why fun isn't enough - well, the key question Ron asks to get the three Creative Agenda's of G, N and S is "what makes fun?"  (that's in this  article  (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/3/), I think)  My last posts have talked a lot about what I think makes fun in Sim, so I won't repeat that.  But let's take your list of reasons someone might give for roleplaying; "inside story", "explore situations," "be Conan."  Those are answers to "what makes fun?"  And with no other info (like, the addition that what is neat about Conan is he's always struggling with who to trust and how to do right by his friends, and I - the player - want to make those decisions too) they are Sim answers, because they say that the priority of play for those folks is the Dream.

And you're right, that's what I mean by "all about" - that's where the big charge, the big payoff, the REAL reason for playing lives.  Read "all about the Dream" as equivalent to "prioritizes the Dream."

Which I think means we're in agreement - yay!  Provided that broadening of "in the game" makes sense to you.

Gordon


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 14, 2004, 07:09:09 PM
Quote from: Ian Charvill
For you, when you play, what is it you like about gaming in addition to making the statement?  Why do you, personally, game rather than having an ethical discussion with your gaming group?

The thing is, your "just because" sim example is recursive.  We could apply the same model to narrativists: why do you game? to make a statement; why do you make a statement? just because.  What does that tell us about sim that it isn't telling us about narrativism.  Same question; same answer - but of course the question needs pointing at the creative agenda in each case.

[snip]


Ian, thanks for clarifying.

I thought about the question a while, I ate dinner, I watched some tube, I went to work to start a software deployment, and then I thought some more.  I didn't get anywhere.  The question of why I choose to game instead of just talk about the issues directly came down to the question: why do people like stories, why do people imagine? (Why the interest in Exploration in the first place?)

I really don't know the answer.  So, let me not try to dig so deep.  'Just because' certainly does seem recursive as you point out.  Would 'for its own sake' fit your tastes better?  (It's all the same to me.)  I think you've hit a real problem, that 'for its own sake' may be at the heart of it all, and that making it an answer in the first tier of motivation doesn't seem like much of a reason at all.  Of course, that leads me back to saying the answer to John's option two is no.

Hmmm...  Maybe someone else has an answer, because the reason to do anything certainly can't be 'just because'.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Jason Lee on January 14, 2004, 07:19:49 PM
Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
Maybe the word "successfully" is tripping us up a bit - I do NOT take it to mean "well done" or "entirely satisfying."  But I DO take it to mean that premise addressing happened - and yeah, actually addressing premise is a prerequisite for prioritizing the address of premise.  Does that make sense/help?

If Tara "had fun" because she got to address theme as some kind of internal mental state, that is NOT evidence that Nar was going on in play.  Evidence that Nar was going on in play would be that the players SAW that theme, grooved on it, and built from it.

GNS doesn't look at what you are telling yourself is fun - it looks at what the players are demonstrating is fun.


I think I take your meaning here.  I don't think I agree.  If you cannot address the premise all on your own, that is to say be prioritizing Nar without the group (successful or no), then GNS cannot diagnosis priority conflicts (because then GNS goals only apply to functional play).  If you are trying to address a theme, and are blocked from doing it, that creates dysfunction.  Failure at Nar doesn't mean you didn't prioritize Nar.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 14, 2004, 07:28:52 PM
Hi John,

OK, I don't think we're actually in disagreement here.  My point was meant to be that for GNS-Sim, the absence (yeah, given the human mind, true absence just isn't going to happen - I got overly poetic there) or presence of meaning doesn't matter.  Which means you CAN have meaning if you want.  For YOU, meaning matters - and you can get that in GNS-Sim (all uses of meaning here being in the broadest sense - Story, NOT Story Now).  But under GNS-Sim, you don't have to care about meaning.  Not needed does not equal not possible.

That movie analogy - well, analogies can be weak and all, but let me try this.  I assume you're comparing "theme in movie" to Nar and "theme afterwards in dicussion" to Sim?  I'd flip it around.  Since Nar is about directly doing meaning, the theme-in-discusion sounds more Nar to me, and theme-in-movie seems more Sim, in that the theme is just there to be enjoyed rather than you creating it.  Now, even the most heavy-handed theme needs you to in a sense "create" it by apprehending it as you watch - the analogy breaks down a bit - but I thought the contrast might still be useful . . .

Gordon


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 14, 2004, 07:39:52 PM
Quote from: cruciel
I think I take your meaning here.  I don't think I agree.  If you cannot address the premise all on your own, that is to say be prioritizing Nar without the group (successful or no), then GNS cannot diagnosis priority conflicts (because then GNS goals only apply to functional play).  If you are trying to address a theme, and are blocked from doing it, that creates dysfunction.  Failure at Nar doesn't mean you didn't prioritize Nar.

Jason,

OK, I must be posting too much/too fast today.  I'd change your last sentence to be "Failure at Nar doesn't mean you didn't ATTEMPT to prioritize Nar."  But overall nothing I typed was meant to disagree with what you posted.  So I'm thinkin' it may be time to go to dinner,

Gordon


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Blankshield on January 14, 2004, 08:03:31 PM
Quote
Which I think means we're in agreement - yay! Provided that broadening of "in the game" makes sense to you.


Yup, I think so.  

I may need to reread The Right to Dream with that broadened term in mind, as it still reads to me very much that System is outside the Dream, which makes sense with how Ron was using the term, but is nonsensical with what we've been batting around here.

I still think "because it's fun" is (or ought to be) good enough reason, though. :)

Spurious example of the day:
A gameist plays with a slinky to see how far he can walk it down the stairs.
A narrativist plays with a slinky because it explores the propegation of waves.
A simulationist plays with a slinky because it's a cool toy.


thanks,

James


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ian Charvill on January 15, 2004, 02:59:46 AM
Hey James

"The Dream" is referencing prioritization of exploration.  Within Ron's model the venn diagram runs

[Social Contract[Exploration[Creative Agenda[Techniques[Ephemera]]]]]

Which is to say techniques and ephemera - i.e. most of system - actually resides within exploration.  Which is also to say the system is in some sense the underlying physics of the dream.

"Because it's fun" works on a general level but I think there's a standing assumption at the Forge that understanding why it's fun would allow you to have fun more reliably - both from a play and a design standpoint.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ian Charvill on January 15, 2004, 03:16:15 AM
Jason

Quote from: cruciel

I thought about the question a while, I ate dinner, I watched some tube, I went to work to start a software deployment, and then I thought some more.  I didn't get anywhere.  The question of why I choose to game instead of just talk about the issues directly came down to the question: why do people like stories, why do people imagine? (Why the interest in Exploration in the first place?)


Following on from my reply to James, I don't think 'because it's fun' or 'just because' or 'for it's own sake' are bad answers.  I just think better answers might allow us to play better games.

I think our imagination is one of our survival traits.  I think it's pleasurable to use our imaginations for the same reasons sex is pleasurable - if we didn't do these things we'd die out.  Not just no shelter, no tools but no ability to tell when Thog is mad and about to hit us over the head with the jawbone of an ox.  We imagine in order to survive; and imagining is fun because were it not, we'd be less adapted to survival.

Now the region that I'm not a behaviourist - and specifically why I find a lot in E.O. Wilson to disagree with - is that we haven't accounted for consciousness yet within the scientific model, and it's absense from the model wrecks the model.  It's like trying to predict whether it's going to rain without being able to see the clouds.

Which is to say, the fact that imagining is fun doesn't tell us all that much about how we as conscious beings are going to react to it.  Certainly it doesn't tell us that: imagining is fun therefore there will be role playing games.

I think it's sufficient to be able to assert that making stuff up without direct relevance to utility is a pleasurable activity for human beings.  Introducing utility to the process adds stress to the process and so reduces fun.  The achievement of that purpose will produce the pleasure of acheiving something.

So pure imagination = the pleasure of imagination
And goal-driven imagination = the pleasure of imagination - the stress of meeting the goal + the pleasure of achieving the goal.

For simulationists we might merely say that the stress of meeting the goal is greater than the pleasure of achieving the goal so adding a goal creates a net disbenefit to pleasure.

Now take the above with a supersized order of YMMV and also the fact that for all it's intellectual validity it tells us very little about how to make games more fun beyond providing a simple anatomy.  I mean, you could argue that to make a narrativist game fun for someone with simulationist tendencies you need to make it easy (i.e. reduce the stress of meeting the goal) to acheive the goal - and ideally to find some way of intensifying the pleasure of meeting the goal.  It's a very crude guideline at best.


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on January 15, 2004, 02:13:14 PM
OK, after a good night's rest:

In saying (basically) that there's no Nar unless Nar is happening (duh), I was trying to focus attention on what we can actually see as play occurs rather than what's in the players head.  So if we can see that they are trying to address premise . . . yes, we can say that they are trying to make Nar happen.  Whether it actually "counts" as fulfilling Nar play will vary as a matter of taste across individuals - maybe even within the group. Appolgies for implying anything stronger than that.

And yeah, "because it's fun" is certainly enough to know if you're having, well, fun.  And if that's all you're worried about, there is probably nothing in the hundreds/thousands of GNS posts here that really matters - you're playing, you're having fun, and that is enough.

But if you aren't having fun, or if you're trying to get more fun, or you're trying to really analyze what's going on, THEN you need more than just "it's fun" - you need to know what makes fun.

Hope that's a little more clear,

Gordon


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Blankshield on January 15, 2004, 03:55:26 PM
Quote from: Ian Charvill
Following on from my reply to James, I don't think 'because it's fun' or 'just because' or 'for it's own sake' are bad answers.  I just think better answers might allow us to play better games.


Ok, I can see how that comes into play from a theory point of view, and with a broader view of The Dream, it's something I can buy into - I typically follow a Sim agenda, and exploring the whys of it is a trait to encourage in people making games. :)

I think it's a big big topic though, and might show up one of the ways the model is stretched to cover - Game and Nar have a fairly focused agenda (challenge and addressing Premise), where Sim seems to be the "and all the rest of you are playing Sim" and to me, "the rest of you" covers a very broad spectrum.  That may well just be a built-in bias, however- because I tend to be a Sim player, that's where I have the easiest time seeing the full range of play.

At this point I'm starting to ramble well away from the original point of this thread, though.  I went back and re-read some of the essays in the light of discussion here, and I think the best way to answer what Sim has that Nar doesn't is from Ron's original definition (emphasis mine):
Quote
Simulationism is expressed by enhancing one or more of the listed elements in Set 1 above; in other words, Simulationism heightens and focuses Exploration as the priority of play. The players may be greatly concerned with the internal logic and experiential consistency of that Exploration.


The answer is that it doesn't.  There is nothing Sim has that Nar doesn't -  it just places it's importance elsewhere.  I think this has become my lightbulb re: the whole model.  None of the three modes have anything the others don't.  The only difference is where the importance is placed, and what emerges as the trend in play.  For Sim play, challenge and story are part of the exploration.  for Game play, story and exporation serve to heighten the challenge.  In Nar, exploration and challenge are means to an end: addressing the Premise.

The only difference is emphasis.

/epiphany

thanks,

James


Title: You guys rock!
Post by: Silmenume on January 16, 2004, 01:28:14 AM
I am soooo frustrated; I have been blessed with an abundance of production work, but that has meant 14+ hours a day average and I don't have time to post in these wonderful threads!  This thread has been seriously rocking and I want so badly to participate!  Everyone here has been doing a bang up job, it's been a real pleasure to read, even if I can't come out to play.

Aure Entaluva,

Silmenume


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 16, 2004, 06:12:26 AM
Hello,

Actually, I think this thread is humpbacked and aggravating. If it were my Minion, I would thrash it soundly.

In fact, it's time for everyone to pick his or her favorite issue from this thread, and to start a new highly focused daughter thread with it.

Best,
Ron


Title: More minions!
Post by: Silmenume on January 16, 2004, 09:30:35 AM
Yesssssssssssss masssssssssster!  Thraaaaaaaaashing and creaaaaaaating daaaaaaaaaaaaaughter minioooooooons!

Just out of curiosity, what do you see as some of the divergent topics creating this Frankenstein's monster?

Aure Entaluva,

Silmenume


Title: What is the Dream?
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 16, 2004, 09:34:01 AM
Closed. This thread is closed. No one post anything else to it.

Jay, for new thread topics, use your own judgment.

Best,
Ron