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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 68 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Stakes in GNS  (Read 5536 times)
Adam Dray
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« on: August 05, 2005, 09:46:29 AM »

Just throwing out an idea here. You may commence the beating (on the idea).

Over in Stakes in Narrativism, Ron said that in Gamism, what's "at stake" is the player's "chance to buy more effectiveness vs. the chance to get your character injured or killed by the trap."

Is a key difference between the various CA's where the "what is at stake" is focused? I suspect I may be just rephrasing one of the GNS articles in my own words, but talking about it might help me clarify some things for myself. Worse, I'm probably misguided. Help me out.

Let me try:
  • In Gamism, the player cares about addressing Challenge. What's "at stake" during play is the player's ability to achieve her goals.
  • In Narrativism, the player cares about addressing Premise. What's "at stake" during play is the character's ability to achieve her goals but what the player cares about is "meaning."
  • In Simulationism, the player cares about addressing Consequence (my term; Jay used Causality in his Looong post on Sim definition). What's "at stake" during play is the world's ability to change in "expected" ways but what the player cares about is "causality."

Mostly, I'm trying to get my mind around what Sim really is. This is odd to me, because I think I spent the last twenty years reaching for some kind of incoherent version of it. I'm not comfortable that I could design a Sim game and really know what I'm doing.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
M. J. Young
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2005, 03:10:43 PM »

Adam, I think a lot of people are still reaching for what Sim is, so don't feel bad that you don't get it. Jay is in some ways a poster child for simulationist gaming, but I frequently find myself at odds with his understanding of it.

I am still persuaded that simulationism is the roleplaying equivalent to educational television: it's there primarily to discover, to learn. That's why it has so many different forms that seem so incongruent with each other, viz.,
  • Immersionist play that appears to be about experiencing the character within the situation, thus learning what it might be like to be that kind of character;
  • Technical experimental play, such as throwing yourself off a cliff because the physics of the world say you will survive;
  • Geographical exploration in which you learn about Middle Earth or the Star Trek universe or some other realm;
  • Genre emulation, in which the recreation of the genre gives you proof that you understand how it works
--just to name a few.

Several people on this board will take issue with that, though, so even though simulationism is pretty settled in my mind, that might not be what everyone else sees.

Anyway, I think that the concepts of consequence and causality are red herrings here. They are to some degree necessary to all exploration, and some clearly simulationist forms of play have decidedly less emphasis on these than most gamist forms.

--M. J. Young
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2005, 08:22:58 PM »

Hello,

Adam, you're committing one of the usual aggravations for me - seizing upon a statement that was useful to another person, in another thread, about something that was very specific, and identifying it as As The Gamist Thing, in definitional terms.

If you want Gamism in definitional terms, it's right there in the Glossary and in the Gamism article.

Quote
Is a key difference between the various CA's where the "what is at stake" is focused?

Oh, way too complicated, man. Way easier. What's all this about "focus?" Just say, what is to be gained, and be happy. Where's the value-added. Why am I (or are we) bothering to do this thing where we sit around and talk, imagining stuff. That's the perfect way to think about it.

As for your general re-statements, I think you're going a little haywire except for Narrativism.

Quote
In Gamism, the player cares about addressing Challenge. What's "at stake" during play is the player's ability to achieve her goals.

No. What's at stake is real-world, real-social-life esteem. Plain and simple. What you say is correct only if those goals involve putting esteem on the line. Gamism isn't for wussies.

Quote
In Narrativism, the player cares about addressing Premise. What's "at stake" during play is the character's ability to achieve her goals but what the player cares about is "meaning."

Game, set, and match. Hole in one.

Quote
In Simulationism, the player cares about addressing Consequence (my term; Jay used Causality in his Looong post on Sim definition). What's "at stake" during play is the world's ability to change in "expected" ways but what the player cares about is "causality."

Possibly. I would have agreed with you some time ago, and the big GNS essay and the Sim essay reflect that view. Now, I look at it a little differently, which is that Sim is much smaller than implied by those essays, and is best understood as a form of celebration of the prevailing enthusiasms/assumptions about some starting material. Consequence or Causality may play a huge role in that process, even perhaps a necessary one ("Internal cause is king" is the way I put it in the essay), but opinions differ. I'll give you some links about that (my current thinking) if you'd like.

That throws a lot of observed play into non-GNS land: Incoherence at best, Zilchplay as well (and for the life of me I don't know why I resisted the concept of Zilchplay for so long when it's patently obviously common). A lot of what I might have tagged as Sim play four years ago, I would now call Incoherent, Ouija Boarding, Zilchplay, or Bitterest Gamer.

So yeah, I wouldn't doubt that a lot of people don't "find" Sim. Its functional manifestations are probably quite rare.

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2005, 08:23:50 PM »

Hey M.J.,

I am still persuaded that simulationism is the roleplaying equivalent to educational television: it's there primarily to discover, to learn.

I think gamism, narrativism, and simulationism are all three fundamentally about learning, and that a person's preference for gamist, narrativist, or simulationist play is correlated generally with preferred learning style:

A gamist affinity is correlated with learning via a context of measured competition with others. If I can see how others achieve successes, I can emulate them. And I can measure my learning via my successes relative to others, or my past performance.

A simulationist affinity, as you describe, is correlated with learning via effort inside a lab like environment. If the environment is built right, I learn by observation and application of the scientific method to how it responds to my actions.

A narrativist affinity is correlated with learning via human artistic traditions. I learn from the expressions of others within a context that empowers true expressiveness, and from the responses of others to my own expression.

Paul
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Adam Dray
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2005, 09:10:14 AM »

Ron,

Thanks for your reply. You helped me correct my incorrect understanding of Gamism. All along, I thought I got it. I didn't. I was thinking Gamism was about the enjoyment of the challenge. You're saying it's about the enjoyment of peer recognition that you did something (in many but not all cases, overcoming some challenge). Right?

If so, that's a big mental shift for me. Gas up, clutch down, shift. I'll wait for a bit before I go back on the accelerator. ;)

That also helps me understand why I don't identify with so many D&D players on the net who go on and on about the best combination of this or that. I always thought they were geeking about their solutions to the challenge for the sake of the solution; they're really looking for peer recognition about their solution (if I may generalize).

Regarding Sim play, I promise to read any link you throw at me and report back with my new understanding gained. Part of my trouble is sifting through the evolution of ideas about it. I've read the articles and I've read a fair amount of threads here, but I still don't entirely get it.

It does make sense to me what you say about most play not falling into any coherent (GNS) CA and I think something you said in another thread helps me here. Creative Agenda is more than just striving, right? There has to be coherent, well-directed action. So just because Bob, some fictional player, has this ideal in his head of what his ideal D&D experience is (and it smells like Sim), he might not have a Sim CA unless he knows what to do, and the game helps him do it?

The learning thing, Paul, doesn't resonate with me at all. It seems unnecessarily complicated, too.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2005, 09:27:15 AM »

Hiya,

I think you got it, Adam!

I confess the learning-issue has always seemed like an add-on to me. Mark (M.J.) finds it helpful to his understanding, and since we seem to communicate well about CA stuff, well, I can't complain about that. So Adam, it might be best to keep that on the "someone else's say it yourself" shelf and not trouble yourself with whatever implications it has for you.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2005, 06:30:31 AM »

Just one tweak on Gamism. The "reinforcement" that produces "self-esteem" can be pretty invisible. It can seem almost like one is just playing for one's own enjoyment of the challenge. Indeed, one can play on one's own this way, merely for one's own satisfaction in one's own ability. Solo play for instance. But this isn't an agenda for the group then, and not a mode of play that's being shared. For that to happen you have to have at the minimum one other player who, at a minimum, is not rejecting the other players mode. But he doesn't have to provide a lot of reinforcement for it to be gamism.

Consider basketball. The players, in accepting the limits of the game, and that there will be a winner, and a loser, are reinforcing this behavior by saying that it's right to try. Even if they hate you for winning, and don't applaud your success, you still get the self-esteem bump, because of the original agreement to play on the level playing field.

Even when there is no contest between players, or they are cooperating to do well, this is true. As long as a player is allowed to address challenge to show his worth, then you have gamism.

Now, all that said, in most gamism you will have positive reinforcement. But it's the "Self-esteem" one gets, not peer respect neccessarily. All that requires is the right context. So, very much, at times it's going to seem like it's just a single player enjoying addressing challenge. It's the social context in which this is allowed that makes it gamism.

Mike
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