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Author Topic: Channeling and GNS  (Read 7830 times)
John Kim
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« on: November 02, 2005, 03:55:55 PM »

In his recent thread on Simulationism Aside, Mike Holmes talked about "channeling".  This was a topic often discussed in rgfa as well as in other forums such as Interactive Fantasy. 
Henry, I think that part of the problem with identifying "channeling character" is precisely that I think that it's not simply exploration of character. That is, what you describe is exploration of character, and channeling is also exploration of character, I just think that the channeling goes beyond what you describe. Basically at the point you start any negotiations about potential options that the player has to play the character more interestingly, plausible selections, this shows player motive. Even if done internally, you're no longer channeling, but more overtly controling the character actions.

For instance, one of the things that seems interesting to me about people who really channel is that when if you ask them if they could have had the character to any other thing than what they had the character do, the answer is no. That is, for a channeller they percieve one and only one decision as the only decision the character could have made.

Now this is why it's so easy for people to call this "My Guy" play. Because, if you're not also channelling the character (and it's probably not possible to share a character this way), then as an observer you're likely to note all sorts of plausible routs that the character could have taken. So if you say, "Why didn't you fight the bad guy?" and the other person says, "Because the character just wouldn't do it" that sounds like the player is "hiding behind the character."

If, in fact, channeling is an honest activity, then what the player is really saying is, "If I made any other decision for the character, it wouldn't have seemed to me like it was coming from the character." In fact, I think that possibly the feeling that players have that there is only one possible thing that a character could have done in a particular situation is a strong part of what makes the character seem independently real to the channeller. If the player takes any time to weigh options in terms of what the player likes, then the player feels that they are creating the character, and the illusion of independence is broken.

I'd like to comment on this.  You speak of the "illusion of independence" -- but I think that's a poor way to look at the issue.  To me, the issue is "inner life".  The question is, are there things about the character which I as player am imagining that go beyond the verbal statements I have made during play?  For me, in many cases there are.  These form what I would call the character's inner life.  I discuss this some in my essay on Personality Mechanics

Inner life, then, is what the player imagines that the character is thinking and feeling.  So inner life is a mental construct and thus not something physical like a character sheet or a sound recording.  However, I don't think it is properly called an illusion, since it is not believed to be something real.  It is a set of imagined facts.  It is not physically real, but neither is anything else in the game. 

The question is, how do we treat these imaginings?  This is a controversial point, as can be seen in a Forge thread Vincent started last year: Sacrificing Character Integrity - a Rant.  He argued that for fit characters and situation, Narrativism will never require you to violate how you imagine the character.  Ralph disagreed at the time.  However, it seems that this point remains at issue.  In the same post in the earlier thread, Mike wrote:

All I'm saying is that I think that there are places where players seem to demand both the right to channel, and want drama, and that the combination seems pretty impossible. Standard sim/nar incoherence.

I don't think this is standard GNS Sim/Nar incoherence at all.  This is a clash of styles between Threefold Simulationism and Threefold Dramatism.  The person who wants to channel might easily be a Narrativist who wants to experience the choices in that way, while the other player who wants drama might want to reproduce the feel of a television drama series. 


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Marco
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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2005, 04:34:57 AM »

I don't think this is standard GNS Sim/Nar incoherence at all.  This is a clash of styles between Threefold Simulationism and Threefold Dramatism.  The person who wants to channel might easily be a Narrativist who wants to experience the choices in that way, while the other player who wants drama might want to reproduce the feel of a television drama series. 

I agree that this can't, textually, be a Sim/Nar clash. I think the analysis that is usually done here makes it seem that way because channeling is heavily associated with Sim play (Jay's games). I'm also not sure if the channeling vs. drama divide is a real one either.

I want games that have a reasonably tight dramatic structure--and I want to channel. This requires that the situation involved be well structured (although I find it fairly easy to do this reliably) and the character be "fit." However: I think that GDS-Sim is not the same thing as channeling from a player perspective (not that I'm an authority) but rather, in this case, revolves around how well the situation and characters work together to present a sense of drama to a player who wants that in the game.

If the situation produces a sense of the dramaic as a natural artifact of the characters and action then I think there's no impossibility there implicity (and therefore can be no definitional GNS clash).

-Marco
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Callan S.
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2005, 08:48:15 PM »

I'm not certain of any chanelling / drama divide, either. Making a choice in the face of resistance doesn't change in any way, even if the resistance applied becomes a moral type.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2005, 08:58:31 AM »

Hello,

The only issue I'm seeing at stake is whether the issue Mike's raised is definitionally N vs. S. I don't think it is, but I also think that Mike is right that such a clash, when it occurs, will often raise that particular issue. When I read his phrase "standard N/S clash," I don't think it needs to become a definitional issue.

That is an example of charitable reading, as outlined by Chris Lehrich in the sticky'd Site Discussion thread. I suggest that when you have a third-party comment - person X says something to person Y, then you, Z, decide this all needs commenting on - that particular thread be your guide.

Best,
Ron
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John Kim
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2005, 11:29:58 AM »


The only issue I'm seeing at stake is whether the issue Mike's raised is definitionally N vs. S. I don't think it is, but I also think that Mike is right that such a clash, when it occurs, will often raise that particular issue. When I read his phrase "standard N/S clash," I don't think it needs to become a definitional issue.

Why are you seeing a definitional issue?  No one else brought up the definitions.  My statement was that I disagree that this is "standard N/S clash".  As I understand it, you are saying that usually when a clash occurs between channeling and drama that this indicates a clash between the Narrativist CA and the Simulationist CA.  I don't see any evidence for that, either in my own experience or various readings here.  As is stated very commonly here, the desire for overt drama is frequently part of genre emulation and/or Illusionist/Participationist leanings.  I don't think it is a typical marker for Narrativism. 

Now, I do think that there is a clash between channeling and dramatic structure in the transcript.  I'm not sure if I'm disagreeing with Marco here, though.  Dramatic structure is difficult in an improvised role-playing environment, and I feel that unless some deliberate attention is paid to it by the players, it is unlikely to happen.  However, dramatic structure is not a distinguishing factor in GNS since it is desired by genre-emulating play, Illusionist play, and/or certain Narrativist play. 


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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2005, 03:16:00 PM »

Uhhh, no. John, I'm agreeing with you.

Because this statement:

Quote
As I understand it, you are saying that usually when a clash occurs between channeling and drama that this indicates a clash between the Narrativist CA and the Simulationist CA.

is inaccurate. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying, "when N and S CA's clash, the channeling/drama conflict is likely to arise."

But such a conflict doesn't mean a CA clash is occurring. That's right, I'm saying what you're saying.

I'm also saying that Mike's original quote can be interpreted in that fashion as well, with a charitable reading. I tend to try to do that, unless forced otherwise.

This thread demonstrates why I discourage (a) bringing in snippets from other discussions into this forum and (b) "what I meant when I said that you meant this about what I said" dialogue.

Best,
Ron
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ewilen
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2005, 06:22:48 PM »

I.e....

When there's a channeling/drama clash, it could be for any of several reasons, not all having to do with CA. (It could be a Threefold S-D clash, yet in GNS terms could be just a clash of Sim techniques.)

When there's a Nar/Sim clash, it is very often because of a channeling/drama clash. The player's character is not "fit" for the Premise, and the player prioritizes his or her private vision, leading to a clash.

Now the latter case could also be viewed as the GM forcing premise on a character (and by definition Force is antithetical to Nar). But the reason this happens is probably related to the fact that there's a "private vision" of the character that the GM can't directly access.
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Elliot Wilen, Berkeley, CA
John Kim
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2005, 10:46:18 PM »


I'm saying, "when N and S CA's clash, the channeling/drama conflict is likely to arise."

But such a conflict doesn't mean a CA clash is occurring. That's right, I'm saying what you're saying.

No, you're not.  I am baffled that you continue to ignore what I am saying.  I never said that GNS Nar/Sim clash is likely to have channeling/drama conflict.  In my opinion, the two clashes are entirely uncorrelated.  I am saying in very firm terms that associating them together is an outright error.  There have been many token statements to this effect, but still this mistake is made over and over again -- in part, I think, because the point is not made strongly enough. 

This is me trying to make the point very strongly.  As far as I have seen, GNS Nar-vs-Sim and channeling-vs-drama are unrelated.  Period. 

There will be some cases where there is both GNS Nar/Sim clash and channeling/drama conflict -- but they are unconnected.  You could have Nar channeling player clashing with a Sim dramatic game-master who wants the characters to follow his storyline.  Or you could have a Sim channeling player clashing with a Nar dramatic game-master who wants to use particular distributed-director techniques.  It doesn't seem to me that there is any connection here.  Speaking personally, in my experience of GNS clashes, I have been firmly on the channeling+Narrativism side. 

When there's a Nar/Sim clash, it is very often because of a channeling/drama clash. The player's character is not "fit" for the Premise, and the player prioritizes his or her private vision, leading to a clash.

Now the latter case could also be viewed as the GM forcing premise on a character (and by definition Force is antithetical to Nar). But the reason this happens is probably related to the fact that there's a "private vision" of the character that the GM can't directly access.

This is definitionally wrong, in my opinion.  If the player's character is not fit for the Premise...  then that isn't the Premise.  Premise isn't a predefined thing given to the players to shoot for.  Rather, it is defined by what is addressed and not before.  So your example here is muddled. 

In channeling (and indeed in many other cases of role-playing), there is always a private vision of the character.  But as Vincent's rant goes, Narrativism never calls for being false to this vision.  So suppose that I have a Character+Situation which is not fit.  I hold to my vision of character.  The GM wants me to break my vision to do something else.  I'm saying that there is nothing here which indicates a GNS clash either way.  This could be Sim player/Sim GM (he wants Illusionism, I want day-in-life) , Sim Player/Nar GM (I want day-in-life, he wants me to use director-stance techniques), Nar Player/Sim GM (I want fit opposition for my character but the GM doesn't supply it), or Nar Player/Nar GM (who are clashing over techniques). 

Among other things, I don't think that channeling is very common in the first place.  I would say that most cases of GNS Nar/Sim clash don't have any channeling at all. 

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2005, 07:55:38 AM »

Ewilen, I respectfully ask that you step aside for a bit, because you're committing the error that John is rightfully calling an error, stating that when a dispute about channeling arises, there must be a Nar/Sim clash going on. For anyone who's confused about what I'm saying, I'm saying this is incorrect. There is nothing "more in character" about Sim over any other CA, for instance.

John, arrrrgh. Your argument for "no correlation! none! none!" is, as I see it, empirically incorrect.

The difficulty in this conversation is that I, too, often role-play with a strong emphasis on Narrativism + channeling. I do understand where you're coming from in terms of play. I'd like to state very strongly that my position is not about "Sim is in character, Nar isn't."

However, many CA clashes during play often focus on "being in character" in one fashion or another, as the issue at hand. Here's where I'm disagreeing with you, John, if you're saying that such clashes do not result in such discussions.

Now ... perhaps that phenomenon is just displacement, and there's no actual reason to get hung up on "being in character" during a CA clash. Regardless, CA hassles do get expressed by such hang-ups, reasonably or unreasonably. If you're saying they shouldn't, well, OK. But if you're saying they don't, then we disagree.

Best,
Ron
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John Kim
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2005, 08:46:41 PM »


However, many CA clashes during play often focus on "being in character" in one fashion or another, as the issue at hand. Here's where I'm disagreeing with you, John, if you're saying that such clashes do not result in such discussions.

Now ... perhaps that phenomenon is just displacement, and there's no actual reason to get hung up on "being in character" during a CA clash. Regardless, CA hassles do get expressed by such hang-ups, reasonably or unreasonably. If you're saying they shouldn't, well, OK. But if you're saying they don't, then we disagree.

Yes, we do have a disagreement here.  So there doesn't seem to be any explanation for why in the theory, but in your experience -- though not in mine -- Creative Agenda clashes tend to result in getting hung up on being in character.  This seems odd to me, and I'd like to query it further.  Among other things, maybe there is a reason why it shows up in your experience but not in mine. 

I've often heard claims like Elliot's -- saying that channeling means GNS Sim and that following their vision of character clashes with addressing Premise.  However, you seem to agree that what he's speaking of is an error.  So I'm really not sure what you're talking about.  Can you give more details as to how these clashes tend to pan out?  So in the case of Nar/Sim clash, you often see a clash between channeling and drama.  In the latter clash, does one side tend to be Nar and the other Sim -- or does it vary evenly which side is which?  Are there any recognizable symptoms to what it looks like? 

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2005, 08:09:18 AM »

It all goes back to Actual Play. Read there, post there, talk to people there, and only then, is any discussion about this issue worthwhile.

One request for that future discussion: define your terms. When you say "channeling conflict," I want a full actual play report backing that up so we can all talk sensibly. This thread is marred by me having to guess what you mean at the same time I answer a question about it.

One clarification: CA clashes affect all of play. Channeling conflicts (as I've constructed/guessed them) are only one aspect of play, out of many, which is disrupted by CA problems. I am not saying that channeling/"in-character" issues are specially or profoundly expected to be affected by CA problems. They simply are so affected, just like everything else.

Finally: John, keep your damn grad-school speak out of my forum. I "seem to agree?" What's this "seem?" My posts above explicitly agree with your basic point. That kind of snotty distancing is garbage.

Best,
Ron
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John Kim
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2005, 11:37:53 AM »


It all goes back to Actual Play. Read there, post there, talk to people there, and only then, is any discussion about this issue worthwhile.

One request for that future discussion: define your terms. When you say "channeling conflict," I want a full actual play report backing that up so we can all talk sensibly. This thread is marred by me having to guess what you mean at the same time I answer a question about it.

OK, I'll make a post in Actual Play.  However, I'd like to see a post from you as well.  You're the one who's making a positive claim which has no basis in the theory.  You accept Vincent's rant that Narrativism never means sacrificing character integrity, but claim that despite this, somehow GNS Nar/Sim clash tends to lead to channeling/drama clash. 

I don't accept such generalizations without damn good evidence. 

Finally: John, keep your damn grad-school speak out of my forum. I "seem to agree?" What's this "seem?" My posts above explicitly agree with your basic point. That kind of snotty distancing is garbage.

Ron, I have been trying to ignore slights like this, but don't push me.  You attacked my debate earlier in this thread, claiming that actually I was inventing a disagreement by uncharitable reading -- which was false -- as well as other claims.  At the very least, if you've got a problem with me, then put it in a PM to me or form a separate thread in Site Discussion, rather than distracting from the issues under debate here. 

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2005, 09:11:31 PM »

That's adolescent - "Don't push me."

This, however, is moderating - I am instructing you to act and post differently. It is not advice, it is not a threat, and it is not negotiable. Your counter-option is merely to decide this place is not for you.

Thread's closed.

Best,
Ron
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