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A Third Metagame Goal

Started by lumpley, May 03, 2002, 03:39:45 PM

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Oh fer crying out loud.  Here I was all excited, and I posted what amounts to "Hey look everyone!  I've discovered ... Narrativism!  It's a new paradigm!"



You know, what I find most interesting about this exchange is that it really brings home the idea of talking about REAL play and REAL priorities on more than a superficial level before attempting to ascertain postion (defying efforts at pigeon holeing).

Based  on a brief blurb about play experience Ron (creator of the theory) immediately identified "Simulation without a doubt."

Based on another brief blurb about that SAME play experience the answer came back "Narrativist, without a doubt"

Obviously, to be legitimate, GNS has to be applied very carefully and only after considered analysis.  Often we practitioners will sling around the terms fairly freely drawing conclusions based on blurbs with less meat than what Vincent provided.  Is it any wonder that many of those wind up going in circles G vs N vs S

Something I'm sure we all know, but I found this thread to be a rather defining example.

GNS should come with a warning label...something about being sure to wear your safty goggles :-)

Ron Edwards


I agree with your overall point - GNS is not a long-distance analytic device.

In my defense, each blurb was highly specific and I stand by my judgment for each. Only when Vincent revealed that he thought they were the same thing did something start looking funny.



No need for a defense, I certainly wasn't casting any daggers, I came to the same conclusion as you did.

It just really drove home the idea that if the theory's creator can't diagnose on the basis of a short descriptive paragraph the rest of us should be doing a little less of it ourselves.  And examples of play should provide a little more detail


Right, not a long-distance tool, plus who really cares whether I'm a Narrativist or what?  A curiosity at (way) best.

The bit I'm coming away interested in is this:

GM-ful is an arrangement of stance, balance of power, etc., as you say, Ron, but it's rare in game designs -- and especially rare in Narrativist games.  If I'm indeed playing GM-ful Narrativism, that's my favorite, and how do I design a game to make it happen with other players?

As far as it's seemed to me, our arrangement of stance, balance of power, etc. has been static for the two-plus years of the game, and we changed the game by an act of will, not of game structure.  What I'm going to pay attention to now is: is that really true?  (Of course it's not.)  How has my new goal changed the way I approach (eg) resolution?  What can I take forward into the games I design?

Plus Mike, we oughta talk weird-Sim more.


Emily Care

Quote from: Ron EdwardsVincent,
There it is.

You wrote,
"We're not playing a Narrativist game, I'm clear about that. But we are quite intentionally Authoring our characters into and through moral and ethical problems that we're interested in in real life, to generate meaning for us as audience, because that's what we want to do."

Your sentence beginning with "but" is Narrativism. You cannot be "clear" that it's not; all you can be is mistaken.

But Mike Holmes wrote:
"I remember a thread in which we were positing that, since it's been determined that Stance has no absolute link to GNS mode, there must potentially be versions of Simulationism that included Author and Director stance. ..."
"Turns out that Vincent has been playing that way for a while now. We just hadn't been informed. What you have Vincent is proof of the theory, not a challenge to it at all. And a particular style of play that may be unique. It's just not a fourth Mode to be added to GNS. We should thank you, however, for providing the missing example."

What distinguishes Narrativism from a Simulationist game using Authorial and Directorial stances?

--Emily Care
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Ron Edwards

Hi Emily,

You wrote,
"What distinguishes Narrativism from a Simulationist game using Authorial and Directorial stances?"

The answer is inherent in Vince's words:
"Authoring our characters into and through moral and ethical problems that we're interested in in real life, to generate meaning for us as audience"

By "authoring," he is not referring to Author Stance. Author Stance refers to a kind of decision-making regarding one's character, and it may or may not entail the kind of "authoring" that Vince is describing, which is itself the inherent core and definition of Narrativism.

Simulationism with Author and Director Stances would not, by definition, have Vince's phrase as a priority of play.


Gordon C. Landis

Here's a lesson I'm  . . . developing  . . . from this thread.  When Vince says "But we are quite intentionally Authoring our characters into and through moral and ethical problems that we're interested in in real life, to generate meaning for us as audience," and Ron says it's clear that that is Narrativisim, I realize that while GNS narrows the meaning of "story" (that troublesome word) within N, it also broadens it.  I'm thinking of an analogy like comparing out-there literary works - Joyce, Burroughs and much, much more - with a Tom Clancy novel.  Or a cut-to-the-bones ancient poetic work.  All are, in the braodest sense, literature.  Similarly, Vince's "Authoring our characters into and through moral and ethical problems", just (to grossly characterize his statements) "to see what happens" doesn't sound like a "traditional story", but it would correspond to certain literary forms (that I am too far removed from, and no longer interested in, to identify as other than "things that exist").  BTW - I *am* interested in RPG-play like Vince describes, just not the "literature" I'm drawing the analogy to.  Not sure that means anything, just wanted to be clear.

So  . . . again, a great reminder that the variety of play within each mode is actually very wide.  Despite the narrowing of "story" (to be "only" active Premise-involving) for Narrativism, there are a wide number of ways that that Narrativist Premise-involving "story" can present itself.  To use my (again, Vince may not mean it this way) characterization, the "what" in "just to see what happens" remains a literary goal, not simply an experiential one.  Not "just to see what EVENTS happen" (which might later be recounted as a NOT active Premise-involving "story"), but to creatively pursue "moral and ethical problems that we're interested in in real life" in the course of play.

Going back a good while here, I was mystified how, on the basis of my descriptions (which included - or at least should have included - things like hours-long shopping expeditions and plenty of "that's what my guy would do" decisions), Ron could have identified my Talislanta subman/slavery campaign as "Narrativist".  I can use the insight/analogy I'm (hestitantly) deriving here to explain it - we had a huge, sprawling, multi-volume romance/epic/historical series of novels.  Not neccessarily the most focused or carefully developed piece of literature - occasionally, the author may have lapsed into simply recounting "what happened" on a particular day-in-the-life, and indeed, some literati might sneer at it and not consider it literature at all - but, in the end, a actively-created, Premise-involving "story" none the less.

So  . . . the variety in literature can help us understand the variety in Narrativism.  The variety of games (duh) can help us understand the variety in Gamism.  The variety of . . . modeling techniques? ways to determine/predict "what happens next"? can help us understand the variety in Simulation.

Hope this is on track - I'm going to think it through some more.  As always, my deep appreciation to everyone for sharing their thoughts/insights,

Gordon (under construction)