*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
September 20, 2014, 04:00:30 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 61 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: GNS Decisions, I think I'm starting to get it enough to talk  (Read 3461 times)
Jake Norwood
Member

Posts: 2261


WWW
« on: July 22, 2002, 09:07:45 PM »

The way I see it, GNS is primarily about decisions, and only by extension about games, players, or whatever.

So here's a definition in a nutshell:

Gamist decision: What will this decision bring my character as a reward?
Simulationist decision: What would my character do?
Narrativist decision: What would my character do that will advance or improve the story/exploration of premise?

This feels like a flash of light on this one. I thought about posting this in the GNS definition thread, but felt that it would hijack things, so I made a new one.

Discuss.

Jake
Logged

"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
___________________
www.theriddleofsteel.NET
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2002, 04:42:56 AM »

By george I think he's got it...

Heh.  Seriously, the moment I realized (on a deeper level than having heard it mentioned but not picked up on it) that GNS was about decisions on the atomic level it all began to make much more sense.  All of the arguements (well most anyway) about what simulationist players do, or how gamists act which went around and around for months become moot once the discussion gets moved down to the atomic level.

Of course, Ron was then quick to point out that actual isolated atomic level instances of decision can be hard to identify in actual play and so he'll refer to "instances of play" as being a period of actual play long enough to actually be able to recognize a decision.  But I think that works best when seen as a concession to practicality rather than an actual part of the definition itself.
Logged

Paganini
Member

Posts: 1049


WWW
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2002, 05:03:15 AM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood

So here's a definition in a nutshell:


I think you've mostly got it, Jake, but your examples seem a bit narrow. Let me explain:

Quote

Gamist decision: What will this decision bring my character as a reward?


I think that it would be closer to Ron's essay to say "Will this decision bring me closer to my goal(s) as a player?" Character rewards are often part of this goal (getting better weapons, armor, contacts, babes, etc.) but they can be other things as well, depending on how the resource model of the game is set up.

Quote

Simulationist decision: What would my character do?


IMO, this is exactly what Simulation with Exploration of Character is about. But there other kinds of Simulation. The question "what would...?" is characteristic of Simulationist play, but it doesn't always involve characters. I've seen, for example, questions like: "can the messenger bird get there in time to avert the war?" The information desired isn't about what the characters would do, but about the physical characteristics of the bird and the environment. This would be Exploration of Situation. And then, of course, there's Exploration of Setting. "How would it effect the local economy if we burned down the forest?"

Quote

Narrativist decision: What would my character do that will advance or improve the story/exploration of premise?


I like to say "address the premise." It's not much different from what you've got here, just my preference, but it seems to be nice and clear. (I got it from Mike and JB - In Synthesis there are special conflicts that "address the game's premise." :)
Logged

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2002, 05:45:16 AM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood

Gamist decision: What will this decision bring my character as a reward?
Simulationist decision: What would my character do?
Narrativist decision: What would my character do that will advance or improve the story/exploration of premise?

How about a few modifications for clarity:

Gamist decision: What will this decision bring me as a reward?
Narrativist decision: What will advance or improve the story/exploration of premise, and why would my character do that?

Gamist - to clarify, all players are looking for some player reward. Gamists just skip a few steps in getting their rewards. Or rather, they usually do not care if the character is rewarded or not, particularly. Its just that most games reward he player by empowering the character. But that's coincidental. Any reward that the character gets is only considered in terms of how much the player likes it. A simulationist would be glad that his character who has been trying to kill a dragon did so, because he has made the character act in a reasonable manner, and that is the simulationists reward. The Gamist player would be glad because he had won the battle, and now his character was richer, and more powerful than previously, making the player more effective in play.

Narrativist - story created through addressing premise comes first. Once the decision is made, then you figure out why the character would make that decision. The Narrativists reward is the good story that he participates in creating.

The similarity pointed out in both Narrativism and Gamism is that in both cases, we do not care about the character's goals or desires primarily. We are concerned with our own more immediate concerns. To the extent that the Gamist or Narrativist goes back and assigns character motives to the decisions, they are simply trying to secondarily prioritize in-game simulation of the character. This happens at least a little in all games, the question is how thin is the effort. In many Gamist games (though not all) the effort is so thin as to be almost non-existent. All monsters are bad, therefore we kill all monsters. That covers a lot in some Gamist games. Narrativist games require a lot more effort, as a story, no matter how good, is improved by internal consistency and character motivations. So you have to have a good reason post facto for why the character did what they did. You just don't make that the first consideration in Narrativism.

This leads us to an analogy about the difference between Simulationism and Narrativism. In movies, you'll often see something happen that you think, gee, that's a tad unlikely. But you buy into it because it makes for a good story. That's like Narrativism. Not to say that Narrativism has to be unbelievable, just that you as the player are prioritizing like the director in the previous example. You are putting the story first, and everything else second. If you are lucky or good the secondarily assigned motive will fit so well, that you'll never have any cognative dissonace.

This leads to another important point. In lots of cases, the same decision will occur using different first priorities. So, if I have a character who likes to kill dragons, and there is a dragon, and it would be cool to kill the dragon, story-wise (the premise has to do with the dragon), then it's likely that all three decision making processes, G, N, and S, will all come up with the same decision: kill the dragon. Knowing whether the decision was made because, killing the dragon will make me a more effectrive player or satisfy my urge to strive against the game, or whether killing the dragon is what the character would do in such a situation which satisfies my urge to acurately portray the character, or whether killing the dragon addresses the premise in question thus satisfying my need to participate in creating a good story; knowing which it is may not be possible. The player may not even be aware which he prioritized highest. OTOH, occasionally, the player will know. But externally it will likley be impossible (unless the player is jumping up and down and exclaiming "I portrayed my character well, woo-hoo!"; doesn't happen often).

Only in certain situations where the decisions possible will provide disparate rewards will you be able to tell from the outside which is which. In certain circumstances, killing the dragon will be something that is not amongst the character's likely motivations, which means that it's likely a Gamist decision, or, less likley, a Narrativist one. This is how you tell from an outside vantage which mode was chosen as the decision making method. And this may not even work, as you may simply disagree with the player over some undiscussed fact. Perhaps the character does have a motive, and you are just unaware of it, making it a perfectly valid Sim decision (though not a Nar one, those should be known to all).

This is why Ron points out that it's usually only over a number of decisions that the trends tend to come out. Complicated by the observation that few players tend to make decisions soley in one mode. Once in a while you'll see the Gamist player, often faced with two equally powerful options, choose the one that makes more sense for the character's motives. This seems like a Sim decision, but the player in this case simply shifted because his preferred mode gave him more than one option. And some players shift for no apparent reason whatsoever. Therefore, the process of determining mode becomes even more treacherous.

The best use for GNS is in asking players about their preferences. This is dangerous, however, because of all the shorthand that people use in conversation. Thus people will say story, and it will mean different things to different people. Lots of players say they are Narrativists, but have no idea what a narrativist premise looks like, and really just want to respond the the GMs story. Making them Simulationists (by habit, at least).

That "by habit" thing should be mentioned (was that Jesse's term?). Most players play in the mode they do, simply because they have been taught to play that way. A lot of what Narrativists advocate, for example, is considered cheating in other modes of play. Thus many players don't play Narrativist because they've been told that it's wrong to do so (usually in games that claim that Simulationism is the sumum bonum).

Lastly, what do you do with this knowledge? What would you do, Jake? I and many others use it to narrow our designs so that they appeal to particular types of players more. Then there's Fang who wants to make a game that can satisfy more than one mode by changing mechanics as the player's needs change. What we all agree on is that particular mechanics support particular modes of play. And that, as such, by creating a game with particular mechanics that you will tend to have players play it that way, more often than not.

Note that one can certainly disagree on what mode a particular set of mechanics (looking at one in a vaccum is usually useless; you have to consider the rules as a whole to see what they'll support in play) will support. For example, I see TROS as supporting Simulationism (specifically Exploration of system and character). Ron sees it as suporting Narrativism (the line between Exp. of Char and Narr has long been seen as very fine). We each would claim that the other is drifting the game to our needs. Drifting refers to playing the game in a mode not supported as well as some other mode. (Note that this is what I like about TROS, it straddles the line so well that it works for either mode fairly well; try playing Gamist tho ;-)  ).

Anyhow, I don't know why I felt the need to go on like that. Does any of that seem useful Jake?

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2002, 07:04:00 AM »

Hi guys,

While all the clarifications have been useful, I gotta say I'm gonig to be carrying around Jake's breakdown in the first post in my back pocket from now on.  Any time this subject comes up, that's what I'm handing out.

Thanks Jake.

Christopher
Logged

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2002, 07:13:53 AM »

Hi there,

I'd very much like to repeat what I've said all along: I perceive TROS as a primarily-Narrativist game that uses very focused Simulationist design as a hybrid, subordinate support-mechanism. It really isn't a matter of either it's a Narrativist game or a Simulationist one, and I wish people wouldn't quote me as saying so, especially relative to this game.

Mike, you've said lots & lots of good stuff, but a couple of things in your post are going to be problematic for people. One of them is that you kinda bounce around between game design and player behavior, which are two very different things; another is that you're over-generalizing regarding, say, "the Gamist decision would be ...." and similar.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Jake Norwood
Member

Posts: 2261


WWW
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2002, 08:17:13 AM »

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
Hi guys,

While all the clarifications have been useful, I gotta say I'm gonig to be carrying around Jake's breakdown in the first post in my back pocket from now on.  Any time this subject comes up, that's what I'm handing out.

Thanks Jake.

Christopher


That's the pat on the head my inner gamist was looking for!

;-)

Actually, I came up with this trying to explain GNS to someone who cared last night, and I suddenly kinda got it, and to a degree, so did they. I was so excited that I found a shorthand for it that I had to post to see if it was right. Of course it's not a flawless all-encompassing definiton, but it does convey the idea, more or less.

Jake
Logged

"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
___________________
www.theriddleofsteel.NET
Blake Hutchins
Member

Posts: 614


« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2002, 09:30:39 AM »

I also like the way Jake's broken it down, with some of Nathan's tweaks.  Scooby-snacks for everyone.

Best,

Blake
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2002, 10:34:47 AM »

Hello,

My concern with Jake's breakdown is not with the individual content of his phrases, but rather with their overall focus.

I'd suggest saying, "OK, fair, but let's look beyond just 'how I play my character.'" I'd take it to things like how we treat one another as people, as well as to agreements regarding Drifting the rules of a particular game we're playing. [The former refers to going "up" in scale, to pure Social Contract; the latter refers to going "down" in scale, to detailed application of the mode of play.]

I cannot over-stress that my take on role-playing theory is a layered one, or better, a boxes-in-boxes one. The biggest box is non-imaginary: a bunch of humans spending time together, with all manner of social ties being strained or strengthened through that interaction. The next box in is Exploration: the effort and enjoyment associated with imagining things as a group, mediated through dialogue. To clarify, not all Social Interaction is Exploration, but Exploration is a kind of Social Interaction.

GNS is the next box in, or rather, a set of three boxes within the Exploration box. As I've stated many times, hybrids exist, so let's not get all hung up about the "divisiveness" among the three boxes. The key point is that Exploration must include at least one of the three boxes within it, or else it is individual daydreaming and not role-playing at all.

Once within a GNS box, or some combination of them, the inmost boxes concern the specific and identifiable behaviors of "how we play," as codified by the rules of the game, or more specifically, how that group makes use of the rules of the game.

I strongly urge everyone to consider that influences, dependencies, and causalities occur both out-to-in as well as in-to-out. Understanding both directions is a big deal; that is the essence of System Does Matter as a concept.

Jake has focused on a specific element of play - the decisions made by the character. Put very simplistically, his Gamist is the most "player" oriented, his Simulationist is the most "character" oriented, and his Narrativist represents a necessary compromise between player-agenda and character-concept. Again, fine and good. I think, though, that the key issue of decision-making that he has articulated needs to be considered throughout the levels, because it's going to reverberate outwards into the Social Contract realm and inwards into the rules-we-abide-by realm.

Arguably, the failure to recognize the GNS level (as well as the near-hysterical insistence, by some, that it does not exist) is why so many people struggle to reconcile the Social Contract with The Game Rules, and why they so consistently fail.

Best,
Ron

P.S. To claim the credit: in the first paragraphs of the GNS section of my essay, I define the three modes as: These terms, or modes, describe three distinct types of people’s decisions and goals during play. (emphasis added)
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!