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Are Narrativism and Gamism really Mutually Exclusive?

Started by Ayyavazi, July 01, 2009, 04:38:00 PM

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Hello again all,

My question is the the topic, but first I'd like to give an idea of my understanding of the terms.

When I think Gamism, I think competition, not necessarily amongst the players and the GM, but at least against something, even if it is just an attempt to use resources to reach some goal, and the success is the win, and everyone is somehow co-perating toward that end. Effectively, I see gamism as your wits vs. something, with definitive winners.

I see narrativism as an attempt by everyone to craft an interesting story that addresses some concept.

As is, I recently read through Capes, and though the text is obviously gamist, it also as a system seems to support naarativist and gamist play at the same time, which sounds like a hybrid (if I understand that term properly).

But I can understand how the two could be seen as mutually exclusive. If narrativism is defined as requiring cooperation amongst he players to create a story all are equally invested in, then by definition it must be contrary to gamism, which requires contests and conflicts somewhere.

Which is the proper view of narrativism, or am I completely wrong?

Thanks again,

Ron Edwards

Hi Norm,

The only way to address this question is for you to post about a play-experience in the Actual Play forum. It could be what you see as Narrativist, or as Gamist, or as both, or anything remotely related. We can really dig into it and not lose track of what anyone means by any term or point. Such a discussion can be incredibly useful, so I hope you do it.

Best, Ron


Thanks for the idea Ron, but I have a fundamental problem with that.

I don't have any relevant game experience to the problem. Sure, I've played RPGs for years, but I haven't been involved in a game for at least six months (with the exception of one ninja burger session), and don't consider any of it relevant to what I am asking. Examining games from this perspective only happened to me after I hit my lull in my game sessions.

And, I since I am pretty sure we could easily get into a discussion about the topic at hand without an actual play experience (which I don't have and don't agree with the value of fabricating), I don't understand why it can't just be handled here as is. I get that you don't want theory discussions to spiral into uselessness. If you still want an actual play example after this rationale, I'll assume the basic play example written in the Capes book and work from there.

But the point I am trying to make is that all of my play experiences are so muddied in my own head that dredging up the memories and trying to make them fit into the molds they need to to work for the discussion seems like more effort on my part than it would take for someone else to have simply answered the question and gotten the dialog going in the first place. Especially since even with a play example, the discussion would end up all theory with few examples interspersed anyway. Plus, those examples would flow naturally regardless of whether a play experience was initially introduced or not.

But let me know. If necessary, I will acquiesce for no better reason than that there is no other equivalent place to discuss the issue, and no acceptable medium here other than what you approve.

Cheers, and no offense meant,
P.S isn't it odd that whenever someone says no offense, it normally means there is a likely reasonable source of offense? I do honestly mean no offense, but it strikes me that what I mean and what may result can be two very different things.

Ron Edwards

Hi Norm,

That's a good point about "no offense" and I take your literal meaning. I try to avoid using the phrase myself except sarcastically, to close friends only, for exactly that reason. The one which really gets up my nose though, again for the same sort of reason, is when someone starts a sentence with the phrase, "To be honest ..." I mean, what the fuck is that? A claim that every other sentence the person says is a scam? That they're doing me a favor this one time because they're not going to lie?

Anyway, the reason for the actual play experience is simple and I think you'll find it easier and more useful than you anticipate. You don't have to narrate a long and involved complicated account. All I need are:

When you played
What game was it, and whether it was a long-lasting thing or just visiting the system once
Who was there, more-or-less
Very basically what happened ("we fought goblins")
Whether you liked it and more-or-less why

Maybe 100-200 words. That should be plenty to address the issues you talked about, if there was even the tiniest hint of Gamism and/or Narrativism in the way you guys played. (The textual Capes example is not suitable.)

Please trust me on this because I have been moderating discussion at the Forge since I co-founded it, and this is the only way for the discourse to get anywhere meaningful. It's not about evidence or proof or anything like that. It's only about clarity.

Best, Ron