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Author Topic: A Gamist game to teach Narativist gaming  (Read 9903 times)
stefoid
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« on: January 26, 2010, 08:11:28 PM »

before I start: "because I dont have enough time, and I seek to actually learn by playing such a game rather than writing it" is the answer to the obvious question.

Having looked through the rules to In a Wicked Age, the way it is structured is a bit gamey.  Its purpose is to create interesting narrative, but it got me to thinking about pushing that to the extreme, not so much as a RPG game in itself, but as a learning aid for developing skills of Narrative style of role playing.

Does that make sense?  Some kind of ruleset that is very gamist, that reinforces narrative skills directly via a reward scheme.  As an example, lets say each player takes on the  role of a GM who is roleplaying some cliched genre.  So player A is playing at playing a D&D GM, whilst player B is playing at playing a Horror Mystery GM, etc...  And its like: dueling GMs - which game is going to be the best?   So each player takes a turn at doing a scene from 'their game', and they get 'points' for whatever is considered 'good narrative play'.. I dont know, like introducing an interesting conflict between characters or something...   And after 5 rounds, you count up the points and declare a winner.

Maybe other players could chip in whilst a player was relating a scene and somehow generate points when it wasnt their turn, but in a gamist way, like they spend a point they already have and  interject as a stereotypical  anti-narrative player to disrupt/derail the narrative, and if the GM cant negotiate a suitable way out of their interjection, they get double points back, but if the GM does navigate the bad situation suitably, then they get the point...    this is just random examples - the point is its a game where players compete and get rewarded for applying narrative skills.
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The Engine
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2010, 08:21:53 PM »

The hard thing about implementing this would be deciding what is "good narrativist play".
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stefoid
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2010, 08:37:16 PM »

The hard thing about implementing this would be deciding what is "good narrativist play".

Yeah, you need to come up with a list of such, describing how and when to use them, and possibly a scoring system if you judge some to be harder to apply than others.

Then you need to come up with (if we use my original example)  an equally useful (as a learning aid) list of anti-narrative stuff that players can use to fuck with the current GMs game.  All in good fun of course.   

But its gamey, so people arent so so prone to stage-fright.  Like "the players go through the dungeon, dodging traps and looting the corpses of some monsters unlucky enough to cross their path...  Now Im going to try technique X...<insert relation of attempted narrative tactic X here>"  and then the other players can vote on whether she pulls it off and the player gets points. 

And equally gamey, an opposing player says "Oh yeah, well Im spending 3 points on your Dwarf player saying <insert common anti-narrative tactic Y> what are you going to do about THAT?!?!"   

etc...

Dont ask me what the lists are, however.  Sad
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2010, 11:59:36 PM »

I would swear your trying to teach going through the motions of narrativist techniques without someone actually having a desire for any of the elements narrativism revolves around? I mean, your talking about emulating players fucking with the GM's game (not to mention refering to it as the GM's game) - it sounds like your talking about people who don't give a rats arse about what nar revolves around.

I mean, grab a scene from a soap opera - man and woman who have partners get caught in romantic situation, but are almost drawn to kiss - what do either do??

If someones dead inside in terms of interest for this sort of situation/any aspect of it, it doesn't matter if they learn the motions of narrativism.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Simon C
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2010, 12:12:51 AM »

Creative agendas are what the players care about at the table - what play is rewarding.

Creative agendas are not techniques, like what the players do at the table.

There's a complex relationship between the two, but you can't "teach" a group of people to collectively appreciate certain aspects of a game by teaching them a group of techniques.
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stefoid
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2010, 01:39:16 AM »

I would swear your trying to teach going through the motions of narrativist techniques without someone actually having a desire for any of the elements narrativism revolves around? I mean, your talking about emulating players fucking with the GM's game (not to mention refering to it as the GM's game) - it sounds like your talking about people who don't give a rats arse about what nar revolves around.

I mean, grab a scene from a soap opera - man and woman who have partners get caught in romantic situation, but are almost drawn to kiss - what do either do??

If someones dead inside in terms of interest for this sort of situation/any aspect of it, it doesn't matter if they learn the motions of narrativism.


Its a learning aid, structured as a beer and pretzels game.   

Im not sure how I came off sounding like it was something more than that.  Presumably, if someone wants to play this game, its because they have a desire to learn how to run a narrativist game but dont know how.
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stefoid
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2010, 01:44:30 AM »

Creative agendas are what the players care about at the table - what play is rewarding.

Creative agendas are not techniques, like what the players do at the table.

There's a complex relationship between the two, but you can't "teach" a group of people to collectively appreciate certain aspects of a game by teaching them a group of techniques.


Can you clarify that, perhaps with concrete examples?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2010, 03:26:08 PM »

I think Simon said it really well. The way narativism has been defined at the forge is that it revolves around the desire + techniques (or even just the desire by itself). That's the concrete example - if you want to refer to someone elses word as they have defined it, well then you follow how they defined it of course (or your not doing what you set out to do). The forges definition of narativism is about desire + techniques, not just techniques sans any desire. Your not following the forges definition - your game would not be teaching how to run a narrativist game. It'd be teaching a bunch of techniques without reference as to why you'd ever want to learn them and which also happen to be used in narrativist games.

Of course if you want to make your own definition for the word 'narativism', heck, it's not a word owned by the forge or anyone, to my knowledge! But if your making your own definition I think it'd be really confusing and disruptive not to indicate your using your own defintion in using the word.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Simon C
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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2010, 03:51:21 PM »

Concrete Examples:

Something happens in a game: Let's say, a hero and his sidekick defeat a powerful monster.

Why do we care about this? Why were we invested in the outcome? Critically, what choices did we make to get to that event, and how did we decide if they were good or bad choices?

Do we care because the monster was powerful, and defeating the monster took pluck, skill, and luck? Do we care because this event confirms or overturns what we knew about the characters, the setting, or something else? Do we care because overcoming the monster was vital to the Hero's relationship to the sidekick? These are kind of charicatures of creative agendas, but they illustrate the point.  Creative agenda is what play is for.  That's not to say that you can't appreciate other things in the game, but those other things are in service to a larger goal - the creative agenda.

Now techniques:

A common technique in games that support Story Now play is shared narration.  Shared narration is where players get to describe the actions of their characters, and the outcomes of those actions.  It's useful to Story Now play because it lets players express things about their character that might be missed otherwise.  It also lets players introduce complications for other characters, and get at the core issues of the characters in the game.  That's not to say that all games that support Story Now use this technique, or that all games that use this technique support Story Now, they're just commonly associated.

So if we imagine a game that's played with a Step on Up agenda.  We're appreciating people displaying skill, bravado, mastery of rules, and so on.  In this game, there is shared narration.  But we're using that technique in service of our agenda - we're using it to display skill, etc.  (Shared Narration isn't a very useful technique for Step on Up play, so this would be problematic in play).

Does this make sense to you?

I suspect that Creative Agenda might not be an especially useful thing to think about for you at the moment.  Why are you interested in Story Now play? Why do you want to "learn" it? If you're interested in trying new styles of play, I suggest finding a game that's really exciting to you, and playing it.  Find people who are also excited by it, and play it with them.  The important thing to creative agenda is not the techniques that you use, but the reason you're playing the game.  Find out what excites you about the game, and play to that. 
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stefoid
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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2010, 04:05:04 PM »

Concrete Examples:

Something happens in a game: Let's say, a hero and his sidekick defeat a powerful monster.

Why do we care about this? Why were we invested in the outcome? Critically, what choices did we make to get to that event, and how did we decide if they were good or bad choices?

Do we care because the monster was powerful, and defeating the monster took pluck, skill, and luck? Do we care because this event confirms or overturns what we knew about the characters, the setting, or something else? Do we care because overcoming the monster was vital to the Hero's relationship to the sidekick? These are kind of charicatures of creative agendas, but they illustrate the point.  Creative agenda is what play is for.  That's not to say that you can't appreciate other things in the game, but those other things are in service to a larger goal - the creative agenda.

Now techniques:

A common technique in games that support Story Now play is shared narration.  Shared narration is where players get to describe the actions of their characters, and the outcomes of those actions.  It's useful to Story Now play because it lets players express things about their character that might be missed otherwise.  It also lets players introduce complications for other characters, and get at the core issues of the characters in the game.  That's not to say that all games that support Story Now use this technique, or that all games that use this technique support Story Now, they're just commonly associated.

So if we imagine a game that's played with a Step on Up agenda.  We're appreciating people displaying skill, bravado, mastery of rules, and so on.  In this game, there is shared narration.  But we're using that technique in service of our agenda - we're using it to display skill, etc.  (Shared Narration isn't a very useful technique for Step on Up play, so this would be problematic in play).

Does this make sense to you?

Right, so replace the word technique with whatever you want  agenda if you like, or maybe we have different types of cards like some agenda cards, some BANG cards, or whatever...  does that help at all?
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stefoid
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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2010, 04:10:31 PM »

I suspect that Creative Agenda might not be an especially useful thing to think about for you at the moment.  Why are you interested in Story Now play? Why do you want to "learn" it? If you're interested in trying new styles of play, I suggest finding a game that's really exciting to you, and playing it.  Find people who are also excited by it, and play it with them.  The important thing to creative agenda is not the techniques that you use, but the reason you're playing the game.  Find out what excites you about the game, and play to that. 

Yeah, well the above isnt as easy as it sounds for a bunch of 30/40 somethigns with small children and limited time etc, etc...

Playing a new style of game is a big investment people like that (in time and effort).  And it can also be somewhat threatening to play a narrative style game, especially if you have to contact a new group to do it, etc.. etc..    so what im proposing is a low investment, low threat introduction/learning aid.   

So thats the challenge - rather than pick apart my half-baked example, come up with something that could actually fly as a gamey-game in its own right.  Designing games is fun right?  Maybe we could do it collaboratively in this forum?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2010, 05:12:36 PM »

Hiya,

If I'm reading you correctly, then we're best served here by abandoning your use of the Gamist terminology. It simply doesn't fit. We're talking about Narrativist play with a strong focus on easily-learned, easily-applied, and above all inspiring features. Even if it has a board with spaces to move around onto, little pawn-looking game pieces, and colored tokens, if it unequivocally facilitates Narrativist play, then that's what it is.

And as it happens, that's easy: you're looking for Zombie Cinema. You can read about it in the Actual Play forum by running a search for it, and if you have any questions at all, Eero will be happy to help you in the Arkenstone forum.

Best, Ron
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stefoid
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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2010, 10:35:24 PM »

Ill have a look at that shortly, but the main thing is that the agenda for this game is not to produce a narrativist style of roleplaying.   i.e. it is not a roleplaying game itself per se.  It is a gamist card game where the objective is to win the game and for the other players to lose.

The agenda of the game is to teach the players skills that they will find useful in narrative roleplaying, by way of playing the game.

An analogy - there are plently of games out there for kids where the aim is to teach the kids math.  the agenda for the game isnt to add up a set of numbers, its to teach the kids, in a fun way, HOW to add up numbers.

The caveats are: 

1) Im not sure which/what skills Im talking about.  I figure the forge is can help here
2) You may say, at first blush, that this is a crazy impossible taks and the best way to learn is by actually doing, not playing some stupid game.  Well, I ask you to have a think about if thats actually true before jumping to that conclusion.

cheers
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2010, 06:50:31 AM »

Hiya,

Can you provide a very descriptive explanation of what you mean by "narrative role-playing?" This thread is utterly unsuccessful so far because no one, including me, can understand this phrase.

I'll jump-start, to help you. Bob, Suzy, Ned, and you are role-playing. Suzy's character is a half-elven archer-bard. The setting is a broad and colorful fantasy saga, and right now, the characters are in a dark canyon with gleaming veins of silver in teh canyon walls. The canyon is haunted by the ghosts of war victims killed centuries ago, who possess the otherwise-innocuous primitive lizard people.

Suzy's character kills a possessed lizard man who had leaped at her, by shooting him with an arrow.

How did this happen in play, as you see it, if it were conducted through highly successful and fun "narrative role-playing?"

Best, Ron
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stefoid
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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2010, 02:39:17 PM »

The silver is valuable = greed
The lizard people are dangerous when posessed = self protection
the lizard people are posessed, not intrinsically malevalent = guilt

probably a couple of important decisions have been made leading to the result you have described.

Do you keep investigating the canyon?  greed vs protection
If so, are you willing to kill the lizard people to stay there?  greed + self protections vs guilt
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