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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 148 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: "Sophisticated" Styles  (Read 3476 times)
Epoch
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« on: July 23, 2001, 03:00:00 PM »

A while ago, I suggested that I'd try to characterize my own playing style in terms of the GNS.  I don't know if there's interest, but, with Le Jouer (apologies, I think I misspelled that) talking about "sophisticated" play styles in the sense of non-pure-style play, I thought I'd briefly give the description, and everyone can ignore me.  :smile:

Anyhow, I reject any one corner of the GNS as describing me.  Oh, I suppose that you might identify a majority, or at least plurality, style, but using that for identification would be, I think, about as useful as characterizing the geography of the United States as "Mountainous" simply because that's what large swathes of the West are like.

As a player:

I occaisionally dip into immersion (that's the rgfa term, indicating a total dismissal of meta-world goals or concerns), generally for emotionally intense scenes from my character's perspective.  When not immersed, I often swing to the other extreme and go to author or director stance and attempt to engineer plausible, in-world reasons for other characters to have interesting spotlight scenes.  Otherwise, I generally go into a gamist mode and try to move along the plot/solve challenges.

My most memorable moments in playing have been in immersion mode, but I'm not interested in attaining it full-time.  It doesn't interest me when my character isn't engaged in a difficult decision of some kind.

I do have narrativist impulses, but usually they happen at design time or between sessions, and are fairly gross-scale.  That's not to say that they aren't important -- just that I don't want to be thinking about them full-time in-play.

So, to sum up:  The point of playing, for me, is to have intense, immersive experiences.  However, I prefer for them to happen in matters relating to the premise of the game, and, when not involved in immersive experiences, I use techniques that are often used by narrativists and gamists to push the game forward along the route of exploring its premise, or, in the absense of a clearly defined premise, simply what I think are its most interesting aspects.

When I GM:

I essentially do all of that with the primary goal of giving PC's spotlight time in matters which relate to premise.  I'm a very not-simulationist GM, despite having a very highly developed concern for the game world's plausibility, in that I'm more than willing to add lots of meta-game-ness to my decisions.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2001, 03:16:00 PM »

Mike,

You're really gonna hate this, I think ....

But that was textbook Narrativism.

I've described somewhere 'round here that story-making priorities (Narrativism; note I said "priority") are often handled at the gut level, not at all at the verbal level, even internally. Narrativist play is not defined by "thinking about the story all the time," but by playing in a way that indicates its quality as the priority.

I've also mentioned MANY times that stance changes quickly and easily during all kinds of play, so that identifying Author stance with Narrativist play, for instance, can only be a high-percentage kind of comment and not definitive. What you describe as your characteristic immersive moments are exactly the same as mine - when a scene arrives in which the character's emotional commitment would be triggered, I trust myself to play it without much deliberation, and it's only then that I begin using the character's speech patterns and start using hand movements and sound effects in favor of action descriptions.

This may be the all-time offensive "pigeonhole" post, but you ain't described nothin' but what's been called Narrativism.

Best,
Ron
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Epoch
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2001, 04:42:00 PM »

Nah, not offensive.  I was kinda expecting responses like that, actually.

Here's what I see as the differences:

1.  The primary goal is immersion, albeit limited immersion.  Because immersion can and does run roughshod over any premise, any shared protagonism, any genre conventions, it being a primary goal does seem to run counter to narrativist play.

That is, I'm sure that many or all Narrativists have experienced, at one point or another, a sense of being swept up in their character and have suspended all of their ordinary techniques and just gone with the flow.  But if the point of play is to be in a state which ignores premise, shared protagonism, and genre conventions, then either it's not Narrativism, or I'm fundamentally misunderstanding Narrativism (which is, of course, possible).

2.  Note that something which didn't come up in the above description was "story."  As a player, I don't really concern myself with a story.  I do concern myself, to a point, with premise (I've only recently decided that the term has value, so I haven't consciously thought of it that way before), but not with any of the other things which seperate stories from real life.  No narrative flow, no build towards a climax, none of that.  My use of non-Actor stances is not to build a coherent whole of a story, but to set up interesting, tense situations for individual characters.

I'm much more traditionally Narrativist as a GM, because I don't generally immerse myself in NPC's, and I do have a much larger concern with story flow (it's what I use to substitute for immersion).  I think, there, that most of the way I differ from the Narrativist ideal is in intentionally not offering the players all that much directorial control on a large scale, and perhaps pushing less for protagonism than I otherwise would (I essentially try to set up worlds in which the players can find areas for their PC's to be important and interesting in, and then regard it as the responsibility of the players to take advantage of the opportunities).
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2001, 06:02:00 AM »

Hi Mike,

Well, you're doing the hopscotch game now. When I jump right, you jump left. When I move to the left, you jump right.

I stand by my assessment of your original post. The second post introduced the concept of "priority" - and if this were the case for your immersive play, then yes, that wouldn't be a Narrativist behavior. But now we have your first post, in which your immersion is occasional, and then your second, in which it is the priority.

Say I were to fall into the trap and desperately attempt to synthesize the two posts, and then try to respond to that. Then, I imagine, you'd jump elsewhere, and I'd turn around like a faked basketball player and try to catch up again.

Nope, I won't do it. The tactic is a ploy of argumentation and not in itself an argument. I'm done with this thread now.

Best,
Ron
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James Holloway
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2001, 06:45:00 AM »

Sorry, Ron, but you're off base there.

You said: But now we have your first post, in which your immersion is occasional, and then your second, in which it is the priority.

But in his first post Epoch said: So, to sum up: The point of playing, for me, is to have intense, immersive experiences.

Sounds like a priority to me, no?

Now, this is confusing because he describes immersion as "occasional" in the same post, but I don't think that it's a ploy of argumentation and not in itself an argument.
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Mytholder
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2001, 07:18:00 AM »

My personal, heretic belief (which I suspect Epoch might agree with, 'cos he has a tendency to read my mind) is that GNS can be used as a stylistic roadmap where a player or GM can *consciously* attempt to move towards a different style of play. I know I'm deliberately emphasising simulationism more in my current BP game (although I suspect I'll have to up the gamist portion slightly), and I'm working on a Narrativist rpg. If it weren't for GNS, I'm not sure if I'd be able to know which elements to emphasise and which to neglect to evoke a particular style of play....
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Epoch
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2001, 08:43:00 AM »

As James said, I did try to emphasize the priority of the immersion in my first post, both with the passage that he quoted and by pointing out that my "most memorable" experiences had been immersives.  I should, perhaps, have phrased that better and said that they were my best experiences.

It is occaisional.  I'm not what the rgfa folks would describe as simply an "immersive player."  It's like...  I dunno.  Eating a Death By Chocolate kind of dessert.  You might think that Death By Chocolate is your all-time favorite food, but you wouldn't want to eat it three meals a day, right?

That might be a somewhat bad analogy, because it doesn't touch on the aspect of setting up the situations in which I want to attain immersion.

I'm certainly not denying that there are definite Narrativist influences in how I play.  And, as I think I said in my original post, if we were to simply identify the majority or plurality style of play, we might come up with "Narrativist" -- but I think that that's an oversimplification, and, worse, an unintentionally deceptive oversimplification.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2001, 10:06:00 AM »

I have taken the matter to private communication.

Publicly, I'll state that this matter is a lot like martial arts. A person can say and say and say what they're like or would do, but the real issue is how they fight. It is an insider axiom that a person goes on about honor and the peaceful way and all that, should set off alarm-bells of extreme caution. Once you're down to it, they're always windmilling full-power punches at your head.

So maybe the real issue here is that we're not getting anywhere productive, regarding "where a person falls in GNS," merely by TALKING about it.

Best,
Ron
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