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Author Topic: GNS and its origins from the Threefold Model  (Read 6041 times)
MK Snyder
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Posts: 116


« on: November 03, 2002, 05:04:21 PM »

As a newbie, I found this discussion of The Threefold Theory very useful, especially with regard tot he symmetry problem.

Am I correct in assuming that the GNS model derives from these discussions?
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2002, 06:55:39 PM »

Quote from: MK Snyder

Am I correct in assuming that the GNS model derives from these discussions?

In a word, no; or at least, not quite.

There's a lot of history behind the model. It draws on discussions on Usenet, the work of Woo and others, and found an expression in an article by Ron Edwards originally posted on Gaming Outpost (it is no longer there, apparently lost in a database error, but is I believe preserved here--although at this moment I can't remember its title). There were extensive discussions there. It was then brought here, where discussion continued, and I believe the commonly cited article (the more comprehensive one to which people are usually referred) was written, again by Mr. Edwards.

--M. J. Young
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MK Snyder
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Posts: 116


« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2002, 08:04:30 PM »

OK, let me try this question again:

Who came up with the "threefold model" first?
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2002, 06:37:56 AM »

The two models are seperate.  The threefold model on use.net came first.  Ron was aware of and influenced by those discussions, but GNS is not an evolution of or a refutation of the threefold.  They are 2 seperate models.

They resemble each other superficially in much of the terminology that is used but as they were designed with very different goals in mind underneath they are quite different.

It would be a mistake to attempt to use the logic and arguements of one to discuss the other.  While the two models are not completely mutually exclusive they both start from very different premii.  Familiarity with both is to be encouraged but you'll confuse yourself greatly if you attempt to merge the two together.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2002, 07:47:11 AM »

Hi there,

Now is as good a time as any to resurrect some history that a lot of Forge folks know, but a lot don't.

1) I was not a participant in the amazing Usenet discussions that generated both the Threefold Model and the Stance concept. I first learned about them around 1996 or so from a friend who followed them closely, and I read up on the material at the time.

2) Throughout my history with role-playing, I've collected and catalogued any discussion of "how to play," comparing and looking for consistencies and contradictions. Frustrated by what I considered (and still consider) to be the clouding and destructive effect of the early-90s "roll vs. role" debate, I decided to take the best discussion I'd found of goals-in-play (the Threefold) and compare it with the best discussion of resolution techniques (Jonathan Tweet's text in Everway), and present my conclusions about that comparison.

This short essay was called "System Does Matter," first posted at the Gaming Outpost in early 1999. (Its original intended venue was a Game Publishers Association newsletter that was never published, by the way.)

One detail about this essay was that one of the Threefold terms, Dramatism, was redundant with one of Tweet's terms, Drama. Since they clearly were two different things (goal vs. technique), and since Tweet's publication predated the Usenet discussion, I simply renamed Dramatism with the term Narrativism, with no intended change to the term's content. This reliance on precedence and referencing is standard academic practice, by the way.

3) So ... time goes by. Much blood is shed on GO and elsewhere, and I was astounded to discover that the very notion of a diversity of goals in role-playing is anathema to many people. I was also surprised (but not astounded) by the number of people who contacted me or interacted on the forums with what appeared to be sincere gratitude.

One thing became very clear - my reading of the Threefold was highly projective; they were saying a few things (or rather, operating within a context) that didn't match my perceptions and ideas at all. People started to suggest that "GNS" was an independent theory, and their arguments were making sense.

4) The best attempt to summarize the "state of the art" was written by Hunter Logan, whose "FAQ" here at the Forge tried to put all of this into a context that a new reader could understand. Unfortunately, it met with savage rejection, especially from Usenet regulars.

The biggest issues concerned my take on the term "story" and my insistence that system played a strong role, in a feedback sense, regarding achieving goals of play. Both of these issues showed up very strongly in my interpretation of Simulationism, and what amounted to a "disappearance" or deconstructive-elimination of Dramatism. I also considered the Usenet discussion of Stance differently and invented Director Stance.

Also, the best input that overturned several of my assumptions and also clarified just how my thinking differed from the Threefold came from a poster called the Scarlet Jester, who offered the term "Exploration" instead of Simulationism. This input was percolating into my thoughts just as the debates about the FAQ began, which basically meant that those debates were obsolete (in my mind) even as they raged.

(Hunter Logan's FAQ is not available at the Forge any more by his request. I would prefer that it was available for reference reasons and because it contained some excellent explanations, but that's not my choice.)

5) It became clear to me that there was no point in reconciling the Threefold with GNS, as I was offering not an idea about an existing framework (my original intent) but rather a whole 'nother framework. That difference is most apparent in how Exploration fits in - I adopted the Jester's term in a different way from his intent, though - as my current essay says, it became an underlying concept rather than a replacement one. At this point (and given my own thoughts on Currency and many other system-oriented influences), GNS - or rather, the social model that includes GNS and system - was its own entity.

The current essay "GNS and related matters of role-playing" is therefore not intended to express anyone's ideas except my own - it doesn't summarize what anyone else thinks or provide any comparisons with other models.

CONCLUSION
My framework and thinking about the matters of role-playing is highly, highly indebted to the Usenet discussions of the Threefold and Stance. However, my conclusions and revisions of those terms and ideas are extremely different - all the way down the bedrock of the "why are we talking about this" level. (However, I think that John Kim's summary of Group Contract is identical to our Social Contract, and I consider them to be shared concepts.)

This has clearly been a quick-and-dirty summary. If I've missed any pertinent information or misrepresented anyone, I'm sure someone will let me know.

Best,
Ron
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MK Snyder
Member

Posts: 116


« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2002, 12:15:10 AM »

Thanks for the recap.

Frankly, I don't understand the antipathy such discussion appears to have generated, at all. Of course people can have different goals in role playing. They can have different goals in sex. In marriage. In religious participation. In eating.

How a pastime that purports to have a high degree of emphasis on putting ones'self in another's shoes can't even be discussed without high emotional investment...ah, well.
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