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Converting GNS --> Exploration Model

Started by Steve Dustin, November 19, 2002, 07:20:34 AM

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Steve Dustin


Just when I found I've got something worthwhile to say, Ron closes the terminology thread. Oh well, lets hope its not too much of a faux paus to post my thoughts here.

Why The Confusion Over Terminology?

I suggest that Gamist, Simulationist, Narrativist fall into the same trap that some discredited terms here on the Forge -- balance, story, rollplaying vs roleplaying -- have fallen into: multiple definitions have muddied the waters too much about them. With so many definitions about, it can be easy to get confused. Although GNS is strictly defined in Ron's essay, my guess is if Ron had also defined "balance," or "story," in the GNS essay, that those terms would still be causing similar headaches. Because Ron borrowed terms from other theories, those terms came with too much baggage. I guess DFK and the Stances come with similar baggage, but not nearly the amount GNS does.

OK Smart Guy What Should We Change Them To?

If I was Ron (and I'm not), I'd change the "Big 3" to use words that get more to the "heart" of the category. Here's my suggested changes:

Gamism         --> Tactical
Simulationism --> Emulation
Narrativism    --> Thematic

I see no reason to keep the "isms." While I think Ron's point about "terms being non-obvious," is pretty valid, I'm gonna state that certain terms are "less" non-obvious than others. I'm sure you could make a case that my choices are shitty. But at least they are not coming loaded with baggage from other theories.

Also, I'd change the title of the theory from GNS to the Exploration Model. Why? Simple. What is it the model is really emphasizing? Not GNS, but Exploration. I mean, if when you design a complex combat system for an intrigue game you get play emphasizing combat over intrigue, doesn't it stand to reason that emphasis will be on GNS and not Exploration? Besides, by de-emphasizing "the Big 3" the theory gains the appearance of being able to accommodate more styles of play. I'm sure it would defuse a lot of the bogus criticism of the theory also.

I know, I know, we're talking only about shallow surface appearances, but isn't that what this terminology problem is about -- surface appearances?

Won't This Cause Needless Confusion And Set A Bad Precedent?

I'm making the guess that if Ron updated the GNS essay with terminology changes, that terminology would stick. While I know the "Cult of Ron," is fighting words, I do think Ron holds quite a bit of sway on these boards (which makes sense -- Sandy Antunes holds quite a bit of say on the RPGNet boards, or did). If Ron wanted to make these changes people would adjust and that would be it. Frankly, I think the whole forum could be up to speed in a month, or even a week or so. We're not that stupid.

What about backward compatibility with the forums? Ron could do a Find/Replace in his essay, and add a paragraph that says, "as of this date, I'm using these terms instead of GNS. Posts before this date will use GNS, afterwards, the new terms." The essay is the central point of the forum anyway.

As for precedent, Ron is the only person who can change the terms in the GNS theory. Its not like the forums have that much say in formulating Ron's theory -- only in swaying Ron's opinion. This isn't a legal or committee action. Ron changes the terms when he feels they are a detrimental to discussion. I can't do that, only try to persuade him.

I mean, it's his theory. While I have some thoughts I'd like to get off my chest, I don't really care if Ron overhauls his theory. I have to agree with Ron -- there are plenty of people who "get GNS," and could easily weather a terminology change, or handle the terms as is and could move onto more dynamic discussions. Sure I think it could be better, but how much energy needs to be spent on this? I'm actually pretty comfortable with Ron leaving it GNS, frankly.

Steve Dustin
Creature Feature: Monster Movie Roleplaying

Ron Edwards

Hi Steve,

H'm. You make a strong case. Although all manner of refutations spring to mind, I am not sure which of them are substantive, which are kneejerk conservative, and which are merely ego-defense.

So, I'm thinkin' about it. Thanks for ... well, for making sense, I guess, which is a stupid thing to say, but, you know.

(And I agree that the model is centrally Explorative - which is why the fellow who used to post as the Scarlet Jester deserves immense credit.)


Emily Care

This would be very interesting.  Good post, Steve. :)

Calling it the Exploration model,  the 5 things to explore could be at the center, making the three former "-isms" different ways people choose to explore them.  

I think a common problem with such a change would be that people equate simulation with exploration, so it might seem at first that sim had subsumed the G&N.  

--Emily Care
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

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