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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 73 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Is this really Nar?  (Read 16068 times)
John Kim

Posts: 1805

« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2003, 09:44:44 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I guess the point here is that moral/ethical issues will come up -- in fact, may even be extremely likely -- simply from playing characters the way that one envisions them. Now, the resulting story might not be a well-structured delving of that issue, but it may still be rife with issues. I'm not sure what this means in terms of theory, but I thought I should say it.

You seem pretty hipped on the "intent" issue, John. Intent means absolutely nothing to me or to the current model. What you describe falls into the category of Narrativism, if resolving the issues in question turns out to be the identifiable priority of the people in play, eventually. From everything you've presented in your many posts about real play, that seems to be the case among your group.

That sounds reasonable to me.  In that post, I was responding to M.J. Young, who suggested that my Water-Uphill campaign switched back and forth between Simulationist and Narrativist.  That didn't sit well with me.  Classifying it as wholly Narrativist makes more sense.  As I said in my post, I wanted to avoid suggesting what that meant for GNS theory, because I wasn't sure.  My impression was that he (M.J.) was implying that solely playing the character as described resulted in a lack of moral/ethical issues, which I disagreed with.  

Quote from: Ron Edwards
  I am absolutely opposed to verbiage like "Play against one's character for the good of the story" to describe Narrativism. This is nothing but word salad; it carries no content at all. I think it's a referent to some form of dysfunctional play involving power-struggles over outcomes, but that's about as close to sense as I can make of it.

I completely agree with this, and I think that it actually expresses from the opposite end what I was saying.  i.e. I said that simply playing characters as one envisions them inherently leads to moral/ethical issues.  You say: good (moral/ethical) story means being true to one's character.  These are the same statements in reverse order.

- John
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2003, 09:58:16 AM »

Yay! I love an agreement.

Jason Lee

Posts: 729

« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2003, 02:10:05 PM »


First off, I'm personally in agreement with what you've said in your post, and hence why Mike's model speaks to me.

Quote from: jdagna
Going by the this metaphor, you could design a game scenario with lots of challenge in it then push the car down the hill and let gravity do its work.  Likewise, you can load up thematic potential and then give the car a little push down the hill to see what happens.  As long as play remains internally-driven, you're still dealing with Sim play, aren't you?

With the disclaimer that I'm just barely (hopefully) getting it.  If the GM loaded up the car with theme, and the players don't throw the theme out the window and go off to smash orcs instead, then they will be at least unintentionally addressing the theme the GM engineered.  The players will have to react to the thematic elements the GM set up, by virtue of it being internally consistent for them to react.  By reacting to the theme they are addressing it, whether or not they meant.  So, in the GNS model the play would be defined as Nar - because the theme was addressed.

- Cruciel

Posts: 563

« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2003, 04:49:04 PM »

I think I'm understanding where my interpretation of GNS has unintentionally differed from other people's.  I've been defining priority differently, by looking at a priority as an average trend in decisions instead of a way of making a few significant (apparently sometimes unconscious) decisions.

With that said, I can see:
1) How Nar play is actually broader and Sim play narrower than I'd thought GNS defined them.
2) Exactly what nits the horseshoe theory is trying to pick.  I'm starting to see where there's a need for it.

And now... I get to re-read everything so I can re-examine it.  Anyone found a way to pause time for a week or so?

Anyway, thanks to everyone, Mike and Jason in particular, who helped with my questions

Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
M. J. Young

Posts: 2198

« Reply #34 on: June 04, 2003, 09:46:19 PM »

Quote from: cruciel
The thing here seems to be that, in my example, the play had a lot of Sim elements, but because Nar decisions were made the play was ultimately Nar.  The nature of Nar decisions, even a small amount of them, is that they shape the story.  The play here could only have been Sim if I had made no Nar decisions.  So, if hybrid play incorporates both Nar/Sim decisions (for example), then the so-called hybrid play is actually Nar play, because Nar has been allowed to shape the story.

I think this is incorrect.

Actually, I think that what's happening in your game is that you're making simulationist decisions when there's no narrativist conflict.

In some thread today I read the statement that GNS is only meaningful when it's challenged--that you can only play gamist when there's a challenge, narrativist when there's a question, simulationist when integrity is at stake.

The point isn't that you made a lot of simulationist decisions, but the narrativist decisions trump them because they're narrativist. The point is that at any point at which simulationism and narrativism came into conflict, you chose narrativism. No one cares whether your characters "do what they would ordinarily do" in the day-to-day lives they're living. We only care that when the players are confronted with the choice between addressing the theme and doing what they would ordinarily do, they address the theme. That's what makes it narrativist.

Had your players all looked at the fight brewing and said, "gee, I'd love to get my character into that, but there's no logical reason for him to be there"; had they looked at their play options and said, "well, this would be good for the story, but it's not really what the character would probably do, so he won't do that but this, which really doesn't take the story anywhere"; had they stuck with what they would do instead of what they could do, you'd be doing simulationism. In that context, it might be that there would be some interaction with the theme, but it would be a very different sort of interaction, I suspect--and as Ron said, asking what would have happened had it been simulationist play is not useful, as it was narrativist play that set it up initially.

Aside to John--mea culpa. Actually, as I wrote that post (re: simulationist/narrativist drift in your game) I realized that what I was saying didn't fit with what I had been writing on several threads this week, so apparently my perception of the issues has changed since we discussed your game some weeks back and I hadn't processed the impact of that change on those earlier posts. Your game seems to fit squarely in this context: it's narrativist, because it doesn't really matter how people play when there's no conflict between GNS modes. It's only when the GNS conflict arises that we have any clue what motivates play. As long as there's nothing to address (theme, conflict, integrity) there's no difference between the choices players will make (generally). To cite Ron's long-lost post, it's when the rubber meets the road that we discover what people's priorities are.

--M. J. Young

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