*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 02, 2022, 03:58:31 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5
Print
Author Topic: Criticisms of the Threefold  (Read 26587 times)
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« on: July 26, 2003, 12:37:05 PM »

Larry D. Hols has just put up an article entitled "Criticism of the Threefold: Criticism of the RGFA Threefold and similar theories." It can be found here http://www.carrollsweb.com/crkdface/3foldcrit.html.

Though mainly aimed at the Threefold, he mentions GNS in a few paragraphs, and states both in the article and previous on the list whereon it was originally discussed that his criticisms apply equally to all Threefold-based models (RGFA, GNS, GENder, etc).

During the conversation we had about it on RPGCreate, Larry had stated does not read these boards, but said I was free to post the URL for the article for the Forge's perusal, and pass any comments on to him for future revisions of his criticisms. So, let's discuss the article as it deals with GNS.
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
crkdface
Registree

Posts: 3


WWW
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2003, 12:55:44 PM »

Hallo,

"During the conversation we had about it on RPGCreate, Larry had stated does not read these boards, but said I was free to post the URL for the article for the Forge's perusal, and pass any comments on to him for future revisions of his criticisms. So, let's discuss the article as it deals with GNS."

Speak of the devil....

I just popped in today to look for the third article (on Narrativism) in support of the general GNS article so I could have it to write a detailed critique of GNS for my site. I registered to post in another thread to ask about when it would appear.

I'll comment here about things to consider in my rough of the Threefold critique. A major problem I have is that the theories purport to describe intent and then fail to consider all intents, trying to reduce all intents to but three. Another problem is that the theories attempt to posit intent as style.

I also offer up the rough material on a play style description theory that addresses those issues, Channel theory (which began life called thread theory, so if you hear me mention threads....).

The explicit discussion of GNS in the Threefold critique touches on the definitions and is only a very brief look.

Larry
Logged
Hunter Logan
Member

Posts: 86


« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2003, 02:30:51 PM »

Criticism is easy, but it desn't mean a lot without adding something to the discussion. Larry hasn't really said anything that hasn't been said before, and he hasn't done anything to make it better. To that end, I think the ideas posted by people like Fang Langford, the GENder theory, GNS itself (as many people have certainly spent a lot of time making it do something, and it is a reaction to the 3-fold), even my own Big List (which is my response based on my own criticisms of GNS and the other 3-folds) are more meaningful than Larry's article.

Like it or not, agree with the models or not, the 3-folds have made people stop and think. These models (perfect or imperfect though they may be) always contain within them lots of neat ideas. More, they have given people cause to design games they might not otherwise have designed, to play games they might not have played, and to look for different solutions to problems that come up in play - All this instead of just playing the same old game.

For all that, I can only thank all the people who have dedicated their time and energy to making these models exist, and congratulate the people who got the real message: The theory itself doesn't matter. What matters is what you do with it. Do you just complain, or do you go try to play/design a better game? At that point, it really doesn't matter if you're working because of or in spite of the theory. It only matters that you're doing something.
Logged
crkdface
Registree

Posts: 3


WWW
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2003, 05:26:00 PM »

"Criticism is easy, but it desn't mean a lot without adding something to the discussion. Larry hasn't really said anything that hasn't been said before, and he hasn't done anything to make it better."

   To make what, exactly, better? The criticism? The critique offered is intended to render a varied look at the topic in one place, nothing more. That rough draft will be expanded as I write new versions to clarify points--and that as I get feedback as to specifics that need to be addressed.

   As for doing something to make the discussion of intent and style better, I do offer the Channel theory to that end. Did you read those articles? Channel theory describes play style without trying to reduce intent to three areas, without conflating intent with style, and without leaving a great deal of preference unrepresented.
   Just considering the element channels alone, Channel theory offers better definition of intent and a better model of how varied intents can work together as components in a style.
   I figure that's enough of an addition to be worth noticing. I was also involved in the discussions on RGFA in which the Threefold arose, so I contributed to the discussion of these matters long before other theories appeared. Is that enough for you?


"[These other theories] are more meaningful than Larry's article."

   Meaningful in what fashion, exactly?

"Like it or not, agree with the models or not, the 3-folds have made people stop and think."

   Thank you. That's what we intended with the Threefold.

"For all that, I can only thank all the people who have dedicated their time and energy to making these models exist, "

   Again, thank you.


"The theory itself doesn't matter. What matters is what you do with it. Do you just complain, or do you go try to play/design a better game? At that point, it really doesn't matter if you're working because of or in spite of the theory. It only matters that you're doing something."

   So what is it you think I'm doing or not doing?

   I'm trying to figure out what your point was. That you don't like that somebody might post criticism of a theory you like, and by doing so implicate one of your own? That you were trying to slag off my comments in an attempt to feel superior?

   I know I've every right to criticize the Threefold because I helped birth it. I figure I also have the right to criticize other theories on the topic because of that. I also offer a new take on the same thing and offer it for criticism because I happen to care about RPG theory. You may not like what I have to say, but to disparage my comments without a sound reason is a damned silly thing to do.

   If you want to offer sound rebuttals to my comments, I welcome them.

Larry
Logged
Hunter Logan
Member

Posts: 86


« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2003, 06:00:15 PM »

Edit: I'm rewriting this post.

Larry,

These theories have been argued to death. Your criticism is not any sort of revelation. Everyone knows threefolds are imperfect. The results of pro wrestling matches are predetermined, too. At this point, I can only say, so what? All the relevant models of rpg play are filled with interesting ideas, and the sight of two 250-300 pound monsters tossing each other like sacks of grain is still an amusing spectacle.

My point is, this thread didn't start with "Hey, I have some articles. They're about my thread theory and my channel theory. They're alternatives to 3-fold, and I'd like to know what you think."

It started,"Here's my list of complaints about 3-fold, help me improve my complaints." Well, that's how I read it, anyway. Clearly, you didn't understand my message to you. 3-fold is pixie dust. It had a purpose, and it has done some good, but it's over. The battle ended a long time ago. GNS, same thing. GENder, same thing. Your complaints seem valid enough as far as they go, but people have been saying stuff like that for a long time. Saying it again won't change anything. Spitting in the wind, really. All a person can do is make peace with it and move on.

If you can't or won't understand what I'm saying, then I probably don't have the language to have a discussion with you. In any case, I've said all I care to about this. I'll look at your other theories, but I have no interest in debating you. I don't get anything out of doing that, so have fun and good-bye.
Logged
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2003, 06:00:56 PM »

Heya Larry,

I'll drop a few quick comments before I have to run and watch the kids. Now, I know you aren't very familar with GNS or its nuances, so keep these following items I mention in mind when you are thinking about or criticising GNS theory.

Quote from: crkdface
A major problem I have is that the theories purport to describe intent and then fail to consider all intents, trying to reduce all intents to but three.

GNS does not reduce all intents to three intents (actually, it doesn't even rely on intent, but I'll get to that in a moment). Each of the three categories given can be subdivided further into discrete style categories.

In fact, two micro-categories from the same macro-category may and often are incompatible play styles, despite that they share the main category. Why?

Everyone's looking for something different...two Simulationist may not be looking for the same explorative experience. Gareth (contracycle), frex, is really into setting exploration via Simulationism (something he's mentioned in the past here). Peter Knutsen, whom you know as well, is all about character exploration via Simulationism (or I gather this from recent and dated statements on the list -- I may be wrong, but this is just an example).

Their play styles would conflict, despite the fact that they are both looking for Simulationist experiences.

Quote
Another problem is that the theories attempt to posit intent as style.

This can't be GNS you are referring to, since GNS isn't about intent: that is, it is not about what you, the player, want or intend to do or experience. GNS is about discrete episodes of behavior at any given time examined on a temporal scale and mapped out to determine overall behavior patterns, because we all know how useful "intent" is for actually measuring anything.

Additionally, people are more than capable of (and often do) make different GNS decisions at different points in a game, which vary as well dependent upon the game being run.

Now, take this into account with the idea above that any given individual will be operating in a micro-style, and you have a panorama of possible decision-making points which are not "boxed into" three areas.

Unfortunately, the GNS "heavy-hitters" who have a much more comprehensive view of GNS than I are away at GenCon right now, but as soon as they're back, I'm hoping you'll see some in-depth commentary.

EDIT: Logan, Larry, I'm not a moderator, but I play one on TV...plus, this is my thread (I started the sucker). Play nice. I shouldn't have to say more.
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Hunter Logan
Member

Posts: 86


« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2003, 06:42:42 PM »

I am playing nice, but apparently I am speaking some bizarre foreign language, so I bid you adieu.
Logged
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2003, 07:10:51 PM »

Logan,

Looks like we cross-posted...or rather, you posted your edit as I was posting my statement. So, no, you aren't speaking some foreign language, I was referring to the earlier version of your statements. Sorry for the confusion.
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Hunter Logan
Member

Posts: 86


« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2003, 07:36:35 PM »

Hey Raven,

I think they use the phrase, "no blood no foul" here, so no problem.
Logged
Caldis
Member

Posts: 359


« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2003, 09:05:31 PM »

From reading the article I can understand where the author is coming from in his problems with the Threefold.  I have many of the same problems with that theory, or at least the current version of it the last time I attempted discussing it in rgfa.  

GNS on the other hand is much more complex and well thought out and therefore does not fall victim to the same problems.  I think Ron's article "GNS and Other Matters of Role-playing Theory" at this url http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/1/ shows the differences.
Logged
Marco
Member

Posts: 1741


WWW
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2003, 04:10:07 AM »

I've got two comments--

1. I don't see, in any of the GNS or GDS documentation a discussion of the model's weaknesses.

2. The "intent" vs. "observable behavior" thing is *really* murky too (in the essays).

The individual essays certainly do deal with intent on a personal level (step-on-up or competion are as well circumscribed by intent as observable behavior--and the Gamist article makes no distinction).

An essay on both of these points would be useful and relevant.

-Marco
Logged

---------------------------------------------
JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2003, 01:42:32 PM »

Quote from: Marco

The individual essays certainly do deal with intent on a personal level


Where? Ron doesn't, as far as I'm aware, even believe in the idea of intent. In any case, he's said repeatedly, clearly, and in no uncertain terms, that the theory is based on behaviors, and not at all on motive or intent. So the repeated straw-man has to be burned. You can't critique the theory on it not addressing intent properly, when it does not speak to intent at all.

You could possibly validly argue that in not addressing intent, that there was some problem; though I can't think of how that argument would go. The point is that the theory only states that, observably, people have preferences, and incoherence occurs. It does not say why they have their preferences. Only that by removing problems of Incoherence that you can improve play.

Let's look at some of Mr. Hols' other concerns. On the issue of terms he writes the following:

Quote
"Game" as used in GNS is weak. It leaves out issues related to enjoyment of game elements, which leaves the definition lacking. It limits all game preferences to two issues, neither of which is necessary to a strong affinity for game elements, thus making it useless as a definition. Indeed, one of the two game elements mentioned can be argued to be a social concern and not a game concern at all.
The definition of "Game" is not addressed in GNS at all, and is unimportant. The theory only intends to address one specific problem that relates to the activities labeled RPGs, and as such doesn't have to look at other "issues related to enjoyment of games". That makes it sound like GNS is supposed to be some overarching theory of all stylistic preferences which it is not (nor do I think any theory could entail in detail).

Quote
"Simulation" as used in GNS is more in line with the dictionary definition of the word, which is good. However, because it reflects the dictionary definition (and underscores a lack of understanding of the Threefold definition), the term encompasses so much as to be useless in highlighting differences. Play that simulates three-act movie plot structure is far removed from the complete lack of story concern as shown by attempts to only simulate reality. That simulation can involve simulating story structures means any differentiation between wanting story and not wanting story is useless, thus removing any need for a dramatist intent.
This is incorrect because, again, GNS seeks to draw the lines where the conflicts in style occur. Thus the "size" of the modes is (not only debatable but) irrellevant. It only matters where the problems occur. There is no need for them to be somehow "equal".

Quote
GNS replaces "dramatist" with "narrativist." With simulation absorbing many plotting and story structure concerns, what is left appears to be essentially a definition of one basic stylistic approach to play, reducing its utility as a measure of general concern in play style.
In fact all GNS modes are "Basic stylistic approaches to play". They only need to demarcate where conflicts arise, and so the modes do not need to become complex in description. Indeed we have to state over and over that within each mode of play there are many differences in approach.


The problems of reduction do not apply to GNS. First, as mentioned, the intent issue is irrelevant. Secondly, GNS fully admits that, as decision making styles, players switch between GNS modes all the time (for whatever reason). The Problems of Equation do not pertain again becuse intent is never addressed. The Problems of Incompletion do not apply, again because GNS does not attempt to delineate all styles but merely to demarcate where problems with clashing modes both occur, and can be fixed in a broad manner. Any attempt to break down into much smaller elements results in so many delineations that analysis of potential problems becomes impossible. GNS doesn't attempt to address these problems, only those that a model reasonably can.

In terms of problems of application, certainly any model can be abused. But we who are proponents of the theory have gone a long way to trying to analyze just what can and can't be predicted with the theory. And we shoot down more than we suggest that it can predict. So, in terms of the theory proper, and not crackpot applications of it, the theory is applied well to that small and specific area that it intends to cover. GNS had the problems of Threefold already behind it so that we could avoid those same pitfalls of scope.

Now, are all predictions by the model correct? No, certainly not. Nobody would claim that any model is a perfect determinant of reality, however. GNS has been shown, however, to have been repeatedly of a practical use. So apparently it has some use in application. To deny that we can analyze games in this manner is to deny that we can do anything to prevent the sorts of problems that such models attempt to fix. Personally, that seems like a very pessimistic assessment of the situation. I think that GNS has evolved considerably from the problems of the Threefold (further I think than the author understands), and does not in fact have any of the problems that this essay would ascribe to it.

I would be glad to discuss any of the particulars of any of these points in more detail.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Marco
Member

Posts: 1741


WWW
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2003, 06:23:34 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: Marco

The individual essays certainly do deal with intent on a personal level


Where? Ron doesn't, as far as I'm aware, even believe in the idea of intent. In any case, he's said repeatedly, clearly, and in no uncertain terms, that the theory is based on behaviors, and not at all on motive or intent. So the repeated straw-man has to be burned. You can't critique the theory on it not addressing intent properly, when it does not speak to intent at all.

You could possibly validly argue that in not addressing intent, that there was some problem; though I can't think of how that argument would go. The point is that the theory only states that, observably, people have preferences, and incoherence occurs. It does not say why they have their preferences. Only that by removing problems of Incoherence that you can improve play.

Mike


I'm not sure if you read the rest of my post: the intent-vs-observable behavior aspect of GNS is not (AFAIK) addressed in the essays. When reading (say) the Gamist essay, one sees step-on-up and competition as levels. Both of those imply intent as much as observable behavior. If I am analyzing my own play, I *must* analyze by intent since I can't observe my behavior out of context.

When someone comes here, reads the stuff, and starts going off about "intent" the fact that "the articles don't say anything about intent" is insufficient, IMO to make it clear.

-Marco
Logged

---------------------------------------------
JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2003, 07:26:12 AM »

Heads up,

Larry PM'd me about troubles he's having reading the forums. His machine is too old to handle the .php script on the boards and thus IE keeps unpredictably crashing on him when he posts or when he tries to navigate the boards.

He is considering starting a Yahoo group for those interested in discussing his essay and providing feedback, so he can at least be directly involved in the process. When I know more, and if he goes the above route (assuming he can't get anything worked out with his machine) I'll let everyone know.
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2003, 08:31:31 AM »

I have some quibles with the strict wording of the essays as they stand too.  So maybe we can all chip in together and pay for Ron do do this for a living instead of his real job, and then we can press all the demands for perfect work we like.

Only its Never Going To Happen, is it.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!