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Author Topic: The whole model - this is it  (Read 55470 times)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2003, 11:53:00 AM »

Quote
It is a person's responsibility to recognize what his group's Creative Agenda is.
To use the term from the other thread, this would be called "Deliberate Gaming", right?

I'm not sure that I would state it as such an imperative, or in such a manner as to indicate conscious consideration, but I think it's nice to have a term to refer to it by.

I found the post to be a tad verbose, and potentially confusing in its twists of phraseology, Ron, but then that's probably because it all already makes sense to me. <shrug>

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2003, 12:03:10 PM »

It's terrific, Ron.

I'm happy to see that the Stances don't have their own little [] anymore.  I've kind of had it in for them for a while.

Here's how I've been picturing it and talking about it outside the Forge, but using your terms:

People talking Socially - about, among other things, Characters Situated in Setting, in motion (per System) and Colorful - using various Techniques - composed of various arrangements of Ephemera - all in pursuit of some Creative Agenda (which may or may not be fulfilled over time).

You see it from outward in, I see it from the ground up.  I've sort of wondered why you put Creative Agenda in a middle ring instead of the center - I've chalked it up to just seeing it differently.  But now you wrote this:
Quote
It's not too off-the-wall to think of Techniques as being a direct expression of the more abstract concept of System (way up in Exploration), except that System doesn't exist all by itself - it's fully integrated with all the other components of Exploration. But if you keep that in mind, then yes, the arrow represented by Creative Agenda can indeed be "shot" from the bow of System.

And ding!  That's why.

Your arrow / step / "shot from the bow of" and my "all in Pursuit of" mean the same thing.

So yeah.  

"Ephemera" is good, too.  I welcome Ephemera.

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2003, 12:05:13 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I'm interested in whether you, the Forge folks, understand what I'm saying. If there's anything you need clarified about the model as presented, or anything you think doesn't hold up, then now's the time to say it.


BL>  I must confess to having a little bit of difficulty with the Venn Diagrams -- for whatever reason, this is just a difficult way for me to parse information.  However, I'm pretty sure I finally have a grip on the basic structure of the theory, and there is no bulk of material (there are individual phrasing concerns, which I place in editing and thus out of this thread) which just makes me go "huh?  What the heck is he talking about?"
  That said, I'm having a little trouble picking out a specific example of an Ephemerus which, if I'm not mistaken, is a new term.  So an example would be very helpful.

Quote

I'm specifically interested in whether Creative Agenda, as the bridge from [Social Contract [Exploration]] to [Techniques], is acceptable as an absolute necessity in understanding role-playing. Realize that this claim was and is absolutely anathema among most vocal participants and publishers in the hobby.


BL>  I have no disagreement with this, and I think the formal restatement of this bridge as "Creative Agenda" rather than "GNS" really helped me digest it.  I second the suggestion of renaming the theory as a whole to reflect this greater scope.  Possibly consider "Social Contract Theory of Role-Playing"?

  Further, I think that this opposing the existence of a Creative Agenda level is tauntamount to saying "we don't get anything out of role-playing," a statement which is clearly untrue (otherwise, why would you do it?)

Allow me to paraphrase here.  If what I say here makes you go "Who's essay did he read?" then I had problems understanding.  If you say "yup, that's another way to say it," then you've gotten through.

To start with, you have a group of people
Social Contract -- How they relate to each other, including the decision to play a game.
Exploration -- What they are going to examine through the lens of that game.
Creative Agenda -- Why they are playing that game -- what they hope to achieve and gain through play.
Techniques -- How they go about playing that game.
Ephemera -- This I am still slightly unclear on.  Is this how, in practice, the game is played (moment to moment) rather than the general procedures of game play? (which would be techniques?)

yrs--
--Ben

edit: serious typo
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2003, 12:06:02 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote
It is a person's responsibility to recognize what his group's Creative Agenda is.
To use the term from the other thread, this would be called "Deliberate Gaming", right?


Sure. I think Lisa (The GM) coined the term, "Gaming on Purpose." She did so in our groups actual, face-to-face discussion, then posted as much on the Forge. I like the phrase, but that's just me.

But, to clarify, Mike (and more for posterity than your sake -- you get it, I know):

When I say it is a person's responsibility to recognize his group's Creative Agenda, I'm not saying that "If you fail to do so, you are a fool / will live in gamer hell forever / are stupid."

I am saying that if you don't accept that responsibility, you're RISKING your own enjoyment. It may work out fine. If so, great. But, it may not. Hence, it's a risk. It's not one that I, personally, am eager to take.
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Matt Snyder
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jdagna
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« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2003, 12:08:01 PM »

I'm pretty much in total agreement with what's been presented here.  It is certainly the most rational combination of all the separate issues that have been presented.

However, two little points of disagreement.

Quote
Social Contract and rules: This is where all those "What is Role-playing" sections fall flat on their face. Just to pick the most glaring example, I'm here to say that role-playing is not, and never was, "cops and robbers with dice to resolve disputes." Going by the model, people roll dice (or whatever) because they agree about the imagined events, not because they disagree.


Anyone playing a game of any sort must agree on a lot of points automatically, especially once you get the social contract in there because they have to agree to play in the first point.

However, dice are used as an "impartial" way to determine which events will happen when there may not be unanimous agreement on the event*.  Players don't roll dice to resolve disputes, they roll dice to prevent disputes.  If I say "I shoot Joe" without any input from the system, we have to resolve this purely through social contract (that's how kids tend to do it, with a lot of arguing involved).  If we have rules (whether they use dice or not) then our social agreement to abide by the rules can prevent the need for debate by dictating a result.  Thus, I feel the "cops and robbers with dice" explanation remains the best description of RPGs I've seen.

*Naturally dice can also be used for other things.  Pure games of chance have made billions of dollars for the casino industry.

Quote
- "But my character would do this ..." Characters are fictional and cannot make decisions in the absence of a real person's creative input


This horse has been beaten to death, so I won't elaborate much.  However, as long as character sheets have things like "Will only kill in self defense" on them, you can make statements about what a character would or wouldn't do.  These statements remain independent from the player, though they can enter actual play only through the "creative input" of one or more players.  

I have a feeling we're not really in disagreement here on the core idea, just over the language we use to express it.
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Justin Dagna
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Ian Charvill
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« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2003, 12:32:47 PM »

It's an excellent piece of work.  I would also make the suggestion that it might be worthwhile in time to phase out the "GNS Model Discussion" forum in favour of the "Creative Agenda Model Discussion" forum (although I suspect there's a better form of words than that).  Especially post the Big 3 essays.
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Ian Charvill
Walt Freitag
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« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2003, 01:20:39 PM »

Hi Ron,

Am I correct in gathering that within-Agenda categories and within-Agenda descriptors (dials and switches, as described in the Simulationism and Gamism essays) exist inside the Creative Agenda level? That is, are they part of the lens through which we evaluate Technique, rather than themselves being Techniques?

If so, I think that's vitally important to the key principle of "Creative Agenda as the bridge between Social Contract [Exploration] and Technique," and should be explicitly discussed.

My interpretation of the overall theme of much of the GNS discussion of the last year (including some of its frustrations) is that Creative Agenda described or understood only in the form of "G, N, or S, pick one" is too short a bridge (or too inaccurate an arrow) to connect with Technique. For instance, and pretty obviously, you can usually only examine whether a given Technique supports a Gamist Creative Agenda if: (1) you know the precise Creative Agenda of the participants first-hand or from extremely comprehensive descriptions of their actual play; or (2) you know "what kind" of Gamist Creative Agenda you're talking about, in terms of understandable descriptors.

If only the first-hand or near-first-hand knowledge will suffice, then most practical discussion would be precluded. Hence, within-Agenda descriptors are key to focusing the Creative Agenda lens sufficiently to resolve Technique.

- Walt

PS Regarding the name thing: Anagrammizing the Venn hierarchy, and dropping the final E (which is, after all, Epehemeral), we could name this model the SECT of Ron.
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Jason Lee
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« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2003, 02:35:53 PM »

The thing that really stuck out for me, and I whole heartedly agree with, but wasn't exactly said, was that people have a tendency to prioritize from the inner most box outward, and that can cause all sorts of problems.  People will give up Social Contact long before their favorite Ephemera, and that causes everything to break down.  Like how it bothers you more that your dog dies than it does when the old lady down the street dies; empathy exponentially decreases the farther away you get from your immediate perceptions.  I think groups who prioritize downward are more functional, but that's just me thinking - doesn't really have anything to do with the topic.  

I'm drifting. If that was meant to be said, great!  If not, well now you know how I saw it.

*****

I think you're giving too much weight to creative agenda - what with its own little arrow and 'key to the model' status.  Historically, GNS has gotten all the attention, and I think that's been a disservice to the model as a whole.  If Creative Agenda is the bridge between Exploration and Techniques, then Techniques are the bridge between Creative Agenda and Ephemera, and so forth.  I'd just leave it at that.  I don't think Creative Agenda is any more important than any of the other layers.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2003, 02:43:42 PM »

Good post, Jason. You might want to follow up on that "working from the outside in" concept on another thread.

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2003, 04:29:33 PM »

Quote
I think you're giving too much weight to creative agenda - what with its own little arrow and 'key to the model' status. Historically, GNS has gotten all the attention, and I think that's been a disservice to the model as a whole. If Creative Agenda is the bridge between Exploration and Techniques, then Techniques are the bridge between Creative Agenda and Ephemera, and so forth. I'd just leave it at that. I don't think Creative Agenda is any more important than any of the other layers.


I'd have to disagree with that.  Importance aside its the one that needs the most emphasis because its the one that's not immediately obvious.  As I said in my post above I don't think you'd find any serious roleplayer who doesn't immediately agree that there are different techniques to roleplaying and that social issues impact play experience.  But Creative Agenda?  That's one that requires additional justification.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #25 on: November 12, 2003, 07:02:58 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I'm specifically interested in whether Creative Agenda, as the bridge from [Social Contract [Exploration]] to [Techniques], is acceptable as an absolute necessity in understanding role-playing. Realize that this claim was and is absolutely anathema among most vocal participants and publishers in the hobby.

I'm not certain what this means; let me offer possibilities and see how they sit.
    [*]It is absolutely necessary to recognize the presence of Creative Agenda as the bridge between Social Contract and Techniques if you hope to understand role playing games in a theoretical way. I think I would agree with this.[*]It is absolutely necessary to identify a specific Creative Agenda in the text of a role playing game in order for that game to be functional. I disagree with this; I think it would help, but functional games have been designed in which there was no explicit statement of the Creative Agenda.[*]It is absolutely necessary for the designer of a game to be cognizant of the Creative Agenda of his game in an articulable form in order to produce a coherent game. I don't think I agree with this; John Wick probably could not have articulated the Creative Agenda behind OrkWorld, but people generally think it's coherent.[*]It is absolutely necessary for the designer of a game to have a Creative Agenda in mind for his game around which he designs it for that game to be coherent. This is a much more difficult matter; it's already been agreed that many games that predate the model reflect such coherent creative agenda (and that many do not). This gets so much into the psyche of the designers that it's difficult to find relevance to the statement. When Jones and I designed Multiverser, I think we both knew what we wanted; I don't think we necessarily agreed--particularly since neither of us had ever heard the expressed Creative Agendae terminology, and probably at times we were looking for mechanics that would facilitate all three modes one way or another without being particularly aware of them (that is, looking to design a game that supported the way the people we knew played, which was not always consistent from one to the next). I can't say we didn't have a creative agenda somewhere in the backs of our minds, or that we didn't come to a common vision during the process--but I can't say we did, either, and if I can't say that about my own game, I don't see how the matter could be answered in general. I take it that this is not what you mean.[*]It is absolutely necessary for players to openly and consciously recognize the Creative Agenda that they have in order to move from a social contract to techniques. I think this is also wrong; players who stumble into the same Creative Agenda will move from Social Contract to Techniques without being at all aware of the intervening bridge. That can happen because the members of the group learn to play entirely from each other with no preconceived notions of what the game is "supposed to do". No one ever complained that Monopoly didn't produce a good story or didn't properly represent the road map of Atlantic City or the rent ratios in effect. People complain that role playing games "don't work" because they have expectations that are contrary to results. These may spring from incoherent design encouraging different expectations and then disappointing, or experience with other games and the failure to recognize that this game is trying to do something different, or group efforts to mold the game into something other than what one individual wanted. But if we assume that the group is all on the same page, they probably aren't aware what page they're on--knowing the Creative Agenda is not always relevant to making that step.[*]It is absolutely necessary that all the players in a game share a Creative Agenda in order for agreement at the Social Contract level to be reached regarding what Techniques will produce the desired outcome in play. If this is what is meant, it's probably a very important point, and should be stated considerably more clearly. In fact, having just stated it that way myself, I see how important it is--we can't agree (at the social level) regarding how to do it (at the techniques level) until we know exactly what it is we are doing (at the Creative Agenda level). Is that it?[/list:u]
    Sorry to make this so long; some of it is my effort to come to grips with it myself, but if I've parsed it aright, perhaps it will be helpful.

    Aside to Lisa--have you seen the http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/23/">Applied Theory article? Although its focus is on game design rather than play, it does speak to the matter of how techniques can be supportive of Creative Agenda. I think it's important to understand that techniques alone don't force a particular agenda, but that they can facilitate or impede one.

    --M. J. Young
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    Jack Aidley
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    « Reply #26 on: November 13, 2003, 02:45:18 AM »

    Quote from: Ron Edwards
    Talk about the material. This thread is not about what some hypothetical other people will think and feel about the model, but about you. Say, "YES, I AGREE, ESPECIALLY ABOUT X," or, "NO, YOU MAKE NO SENSE AND HERE'S WHY," or "GEE, WHAT ABOUT THIS PART HERE." That sort of thing.


    Ok. This is to my mind the single best essay on roleplaying theory I've read. I agree with everything written here. I see this as the framework into which the other discussions go, and while I'm unsure about GNS as a description, I think this framework is really solid.
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    Walt Freitag
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    « Reply #27 on: November 13, 2003, 04:48:39 AM »

    Reading my previous post, I realize I inadvertently edited out (that is, I remember writing them but they ain't there now) some brief examples that might have made my question clearer.

    So, to focus the question, are the following concepts Techniques, Creative Agenda, or Something Else (e.g. belonging to the Social Contract or Exploration levels)?

    - purist-for-system (as a description of some Simulationist play)
    - high-concept (as a description of some Simulationist play)
    - low-competition at the Step On Up level (as a description of some Gamist play)
    - low-competition at the Challenge level (as a description of some Gamist play)

    - Walt

    PS I also meant "acronymizing" instead of "anagrammizing."
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    Marco
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    « Reply #28 on: November 13, 2003, 09:44:46 AM »

    I have a clarafication issue concerning creative agenda:

    The Creative Agenda is described in terms of priorities. I think that's ptoentially misleading. If I say Susan's game is Gamist then what I am really saying is "During the play of Susan's game, I observe more step-on-up behavior than either pure exploration or address of thematic questions" (or something like that).

    The idea that "Gamist behavior is the priority" can lead to two conflicting reads (much the way The Impossible Thing Text seems to).

    It can indicate there is observed to be more gamist behavior during the play (which is, I think, what's generally meant)

    It can indicate a preference for gamist play on the part of the participants (check Mariam Webster online for priority, these are 1. and 2.)

    The latter is not compatible with what has been said elsewhere.

    It gets even iffier when someone makes the claim that what's "being prioritized" is what's "preferred right there at that moment in play" (which I have seen done).

    I think it might be clearer to describe the primary GNS mode in statistical terms (which will raise questions about how well one mode can really be distinguished from another, but hey ...)

    -Marco
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    Gordon C. Landis
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    « Reply #29 on: November 13, 2003, 09:59:36 AM »

    And more on Creative Agenda (with appologies, Ron, if this dips into the things you don't want to discuss at this level of the model):

    While this outline of the model (and yeah, "the model" should be called something other than GNS . . .  "SC->E?" Social Contract to Ephemera?)might get people to agree/understand that a Creative Agenda is necessary to roleplaying, I'm not sure it requires them to think of it as anything more sophisticated than "we want to have fun."

    I could talk some about the plusses and minuses to that, but I think that would *definitely* dip into the "don't want to talk about it" stuff, so - I'll leave it there.  

    Gordon
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