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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Faolan on April 26, 2005, 09:41:03 PM



Title: GNS
Post by: Faolan on April 26, 2005, 09:41:03 PM
I'm curious to know if my attempt to merge Robin Law's Player types with the GNS theory is at all successful, or if I am simply befuddled (which is possible)...

If I am way off, I'll probably understand GNS better if somebody were to explain to me where I'm wrong in placement of the player types:

Gamist [ The Power Gamer, The Butt-Kicker ]

Narrativist [ The Method Actor ]

Simulationist [ The Tactician, The Storyteller ]

Any or no particular Creative Agenda:

The Specialist
The Casual Gamer


Title: GNS
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 26, 2005, 10:11:50 PM
I sincerely believe that any attempt to map Robin Laws's classifications of player types onto GNS modes is going to succeed.  Fundamentally, Laws is talking about things that people do in the games -- things that everyone does in games.  All players exhibit all of those behaviors in every game session.  GNS is really more about goals in play -- what your group's play is driving towards, and what you want to get out of playing a game.

Just very different things.  I think most of the player types there would fall into Techniques or Social Contract on the big model.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: GNS
Post by: Faolan on April 26, 2005, 10:28:00 PM
Quote from: Ben Lehman
I sincerely believe that any attempt to map Robin Laws's classifications of player types onto GNS modes is going to succeed.  Fundamentally, Laws is talking about things that people do in the games -- things that everyone does in games.  All players exhibit all of those behaviors in every game session.  GNS is really more about goals in play -- what your group's play is driving towards, and what you want to get out of playing a game.

Just very different things.  I think most of the player types there would fall into Techniques or Social Contract on the big model.

yrs--
--Ben


I don't agree that all players exhibit all of those behaviors in every game session.  That has not been my observation of others or even of myself.

I, for example, am never a "method actor", nor a "power gamer". I don't give a damn about those aspects of play. I imagine that means my Creative Agenda leans away from "Story Now". I enjoy some "butt-kicking", which is gamist (?), and focus primarily on creating a story within the proper genre context, my characters built to support that...simulationist (?), or "Storyteller" in Laws words.  

Law's player types are also about "goals in play -- what your group's play is driving towards, and what you want to get out of playing a game". I still don't see the difference. If anything, GNS seems to subsume Law's player types. Or is that what you are saying?

Sorry, I'm really stuck on the Player Types because they've become part of my assumptive thinking.


Title: Re: GNS
Post by: greyorm on April 27, 2005, 05:45:41 AM
Quote from: dancross
Narrativist [ The Method Actor ]

See, that's your problem, right there: Method Acting to achieve Narrativism? Like hell, I says! You're confusing technique with desired results. Narrativism does not have to be Method Acting.

Similarly, I'm personally surprised that you didn't put Storyteller into Narrativist, though in that case I would have said the same thing: Storytelling is not Narrativist, Narrativism might be Method Acting instead!

Or the Method Actor is employing that technique in an attempt to overcome various political and social challenges presented by the gamemaster in a highly role-playing centered game, where the reward and success is given for better acting.

Laws is describing behaviors, not goals.


Title: GNS
Post by: Troy_Costisick on April 27, 2005, 06:16:03 AM
Heya,

Quote
Narrativist [ The Method Actor ]


Being "in-character" is not necessarily narrativist, simulationist, or gamist.  Players in any of those three CA's can be a method actor.  For Gamists, method could be the arena of competition, for Sim's it could be the mode of Exloration, and in Narr it could be examining the human condition of wearing masks to protect ourselves- i.e. creating a ficticious persona to protect a hidden truth we hold secret.

I do not believe this classification is in any way mate-able to GNS.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: GNS
Post by: Bankuei on April 27, 2005, 06:57:12 AM
Hi,

I have to agree with folks here- the classifications of types of players here doesn't link up with the Creative Agendas of G, N, or S.  If you're having trouble getting some of the theory, feel free to lay out explicit questions.  

Chris


Title: GNS
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 27, 2005, 07:35:02 AM
Hey guys,

Why are you are jumpin' on a first-time poster like this? Back the fuck off. You may now imagine me smiling when I say that ... but it's that kind of smile. Bucket + cold water + your head.

I'll take over for a bit, in my next post. This one's short to avoid cross-posts.

Best,
Ron


Title: GNS
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 27, 2005, 07:43:27 AM
Hi Dan, let's start over.

First of all, I totally accept your desire to approach this conversation from the perspective of player 'types.' That will work fine, because the Creative Agenda categories (G, N, S) are not player types. So we don't need to match anything. What we need to do is see how various player types (as you've presented them) interrelate with the CA categories.

Have you checked out the introductory part of the Provisional Glossary, in the Articles section? It includes a useful diagram. I like to think of the Big Model as a bunch of nested spheres. Social Contract is the biggest, on the outside, then the next one inside is Exploration, then the next is Techniques, and the innermost one is Ephemera.

With that in mind, Creative Agenda may be thought of as a nail, or arrow, or skewer that "holds it together" in the case of a given group. It's all those interactions which reinforce our shared understanding and appreciation of why we're doing this. It also provides a kind of groundwork for why we're picking and sticking with particular combinations of Techniques, which is best understood as the direct interface between the Exploration sphere (the System part) and the Techniques sphere.

That's really abstract, isn't it? In plain language, I'm saying that you won't be able to match a Creative Agenda type to a person, because a person is (with others) making and expressing the Whole Thing, not just the CA. A lot of what you're talking about (and what any "personality type" or "gamer type" list is talking about) is best traced vertically through the model ... yes, you'd follow CA to see what the people are doing, but you'd also need to know what kind of Social Contract they operate in, and also need to know what combinations of Techniques they're using (and how successfully).

Do Robin's Laws match up to different "permutations" or "option sets" of my Big Model? Yes they do. Do they match up to one aspect (even an important one) of the Big Model, in isolation? Nope. Not because the Model fails in some way, but because such a comparison doesn't make sense.

Let me know how that works. We might have to talk about some other things too, like what I mean by an "instance of play" and what I mean by "reward system."

Best,
Ron

P.S. Oh yeah, one last thing. It just so happens that people are often observed to cluster their play around a given Creative Agenda (Gamist, etc). So "player typing" gets used a lot in the trenches, i.e. dealing with issues and hassles within a given actual play context. But the terms do not require such typing and in fact are best understood without having to feel like they are personality descriptors.


Title: GNS
Post by: Faolan on April 27, 2005, 02:50:27 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
First of all, I totally accept your desire to approach this conversation from the perspective of player 'types.' That will work fine, because the Creative Agenda categories (G, N, S) are not player types. So we don't need to match anything. What we need to do is see how various player types (as you've presented them) interrelate with the CA categories.


Okay, good enough. As I said in an earlier post, it seems that the CA categories subsumed the player types (which was not to say they could be equated to the CAs themselves). And I postulated that some types as outlined by Laws matched better to some CA than others, but was unsure of any consistency in that regard.

Quote
Have you checked out the introductory part of the Provisional Glossary, in the Articles section? It includes a useful diagram. I like to think of the Big Model as a bunch of nested spheres. Social Contract is the biggest, on the outside, then the next one inside is Exploration, then the next is Techniques, and the innermost one is Ephemera.


Yes, I downloaded the chart. It, oddly enough, reminds me of the early work of philosopher Ken Wilber...what the Big Model is to games, the Great Chain of Being is to religion. But that's where the similarity ends. :)

Quote
With that in mind, Creative Agenda may be thought of as a nail, or arrow, or skewer that "holds it together" in the case of a given group.


And the Creative Agenda is always one of three types? Or can there be more than one Creative Agenda shot through Exploration and expressed through various Techniques?

Quote
It also provides a kind of groundwork for why we're picking and sticking with particular combinations of Techniques, which is best understood as the direct interface between the Exploration sphere (the System part) and the Techniques sphere.


Does the Creative Agenda determine Techniques, or do Techniques allow us to identify the Creative Agenda, almost like a kind of "involution"?

Quote
In plain language, I'm saying that you won't be able to match a Creative Agenda type to a person, because a person is (with others) making and expressing the Whole Thing, not just the CA.


So Creative Agenda is always group oriented (concerning everybody in the Social Contract) as a term?

Quote
A lot of what you're talking about (and what any "personality type" or "gamer type" list is talking about) is best traced vertically through the model ... yes, you'd follow CA to see what the people are doing, but you'd also need to know what kind of Social Contract they operate in, and also need to know what combinations of Techniques they're using (and how successfully).


Okay. Would you illustrate this point? If you were to vertically trace "storytelling" as understood by Robin Law's defintion through the model, what assumptions would you make about the kind of Social Contract the player operated in, and what would you assume would be the combination of Techinuqes used?  

Quote
Do Robin's Laws match up to different "permutations" or "option sets" of my Big Model? Yes they doDo they match up to one aspect (even an important one) of the Big Model, in isolation? Nope.


Can you define an "option set" of your Big Model? Do you have such option sets already sketched out in a seperate article. That sounds like an interesting topic all on its own.

Quote
Not because the Model fails in some way, but because such a comparison doesn't make sense.


Don't worry, I don't understand your Model well enough to judge it. All I know is that it's very interesting. I always thought of RPGs from the standpoint of player types, so your approach is different, almost like a objective sociology study.  

Quote
Let me know how that works. We might have to talk about some other things too, like what I mean by an "instance of play" and what I mean by "reward system."


Sounds like interesting stuff, but first I'd like to hear more about what you mean by option sets of your Big Model.

Quote
P.S. Oh yeah, one last thing. It just so happens that people are often observed to cluster their play around a given Creative Agenda (Gamist, etc). So "player typing" gets used a lot in the trenches, i.e. dealing with issues and hassles within a given actual play context. But the terms do not require such typing and in fact are best understood without having to feel like they are personality descriptors.


Why do you suppose people are observed clustering their play around a given Creative Agenda? I admit it is more than tempting to fall into "player typing" as you have it, which is why I have difficulty understanding why Law's player types cannot be subsumed under the CAs, other than the good reason you already gave: that CAs refer to a group experience rather than an individual's play style, by necessity.

Am I on the right track?


Title: GNS
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 28, 2005, 02:23:26 PM
Sorry man, I don't do well with line-by-line replying. Give me a day or two to mull over your post and work up a reply.

Wanted to let you know I wasn't ignoring it.

Best,
Ron


Title: GNS
Post by: Faolan on April 28, 2005, 06:06:40 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Sorry man, I don't do well with line-by-line replying. Give me a day or two to mull over your post and work up a reply.

Wanted to let you know I wasn't ignoring it.

Best,
Ron


Okay, cool, I'm still watching. I look forward to your reply.


Title: GNS
Post by: Faolan on May 07, 2005, 08:19:30 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Sorry man, I don't do well with line-by-line replying. Give me a day or two to mull over your post and work up a reply.

Wanted to let you know I wasn't ignoring it.

Best,
Ron


Now I feel abandoned... :(


Title: GNS
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 08, 2005, 05:48:00 AM
You are right, and I was wrong to let you dangle. At any given moment, I was either distracted by those two grossly bloated contemporary threads, or just forgot.

Later today.

Best,
Ron


Title: GNS
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 08, 2005, 11:48:19 AM
Hi Dan,

Again, my apologies for coming back to this so late.

I think the main point to start with is this “group” issue. The answer to whether CA is an individual or group affair is … well, yes and no. I’ll start to explain this apparent ambiguity with a quote of mine from a recent post:

Quote
Distinguishing between individual and social CA is a lost cause. It's only meaningful in the context of disconnecting them, which by definition moves us into dysfunctional play. When talking about functional (Fun) play, the individual CAs are always relevant to the social one(s).

This is not to say that every single person at the table must have identical CA concerns - but it does say that socially, their concerns should be compatible if the game is to yield any Fun. (That current Actual Play thread about Illusionist D&D is a grim and terrifying case in point.)

Therefore it's best to focus on those social interactions and to derive the functional CA, if present, from them. Delving into individual heads to find CA is a fucking huge waste of time.

Far better to focus on actual play examples and to reflect on them as if from the others' point of view, or as if from the point of view of an observer.

Please note these "as ifs." They are important. I'm not saying an observer would be best. I'm saying that to have been a participant, but to reflect as if an observer, is best.


That’s not 100% to your point, but it’s a start. What I’m saying is that we each have an individual drive toward seeing a CA realized socially. A wholly individualized CA is nonsensical in applied terms.

If you analogize it to a sporting activity, I think that might help. In a fully functional event of this kind, we all bring the desire to play … but that desire only makes sense (gets raised, gets satisfied) when it’s expanded into an across-individuals social construct.

Now for the “clustering” thing – since RPGs are not like sports in that different CAs are not only possible but likely, we have a lot of diversity out there.

So we have to deal with two kinds of “clustering” – one, the social one, which is to say how we communicate and agree upon (possibly compromise) upon the CA. As people here know, I suggest that maintaining the social connection but failing explicitly to support a group CA is by and large less satisfying – even though it seems to be something of a subcultural ideal for gamers. I call this Incoherent play, and my claim is that it is more vulnerable to failure (“un-fun” dysfunctional play). Not doomed to such failure, but more vulnerable to it.

I bring this up because Robin’s Laws seem, to me, ultimately aimed at this goal: “Let’s all get along even though we want different things.” I see most of the discussion in this work to be effective patches for what I consider to be a social ailment best avoided in the first place.

But the second sort of “clustering” is what you asked about – the tendency for a given person to drive toward a particular CA. This is interesting in terms of gamer subculture, given the overall acceptance that Incoherent play is somehow ideal. I suggest that two things are at work.

a) Some people may indeed be inclined to focus on a given CA very much on a preferential, “what I like” basis. In most leisure culture, this (rather, its equivalent) is considered normal. I suggest, however, that most people could enjoy all three of the CAs we’ve identified for role-playing, given systems that support them and which fulfill other interests too (e.g. specific strategies, certain premises, etc).

b) Some people may have experienced such frustration with seeing one or any CA come to fruition during play, that they become obsessive about getting it to happen – often, given gamer culture, adopting manipulative and unpleasant means of doing so, like preventing others from having fun or bullying them, etc.

The bad part about these claims, or observations, or whatever you call them, is that people instantly think that I must be providing some kind of Meyers-Briggs personality type matrix for gamers to get slotted into, especially an essentialist one. This is bullshit. And although I’m on record as saying I do use GNS to classify actual people, I consider this to be a historical artifact of (b) above being very, very common.

The good part about them is that we (i.e. the Forge collectively) have observed many people to arrive in a condition of (b), and end up in a condition of (a). For instance, six or seven years ago, I was only interested in Narrativist play, and openly frustrated with, even contemptuous, of Simulationist play, and quite “blah” about Gamist play. Now I’m happy with all three, although to be sure within specific applications, especially for the latter two.

Now, those specific applications! That’s what I’m talking about with “option sets,” or combinations of Techniques. It’s understandable that you’d want to know more about them … unfortunately, asking about them is a little like saying, “Gee, tell me about different sorts of mammals.” It’d take a damn long time. For now, what I’ll say is that the core of any System is a reward structure, and that both character creation and event resolution during play are best understood as prompting and “cycling through” that reward structure. Beyond that, I strongly recommend checking out the "Technical Agenda" blog piece by Vincent Baker (4-25-05) at Anyway (http://www.septemberquestion.org/lumpley/opine.html), which is a great summary of these very issues.

Finally, regarding Robin’s definition of “storytelling,” I am probably not the right person to address that question. Not without a break from composing this current honker, anyway. It’s a good question, though, and maybe someone else can help here. Chris Chinn, Vincent, Alan, anyone else?

Best,
Ron

edited to fix the link HTML


Title: GNS
Post by: Vaxalon on May 08, 2005, 12:16:48 PM
You could probably cross-referense the Laws Player Types with the Forge Creative Agendas and get eighteen mutually valid "play journeys"... that is, route and destination.


Title: GNS
Post by: Faolan on May 08, 2005, 02:19:57 PM
Hi Ron. No need to apologize; it’s not like I’m paying you for your time. My posting of abandonment issues was meant to be taken as an instance of levity.

So we’ve established that CA is an individual and group affair, but to distinguish between those aspects is a waste of time. As I understand it, you are saying that a better tool to diagnose and correct breakdowns in the social contract would be by examining instances of Incoherent and Dysfunctional play (or Abashed play).
Coherence then is the “holy grail”, but to try and achieve it by honoring all play styles (or CAs) at once leads only to Incoherent play, if not Dysfunctional play. This is in direct opposition to Law’s “egalitarian” constructions.  Correct?

You made the analogy to sporting activity, which I understood. The same analogy could apply to musicians who play together but enjoy different styles of music. They might dissolve into bickering over how jazz is loftier than rock, or they may put their individuals tastes aside and jam, but it’s unlikely they’ll come together and form a coherent and lasting band unless they share the same creative agenda (in terms of music style). This second analogy better addresses diversity in taste, if I’m following your argument correctly.

Social clustering in the context of the musicians analogy above concerns compromise (or lack thereof) in the styles of music preferred. As you might say, they might be able to play together and have some fun, but the “magic” doesn’t happen unless you have a bunch of people playing a style for which they all feel a passion. I bet your terms would translate well to the problems many garage bands face...Incoherent play through each player aggressively “pulling” in the direction of his own musical preferences (‘no’ said the drummer, ‘I don’t think any song should be played at that tempo’). The second type of clustering (I like jazz best...I like rock) is not so much a problem if everybody can compromise. This group is not doomed, but certainly vulnerable to it, right? So too with various preferences in an RPG group.

I understand now that you’re not creating a personality type matrix. It’s good to see that you don’t hold one type of play above others. As you said, you simply liked one sort more than the others for a while. I guess after reading “Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering” I’ve been heavily indoctrinated in the cult of Dysfunctional play. ;)

I’ll read the blog you pointed me to, but you might you consider writing some articles on creating ideal option sets? I bet those would be popular? Or am I missing the point about the mammals? I might take a damn long time, but it sounds like a great PDF product you could sell on RPGNow.


Title: GNS
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 08, 2005, 03:26:07 PM
Hi Dan!

The band analogy almost works. The trouble with it is that at least all the bands you're talking about are interested in playing music. I'd put CA on an even more diverse level of human priority ... maybe more on the level of "making tons of money" vs. "playing best music possible" vs. "getting chicks." These aren't directly analogous to role-playing CAs, but they are really different, as first priorities. I'm putting CA way up there at that level, when people are really going to disagree about where the final 15% of group effort is going to go.

That's also why I don't use the word "style" to discuss Creative Agenda. To me (rightly or wrongly), the word concerns superficialities, like what sorts of hats people want to wear. Or maybe not total superficialities (hats may indicate what gang one belongs to, for instance), but still versions of basically the same thing, rather than different things altogether.

This guy wants to ride his motorcycle, this other guy wants to show his motorcycle in contests, and yet this other guy wants to sell his motorcycle. That's not a matter of "style." That's agenda. (ah! best analogy so far, I think; better than my band one)

As for this whole "option set" thing, I decided to address it mainly through game design itself. Sorcerer, Elfs, and Trollbabe are pretty lean & focused as far as RPGs go, and I am fairly proud of them in terms of whittling thousands of role-playing design options into integrated packages. Maybe my real answer to you regarding "sets" of Techniques is to gesture vaguely toward the various games across the Forge - from fully developed and published titles to the one-page summaries currently sparking and crackling in Indie Design.

Best,
Ron