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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Bret on December 04, 2001, 08:05:00 PM

Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Bret on December 04, 2001, 08:05:00 PM
Okay, all of this stuff is over my head. I've read the theory, read through some of the discussions, and my big question is: What is the usefulness of this?

I'm not saying that it's useless, just that the usefulness of it isn't readily apparent to me. :wink:


Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 04, 2001, 08:16:00 PM
Hi Bret,

It's a classic case of personal mileage. I get a lot of testimonial emails of the "Oh my God I needed this" variety, and others of the "Hm, interesting," variety.

So if it doesn't seem worth it to you, that's cool. The big GNS essay begins with a statement that it's written for people who are definitely unhappy with their role-playing experience, not to those who are sittin' pretty.

Very few RPG designers actually get to publish and profit from their material. The Forge boasts several members who have done so with multiple publications, including some who have come straight out of the woodwork (ie not already-established RPG folks). I claim that pound-for-pound, this site offers more insight about how to do that than any other. Granted, the publishing stuff that's currently posted is nowhere near where I'd like it to be, but the gathered experience, expertise, and willingness to help is extremely high-grade.


Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Bret on December 04, 2001, 08:39:00 PM
Oh, I was talking about the GNS model, not the web page itself. I've found the web-page to be incredibly useful. :wink:


[ This Message was edited by: Bret on 2001-12-04 23:43 ]

Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Zak Arntson on December 05, 2001, 09:55:00 AM
For me, GNS helps me focus my game design. I think first about _how_ I want people to play my game, with GNS as a general guideline.

For example, with SLURPS, I want pure player vs. player competition. This would fall into the Gamist category. So then my game rules solely support this.  No extraneous stats for the Supplicant (like Strength, Agility, and so on).

Adventures in Space! is Simulationist, emulating the pulp sci-fi genre. So all the rules go to support this. A Hero's statistics are simply Words of Science and a Style. The conflict resolution rewards heroic roleplaying, using your Words and your Style.

Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Epoch on December 05, 2001, 10:17:00 AM
Hey, Bret,

I've found that the GNS is most useful to me just as a way to identify some behaviours of play.  I resist labelling myself or my style of play as "Xist," but when people here talk about shared author control or whatever, I can say, "Oh, yeah, even though I don't play too much like these people, there's a similarity there.  Do I want to emphasize that aspect of my game"?

Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Joe Murphy (Broin) on December 05, 2001, 10:37:00 AM
The GNS model, particularly as explained by the essay (may it never be deleted) showed me that I absolutely must use a rules system that supports my aims. If I want a cooperative, co-author game, then there's no point in using a system that opposes those aims.

I haven't run a game in months (a year?) as I felt jaded and upset with recent gaming experiences. The GNS model reminded me - it really *hit* me - that each of my players approached games in different, and equally valid, ways, and that there is no one Roleplaying Game.

(one game to rule them all and in the kitchen bind them)

Months ago, I ran a superhero game that failed after 6 weeks or so. Though the characters all had an interest in the superhero *genre*, they had disproportionate interests in the level of NPC interaction, exploration, moral debate, etc.

Thus, when I started a mailing list for my players at the weekend, rather than ask them what game (genre or setting) they wanted to play, I asked them about character, plot, premise, world building, exploration and so on.

I am now *so* enthused to see that the things that players have in common. If 5 of them all want character interaction, then in a sense, the actual game or setting should come second to that goal.

No longer should I say 'Who wants to play Exalted'? Exalted will be a different game to every player.

Joe, quite long-winded today.

Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: jburneko on December 05, 2001, 10:37:00 AM

I have to jump in here because I'm at least one person who has gotten TONS of practical milage out of GNS and other parts of RPG theory.  

The first thing GNS has done is helped me clearify what exactly *I* want out of roleplaying and the various techniques that fasciliate and hider those goals.  Before I could read an RPG and get a feel for whether I liked it or not.  But now I can actually analize an RPG on a point by point basis.  I can identify individual rules that work for my personal goals and work against my personal goals.  Also before I came here, and anyone who saw my initial early posts can comfirm this, I thought that Author and Director Stance was probably the single most dangerous and suicidal thing a GM could give to his players.  But after long enough study I realized that hording those things for myself as a GM was counter productive to what I was trying to acomplish.  

The second thing it allowed me to do is identify the interests of my individual players.  I assumed that a lot of them had similar goals as me and in some cases I was right but in many cases I was wrong.  In the cases where I was right GNS and other theories allowed me to focus my GMing style so as to bring those common elements to the forefront of the game.  For those cases where I was wrong I've at least been able to identify where the departure on game goals lies and been able to articulate those differences.

The third and final thing that has GNS has done is allowed me to appreciate good game design when I see it.  Take D&D3E for example.  Before I came here I probably would have been one of those people who just plain hated D&D and thought it was a really poorly designed game.  But it isn't.  It doesn't accord with my personal gaming goals but it accords highly with those of Gamism.  I can now look at something like D&D3E and say, "Wow, what really great Gamist design.  Not for me.  But good design."  An extension of this is when I walk into another GM's game.  Based on some initial decisions I can decide what the orientation of the GM is and I can enjoy the game a lot more because I adjust my expectations and personal agendas to fit the expected style of the game.

I guess on a down side it's made me a much more critical person when it comes to either bad game design or especially bad GMing.  It's become very easy to spot GMs and Players who really don't understand why they're gaming in the first place.  These are the people who say, "Because it's fun." but can't tell you WHY it's fun for them.  I find that playing with these people is very anoying because their games are very scattered and confused.  I'm not saying that people should focus on only one style but they should at least understand the elements of each style they enjoy and a surprisingly large number of gamers just don't, not even intuitively without having read GNS theory.

Just my personal experiences.


Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Balbinus on December 05, 2001, 12:11:00 PM
Personally I have no great love of GNS, having said that I have found it useful at times.

How?  In my group I have two players who's gaming preferences I often found mysteriously at odds with my own.  They often seemed to be having fun, but often also would seem to be trying to do something radically different with the game than I was.  Occasionally they would make assumptions about things that would happen in game which I just did not share.

Where GNS helped is that I realised they enjoyed gamism far more than the simulationism with occasional narrativist tinge I enjoy.  Understanding this has made it easier for me to inject elements into the games which they will enjoy whilst retaining elements which I and the players who share my bias will also enjoy.  It has made the group easier to run games for and means I now understand why what they want is sometimes so different from what I do.

So, I retain two excellent players and have a better running group.  There are still tensions, as they find rewarding some things which I do not and vice versa, but it's a way towards a compromise which is not always a bad thing.

Hope that helps.

Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 05, 2001, 03:04:00 PM
In addition to the basic theory of GNS, a lot of critical debate has arisen around the subject. I think that this has often led to understanding on other subjects that are as important, if not more so, than GNS itself. I think the primary impoortance of GNS was to say that we can create a lexicon to discuss RPG issues in a rational manner.

That being said, there is a lot of debate over the terms. But that just indicates that there is a lot of important stuff that we're digging at here. If you compare the dialog here to that elsewhere, you'll often find terms emerging there as well, but usually in a rather haphazard fashion. Many gamers feel that there are the same truths underneath gaming, but can not converse about it effectively as they have no language to use. The Forge has gone a long way in mending that,at least locally.

I don't know if the terms here will ever become universal, but at least the quality of debate here will remain very high.



Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Bret on December 05, 2001, 04:40:00 PM
Wow. I could not have asked for better answers. Thank you everyone. :smile: ::bustles off to study GNS::


Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Paul Czege on December 05, 2001, 08:20:00 PM
Hey Bret,

When I first encountered GNS theory on Gaming Outpost almost a year and a half ago, the threads didn't start with such polite requests for insight into the utility of the theory. They started with the assertion that the theory had negative utility! The criticism was that the GNS model was "divisive."

And I couldn't disagree more.

Prior to my encounter with GNS, my friends and I talked endlessly about games, reminiscing about those we'd played years before. There was this question that would come up every couple of months. "Why aren't we gaming?" And that would prompt some activity. Someone would start planning a campaign. And that would provoke a politics to rival Byzantium at its worst. We would network, kibbitz, and make alliances, each of us advocating his personal perspective on what the game should be. But we hardly ever played.

When one of us started planning something, it was like the others pinned all our personal hopes on that game. We behaved like we thought if we could just advocate and elucidate our perspective, impress it upon the others to create a common vision, our hopes for the game would be realized. It killed every game, most before character creation; of the two or three we actually played in the last seven years, not one survived five game sessions. And personally I hadn't actually run a game in ten years.

GNS discussions on Gaming Outpost in August of 2000 were key to enabling me to create and run a complete Everway scenario (which took six sessions) by laying out all my Narrativist objectives up front. It was the first  scenario I'd ever run to completion that took more than one game session, ever.

And that was just the beginning. This past year I've been playing and running games like a fiend. And I'm having a blast! My girlfriend is in my current group and she's awesome. People might argue that GNS is divisive, but it's not true. I've gamed more in the past year than I did in the prior fifteen years combined.

And all it took was getting past the idea of the "one true game," and having the right language to discuss our differences in preferred modes of play and the games and mechanics that best support those preferred modes.


[ This Message was edited by: Paul Czege on 2001-12-05 23:21 ]

Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: Laurel on December 06, 2001, 09:20:00 AM
I've really gotten a lot out of everyone's answers.  Here's mine.  GNS is meaningful for me in two major ways.  The first is that I enjoy reading and occasionally participating in the psychological and philosophical analysis of why "X" seems to be broken and, taken to another step, how "X" can be fixed to provide maximum player and GM satisfaction.  I am inclined to believe that system does matter :smile:

Secondly, it helps me enormously to analyze what specific players need out of a game in order to have fun.  I can try to shepherd players with the same primary goals(based on GNS) to play with each other.  This has saved me some
headaches since Thanksgiving with my return to being a senior  online moderator of a big 1000+ player game.  Encouraging gamists to play with gamists, narrativists with narrativists, etc., does seem to cut down on the number of heated OOC debates and disputes.

Title: Question from a Clueless Newbie
Post by: hardcoremoose on December 06, 2001, 10:01:00 AM
Hey there,

Just chiming in for the hell of it.

Like Paul and many others, GNS helped me put a name and face to my needs as a gamer.  It was especially helpful in allowing me to "play" games, as opposed to always being the GM; knowing what I wanted out of a game helped me to enjoy that other aspect of the hobby.

There's another reason for all this GNS stuff, and it harks back to something Ron once said to me.  I can only paraphrase, but it went something to the effect of:

'There's this myth out there that thinking deeply about something somehow makes it less fun.'

Apart from all of their utility, these discussions - the arguments, the debates, all of it - are a lot of fun.

I just wish I could keep up with it all.

- Scott