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IntraGalactic League of Sims

Started by Stacey Lucht, March 11, 2004, 07:16:54 AM

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Stacey Lucht

Quote from: Mark JohnsonA website can't join, but similarly a website can't refuse to join either.

I set up a thread at the IntraGalactic League of Sims about "What is Simming?"  I hope to get some answers either here or there.


Mark, that is actually not-correct.  As of this afternoon, the senate passed a constitutional amendment to Section 1.1 of the constitution regarding membership requirements.  Passing this amendment allows such communities as yourself to qualified to join the league.  

So, to counter your comment, yes...The Forge is qualified for league membership.

Stacey Lucht, President
IntraGalactic League of Sims

Mark Johnson


Although there are various media sims, most of simming seems to have arisen through Star Trek due to the confluence of cheap consumer bulleting board access with Prodigy starting in the late 1980s and Star Trek: The Next Generations place in the zeitgeist at that time.  And yes, despite the simming history link which is perplexed by this because of a Prodigy document from 1992 which specifically banned role playing, I do recall seeing people engaging in Star Trek freeform roleplaying on Prodigy circa 1989-90 (and it was very popular and like anything on Prodigy that was popular at that time it was promptly banned because of the cost of providing unlimited access at that time)

In my opinion, most of modern day simming (there was a mention of Star Trek play by mail fanzines from the '70s who did something similar) probably arose by Star Trek fans who signed off their Prodigy posts (circa 1989-90) with appropriate naval titles before their names:  "Corporal Mark" and "Captain Mike"  This led to bits of free-form role-playing as various cliques formed each taking a "ship".   This led to an immediate problem of social contract: any newbie could come in and claim to be "Admiral Steve" in a grab for instant protaganism.   Because of this clubs were formed to regulate who could have what titles.  Now Bob Newbie couldn't come in a claim to be Captain, the title had to be earned by long time participation on the bulletin boards.

As the 90's progressed, the rise of AOL created two new wrinkles in simming: the chat room and the general public.  Because AOL at the time required you to pay for each additional hour over a certain amount (5 - 20 hours a month) most people dedicated themself to one sim only which were evidently fairly high quality.  However, when AOL went to unlimited billing in 96 it created an explosion in simming and competition was fostered between clubs for members.  As the Star Trek franchise has faded in recent years, this has created even further competition between clubs for a limited number of players which has led to the need for judicial bodies to resolve disputes between clubs (however there are now competing judicial bodies of which Stacey's league is just one).

It looks to me like, although in theory simming is a simulationist activity, there are some very competitive elements:  who has the best rank, who is on the best ships, which ships have the most active players, which club has the most members, which club recruits the most members.  I am not sure I would classify this as gamist though since the competition is not often expressed in play (except rank).

I got the following reply from Seth Curry on Stacey's site regarding simming where he answers some basic questions:

Quote from: Semator Seth Curry
Quote from: Mark Johnson"What is Simming?"

Simming in question is a synonym (sp.) for role playing.  There are plenty of resources out there that define simming.  Some of which are:

Center of Simming Research
IntraGalactic League of Sims

Since the majority of the groups that are league members are Star Trek groups, I'll use them as an example.  In your basic star trek sim, (which is short for simulation.) the simmer (which is the person participating in the game) chooses and creates a character based on the Television series of Star Trek, the genre depending on the Captain or senior most officer in the simulation.  You (the player) creates the background story for the character and then during the sims and the log writing, the character get's developed.  

A simulation varies in style, all depending on how the Commanding Officer has the sim setup to their liking.  A sim uses either Email, Chat or Message Boards.  The majority of simming nowadays is being done in chatrooms and email, very little do you see message boards.  As far as chatrooms go, most simming groups use the AOL/AIM style chat rooms for simming.  For a chat based sim, it is one hour long.  

Quote from: Mark Johnson" Is this a fancy word for (tabletop) roleplaying or Larping?"

I have never heard of larping...would appreciate your incite regarding that...  But, simming has nothing to do with "tabletop" roleplaying.  Althought the league does not prohibit "tabletop" groups to join, there has never been one that applied.  Like I mentioned above, simming is a synonym for online roleplaying.

Quote from: Mark Johnson"Does this refer to the Sims video game?"

Simming refers to emulating television shows in the form of online role playing.  So, no it does not include the Sims video game.

Quote from: Mark Johnson"Is it a form of hard core chat room role playing?"

What do you mean by hardcore chat room role playing.  Sim groups use either chat rooms, email or message boards.  Again it all depends on what the leadership for each group decides to use.

Quote from: Mark Johnson"What exactly do your members do?"

This is kind of a broad question, but I'll try to answer it the best I can.  I've been in this league since it's inception.  My group was one of the founding member clubs.  Except for the past 4-8 months, we've been active in the league since the beginning and even when we we're just observers...we still we're very active.

Members of the league can choose to help with organizing league sponsored events like the annual Tournament of Sims or staffing a bureau like the Web development Bureau or the Bureau of Records or Elections.  Members as far as representives for member clubs have a duty to report to the league regarding the events of their club or organization and vice versa.  They also vote and debate on current bills in the senate.

Quote from: Mark Johnson"How you do it, what are some good sims, is there rules, how to learn more? And, even more interestingly, tell us about the demographics: What kind of people, in what countries, do it? Evidently we have here the rare kind of beast which uses web routinely but doesn't know what tabletop roleplaying is, doesn't seem to have the slightest hint about it. What other hobbies people in simming usually have, what do you chat about when not simming? Who are your idols, what kind of insider stories are told, what is the history of simming? Where does it originate? I have a feeling that we might be witnessing an indigenous form of roleplaying not having anything to do with Gary Gygax, if their president doesn't know about what it is we do."

I could go and describe and explain everything about how simming is done, but that would be a futile effort due to that fact that every group is done all depends on the leadership of each club and how they like to run their group...the league does not intervene in the internal affairs of others...which would violate the member clubs rights.

Again...this is a league that reaches out to online role playing...not "tabletop"

When we're not simming...we'll we don't sim on the league's boards and you pretty much have a good idea what goes on here just from looking at the 300+ posts that are here.  Topics on these boards can range anyway from the Community section of the club representative reporting on their club's activity to the Senate, where the senators are voting and debating and the Court where an accused is being placed on trial.

The history of simming and the history of the league is available on the league's website under Resources.

In Feb. 2001 the group, the United Federation of Planets and Imperial Planetary Confederation became a member of the Simming League. It was then that the reasons of strive and war between groups was becomming noticeable by the members of the simming league. Becoming completely discontent with the services that the Simming League offered, the UFP and IPC left the simming league in October and was joined with the Galactic Empire group.

The league originated after representitives from the Galactic Empire, Imperial Planetary Confederation and United Federation of Planets met and sought solutions to the ever-growing problems in the simming league and that was when it was decided to form a new league without corruption.

Quote from: Mark Johnson"You wrote that people "get together and hang out, exchange roleplaying ideas, voice their concerns and participate in community activities." Could you maybe present a few "roleplaying ideas," "concerns" of the nature that simmers might discuss, and the kind of "community activities" that you host?"

Roleplaying could be a group submitting their group's constitution to the league for any group to use as their own.  Another could be a senate proposing the creation of a simming academy in the members area for consideration before sending to the senate.  

As far as could be if someone if causing trouble in a league group...the group's leader is informing the league of the troublemaker to warn all other groups.

Community Activities....once a year we plan and sponsor the Tournament of Sims and twice a year we sponsor an Open sim in addition to the Simming Academy and the countless department of the league.

Quote from: Mark Johnsons this a rival organization. Why the split?

We do not consider the simming league to be a rival organization.  We view the simming league to be completely corrupt, which was why my group left them.


It looks like Stacey is in the middle of a competitive race for re-election.  Hence the recruiting drive?


Stacey Lucht

The re-election for league President isn't the sole reason that I initiated such a mass-recruiting drive.  My goals for president which I announced when I won the prior election last September, we're to expand the league's community and membership base.  I just simply haven't gotten around to doing it until now.

Stacey Lucht, President
IntraGalactic League of Sims


There are 3 really interesting points I take out of this Mark

1) very much what I had in mind when I referred to it as a hard core chat room RPG.  When I first joing AOL way back in the day, the chat rooms were new and novel and I spent some time looking around (eventually fleeing in fear from the vast time sucking sound that could be heard from them).  Alot of these chat groups were engaging in free forming.  Rooms like the Red Dragon Inn (which I noted just now is still around) were full of free form play.  Don't know what it looks like now, but back then it was very was more of a chat room blog done in character where the characters were a pastiche of what seemed like D&D characters all meeting up in the ubiquitous tavern.  Basically humans chatting with each other using lots of thees and thous and and bragging about how many dragons they just slew.  Lots of cult of personality pecking order establishment and lots of really pathetic attempts to flirt with any screen name who looked and acted female.  

This simming sounds like a much more structured, taken seriously, not putting up with petty social crap, form of that which is why I referred to it as hard core.

2) There seems to be alot more structure and rules applied to how groups interact with other groups and how the people of the groups interact with each other than there are actual rules for how the characters in the sim interact with each other.  I get the feeling that the rules are primarily of the nature "whatever the commanding officer says goes and if you don't like it you find another group or start your own" variety.  Perhaps this is a misinterpretation based on the fact that this thread focused on the inter group stuff rather than the intra group stuff.  

But I'm really curious to know what a typical rules set for regulating who gets to say what and when looks like.  Is there one, or is it all personality driven?  I also wonder if there's been an attempt to unify the rules sets the way Minds Eye tries to write rules sets for Larping, which some groups adapt and some groups keep using their own rules.

3) I'm really surprised by how little overlap there appears to be between people engaged in what is basically a form of roleplaying. Seth Curry's unfamiliarity with the existance of LARPing.  Our own unfamiliarity with the existance of Simming, and what seems like only a minimal acknowledgement from the simmers of table top, primarily just to say "this isn't it".  Pretty astonishing, when the core act of what we're all doing is so similiar.  Makes me wonder how big the industry might be if we weren't all fragmented and isolated.

I for one had figured this form of chat room roleplaying had largely dwindled after the explosion in MMORPGs, which are essentially for most players nothing more than chat rooms with a 3d graphics engine attached.  If you've every played a MMORPG you can go to whereever the "crafter" types hang out and get a feel for what chat room RPing of the form I described above looks like.  In my experience since crafting doesn't require changing geographic location often, people who just want to sit and BS in character tend to congregate in a convenient area and become craftsmen, engaging in the actual game world only tangentially with their primary purpose of chat.

There are substantially fewer chat rooms on AOL that I can immediately identify as being RP hangouts.  Besides the Red Dragon most seem to be either Trek or Harry Potter rooms, and some of those may actually just be straight fan sites rather than sim or RP sites.  Most of the chat rooms on AOL these days are either "I have a problem comisserate with me" rooms, "I'm a minority lets hang out together rooms", or "I'm a fan of some pop star lets gush about how much we love them rooms".

The various simming groups mentioned in this thread all seem to be based on licensed properties, so I wonder if that isn't the primary reason why chat room / email based free form RPing has survived.

Stacey, are all or the majority of your members simming a specific property (like Trek, or Charmed) because that was your organizations original focus, or are most of the sim groups out there property specific.

I wonder if most of the generic fantasy world based chat room RPing didn't dwindle and migrate to Ever Quest as I speculated above, leaving behind primarily the property specific titles for which there wasn't an appropriate MMORPG.  I wonder if Star Wars simming groups experienced a drop in membership from members (even entire groups) migrating to Star Wars Galaxy to have the oportunity to chat in costume.

Interesting stuff.

Mark Johnson

Quote from: ValamirBut I'm really curious to know what a typical rules set for regulating who gets to say what and when looks like.  Is there one, or is it all personality driven?  I also wonder if there's been an attempt to unify the rules sets the way Minds Eye tries to write rules sets for Larping, which some groups adapt and some groups keep using their own rules.

It looks like methods and practices vary depending on the club ranging from freeform to GMed and diced approaches.  It appears that table top roleplaying affected some clubs more than others as can be seen here:

Quote from: Chas HammerIn addition to the Fanzine roots, early simming, with its character structure, general styles, and the use of online dice to divine the outcome of events, strongly resembled off line role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, and all of this spilled over into early sims. For example, early sims even used dice, just like the role playing games do. When exactly the use of dice in simming disappeared I do not know, but Admiral Nfo, the second in command of STS, reported to me that early simmers frequently used online dice, and SFOL had provisions in its rule book on how to use online dice in a sim. So, this provides further evidence that fanzines and offline role playing games and their players simply moved online and started to sim in the early 90s.

Most early simmers, myself included, already possessed years of off line role playing experience. This not only helps to explain the high quality and spontaneity of the early simming world, but it also made it such that early simmers already understood the intricacies of role playing. Thus, if people already understood role playing, they could modify it online, by dropping the use of dice for example, and everyone would still be skilled enough to follow what was going on in the sim.

In most places, the use of dice simply disappeared and a general unwritten understanding about how to keep a sim flowing with out an official way to divine the outcome of events went into effect.

STS however, was not comfortable with giving up dice and leaving it to the whims of the simmers to determine, as a group, the outcome of events in a sim. So, they took the concept of the roleplaying Game Master and used it to create the position of Sim Master so that there would be one official person to determine fate in the sims.

The concept of the Sim Master is perhaps STS' greatest contribution to the simming world. It was invented by TrekGuru, who joined STS in 1994, or more accurately, joined AdmTrekker's collection of simming friends who eventually became STS. She loved D&D and thought the free form of simming that had abandoned dice and was being practiced on Trekker's ship and just about everywhere else was "lame." While in 1994 and 1995, myself and others enjoyed the free for all simming style, in retrospect it was only possible because so many people who were simming also had offline role playing experience and knew the boundaries.

TrekGuru could see ahead to a day when that was not the case. She could see ahead to today and the chaos and the dumbing down of simming that would occur when people no longer had that offline experience. An era of sims that are nothing but mindless battles that appeal to an unskilled mass appeal audience. She did not like "Everyone going everywhere with no performed concept of play. So, I talked to Trekker into letting me "DM" a sim with a concept only I would know. I was the computer, the enemies and the universe."

In my own humble opinion, I now find the Sim Master form of simming to be more interesting, more fun, and a whole lot better. It makes the sims more realistic and intriguing. Sadly for simming, TrekGuru did not come along until 1994. By this time, the simming world was already established and expanding in every direction. Had she come along a few years earlier, the Sim Master probably would have become a staple of Trek simming. But by 1994, the Sim Master concept was relegated to a niche of clubs in the cultural influence of STS, TOL being one of them.

Even though the usage of dice disappeared from modern simming, and the adoption of the SM came too late, leaving simming to forever drift in a random free for all style.

As for rules, other than the diced and Sim Mastered options that are detailed above, most of the rules are rather free-form usually simply giving authority to the commanding officer who has some GM type powers.  Note the rules from the GSF club.

Quote from: GSF HandbookGeneral Rules
No member of GSF or any of it's affiliates will attack or harass another member.

All guest simmers must ask for the the Co's permission to sim, also write a mail to the group leader indicating that the person was there.

All people while in that sim are to follow the CO's orders.

There is to be no Q or god like powers, all unknown and other races must be approved by the group leader.

There is to be no false information or information left out on the application.

The group leader reserves the right to add rules at any time.

Individual ships and divisions may have additional rules that apply to that ship or divison only, however those rules must not counter a rule in this page (Ie: can't make a rule of you can have a Q powers, because the Main rules state you cannot.)

There are also rules for promotions, titles and dealing with other clubs.  However, in terms of actual written rule sets, most clubs rules are unstated, more concerned with apportioning authority than creating an authoritative ruleset.

There does seem to be a bigger market out there of role players, but if they are only tied to licensed properties, I am not sure how well an indie RPG can reach that market.


Stacey Lucht

I do see your point...however, if you dont mind my never hurts to make an effort.

Stacey Lucht, President
IntraGalactic League of Sims


I'm a little curious about this thread.  I thought the forum was for discussion of The Forge, but it currently seems to be about everything but.  Am I just smoking crack again, or has this forum taken a serious detour?
Clay Dowling - Online Campaign Planning and Management

M. J. Young

Clay--I believe what has happened is that a thread began asking whether The Forge would be interested in becoming a member of a Sims organization, and that led to intense discussion of what that meant. Thus this is on one level about The Forge, although mostly it appears to be about Simming.

Ralph's post is an interesting summary of a lot; I had a couple of comments that sprang from it.

The AOL chatroom connection is predated by Quantum Link. This service for Commodore users was in every way the precursor to AOL--AOL was designed by the same company on the same model, with a strong emphasis on chatrooms and social interaction along with specific areas dedicated to information services. Even the Red Dragon Inn (RDI) began on Q-link and was exported to AOL.

In its early days, RDI was even less structured than you describe. I was there in the early 80's, when AOL was a gleam in someone's eye, and RDI at that point was a place for fantasy play in the broadest sense--aliens, space marines, spies, cowboys, and just about any other genre character you could name made regular appearances in the room, doing everything from chatting to flirting to fighting to composing poetry.

Having attempted to do structured role play in AOL chatrooms, I am not at all surprised that it has faded from view. We were regularly interrupted by people who charged into our game, announced what they were doing to completely alter our shared imaginary space, and then left in a huff when we told them that there were rules and a referee present. However, I'm not sure whether a survey of rooms will give you a real feeling for what is there. As I recall (I avoid chat now) AOL allows you to establish either public or private chatrooms. You cannot view a private chatroom unless you know the name of it. Thus if I were playing an online game on AOL, I would tell my players the name of the room and meet them there. An outside observer would not see our game when they called up room lists, and so would not be able to count us.

Note also that chat rooms are user-driven; if no one is in a room, it ceases to exist. Thus the ratio of types of rooms will shift.

It does appear that there is a tremendous amount of seminal influence from RPGs to Sims; most of the founding players were shifting from the home game to the Internet game, and you'll note that AOL chatrooms still have built-in dice rolling function (anyone can type the command to roll the dice, and the chatroom will return the results).

I wonder to what degree Simmers could be interested in the original version of the role playing hobby. Like many CRPG players, they seem unaware that there is a non-technological origin for what they do, despite the influence that impacts it.

Side question for Stacy:

I run a Multiverser role playing game on the Gaming Outpost forum. At present we have seven active players (including me), but we also have seven others who just haven't posted in a long time (they never said they wouldn't be back, and at least one has been having technical difficulties and other pressures but apparently intends to continue play when she's able). We don't have any organizational structure--just the game rules themselves. As far as a licensed property is concerned, it's just the Multiverser concept (published, and there's a novel), which is rather general. do we qualify? I'm not certain we're exactly interested, but it occurs to me that being part of such an organization might have an advantage in making gamers aware of our existence.

--M. J. Young


simming sounds similar to MUDding, without a program directly supporting the roleplaying element (admittedly in most MUDs the programming is a combat engine, and roleplaying is determined by social contract, eg, is there roleplaying or just PK (player character kiling)? how strictly is roleplaying enforced/how well is it supported?)

stacey, is there interaction between the simming community and the vast MUDding community?

I wonder if">The Universalis Arena would count as a sim, it's certainly online roleplaying, but has the non-traditional stance of not relating each player to a particular character

the sentiment for a Grand Unified Roleplaying Community is interesting and deserves a thread of its own; I'm not sure how achievable it will be to promote such a sentiment (personally I'm a dabbler in alternate (non-tabletop) roleplaying forms)

Stacey Lucht

Quote from: M. J. YoungSide question for Stacy:

I run a Multiverser role playing game on the Gaming Outpost forum. At present we have seven active players (including me), but we also have seven others who just haven't posted in a long time (they never said they wouldn't be back, and at least one has been having technical difficulties and other pressures but apparently intends to continue play when she's able). We don't have any organizational structure--just the game rules themselves. As far as a licensed property is concerned, it's just the Multiverser concept (published, and there's a novel), which is rather general. do we qualify? I'm not certain we're exactly interested, but it occurs to me that being part of such an organization might have an advantage in making gamers aware of our existence.

--M. J. Young

The constitution is pretty vague on most areas, however, it's really clear on membership requirements, which is stated under Section 1.1 which will be quote here.

Quote from: League Constitution - Section 1.1 Membership Requirements1) Requirements

Any independent sim, independent sim club, independent sim group or website community of 30 or more active members, which has been active for at least 6 months may join the IntraGalactic League Of Sims as a full member. Any independent sim, independent sim club, independent sim group or website community that has been active for at least 1 year, and has at least 20 active members, may join the IntraGalactic League Of Sims as a full member. Any independent sim, club, group or website community which do not meet these requirements may join as an observer.

If your group does not fall under either requirements for being a full-member of the league, you'd be able to join the league as an observer.  Which isn't a bad thing, as you wouldn't need a senate vote for observer status.  The only downside is that your representative wouldn't be eligible to vote in the senate, but would be receiving all other benefits as a member.  Hope that your still interested.

Stacey Lucht, President
IntraGalactic League of Sims

Jack Spencer Jr

I sort of scanned this whole thread and what I don't get is what would be the benefeit of the Forge to join this group. That is, the advantage to joining a federal government is being able to vote on where the tax dollars go. I don't get what the advantage would be for the Forge to join versus being the "Canada-like" friendly neighbor.

(appologies to any Canadians)

Ron Edwards


All right, it's time to lay down some moderation.

There is no value at all in a discussion about "advantage to the Forge." Or "whether the Forge should join." Some members who should know better are forgetting that this site is not a committee or an organization; you have no executive powers.

This thread has provided some fascinating information and I hope everyone will make use of it in a way that's advantageous to them. But it's also run its course, I think. Further discussions belong in approriate forums, as follows (for instance):

- Discussions of actual simming phenomena in games - Actual Play

- Discussions of what simming is and how it might relate to table-top role-playing - RPG Theory

Further discussion here won't serve much purpose, I think. Please respect this and take specific topics to specific places.



Jack, that's been answered a couple times already -- at least, what benefits members recieve has been mentioned. However, maybe rephrasing the question more specifically might help, as in what would membership do for the Forge specifically? What specific problem that the Forge is having or might have in the future would membership solve?

Now, I certainly have no problems with sending a rep. over there (rather, someone volunteering their time to be a liason to the League, the Forge's "voice" there -- question/answer/PR-man -- given Ron and Clinton's approval) to help establish and maintain communication between the similar subcultures.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio

Ron Edwards

Damned cross-posting ...

Sigh. OK, closed now. Thanks everyone.


Stacey Lucht


Stacey Lucht, President
IntraGalactic League of Sims