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Author Topic: Confused over Simulationism + example campaign  (Read 31316 times)
John Kim
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« Reply #45 on: February 10, 2003, 04:12:18 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
 So, John, to Explore Character does not mean to address an emotional or ethical issue - that would be a Narrativist employment of Exploration/Character.

For the record, I used to agree with you wholeheartedly that there wasn't any other way to do this; you can see my argument of the time in the Sorcerer mailing-list archives on that website. It resembles yours greatly. However, I have learned that many people do indeed enjoy "just being" the character - they want to make him up, and to play him, to appreciate the character, and to have others appreciate him, and whatever happens, happens. The character "says" what he said already during the act of character creation, and that's the theme, all done. This mode of play would be Simulationist, with emphasis on Exploration of Character.  


OK.  I understand that "Exploration of Character" (as a GNS-specific phrase) doesn't have to really mean exploration of the character in a literal sense.  One should be careful that it is a deceptive term, though, since there isn't really any exploring going on if nothing new is found about the character.  If the character is really static, then I would highly suspect that the player is interested in something else.  For example, he might be interested in the Setting, the Situation, etc.  

I would prefer to call it something else, but the main issue is just that it should be clearly explained.  

Quote from: Ron Edwards
 I suspect - and again, I can only go with what you've presented on these two threads - that we are talking about Narrativist play in which Premise arises through group interest and development, during play itself, and in which Theme is produced at fairly widely-spaced intervals when it seems right to everyone.  
...
But Mike and Ralph are right - if, as you say, the "payoff" comes with the illumination and catharsis of a palpable ethical/moral issue ... then regardless of atmosphere, rate, techniques, and "style" - then we are talking about Narrativist play.

No, it's not like mine (or the kind I described). Narrativist play is not all alike except in terms of the above paragraph. Vive la difference.  


OK, fair enough.  Narrativist is what I suspected at the start of this thread based on vague impression.  I think this is a confusing point, though -- and not just for me.  Certainly after my initial post nearly everyone responded that it was Simulationist, for example, without asking this crucial question.
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- John
Valamir
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« Reply #46 on: February 10, 2003, 04:36:05 PM »

Quote from: John Kim

OK.  I understand that "Exploration of Character" (as a GNS-specific phrase) doesn't have to really mean exploration of the character in a literal sense.  One should be careful that it is a deceptive term, though, since there isn't really any exploring going on if nothing new is found about the character.  If the character is really static, then I would highly suspect that the player is interested in something else.  For example, he might be interested in the Setting, the Situation, etc.  


I would disagree.  You are setting up a dichotomy that I don't believe exists.  You are saying "if my character is not addressing moral issues through play...then he's static...and if he's static then nothing is being explored and the term is misleading.  I don't think its an either or situation.  I would agree with your above reply to Mike that if the character is static its probably something else being explored.  

But there are other ways to explore a character than through how he reacts to moral dilemma.

Quote

OK, fair enough.  Narrativist is what I suspected at the start of this thread based on vague impression.  I think this is a confusing point, though -- and not just for me.  Certainly after my initial post nearly everyone responded that it was Simulationist, for example, without asking this crucial question.


And that is precisely why attempting to play "guess my GNS" 20 questions style is not an effective way to discuss GNS.  I think if you go back to the beginning of the thread you'll find a decided paucity in the description of your Water-Uphill game and the whole first page of responses is full of caveats about trying to judge it.
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John Kim
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« Reply #47 on: February 10, 2003, 05:33:22 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
Quote from: John Kim
 One should be careful that it is a deceptive term, though, since there isn't really any exploring going on if nothing new is found about the character.  If the character is really static, then I would highly suspect that the player is interested in something else.  


I would disagree.  You are setting up a dichotomy that I don't believe exists.  You are saying "if my character is not addressing moral issues through play...then he's static...and if he's static then nothing is being explored and the term is misleading.  I don't think its an either or situation.  I would agree with your above reply to Mike that if the character is static its probably something else being explored.  But there are other ways to explore a character than through how he reacts to moral dilemma.


Well, I'd be interested about what you thought of as other ways of exploring character in play (lower case -- indicating literal meaning rather than the GNS term).  In this case, though, I was responding to Ron, who said about such players: The character "says" what he said already during the act of character creation, and that's the theme, all done.   That was where I got the idea of staticness.  

Quote from: Valamir
And that is precisely why attempting to play "guess my GNS" 20 questions style is not an effective way to discuss GNS.  I think if you go back to the beginning of the thread you'll find a decided paucity in the description of your Water-Uphill game and the whole first page of responses is full of caveats about trying to judge it.


Well, I'm sorry if the 20-questions style is frustrating to you, but I at least feel like this has been helpful.  Personally, I feel that for any theory it is vital to discuss how it applies to real cases. I have trouble really grasping a theory until I've seen it applied at least a few times, so I would like to offer up a few more games as examples in the near future.  I'll try to have more information available at the start for these, though.
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- John
clehrich
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« Reply #48 on: February 10, 2003, 07:46:51 PM »

John wrote:
Quote
In this case, though, I was responding to Ron, who said about such players:
Quote
The character "says" what he said already during the act of character creation, and that's the theme, all done.
That was where I got the idea of staticness.

I was also puzzled by this remark.  In one of these GNS threads going, I had posted a detailed example about a samurai, suggesting that a Sim model could certainly involve major fluctuations on moral and ethical grounds, and still be Sim.  If we take this comment literally, however, the character cannot find a new thing to "say" over the course of play.

Ron, can you clarify?
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Chris Lehrich
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #49 on: February 10, 2003, 09:01:24 PM »

Hello,

Am I correct in assuming this thread has met its purpose?

Couple last points (not the last word; anyone's free to respond) ...

1. John, I am the first person to say, "Give me concrete examples." The more concrete, the more actual-play, the better, though. That means Social Contract, Exploration emphases, priorities of play, social reinforcement, rules-sets, techniques, Stances, and everything else. The kitchen sink about the play itself. GNS exists as a middle-range layer within a multiply-layered model; the three modes themselves do not purport to explain anything and everything about role-playing. I need the context, the actions, the interactions, what happened with/to the characters during play, who got laid afterwards (really), that sort of thing.

2. Chris, to clarify, I used the static-character as the extreme case that falsifies John's claim that "explore character" must mean the production of a theme. I believe my Simulationism essay makes it very clear that Sim play can include changing characters; such play is not limited to my extreme case.

As a general point, I really wish people would not try to take every example as a definitive, whole-GNS-mode archetype. My examples serve points - in this case, to demonstrate a mode of play which is personally foreign to John's aesthetic priorities (and to mine, I might add), but has to be acknowledged as part of the real landscape of possible play. They are not intended to be "Character role-playing for Simulationism as such" examples.

Quite a lot of this thread is based on such readings. My bass-player analogy, for instance, does not define Narrativist play; it's a technique that serves Narrativist ends very nicely, among many possible others. My static-Sim character-Explorer player - not made up, by the way; taken from the example posed by Ran on the Sorcerer mailing list discussion that I mentioned - does not define or exemplify Simulationist Character Exploration; but it serve to show that some play-preferences cannot possibly be mistaken for Narrativist play.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #50 on: February 10, 2003, 09:37:26 PM »

Quote from: John Kim

Quote from: Valamir
And that is precisely why attempting to play "guess my GNS" 20 questions style is not an effective way to discuss GNS.  I think if you go back to the beginning of the thread you'll find a decided paucity in the description of your Water-Uphill game and the whole first page of responses is full of caveats about trying to judge it.


Well, I'm sorry if the 20-questions style is frustrating to you, but I at least feel like this has been helpful.  Personally, I feel that for any theory it is vital to discuss how it applies to real cases. I have trouble really grasping a theory until I've seen it applied at least a few times, so I would like to offer up a few more games as examples in the near future.  I'll try to have more information available at the start for these, though.


Sorry John.  Wasn't trying to sound frustrated.  Just confirming what you'd already discovered...that in order for an example to be an effective case study it needs alot more information up front.  Otherwise you wind up with a whole series of comments that just confuse things further because (being based only on what little information is available) they don't jive with the rest of what you know about the situation but haven't shared yet.  The danger of trying to perform analysis on incomplete information.

GNS has changed dramatically in the last year or so largely because of people offering well argued criticisms so that sort of thing has always been welcome here.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #51 on: February 11, 2003, 10:58:04 AM »

Jusst for the record, I was a big advocate of the idea that one can explore dynamic characters in Sim. But the whole static/dynamic thing is a smokescreen. The question is, how is the character explored.

In Pendragon, the system changes the character all the time. This is Sim, because the changes are not authored by the character but the system. In Sorcerer, characters change all the time, but through the decisions of the player as to what would be interesting in terms of the character's story.

Thus, just like the hill that forms the horizon in a setting, characters in play are undiscovered country to be explored. The question is how the discoveries will be made.

BTW, I think when you say "literal" in terms of character, that you mean "literary". Is that right? Using literary terms with RPGs is fraught with peril. Thus Ron has to continually point out that the term premise refers to something other than it does in literature.

But this is necessary. We aren't discussing books. And though a term like "character" from literature meaning the internal being, or even the common use of character meaning "what the person is made of morally" does not apply. We're talking RPGs here, and it's commonly acknowledged that "Character" means a fictitious entity in the game world for whom the player makes decisions. So when we say Exploring Character, it does not necessarily mean moral fibre (though it can), it means exploring any aspect of the fictitous being in play. As such, if the being's hsir color is not established at the time of creation, enumerating it in play is exploration of character of a sort. Think of the character as the subset of the setting that the player controls, and it becomes more clear. If I can explore a town in a Simulationist way, I can do so with charracters.

Note that one can Explore Character in a Narrativist way; that may have been obscured. Indeed that's almost always how it's done. The idea of Exploring Setting in a Narrativist way seems odd at first, but Hero Wars stands as a likely practical example of a game that supports exploration of Setting in a Narrativist way. Remember you can't get away from exploring and even from prioritizing what's being explored. It's just in Narrativism you put addressing moral and ethical themes above exploring anything else. Or rather the exploration is the means by which you explore these things.

Simulationists just don't take that extra step (for potentially very good reasons).

Mike
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