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Author Topic: Name That Style  (Read 8562 times)
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2001, 04:54:00 PM »

Fang Langford broke down his arguments into points thusly:
Quote

    * Actors don't explore.
    * Jesse's exemplars are not acting.
    * They are 'Exploring.'
    * Thus they are definitely role-playing gaming.
    * They are not applying GNS goals consciously or unconsciously.
    * They are having fun in a non-dysfunction fashion.
    * They are not unique or rare in this practice.
    * Therefore something is missing from the GNS model.
    * Most arguments about this missing element(s) fail because they have to use proprietary terminology (that by natural design supports GNS).


Fang,

Here's my take, from someone who's had a long-standing interaction with the GNS model, and finds it good.

Let me quote from Jesse first, for a little source background:

Quote

There's a style of role-playing that I've found to be far more common among gamers than I originally thought. Personally, I'm having trouble understanding it mainly because I don't understand what the "point" of it is. So, from a GNS stand point what exactly is this:

1) The style I'm thinking about is highly improvisational. The GM basically comes to the table with little more than a situation. "You've been sent out to find the Widget of Something or other." The players are expected to show up and just play their characters in whatever manner they see fit.

2) The rules are usually ignored or improperly employed. Usually, character creation is either intact or left looser than the rules suggest. Only the core resolution mechanic is used and most other elements of the system that would other wise faciliate some kind of GNS style are simply left out or are often not even known by the participants. In other words the rule system is ... used as just a randomizer to say Yes or No to disputes with little care for the actual outcome. ...

3) These games generally devolve into silliness with most of the roleplaying consisting of the players laughing at their characters slapsticky antics. As such these games usually take place with games that already have some element of this ... which wouldn't baffle me so much if it weren't for #2 and the fact that I have seen this style done with slightly more serious games such as In Nomine or Changling.

Notes: I hesitate to call this style dysfunctional because those who engage in it seem to be having a good time. ...

What is this style of gaming and why is it so prevalent among gamers? Or is it not as prevalent as I think it is and I'm just hallucinating?


I would first take issue with the fact these players are 'Exploring,' in the Edwards definition of the term (The best term for the imagination in action, or perhaps for the attention given the imagined elements, is Exploration. Initially, it is an individual concern, although it will move into the social, communicative realm, and the commitment to imagine the listed elements becomes an issue of its own.)
These players are using their imagination to make a humorous situation, however, they are not imagining the listed elements, where the listed elements are the context of the RPG. They are, in Jesse's words, "laughing at their characters slapsticky antics."

This does not fit into the GNS model, because the point is not roleplaying. The point is social joking, in an RPG context. This may seem contradictory. Consider a parallel activity, spoofing, or "MST3K"ing, a movie. The movie watched is usually considered bad, and the point is not actually to watch the movie, but to make jokes, in the context of watching a movie. (I find that often the people that enjoy the activity described in Jesse's post enjoy MST3king movies.)
---

That said, if we ignore this point and consider that they are roleplaying, do they fit in the GNS model, and how do they? You point out:
   * They are not applying GNS goals consciously or unconsciously.
    * They are having fun in a non-dysfunction fashion.


They obviously are not applying GNS goals to the RPG experience. That is an acceptable given in this situation. Are they having fun in a non-dysfunction fashion, however? Jesse mentioned that this activity wouldn't bother him, if it weren't extended to more serious games, like Changeling or In Nomine.

While it has become fashionable for RPGs to say, "Ignore the rules if they get in the way," I think we can follow this logic:
* RPG rules should be written to facilitate a game's premise or goal, whatever that may be, GNS or otherwise.
* If a rule does not facilitate that goal, it is dysfunctional.
* Therefore, removing rules because they 'get in the way' is a sign of dysfunction.

I would say that the question "are they having fun in a non-dysfunction fashion" has multiple answers.
- They are having fun.
- Their goal is obviously to laugh, and in that, they are not dys-functional.
- They are not fulfilling the game's goal. This may be their fault, or the game's, but it is dysfunctional.

To your last points:
   * They are not unique or rare in this practice.
    * Therefore something is missing from the GNS model.


It is fully admitted by Edwards that "GNS is the central concept of my theorizing about role-playing ... However, it is not sufficient, and the three modes themselves do not address any and all points about role-playing." He speaks specifically about the social aspects of roleplaying here.
Your argument that this is not included in the GNS model has already been agreed to. I think you mean this to prove that the GNS model is flawed, however, from the adversarial tone of your last posts.

I don't think it proves that. A lot of effort has gone to prove that the GNS model is flawed in some way, and I think they all miss a few points:

* The GNS model is a way to model games. It is not the way.
* If a game cannot be categorized in the GNS model, it is considered flawed according to the model. That does not mean that it is flawed, but that it does not fulfill a goal in GNS.
* Arguing with defined terms in a model, is, to be blunt, moronic. The terms are defined in the context of that particular model. If you define them differently, you are speaking outside that context.

I don't think this proves the GNS model is flawed because, as I stated in the beginning, these players do not have the goal of roleplaying. Their goal seems to be purely social, and in that, they succeed. As GNS tries to model roleplaying behaviors, and not social behaviors, it cannot be validly used to characterize this activity.

---

With all that said, I have an aside. No one will have a civil argument with you, Fang, if you do not return civility. I read your post, and found it purposefully argumentative and hostile, thereby proving charges of sophomoric-ness. Do as you like, but I suggest asking probing questions instead of foot-stamping. These will get answers much like above.

As for the thread locking, that was my decision. I felt that each side had ample discussion, and a point was not being reached. I also delete duplicate posts. I consider it my job to clean up and maintain forum quality. If you think I have been remiss, please e-mail me, or start a thread in "Site Discussion."
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Clinton R. Nixon
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[ This Message was edited by: Clinton R Nixon on 2001-12-06 19:59 ]
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
James Holloway
Member

Posts: 372


« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2001, 08:30:00 AM »

Apologies in advance to everyone - I'm writing this post at work in between doing other things, and it may jump around. Please bear with me.

I think we might be able to argue that there are, in some sense, two distinct activities going on round the table here.

1) The players are participating in a role-playing game (which they definitely are).
2) The players are laughing and joking, deriving some or all of their enjoyment from the fact that they're roleplaying in what even they themselves perceive to be kind of a crap manner.

I would argue that any GNS application, conscious or unconscious, goes on in 1). So player X may bring his mild gamist leanings to the table, while player Y brings her desire to be part of the creation of a good story. But while the players may have these inclinations, little or nothing is done to apply them. The game system's default position (and I'm guessing it's Gamist or Simulationist) and the GM's are expressed a little, probably... even if the rules are, in general, being ignored.

I don't know - are we seeing some kind of "next level of removal" in the enjoyment of RPGs, like those people who come to LARPs and don't play but just sit around and watch? (Is this "audience" behavior? Hell if I know.) But let me say one thing...

I always kind of assumed, (from an early age...) that it was understood that most RPG play was hard to categorize, because it was a mish-mash of priorities from the different players and the system. In this case, I'd say that we're probably seeing that, but at a very low priority. The social dynamic (or meta-enjoyment of the game by poking fun at it) is seen as more important than any GNS priority, because the players derive more enjoyment from the heckling than they do the gameplay itself. * And I think this is particularly interesting because this isn't some unrelated social activity like random chit-chat or flirting, but is a game-related social activity, like flexing character nuts (another popular gamer pastime).

So what GNS category does this fall into? Well, we'd have to look at the gameplay itself to understand that, but I think it's more significant that the gameplay is so deprioritized. I think analysis of this kind of player behavior may fall outside the categories of GNS.**

Now, I'd like to propose a very tenuous, almost tongue-in-cheek method of analyzing the GNS priorities of the players. I think that humor in these situations derives from deviation from the norm. Spot what each player is most amused by, and you may figure out what he or she considers to be normal or "desirable" gameplay... and you're off and running.

But I guess my main point is that this is confusing because while the enjoyment doesn't seem to be what you or I might call gameplay, it's definitely an activity that's involved with and interconnects with gameplay.

I think this merits further discussion. And I think this post makes no sense, or not very much anyway. Sorry.

* Man, I wish I knew how to do them cool footnotes Fang does. Anyway, I'd like to say here that we've been running on the assumption that mish-mashy, no-clear-GNS-priority gameplay is bad and makes players unhappy. And I think that's true for some players: I'd argue that it made Jesse Burneko unhappy. But I think it makes you unhappy only if gameplay is a high priority for you. Then somewhere in the middle we've got that guy Ron keeps ragging on, the guy who says "this game sucks, but I stick around because these people are my friends." And then at the far end of that priority is the guy for whom gameplay is actually a low priority and heckling (or whatever other social activity) is the highest one.

** Although maybe an essay on this might make sense, since it's an ancient and accepted gamer behavior - in fact, I distinctly remember someone (was it Greg Costikyan? I think it was, but cussit, his site seems to be down) writing an article back in the day in which he advocated doing things like naming your character stupid names and deliberately acting like your character was aware of his own nature as a game character, all in the name of humor.  Man, that was a long runon sentence. In fact, I guess that's Narrativism, huh - total disregard for competitive gameplay or immersion or whatever, since the point is to make a funny story, specifically one which relates to gaming in some way. I don't know if Jesse's example kids are doing that, though.
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Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


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« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2001, 11:34:00 AM »

quote]Clinton R Nixon wrote:

Fang broke down his arguments into points thusly:

Quote
  • Actors don't explore.
  • Jesse's exemplars are not acting.
  • They are 'Exploring.'
  • Thus they are definitely role-playing gaming.
  • They are not applying GNS goals consciously or unconsciously.
  • They are having fun in a non-dysfunction fashion.
  • They are not unique or rare in this practice.
  • Therefore something is missing from the GNS model.
  • Most arguments about this missing element(s) fail because they have to use proprietary terminology (that by natural design supports GNS).[/list:u]
Here's my take, from someone who's had a long-standing interaction with the GNS model, and finds it good.

Okay, now you are making incorrect assumptive implications.  I do not<like<
Quote
Let me quote from Jesse first, for a little source background:

Quote
There's a style of role-playing that I've found to be far more common among gamers than I originally thought. Personally, I'm having trouble understanding it mainly because I don't understand what the "point" of it is. So, from a GNS stand point what exactly is this:

1) The style I'm thinking about is highly improvisational. The GM basically comes to the table with little more than a situation. "You've been sent out to find the Widget of Something or other." The players are expected to show up and just play their characters in whatever manner they see fit.

2) The rules are usually ignored or improperly employed. Usually, character creation is either intact or left looser than the rules suggest. Only the core resolution mechanic is used and most other elements of the system that would other wise facilitate some kind of GNS style are simply left out or are often not even known by the participants. In other words the rule system is ... used as just a randomizer to say Yes or No to disputes with little care for the actual outcome. ...

3) These games generally devolve into silliness with most of the role-playing consisting of the players laughing at their characters slapsticky antics. As such these games usually take place with games that already have some element of this ... which wouldn't baffle me so much if it weren't for #2 and the fact that I have seen this style done with slightly more serious games such as In Nomine or Changelings.

Notes: I hesitate to call this style dysfunctional because those who engage in it seem to be having a good time. ...

What is this style of gaming and why is it so prevalent among gamers? Or is it not as prevalent as I think it is and I'm just hallucinating?

I would first take issue with the fact these players are 'Exploring,' in the Edwards definition of the term ("The best term for the imagination in action, or perhaps for the attention given the imagined elements, is Exploration. Initially, it is an individual concern, although it will move into the social, communicative realm, and the commitment to imagine the listed elements becomes an issue of its own.")all five "elements"<
Quote
These players are using their imagination to make a humorous situation, however, they are not imagining the listed elements, where the listed elements are the context of the RPG. They are, in Jesse's words, "laughing at their characters slapsticky antics."do have<all five<
Quote
This does not fit into the GNS model, because the point is not role-playing. The point is social joking, in an RPG context.adds games to his example that do not, they serve more as examples of what gives him discomfort, not of what is played because those examples have "some element of this" "slapsticky antics" the way I read it.)

Quote
This may seem contradictory. Consider a parallel activity, spoofing, or "MST3K"ing, a movie. The movie watched is usually considered bad, and the point is not actually to watch the movie, but to make jokes, in the context of watching a movie. (I find that often the people that enjoy the activity described in Jesse's post enjoy MST3king movies.)their characters.  That would parallel watching a good movie and sharing personal anecdotes sotto voce.  But Jesse never mentions anything that happens outside of play (except laughing), so I think even this is a poor parallel.

Quote
That said; if we ignore this point and consider that they are role-playing, do they fit in the GNS model, and how do they? You point out:
  • They are not applying GNS goals consciously or unconsciously.
  • They are having fun in a non-dysfunction fashion.[/list:u]They obviously are not applying GNS goals to the RPG experience. That is an acceptable given in this situation. Are they having fun in a non-dysfunction fashion, however? Jesse mentioned that this activity wouldn't bother him, if it weren't extended to more serious games, like Changeling or In Nomine.
And he specifically says "I hesitate to call this style dysfunctional."  Since I take his words at face value, that means I assume it is not<his<
Quote
While it has become fashionable for RPGs to say, "Ignore the rules if they get in the way," I think we can follow this logic:
[list=a]
  • RPG rules should be written to facilitate a game's premise or goal, whatever that may be, GNS or otherwise.
  • If a rule does not facilitate that goal, it is dysfunctional.
  • Therefore, removing rules because they 'get in the way' is a sign of dysfunction.[/list:o]
Except:
[list=a]
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2001, 12:10:00 PM »

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Clinton R. Nixon
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Posts: 2624


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« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2001, 12:14:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-12-07 14:34, Le Joueur wrote:
I like [the GNS model] so much I want it to be better.  I want it to include more.  I want the terms used in it to be intuitive to newcomers.  I want it to be capable of being used pro-actively (not just to analyze problems).


First, let me say I agree with most of your post, specifically the point that the behavior examined does not fit in the GNS model. I think I said that plenty above.

Here's my take on the rest: I don't think GNS is the end-all categorization of role-playing games and their associated behaviors. I think that is such a diverse subject that there's no real way to encompass it all in one model.

(Aside: for some interesting models that do examine the social behaviors in RPGs, check out http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0786408154/qid=1007754874/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_74_2/107-0188019-1017329">The Fantasy Role-Playing Game: A New Performing Art by Daniel Mackay. Mackay also examines models for RPG aesthetics. It's a brillant book, if a little master's thesis-esque.)

I think this is where we disagree (and I where I disagree with a lot of people on GNS): it's a model solely to examine the three major goals of role-playing game system design. It's not supposed to be used to examine every aspect of role-playing.

If you want to suggest a model to examine personal reasons for role-playing, and the social behaviors that result, I'm all for that. Robin Laws has actually examined this quite a bit in his recent Dragon articles.

To touch on your other points:

Cartoon-style roleplaying games - well, it depends. I'm not going to make a guess here, because I haven't played any. I would suggest:

- If the system tries to make things work according to "cartoon logic," that's a Simulationist trait.
- If the system uses techniques to evoke humor, that sounds like a Narrativist trait.
- If the players are dropping rules in order to make the play more to their tastes (as in Jesse's example), it sounds like straight-up drift. It sounds like the game does not fulfill its intended purpose, or at least the goals of the players.

---

By the way, thanks for returning the civility. I truly do appreciate it. I'm sorry you think that there's been favoritism in the past. I assure you that running a forum has been a learning process for both Ron and I, and we've probably both made mistakes in judgment. We do tend to deal with different people differently because of our personal relationships. If someone I knew well was acting uncivil, I'd probably be quicker to e-mail them and let them know. I know that's hard, because that sort of thing isn't seen in the public arena. If you do see something that doesn't seem kosher around here, please let me know privately.

As far as an 'Alternatives to GNS' forum: I'd recommend taking it up in RPG Theory. I'd love to see a thread about models for the social aspect of roleplaying. If there's enough interest in a thread, I'll expand it into an entire forum.

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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Le Joueur
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Posts: 1367


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« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2001, 01:23:00 PM »

Quote
Clinton R Nixon wrote:

Quote
Fang wrote:

I like [the GNS model] so much I want it to be better.  I want it to include more.  I want the terms used in it to be intuitive to newcomers.  I want it to be capable of being used pro-actively (not just to analyze problems).

First, let me say I agree with most of your post, specifically the point that the behavior examined does not fit in the GNS model. I think I said that plenty above.

Here's my take on the rest: I don't think GNS is the end-all categorization of role-playing games and their associated behaviors. I think that is such a diverse subject that there's no real way to encompass it all in one model.
Quote
I think this is where we disagree (and I where I disagree with a lot of people on GNS): it's a model solely to examine the three major goals of role-playing game system design. It's not supposed to be used to examine every aspect of role-playing.Quote
If you want to suggest a model to examine personal reasons for role-playing, and the social behaviors that result, I'm all for that.

I did already for all the discussion it got.

Quote
To touch on your other points:

Cartoon-style role-playing games - well, it depends. I'm not going to make a guess here, because I haven't played any.Quote
I would suggest:

[list=1]
  • If the system tries to make things work according to "cartoon logic," that's a Simulationist trait.
  • If the system uses techniques to evoke humor, that sounds like a Narrativist trait.
  • If the players are dropping rules in order to make the play more to their tastes (as in Jesse's example), it sounds like straight-up drift. It sounds like the game does not fulfill its intended purpose, or at least the goals of the players.[/list:o]
<<Quote
As far as an 'Alternatives to GNS' forum: I'd recommend taking it up in RPG Theory. I'd love to see a thread about models for the social aspect of role-playing. If there's enough interest in a thread, I'll expand it into an entire forum.
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