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Author Topic: GNS and Gaming in the Modern World  (Read 5226 times)
Ian O'Rourke
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« on: May 23, 2001, 08:41:00 AM »

I'm writing an article at the moment for fandomlife.net (or my rpg.net column I've not decided yet) which basically proposes a strategy on how to get regular gaming sessions going despite the pressures of modern life. You know, all the ones that kick in during your mid-to-late twenties when you have a real job, a house and possibly kids?

Anyway, as I've been writing the article and it's struck me that one of the keys to get gaming again is to adopt narrativism? It's not the only driver, but here me out. One of the main complaints people have is gaming absorbs too much time as a hobby? I think this is a myth, or it does not have to be fact. What seems to be happening is people are trying to run the games they used to run in their younger years?  Ridiculously long, over prepared opuses.

If they moved to say a session every other week, say 3-4 hours long and based it on sound narrativist principle they could probably game (as long as they surround themselves with people who have gaming on the same priority). Why spend eons preparing a world when the players can help you build the world around their adventures? Why spend eons stating out PC's? Just make most of it up?

Anyway, we adopted these principles and it's why we are now gaming. The 'great time problem' is solved because it's created as needed, and then five people are doing it not one. The whole gaming thing ends up taking little time at all? The session (3-4 hours every other week) and then another 2 for say the GM and another 1 hour for each player (if that).

I'm not suggesting that narrativism involves no prep, or that it is less an intense experience (often more so) but I am suggesting you get more return, for less investment of time.

So, is gamism and simulationism damaging to gaming in the hectic modern world?

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Ian O'Rourke
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The e-zine of SciFi media and Fandom Culture.
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2001, 08:46:00 AM »

Hey Ian,

I do agree with your basic idea regarding gaming, time, and modern pressures. This ought to be a relevant and interesting article.

However, I don't see why Narrativism, specifically, is best suited for the "solution." I think that ANY focused application of G/N/S awareness will do the job. The big time-waster, I think, is the muddiness and incoherence both of preparation and play when one doesn't really grip one's own goals, the goals of one's fellow players, or the goals of the game design.

So for instance, a GM and group with pretty-much Gamist goals will save time and stress by applying G/N/S thinking regarding what game they play, prepping for it, and actually running it.

As a person with strong, I daresay extreme Narrativist leanings, I know that your point DOES work for me as written. But I'm not sure that it's the Narrativism itself that is the "working part," but my understanding of its importance to me and my players.

Best,
Ron
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Ian O'Rourke
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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2001, 09:05:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-05-23 12:46, Ron Edwards wrote:

I do agree with your basic idea regarding gaming, time, and modern pressures. This ought to be a relevant and interesting article.


It's based on the tactics myself and some others had to use to get gaming again, and you're right, a lot goes into it other than whether you are gamist, simulationist or narrativist. The article does not mention GNS in anyway, but it did get me thinking.

Quote

On 2001-05-23 12:46, Ron Edwards wrote:

However, I don't see why Narrativism, specifically, is best suited for the "solution." I think that ANY focused application of G/N/S awareness will do the job. The big time-waster, I think, is the muddiness and incoherence both of preparation and play when one doesn't really grip one's own goals, the goals of one's fellow players, or the goals of the game design.


Possibly. While I realise that all narrativists don't necessarily have 'low prep time', I do think a low prep time is easier to achieve under this model. As an example, the issue of detailing the world as the players encounter it, possibly even getting the players to wrap the world around their character and develop it, is more likely to happen under the narrativist model. In my experience Gamist players have been very passive in terms of adding to the wholesale cloth. I'd also say narrativists are more forgiving of a GM who does not necessarily have everything at hand, and will develop it later (as they see this as an opportunity).

Quote

On 2001-05-23 12:46, Ron Edwards wrote:
So for instance, a GM and group with pretty-much Gamist goals will save time and stress by applying G/N/S thinking regarding what game they play, prepping for it, and actually running it.


I agree, they save time by matching system and goals to what they like - but I'm not talking about the time wasted by ignoring the 'System Does Matter' issue - I'm talking about bigger barriers. I can't see how a Gamist approach cannot have more prep time? You've got the whole 'adventure' to accurately stat and balance? In a narrativist game this is not so much issue, and balance is not even a factor.
 
Quote

On 2001-05-23 12:46, Ron Edwards wrote:
As a person with strong, I daresay extreme Narrativist leanings, I know that your point DOES work for me as written. But I'm not sure that it's the Narrativism itself that is the "working part," but my understanding of its importance to me and my players.


True, not all narrativists will have an easy time of it. For instance it has involved some time and pain for me to institute these changes in my self (I always want to write loads of material which is pointless), but I still think for those with the drive to do it, it's easier to achieve in narrativism than in the other two?

It would be interesting to get some simulationist and gamist views, as usual?

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Ian O'Rourke
www.fandomlife.net
The e-zine of SciFi media and Fandom Culture.
Mytholder
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2001, 11:05:00 AM »

I agree with Ian.

Gamism requires fairness, and a lot of the time, that means that the GM has to prepare stuff beforehand and stick to it. You can't do a dungeon on the fly very easily.

Simulationism...here, I think it depends on how well the GM knows the material. I'm currently prepping a Blue Planet game. I know the Blue Planet political and social stuff backwards, so I don't need to work out the relationships between the Incorporated States, military resources, locations etc. However...the campaign's possibly going to have a lot of resource management and economics in it, and that stuff I can't do in my head. I've got a half-written spreadsheet about mining costs in front of me. (The campaign's going to be about a team of incorporate miners running a mining rig).

Narrativism I always do on the fly. It's all character and plot, and that sits comfortably in my head.

I'd say number-heavy simulationism takes the most time, gamist games in general less, then the e-thing, then narrativism...but other factors, like style of play and gm/player knowledge of the setting, are also important.
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2001, 05:40:00 PM »

I think you've put your finger on important issues - certainly ones that have been in my thoughts for a while.  I look forward to the article - make sure you let us know when and where, once it's decided.
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james_west
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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2001, 09:05:00 PM »

I've had great success at games that were clearly not narrativist, anyway, by using a fairly closed setting, limited strongly drawn NPCs, and a clear problem (at least, clear after the PCs figure it out.)

A steady diet of this is disatisfying for those who are most interested in immersive role-playing, but it works well for a one-off to be prepared on short notice.

I guess my point here is to agree with the poster who claimed it was possible to reduce prep time in any mode, so long as you were very clear on what you were trying to do.

                           - James
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Ian O'Rourke
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« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2001, 08:04:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-05-23 21:40, Gordon C. Landis wrote:
I think you've put your finger on important issues - certainly ones that have been in my thoughts for a while.  I look forward to the article - make sure you let us know when and where, once it's decided.


Assuming I have no disasters this weekend, it should be on fandomlife.net when the site goes live on Monday (well, over the weekend, but officially Monday).
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Ian O'Rourke
www.fandomlife.net
The e-zine of SciFi media and Fandom Culture.
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