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Author Topic: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)  (Read 31206 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: April 24, 2001, 06:03:00 PM »

Hey there. Whooooo ... I'm getting very nervous, considering what I'm about to say. What follows is the transcript of some dialogue between me and Paul Czege around the turn of the year. It's a bit rambly, like most e-mail discussions, so I'll summarize first:

Paul and I are now thinking that Simulationism is NOT an actual outlook or goal, unlike Narrativism or Gamism. Nor is it a "design dial," as many have suggested.

No, we think that Simulationism is a form of retreat, denial, and defense against the responsibilities of either Gamism or Narrativism. These two outlooks acknowledge, even require Author stance, and they acknowledge the potential of personal failure in role-playing. The Gamist can lose. The Narrativist can look on the results and say, "That story stunk, and it was my fault."

Paul and I have decided to propose that Simulationism consists entirely of a retreat from these dangers. Paul suggests, as you'll see below, that such role-players are proto-Narrativists, whereas I think it's basically a blind retreat with a lot of possible causes.

Anyway, the transcript follows. All comments are welcome.

Best,
Ron
*********

Dec 29-30,2000
[The discussion began with my observation that self-described Simulationists tended to be very defensive about their outlook, unlike the comparatively self-assured or unapologetic demeanors of self-described Gamists or Narrativists.]

Ron says:
For all that Gamists seem like space-aliens to me, I do think they are more up-front and willing to admit or explore their bias than Simulationists are. After all, a Gamist is almost always interested in a new way to compete, unless we're talking about childish little fucks who won't play unless it's 1981 AD&D with their 22nd-level character-alter-ego. Such individuals aside, though, the Gamists I know will say, "Huh, how do you win in this one," or, perhaps, "Let's see how long it takes me to break this one." Most Gamists are willing to check out a new RPG, even a radically new one.

But Simulationists seem committed to the notion of a One True Game and invest it such a thing financially as well as emotionally. It really is a trauma for them to be told, "attributes aren't obligatory." Or, "reward systems should be consistent with Contract elements of character design." So much energy (and their money) has been spent on getting the combat round Just Right, or the point-balance Just Right, or the modifier table for ammunition Just Right ...

Paul says:
Hmm. Hmm. I think Gamists are pretty straight forward, in that what they really
want is the thrill of competition. And when confronted with that observation, they don't really deny it. They consider themselves competitive, enjoy competing with their friends, and they like to win. But I think Simulationists tend to live in a state of denial. Being a Simulationist is like standing half way down a muddy, 45-degree slope. They've taken wargames and added story elements. But where do you draw the line? It's a slide toward Narrativism. And [names deleted] are feeling it. A Gamist will measure a risk in his head, and decide whether to take it or not. But being a Simulationist is more about living in fear. The Simulationist fears favoritism from the GM. A Gamist counts on it, and accounts for it. The Simulationist fears being irrelevantized by actions beyond his control. The Simulationist isn't really competitive at heart the way a Gamist is. I think a Gamist is more comfortable with internalizing a loss based on personal factors than a Simulationist is. A Simulationist likes to analyze away the loss. "Boy, I just never stood a chance after the mountain passes got closed by that early snowfall." A Gamist says, "You bastard!" The Simulationist competes with the system. The Gamist competes with the other gamers. And a Gamist is more comfortable with himself when he fails to recognize and capitalize on an advantage he has. A Simulationist never wants to be in the position of not recognizing the advantages and assets at his disposal. A Simulationist who's being drawn toward Narrativism is in fear of a game that could irrelevantize him in ways beyond his control, but he's already acknowledged that he likes more story elements than he can get in wargames, so he's sliding down a muddy slope and fearing what might happen if he can't hold on.

Ron says:
I agree with you regarding this TYPE of Simulationist, who in many cases is simply sticking with what's known, mastered, and has sucked up $1000 over the years. However, the "real" Simulationist isn't really interested in Narrativism at all - wait a minute. Does this person actually exist? Is it possible that this is just an abstraction, and that Simulationism per se is a historical artifact of the role-playing activity? I'm not willing to write off the "is"-ness of such a prominent and distinct behavior-type so quickly ... but it is also true that most Simulationists I know tend to evolve into either Gamists or Narrativists ...

Paul says:
Exactly what I'm thinking...that Simulationism as we've been talking about it on GO is an abstraction. If a Simulationist role-player's needs are met by board wargames, or miniatures games, then why are they playing RPG's? I think actual Simulationist RPG players have unconsciously realized that they want story elements. They are tainted by that in a way that Gamists are not. And it's a slippery slope for them. Ultimately, they either overcome the fear of their contribution being irrelevantized in the game by plot beyond their control, the fear that the lot-o-rules phenomenon allows them to cope with. And they become Narrativists, or they overcome their need to compete with the system rather than competing with other players and they become Gamists. Or I guess they maintain their difficult position as a dedicated Simulationist by living with a high degree of defensiveness. Either of the two, becoming a Narrativist or becoming a Gamist is dependent on the Simulationist learning to trust the GM. In the case of becoming a Narrativist, the former Simulationist learns to trust that the GM is running a collaborative game that doesn't puppetize the players for his own personal story time. In the case of becoming a Gamist, the former Simulationist learns to trust that the GM in question is a fair and unbiased abiter of the rules. I was going to say that I think probably more become Narrativist than Gamist, simply because by becoming Gamist they throw out the story elements that drew them into Simulationism in the first place, but I actually think it's more dependent on the traits of the GM. If he's running a Gamist game, and he's a fair arbiter of the rules, and the Simulationist can overcome the need to compete with the system rather than the other players, then he becomes a Gamist. If the GM is running a Narrativist game, and he's earns the player's trust by empowering him and not puppetizing the plot, then the Simulationist becomes a Narrativist.

Jan 17-18, 2001
Ron says:
I ran your Simulationism-as-reaction idea past [name deleted] on the phone. He INSTANTLY agreed with you. Interesting, eh? I'm beginning to think you are definitely onto something there.

That would give us Gamism and Narrativism as "real" RPG goals, and Simulationism as a historical, perhaps even regrettable artifact of bad design.

 Paul says:
... Although I'm not sure I'd say it's an artifact of bad design. I think it arises from a player having an interest in story elements (that can't be satisfied by pure simulationist pursuits like Squad Leader),  being frustrated by experiences of GM favoritism and railroading. ...

Ron says:
But don't you think it also applies to frustrated Gamists, who are annoyed at the GM's favoritism and railroading at the expense of valid/enjoyable competition (of whatever sort)?

Paul says:
I think someone with a Gamist bias fights back against favoritism and railroading differently. A Gamist tries to ensure that limitations and control mechanisms are very firmly shackled onto the the other players (and tries to avoid their application to his own actions). It's why Gamists bicker about alignment. They know that their ability to dominate the game is based both on maximizing their own game effectiveness and on crippling the effectiveness of others through control mechanisms. When a Gamist starts to feel like the game is the GM's story time (that it's horribly compromised by railroading and favoritism), the campaign ends, either due to irreconcilable bickering among the group or lack of interest.

Simulationists are in a more difficult position, because they're inherently more interested in story elements. Their embrace of the Simulationist position is their defense against fears of railroading and favoritism. A Gamist will rely on his own wits and metagame skills to combat railroading and favoritism, but a Simulationist relies on the system itself.

[As you can see, the conversation didn't really get to a final conclusion, and my summary at the top is based on phone conversations as well. -RE]
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2001, 07:48:00 AM »

Quote

For all that Gamists seem like space-aliens to me, I do think they are more up-front and willing to admit or explore their bias than Simulationists are.


Hold on there a minute, Ron. Although I usually agree with just about everything you post, I have to call you on this one. Note that in the first sentence of your e-mail exchange, you commit a major Three-Fold sin: you use the model to classify gamers, not games or design styles.

I would agree that there's no such thing as a "Simulationist," that is, a person interested in RPGs solely to see how realistic of an experience they can have.

There definitely is such as thing as a design goal of Simulationism, though: look at GURPS, for example. Many of the rules--in-depth explanation of semi-automatic vs. automatic gunfire, and different ways of handling damage for different types of ammunition--are incredibly bent on making the game world as realistic as possible. The game's so Simulationist that it breaks when you try to push it to any level above a bit more than human. (Look at GURPS Supers or GURPS Black Ops for great examples of the system breaking.) GDW's old game Twilight: 2000 is another good example of a game with explicit Simulationist design goals.

The question is, given this, why Simulationism as a design goal? If it is not a primary impetus of players, why is it used?
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Clinton R. Nixon
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2001, 08:02:00 AM »

Clinton,

Somewhere, some place along the way, someone got the idea to defend G/N/S against the trolls by saying, "We don't use it to classify actual gamers."

Bullshit. *I* use it to classify gamers. G/N/S is about role-playing DECISIONS and PRIORITIES, and it is expressed in many ways. One of those ways is game design. Another of those ways is via a person's actual role-playing behavior.

This is not to say a person cannot demonstrate more than one of the priorities. However, in my experience, a person WILL tend to emphasize one of them, or have a favorite among the three. At that point, I say, "You are [fill in]."

Now plenty of people are sensitive to this practice, but, bluntly, Tough Shit. Sure, a person might change over time. Sure, they might not be constrained to "their" outlook 100% of the time. I am not claiming that sort of rigidity; it's not like having blue eyes or brown eyes. But the actual classification of the behaviors, especially when they are consistent over time for a person, is valid.

Therefore I make no apologies regarding my points in this thread. Obviously those points don't apply to the (hypothetical) individuals who slip and slide among the three priorities like little pixies. My points DO apply to the many people I have known, seen, communicated with, and role-played with.

I think your definition of a Simulationist is a bit off - a concern with "realism" is a sub-set of Simulationism, not its definition.

Your question about GURPS is an example of switching issues, because you are talking about game design, whereas I'm talking about player behavior. However, the connection between the two might be like this: given that many players DO fit the Simulationist-profile in their buying and playing habits, a game like GURPS is a marketable product (meeting their needs). Or an alternate view, more of a supply-side model, might be that the company designers fit the profile, and then gamers use the Simulationist-style game to learn and develop their own priorities.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-04-25 12:04 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2001, 08:18:00 AM »

Clinton,

Overall, I'd like to re-state my point, perhaps in a clearer way.

I am stating that there are many people who fit a Simulationist profile. I am also suggesting that such a profile is NOT an actual role-playing priority in the same way that the Narrativist and Gamist profiles are.

Instead, the Simulationist profile (behaviors) represents a retreat from the responsibilities of either Gamism or Narrativism. It's a way to blame any undesirable outcomes on "the game," or to put all responsibility for the quality of the story on the GM, and ultimately, on the game designers (metaplot).

Historically, Paul may be right in suggesting that 80s Simulationism in both play and game design arose from proto-Narrativists rebelling against the responsibilities of Gamism in game design. Now, we might have sort of a reverse thing happening, with 90s Simulationists balking at the responsibilities of full-Narrativist game design.

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2001, 05:20:00 PM »

Hey Clinton,

Quote
Note that in the first sentence of your e-mail exchange, you commit a major Three-Fold sin: you use the model to classify gamers, not games or design styles.


I personally ranted against Scarlet Jester's "Explorative" term in the "why I can't stand Explorative" thread in Critical Hit on G.O., but not because I think categorization of players is out of scope. My frustration with it was that a term that describes self-reported player feelings is useless as a tool for system design. On that thread I also used a lot of hard and fast language like: "G/N/S is about system design. What that means is game mechanics, not setting, not metaplot."

Am I contradicting that stuff here? I don't think so, but you can be the judge for yourself.

My psychoanalysis of the situation is that people get frustrated with G/N/S, because they feel pigeonholed by it. People want to think they transcend categories, or at least they want to choose their categories themselves. I think it's a fairly common understanding that G/N/S, in addition to being about game mechanics is also about categorizing gamer behavior. And that's what's uncomfortable for people about it. I think the Competitive and Exploratory terms can be even more nakedly about classifying gamers than G/N/S is, and have a lot of resonance for people because they're self-chosen categories (and no one can argue with how you feel). But with G/N/S you categorize a gamer's behavior from an external standpoint, and that's what makes it uncomfortable. And in my personal opinion, that's also the main reason I think M.J. Young's G/N/S test gained both a wide acceptance among G.O. regulars and why it also needs to be changed. The questions are primarily about player feelings and not about behavior.

Paul


[ This Message was edited by: Paul Czege on 2001-04-26 21:31 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2001, 06:01:00 AM »

Paul,

That test is a good topic for a whole 'nother thread. (Is it ever.)

Let's set aside the whole "oooh, don't you pigeonhole me" bullshit for purposes of this discussion. Again: G/N/S classifies observable, distinct behaviors. If a person displays one of those behaviors consistently, then calling him, for instance, a Gamist is only shorthand for saying out the whole phrase.

But let's get to the REAL purposes of discussion. What about the Simulationism?? Can anyone offer an argument to refute Paul's and my conclusion? Or offer support, or corroborative evidence?

"S" remains part of G/N/S - it is indeed a set of demonstrable behaviors, and it is indeed a set of specific RPG design principles which reinforce those behaviors. But it fascinates me that, as Paul has described, it is vastly unlike "G" and "N" because it is founded on FEAR.

Best,
Ron
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Mytholder
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2001, 05:06:00 PM »

Ron, you're in danger of being declared a heretic by your own cult. :smile:

Seriously - one of my game styles is to create a set of groups and important characters tied together somehow, then introduce a perturbing factor like the PCs. I have few or no preconcieved notions about what will happen, and game balance didn't enter into the design. I referred to this style on GO as a "living chessboard" campaign, but others compared it to the relationship map concept (which I'm not exactly up to speed on, I admit.)

Anyway, the point remains - I'd consider that style of play simulationist, and it's not founded on fear. It's founded on the desire to find out what would happen, it's a thought experiment.

But what do I know, I'm a pixie.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2001, 05:26:00 PM »

Hi Gareth,

This post of yours is illuminating - because what you've described is flagrant, 100% Narrativism. You are presenting the players with components of a story, and they have "power" to affect the outcomes, and together, you and they create a story *of some kind.* Presuming that everyone involved would prefer it to be a GOOD story, that's Narrativism.

I can't imagine - not in 100 years - how anyone could call what you describe Simulationist, as the term is defined by both Kim, me, or anyone.

I don't know if this applies or not, but some folks have taken "story" to mean "pre-arranged outcome," and objected to Narrativism on that basis. I can only point to its definition and shrug.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-04-28 21:37 ]
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Mytholder
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2001, 05:59:00 PM »

I disagree. Yeah, a story might/will emerge from the interactions of the various groups and characters, but the development and exploration of that story IS NOT THE GOAL OF THE GAME. It's a "what-if" exercise. What if we attack that castle instead of this one, what effect will that have on the war? What if I tell him I know his deep dark secret, how will he deal with that?

If "and together, you and they create a story *of some kind.*" is going to be the definition of narrativism, then gamism is narravisism too. "Bob the fighter and Grimby the mage heroically used their min-maxed stats and feats to wipe out the orc nest." is a story, created by a completely gamist game.

Intent and methods, not end results, are what matters....

*: some of the interactions between groups will result in nothing happening, and that's a perfectly fine result for a simulationist, but a boring narrative...

[ This Message was edited by: Mytholder on 2001-04-28 22:02 ]
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2001, 06:11:00 PM »

It's all about characterization.

Narrativism is the only style that requires some kind of characterization (ie: identifying "your guy" as more than a piece on a gameboard).  If you're telling a story, you're dealing with some kind of emotional weight -- from the most in-depth psychodrama to the fluffiest, slam-bam action epic.

Gamism doesn't require characterization.  You have "your guy" and that piece is defined by a bunch of attributes that affect its chances of doing X (where X usually involves separating the vertebral column from the cranium of a green-skinned creature).  

Like Gamism, Simulationism doesn't require any identification or characterization whatsoever.  The character is a puzzle piece that fits into an interlocking whole.  It doesn't matter whether "your guy" is a big piece or a little piece.  It's part of a greater whole that can be modified and shifted around to produce other outcomes.  Simulationist games seem to be designed so that they can play themselves, ya know?
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Logan
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2001, 08:35:00 PM »

I don't think this thread helps the cause. As some here may know, I look to see what's said about the 3-fold model on rpg.net . The 3-fold model doesn't have a very good reputation on rpg.net. It has some vocal and unpleasant critics. Chief among them is S. John Ross. This guy takes every opportunity to inform everyone that the 3-fold model is crap and that it's destructive. For the most part, he gets to poison public opinion about the 3-fold model and very few people step forward to oppose him. His argument is pretty weak. The first part is easy to dismiss. It's pretty obvious that he's uninformed about the more interesting ideas spawned in Ron's work and the 3-fold debates. The second part is also reasonably easy to dismiss. Ideas like G/N/S aren't destructive unless people take them out of context and use them to belittle people's views. I think, to an extent, this thread does that. It's an attack on a whole group of gamers, and I don't like that. It lends credibility to the critics' position and makes the people who develop and support the 3-fold model look bad for no good reason. Even if some of the more inflammatory statements are true, speculating on them only hurts the cause. More to the point, they don't matter.

In my opinion, roleplayers play roleplaying games because they want an interactive source of entertainment which allows them to play characters in an imaginary world and participate in activities which are unusual, dangerous, or impossible in the real world. All roleplayers have this in common regardless of their bias or preferences. But there is a disconnect in the G/N/S paradigm that has become more prominent as the debate developed. The assumption has been that G/N/S describes player bias. We know this because John Kim tells us so, and Ron says that's how he uses it. But that's wrong, especially with respect to Simulationist bias. A player can't play to simulate conditions in the game world. He can only simulate his own character's responses to events. He can only play to see what happens, thus participating in a simulation. But doing either of those things does not necessarily make a player a Simulationist. The same could be said of players who appear to have Gamist and Narrativist bias. G/N/S does not describe player bias, nor should it.

If the 3-fold model is intended as a tool for evaluating and designing games, it makes no sense to use its first tenet to categorize gamers. Even though many gamers have preferences that that could be described as Gamist or Narrativist, G/N/S should not be used to pigeonhole gamers because it doesn't necessarily describe gamer behaviors. What it really describes are primary goals for game design. Let's dissect.

A Gamist game concentrates on the Game aspects of roleplaying. These include the drive for ever-increasing power and abilities, the desire for ever-more loot, and the lust to overcome ever-greater challenges. Of course, a Gamist game may have a story to tie the encounters together and may include mechanics which more or less simulate certain events in the game world. Prime examples: D&D, Shadowrun. Limitations: Characters often become godlings in no time at all. Gameplay may be hurt by separate determination of results and effect (eg separate to-hit and damage rolls).

A Narrativist game concentrates on the Narrative aspects of roleplaying. These include the drive to play interesting characters, the desire to have impact on the game world, and the lust to develop stories which are as satisfying as possible. Of course, a Narrativist game may allow the character to grow in strength over time and allow the player to immerse himself in the gameworld. Prime examples: Extreme Vengeance, Sorcerer. Limitation: Demands considerable effort from the players and GM to work correctly. Blurs the traditional lines between player and GM.

A Simulationist game concentrates on the Simulation aspects of roleplaying. These include the drive to make the world as consistent and believable as possible, the desire to present the world in great detail, and the lust to simulate the outcome of events in the game world as faithfuly as possible. Of course, a Simulationist game may allow players to overcome challenges and participate in the telling of a compelling story. Prime examples: Runequest & all RQ-derived games, including CoC. Limitation: Success in creating a really good simulation may cripple gameplay due to handling time and the sheer number of mechanical steps required to determine what happens in the game. Works just fine for computer games, though.

This causes another glitch. If G/N/S represents designer's goals, then what are the players' goals? I don't have a slick 3-fold answer to that. All I have is a laundry list.
To overcome challenges.
To achieve goals.
To develop characters through play.
To explore the game world.
To see what will happen.
To make things happen.
To gather stuff
To kill things.
To have fun.

I was drawn to the 3-fold model because it was presented as a means for evaluating games and as a tool for designing games. After considerable exploration, debate, and experimentation, I've found this to be true. I don't like the fact that the point and possibilities of the model are often lost because too many people get stuck on the negative aspects of the first tri-fold. It's silly, and I believe it must stop in order for the discussion to move forward.

Next, I want to say a word or two about player preferences. Players may have 2 sets of preferences. One set is stated. The other is observed. A player's stated preferences are the preferences he says he has. A player's observed preferences are those he displays when he's actually playing. Those 2 sets may be different. MJ's test can only tell you about a player's stated preferences. But the player's stated preference is important. It gets him thinking about what he likes and doesn't like in a game. He may wonder why, and this thought can actually make him a better player. How a player feels about things that happen in a game shouldn't be ignored, even if it's not really the province of the 3-fold model.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that even the Scarlet Jester agrees that the description of Simulationism is a valid design goal. His proposed CEN paradigm was an attempt to reconcile the differences between player preference and design bias. My opinion is that player preferences actually have no role to play in the 3-fold model, but I still have to give him credit for seeing the disparity and proposing a solution to it.

That's all for now.

Best,

Logan


[ This Message was edited by: Logan on 2001-05-08 17:15 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2001, 05:54:00 AM »

Hi everyone,

Gareth and I handled some of our dialogue over private e-mail.

Logan,
I have never been sympathetic to the argument that a valid point should not be raised because it hurts people's feelings. I agree with you that a full G/N/S presentation should be constructed with maximum user-friendliness in mind, but I cannot agree that we (here, in this forum) should back off of any topic because it's PR-negative.

Paul and I may not be right in applying this idea to Simulationism as a whole. We may be WAY off-base, or we may have identified the loser-equivalent for Simulationism (corresponding to munchkinism in Gamism, or to scenery-chewing in Narrativism). Working this out through dialogue is absolutely required.

For instance, Gareth's point about HIS group is a single data point. Is his role-playing experience, perhaps the Jester's as well based on previous discussions, a good case that there is a certain fraction of Simulationst play that isn't fear-driven? Or is it totally representative of all Simulationism?

I'm interested in the answers to that. If either is the case, then we've actually HELPED Simulationist-oriented players INTO their "place" in the picture.

As it stands, Gareth's description is a single counter-example, and as such, it has no argumentative power. "Humans are not cannibalistic," is a true statement. Pointing to Jeffrey Dahlmer does not refute the statement. (No valid generalization fails to permit exceptions; if it does, it is bigotry.) I'd like to know whether Gareth's point is valid, and we can't do that without discussion.

Logan: one thing conspicuously missing in your post is Whether You Agree or Disagree with my suggestion in the first post on this thread.

[Added this a bit later]
Also, I wanted to address the issue of what G/N/S is FOR, in terms of use. It can classify game design, and it can identify player/GM activity. I consider both of these uses valid and necessary, and can see no possible problem arising from that double-use. Since games are written and designed by and for role-players, these two "angles" on G/N/S are related, but they aren't the same thing. We have to consider both, I think.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-04-29 10:04 ]
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Logan
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2001, 07:33:00 AM »

Ron,

I think you're asking the wrong people to answer your questions. I can't tell you what makes a person say, "I'm a Simulationist." My preferences, stated and observed, are more attuned to Gamist and Narrativist ideals. You should ask people like Mike Holmes and others who claim they are Simulationists. Even Jester is the wrong guy to ask. Although he carries a bright torch for the drama-heavy, deep-immersion style of play favored by John Kim, he admits that the games he plays are more attuned to Narrative goals.

A valid point may hurt peoples feelings, and that's okay. But by your own admission, you don't know that these points are valid. You clearly state that you may be way off base. So you are treating certain gamer viewpoints (and by extension, the players who hold those viewpoints) with contempt for no real gain. You can claim that you don't care about PR and what people think, but you started another thread asking why people have such a strong negative reaction to your ideas. With threads like this, I wonder how you can even ask that. Right now, this site is relatively obscure. Everyone here hopes that will change. When that changes, many people will read these words and form opinions about you and the 3-fold model. I ask you, do you want people to evaluate the constructive value of your many thoughts on game design, or do you want to spend the rest of your gaming life fighting the same stupid battle over the first tri-fold, over and over forever?

I think only a handful of people in the whole world have a reasonably clear picture of your complete model. That's unfortunate, because it's a good model and because all the controversy that surrounds your work is pretty much centered on the equivalent of a controversial book cover. People are so busy arguing about the relative merits of being categorized or fitting in a category that they never bother to find out what else you have to say. The strife obscures the view.

At this point, it's not in anyone's interest for me to agree or disagree with the questions raised in this thread. I have made a stand in public forums which says that the G/N/S tri-fold is a tool for determining the overall bias of a game's design, and that some gamers have preferences which give them a bias or predisposition to enjoy playing some games more than others. If I say a player can be designated a Simulationist (which I don't think is possible because the stated goals of Simulationism are really only attainable at the design and GM levels) and that being a Simulationist embraces a list of preconceived and unflattering notions about the player, then I become a hypocrite. Worse, in that case, many of the worst notions espoused by your critics gain credibility. I won't do that.

At this point, it's not a matter of what I want or even what I think. It's what I've chosen. If your ideas are the center of some sort of cult movement in gaming, then someone has to set the record straight for outsiders. Ideally, that would be you. After all, this is your work. Unfortunately, when the weight of criticism and dissent become too great, you choose not to address that. I've enjoyed and gained from the debate as much as anyone, and I resent the spread of ignorance and lies about the model, its purpose, and its capabilities. I have defended its virtues and gained at least a small measure of respect and acceptance in a hostile environment. It wasn't easy, but I think I will continue to do that. Consequently, I'm not willing to throw away those small gains for nothing. If I've somehow got it wrong, then it would be good for me to know that. Otherwise, I hope you will understand my viewpoint, what I'm trying to tell you, and why I say what I say about it.

Best,

Logan

[ This Message was edited by: Logan on 2001-05-08 17:16 ]
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Mytholder
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Posts: 205


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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2001, 08:28:00 AM »

Ron -
yeah, it's one data point. I'd also point to two games I'm fairly familiar with - Blue Planet and Ars Magica - as examples of the same sort of idea or style of play. Neither are gamist, certainly, but they also seem to focus on exploring the ramifications of an idea (the colonisation of an alien planet, the presence of magic in the Middle Ages) rather than exploiting that idea for its story-making potential.

That feels like simulationism to me. At least, it feels like something other than gamism and narrativism to me, but it's motiviated by curiosity, not fear.

As for the whole PR thing - well, most gamers are never going to take gaming seriously enough to even think about G/N/S, or just react with "it's just a game". Others have an intuitive understanding of the situation, and won't see the point of talking about threefold. It's always only going to appeal to those who think about gaming-in-the-abstract.
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GreatWolf
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Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2001, 10:58:00 AM »

Another game that fits the mold (at least IMHO) is Multiverser.  I own a copy of the game and in my analysis it is less concerned with construction of narrative and more with exploring the ramifications of an idea (e.g. what if you were to begin hopping from one reality to the next).  As Mytholder points out, there is no fear involved (as far as I can tell) but a curiosity and urge to explore.  Evidence for this can be found on the official forum.  Many of the ideas batted about would fall into the "alternate worlds" or "alternate history" categories, which tend to appeal to Simulationists.

So I agree with Mytholder in saying that Simulationism does not have to be motivated by fear or retreat.


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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
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