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GNS: What is it?

Started by RpgAlexWyld, April 04, 2003, 12:13:36 AM

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Sorry, I'm new to the Forge. Can anyone discribe what Gamist, Narativist and Simulationist is? I have no clue...

Let the Galaxy Burn...


Quote from: RpgAlexWyldSorry, I'm new to the Forge. Can anyone discribe what Gamist, Narativist and Simulationist is? I have no clue...

Gwahaha.  I'm still muddling through it...  Though my head isn't spinning as much as it was...
B. Lee Adamson, P.P., K.S.C.

Matt Machell

My best advice is to read Ron's articles in the Forge articles section.

Also, read them with an open mind, and don't assume that the terms you read bear any resemblence to other uses of the terms outside the Forge. That causes many people problems.

One thing to keep in mind, it's not about classifying games or the people who play them (this misconception causes any number of flame wars on other sites). It's about decisions in play, and the problems conflicting reasons for making decisons can cause. By extension it can help you craft a game which supports particular kinds of decisions.



Ron Edwards

Hi there,

And welcome! I'm posting to see if I can be more constructive than, "Go and read a ton of bogosity," although historically, that usually works well.

Basically, we all know two things:

1. Role-playing is a social fun activity, carried out by people who are interacting with one another. Its primary feature is a shared imaginative construct. Duh, right?

2. Equally "duh," we use rules or at least standards of How-To in order to arrive at what's happening in our fictional situations.

All GNS is is a bridge between #1 and #2: the creative agenda that's established, shared, or (all too often) a source of contention among the people who are role-playing.

I think it's important because people tend to get upset or frustrated about #2, thus disrupting and failing at #1, because they don't have any vocabulary for discussing the bridge.

So, that's GNS, or rather, what it's for. Gamism, Simulationism, and Narrativism per se are merely the very broad categories for possible creative agendas which make the most sense to me.

Whether they are the correct or best-stated generalizations for the "bridge" possibilities, or what sort of diversity underlies them, is always going to be subject to debate. But at this point (unlike in the past), there doesn't seem to be much controversy that some kind of bridge concept is necessary.

Let me know if this helps.



Sounds like Rons practicing the introduction for the next version of the essay :-)

I like it simple, concise, and more importantly, it starts at the beginning.


Hi, Ron...

I read the articles and surfed the GNS forum, but it took your last post for me to understand why GNS exists.  I agree with Valamir; you should put some version of that post in a new or revised article.

Ron Edwards

Hi Amar,

I agree with you totally. Here's some history that might interest you.

I wrote the existing essay in a very hostile environment of debate. Giving it its rather freezing tone and even its layout - forcing you to click through, chapter by chapter - come from.

The people who'd be reading it at the time weren't having any friendly stuff. They were angry. Giving it the current tone and writing it out as it stands was, in my view, the only way to separate those who weren't too angry to think from those who were, as well as the only way to stay on-topic.

Here's a point abou that: people often ask why there aren't more examples in the essay - that's because examples of role-playing require a lot of back-and-forth dialogue for both parties to understand them. Debates up until that point had been uniformly clouded by examples rather than clarified. Only lately, since people have become used to a human-centered rather than a character-centered discussion of play, and since they have adopted some common vocabulary (e.g. what a "system" is), have examples been useful.

I'd love to write a friendly version. Guess what - it's even outlined and partly drafted. Trouble is, I'm also a game designer, publisher, consultant, and the only general Forge content moderator, all of that on top of being an actual working human joe. Some things are just comin' slowly.

If anyone wants to write and submit such an article, that'd be nice too. Now, it would be "Role-playing by So-and-So" which could not be "Role-playing according to Ron by So-and-So," but that's OK by me.



Would articles on non-GNS models of roleplay be kosher?

Ron Edwards

Hi there Tonic,

Any articles about role-playing are cool to submit to the Forge. Just check out the submission guidelines and send away. So far, we've accepted some and rejected others.