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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: The Beeg Horseshoe Theory  (Read 24276 times)
Jared A. Sorensen
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« on: September 07, 2001, 11:40:00 AM »

Actually, that should probably read:
MY Beeg Horseshoe Theory

Here it is:

Imagine a beeeg horseshoe.

At one end of the U is Gamism.
At the other end of the U is Narrativism.

Right in the center is our buddy Simulationism.

What does this mean? Well, I never really bought the triangle model of visualizing the whole GNS thingie -- partly because I don't think Simulationism is real.

G & N  don't mix. Why? Because one is competitive in nature and the other is cooperative. But they are very similar in many other ways (not a straight 1:1 identification with character, ie: Stance, rules used to push play along, etc.).

Now, moving up and down the horseshoe toward Simulationism, well...it's kinda right there staring at you. You can mix N with S. You can mix G with S. But the closer you get to "S" (the middle) the farther you get away from the "trueness" of the roleplaying game.

Because a "pure" Simulationist game is not a roleplaying game. If character and player are indistinguishable, and there's no goal other than to "keep going," then I don't see how that can be a game. That said, I think the middle of the horseshoe is some kind of theoretical "RPG no-man's land" and that all games fall in between S and one end of the horseshoe.

Speaking of horseshoes, commence throwing them at me...
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2001, 01:47:00 PM »

Ooh, I get the first horseshoe. Or ten.  :smile:

First, I keep hearing how Gamism and Narrativism are so similar and then people telling me except for this and this and this. But they never say why they are the same. I'd like somebody to elucidate on this.

And what's the point anyhow? Maybe they are closer. So that makes them RPGs and Simulationism is not? Playing a role is not an RPG? This from the man who claims that RPGs aren't games ("stop playing games"). And if it's not an RPG, so what? What is it then? Are you saying it's not fun? Or just that it doesn;t belong here?

Pure Simulationism is the character and player being the same? Wha? Where does that come from?

Any empirical proof for any of these claims? Or is this all just opinion? The horeshoe model makes any of this clear how? What functional use does it have?

Be careful people, I suspect Jared is just trolling here...
What; haven't come up with an idea for a new game yet this week?

Mike Holmes
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2001, 01:51:00 PM »

Couple more.

Because S mixes with G and N (and G and N don;t mix with each other) it's *less* valid? Why would that be? Mybe it's more valid being a centrist notion, and not given to the vagaries of the extremes?

And who ever said that there were no goals in Simulationism. I suppose there are no goals in life either because it is not a game?

Mike
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2001, 02:42:00 PM »

Actually, Mike, the Beeg Horseshoe Theory fits your complaints if you look at it differently. The majority of games made to this point are Simulationist, or intended to be, anyways. (A lot of them failed miserably.) Look at old gaming articles, even from three years ago, and you see "simulation of reality" touted as the goal in game design.

Narrativism and pure Gamism are extremes of game design. They are not the norm, and just now being explored to any depth. They are taking certain parts of games (the story, the competition) and pushing them to extremes away from the center.

This also explains why Simulationism is overlooked or disparaged (unintentionally) often by edgy game designers - that thing's been done, and done to death.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
GB Steve
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2001, 03:10:00 PM »

[There was a big quote here from the post above, still getting used to flat forums!]

I get the feeling that Simulation is about game design but not about playing. I'm not sure I have ever met a roleplayer who played to simulate some part of the world. They like the game to be representative of either some genre of perhaps even 'real' reality but their aim is to play the character in some way, general some mix of gamist or narrativist.

So for me to talk about Simulationist is to mix up player style and design/system issues.

Steve

[ This Message was edited by: GB Steve on 2001-09-08 12:46 ]
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Mytholder
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« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2001, 04:57:00 PM »

I hoped we were done with this.

I really hoped we were done with this.

But...

Quote

On 2001-09-07 15:40, Jared A. Sorensen wrote:
Imagine a beeeg horseshoe.

Never has a beeeeger horseshoe been encompassed by mortal minds.
Quote

At one end of the U is Gamism.
At the other end of the U is Narrativism.

Right in the center is our buddy Simulationism.

Ok. Ish. I'm now fairly convinced that (a) Narrativism is too specific a style of play, that it can be broken down into its components of Making a Story and Empowering the Players, and it shouldn't be on the top level of the model, but that's beside the point...

Quote

What does this mean? Well, I never really bought the triangle model of visualizing the whole GNS thingie -- partly because I don't think Simulationism is real.

G & N  don't mix. Why? Because one is competitive in nature and the other is cooperative. But they are very similar in many other ways (not a straight 1:1 identification with character, ie: Stance, rules used to push play along, etc.).

Sure they do. Imagine a murder mystery game. The challenge of the game is solving the murder. The GM and players throw in all sorts of plot twists and story elements to hinder each other and improve the story. It's a balancing act between a good story and a good game.

I can certainly imagine a game being run like that. Can't you?

Quote

Now, moving up and down the horseshoe toward Simulationism, well...it's kinda right there staring at you. You can mix N with S. You can mix G with S. But the closer you get to "S" (the middle) the farther you get away from the "trueness" of the roleplaying game.

"Trueness"? "TRUENESS"! What the smeg is Trueness? The QWAN (Quality Without A Name) of rpgs?

Quote

Because a "pure" Simulationist game is not a roleplaying game. If character and player are indistinguishable,

Er. What? Are you talking about deep immersion here, or what?
Quote

 and there's no goal other than to "keep going," then I don't see how that can be a game.

It's not goal-driven, no....it's not a game, in the sense that there's a definite point to it, other than playing it. Would you prefer the term "roleplaying pastime" instead of roleplaying game? Saying Simulationism doesn't exist because it's not a game in the classic sense is...iffy.
Quote

That said, I think the middle of the horseshoe is some kind of theoretical "RPG no-man's land" and that all games fall in between S and one end of the horseshoe.

Which is what the GDS model triangle says, right?

Jared - I think you're off-base here. You might not dig simulationism, but enough people (including myself) have said "yeah, this is a good way to run an roleplaying session" to convince me that something pretty close to the simulationist idea exists.

Oh, and happy birthday...
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2001, 05:38:00 PM »

See? See? SEE? THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!

Thread closed. WTF?
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2001, 07:42:00 PM »

Actually, Jared's take on Simulationist not being real struck a nerve.

It may indeed be real (whatever your definition) but It got me thinking about why it has been such a universal design goal.  Most games up til 1990 (and quite a few since then) have touted "simulation" or "realism" (or playability as a trade-in for realism) and I ask Why?

Marketing.

It's a matter of being all things to all men (& women).  If the game is purely a simulation of the game world in any and all important aspects, then the players can do what they like with it.  If they want stories, they can do that.  If they want to just play it as a game, you can do that.

Or so I see it.  This P.O.V. doesn't really allow for Simulationism to be a real thing or one of three with the other two.  I'm not sure how those people into the "E-thing" would feel about that, but personally I found their expressed goal artificial.  Sort of like when you were seven and you tried to not step on the cracks walking on the sidewalk.  But that's my opinion.
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Supplanter
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2001, 08:20:00 PM »

The interesting thing about the horseshoe metaphor is that, while not connected, the two ends are going to be far closer to each other than to the middle. This is actually the least one can say about the affinity of narrativism as it is developing here and gamism. I'm coming to the conclusion that "narrativism" is essentially a particular application of gamist principles to the goal of story creation. Nor is this an obviously bad thing. Plenty of great authors - Borges and Frost come to mind immediately - thought of writing as a kind of game. (Note that I could not readily name two writers I like more than those two.)

As for the rest of it, no, simulationism does not exist. We were just fooling about that. Gareth, Mike, time to wipe away the poker faces and come clean. We've kept this charade going long enough.

Best,


Jim
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Knight
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« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2001, 11:07:00 AM »

Because a "pure" Simulationist game is not a roleplaying game.



Neither is a pure narrativist or gamist game, IMHO.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2001, 12:39:00 PM »

Okay, disclaimer: I have no debate skills, nor do I possess the mental or physical stamina required for any kind of debate. All of this falls into the "religion" category of feelings and other stuff that Ron doesn't like. :wink:

I don't see how goals of G and N can exist in a game, hence the gap between then. However, the methods used in each type are very similar (stance, metagame, specific goals, etc.) -- the ends of the horseshoe are very close to one another.

Then that bugbear S comes in. Right up in the middle of the horseshoe. It's connected to each side of the horseshoe because I don't "feel" (ick!) that it can exist by itself, nor do I believe that G or N can exist without an element of S. Why? Because at the end of the day, you're using a system...and however abstract, all systems are attempts at faking some kind of reality (ie: the way the universe works). You can move up and down the scale, from Rune to GURPS Vikings to WYRD, but all you're doing is crossing that magical line from G to N. It's like "pure simulationism" is the equivalent of the Prime Meridian.

And "pure simulationism" is not a game because it's not a goal. The "game" aspect of simulationism is to create the system. Once that's in place, it runs like some kind of machine and churns out "effects" from that one "cause." I would say that in the grand scheme of things, the mythical "pure simulationist" game and its real-life offspring would be the equivalent of toys. A Beach Ball is not a Game. However, you can play volleyball or dodge ball with it (you can also just float around with it). Those are activities/games. Essentially, the players and GM take the RPG and impose their own G/N goals onto it. The Toy becomes part of their Game.

And if you want proof or whatever, this is where I wave my arms like a chicken and yell, "Lookit me! I'm posting my opinion on the internet! I'm crazy internet-postin' man! Give me some candy!"


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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Cameron
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« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2001, 09:27:00 PM »

I don't know what all the fuss is about, Jared. Your point made perfect sense to me.

-Cameron
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Mytholder
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« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2001, 04:02:00 AM »

Jared -
two comments instead of a massive epic reply (we had enough of those last time).

1. There's a difference between using a ruleset, and using a ruleset to simulate a world. To use the big-triangle model, with a style of play at each vertex, you're standing right in the middle, and looking at the S vertex, and you're not seeing the difference between hard-core simulationism and general, not-heavily-biased-towards-any-one- style gaming.

2. Simulationism IS a goal.
Quote

The "game" aspect of simulationism                         is to create the system.

Eh. Ish.
Quote

Once that's in place, it runs like some kind of machine and churns out "effects" from that one "cause."

No system will ever* be able to do this. Simulationism is the desire to create a living, breathing world. There are dozens of "causes" and sources of dynamism in the world, not the least of which are the PCs. To use your beachball metaphor, simulationism is batting the beachball around. We're not playing volleyball and we're not...we're not...um...doing narrativist things with the beachball. I'd agree that it's a "toy", as opposed to a goal-driven game, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

You've got snakes and ladders and let's pretend. That doesn't disprove the existence of lego.

*: The ultimate sim. system is, of course, a super-intelligent AI running a perfect virtual reality program.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2001, 05:54:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-09-09 16:39, Jared A. Sorensen wrote:

And if you want proof or whatever, this is where I wave my arms like a chicken and yell, "Lookit me! I'm posting my opinion on the internet! I'm crazy internet-postin' man! Give me some candy!"



That's all well and good Jared. We understand that this is your opinion, now, but originally you posted this as a theory (something to be proved or disproved). It is my opinion that you are wrong, however, and if you don't want to actually debate, then please don't try to damage interest in a style of play that I enjoy.

If you do wish to debate honestly, then perhaps either you or I can convince the other of their viewpoint, and we can achieve a higher understanding of the subject. I submit that it's entirely possible that you are right and that I am wasting my time on Simulationism (or vice versa). But all I get from you as proof is your opinion. Which I'll consider with all the weight with which it is due.

Mike Holmes
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gentrification
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« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2001, 06:04:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-09-09 15:07, Knight wrote:
Because a "pure" Simulationist game is not a roleplaying game.
Neither is a pure narrativist or gamist game, IMHO.


Surely a purely gamist game would be a game of some sort, yeah?


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Michael Gentry
Enantiodromia
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