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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 75 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: ... simulationism is less common than I thought.  (Read 6677 times)
james_west
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« on: January 30, 2004, 10:50:36 PM »

I've been reading Ron's set of recent essays, and I had a minor epiphany.

One of my pet peeves with a lot of different games I've been in over the years is that I have to rapidly abandon the personality and values that my character has, and fall back into my own, or risk loss of effectiveness.

//aside which borders on insanity: one of my pet peeves about reality is that I have to have my own personality, or risk loss of effectiveness//

The reason that this is true is that most of the games I've played in have had -very- heavy step-on-up and challenge components, to the extent that you really -have- to shift into 'pawn' stance to deal with them. Now I don't mind that in games where I knew from the start that this was going to be true, but it annoys me in games that were advertised as essentially simulationist.

I have even sometimes explicitly asked the GM whether or not I needed to minmax my character in order to be effective in their game, and had them swear that they didn't run that sort of game, only to find that, in fact, that was precisely the sort of game they ran.

//Amusing aside; the only GM I've run under who consistently warned that characters needed to be tough and danger-ready was the opposite. He was a rather blunt railroader, which had the advantage that once you knew that was true, and that the same thing was going to happen no matter how you tried to handle his challenges, you could make up characters who were almost totally ineffective, and explore your reaction to them, rather than confront them//

I really appreciate Ron's gamism essay, primarily because I had always thought of it in terms of character design and play, and had neglected the extent to which it could be unilaterally imposed by the GM.

In short, I've mostly been thinking about GNS in terms of how to avoid problems in my own games (rather succesfully, I think) rather than, at least very effectively, in terms of how it applied to my disattisfaction with the games I've participated in.

I saw a -great- many of the dysfunctions that I've had to witness, very convincingly explained.
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Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2004, 08:10:10 AM »

Hey James, no real comment to the topic, but I did want to say that's it good to see you back after your absence.  Hope you hang around for a while.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2004, 01:37:55 PM »

Hi James,

It seems like your typing got ahead of your title somehow. Did you want to relate those ideas to the rarity/frequency issue of Simulationist play, whether for you or in general?

Best,
Ron
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james_west
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2004, 02:51:24 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

It seems like your typing got ahead of your title somehow. Did you want to relate those ideas to the rarity/frequency issue of Simulationist play, whether for you or in general?


I suppose I -didn't- ever make the connection.

Gamism has had the problem that everyone has assumed that they know what it is. The gamism essay did a very good job of examining it in detail.

One thinks of dysfunctional gamism as one player power-gaming when everyone else wants to do something else; the essay made me realize that a great many unpleasant games resulted when the GM was running a me-vs-the-players game, when everyone else had (initially) thought the game was going to be of a different sort.

My comment (which I put here rather than in examples of play because it related directly to comment on your GNS essays) was meant to point out that what I -had- been thinking of as a bit of broken simulationism, was actually probably a bit of broken gamism. Thus, simulationism is not nearly as ubiquitous as I'd been thinking.

OK, not so profound, but it's helped me realize in more concrete terms the specific violation of social contract that was causing my problem.

- James
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coxcomb
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2004, 10:43:54 AM »

I've run into a good deal of dysfunctional gamism posing as simulationism--particularly among GMs.

One case in particular, the GM talks the talk of Sim:Setting, when in reality he is preparing to use the published setting as a blunt instrument with which to disempower the players. Things devolve quickly.

When challenged this GM will say "I don't play like that. This game is about your characters and their interactions with the setting."

The tragic thing is that I think this sort of thing happens all the time. Players who have never encouneterd games that weren't GM v. Players just grit their teeth, thinking there is no other way.

Not only does it turn off many folks to RPGs, but it gives those of us that do hang on a very distorted and bad view of healthy gamist play.
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Jay Loomis
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Check out my http://bigd12.blogspot.com">blog.
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2004, 08:16:10 AM »

Wow - that sure nails it for me, James.

It raises the interesting question of comparing:

a) Gamist play using Simulationist expectations for others as a weapon ("Play Sim so I can Gamist-beat you!"), as you describe. I've seen this as player-vs.-player regardless of the GM-status, too.

b) Narrativist play in which one person's similar Simulationist expectation of "stay in character" or whatever, for the others, serves as his or her major tool in railroading or in hogging screen time. Clearly I'm talking about a Typhoid Mary or Prima Donna.

Yet another G and N twinhood concept ...

Best,
Ron
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