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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 34 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Gamism and Narrativism: Mutually Exclusive  (Read 10956 times)
Jasper Flick
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Posts: 161


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« Reply #45 on: August 08, 2009, 01:49:58 PM »

chance.thirteen, having enjoyable fiddly bits and rules that are fun to use doesn't really mean anything for CA, unless they are the whole point of play. If those things are why you play, if that's where you get your reward from, then I think you're gunning for exploration of system. It's Simulationism primarily focused at exploring the rules of the game and how the group applies them. The right to dream the meta-game, if you will.

Notice that I said exploring the rules of the game and how the group applies them. Just reading the book isn't enough, it needs to be used in play. Anathema to this kind of play would be ignoring the rules, regardless whether that's done to facilitate Step on Up, for Story Now, or for the Right to Dream focused on another aspect than System.
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chance.thirteen
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Posts: 211


« Reply #46 on: August 08, 2009, 04:50:27 PM »

Yes, I wish to ignore CA. It has done nothing for me save make me spend a great deal of time arguing that something isn't a valid part of a CA. So what? I have no use for the purity achievement that a CA requires. My players will never come to an agreement on such a thing, their interests, and what they enjoy are always a mixed bag by person, by game, by group, by session. So whatever it is that a CA achieves, I'm not going to get there, so I discard it as a topic.

So I want terms that are below the CA category in organizational terms. Words that will let me discuss the techniques, the goals, and the possible mixing of design aims without being pointed at the absolute of a CA and how it cannot be achieved by said pursuits.

If I ask "How many elements associated with the exploratory or mechanical elements of a system can be present before it really stops the narrativist style of play?", the answer should not come back to Creative Agenda. If using those terms confuses the discussion, then I need new ones.
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #47 on: August 10, 2009, 09:04:44 AM »

I'm not sure you got my message. I proposed a CA that might fit what you called "mechanicist". You respond by saying you want to renounce the whole idea of CA, because you're convinced you'll never achieve any. I don't get it, and neither do I get your hypothetical question at the end. Your issue is probably an interesting and useful topic, which deserves its own thread and AP report.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #48 on: August 10, 2009, 09:37:52 AM »

Hey everyone.

I haven't been able to address Norm's latest post due to GenCon prep. That's no big deal; pacing of discussions here is better slow anyway.

Norm, there is one thing I do want to clarify. There is a crucial distinction to be drawn between single Techniques vs. combinations of Techniques. The former are not associated with specific Creative Agendas. The latter are definitely and profoundly associated either with Creative Agendas or with distinctive forms of Incoherence. Your post seems to me to confound these distinctions, and to ascribe to me that "Techniques aren't Agenda." As I've built my entire body of writings on the idea that Techniques are relevant to Agenda, this makes it difficult to reply. With my distinction in mind - that I'm talking about combinations of Techniques, not single ones - perhaps what I'm saying can make more sense.

My discussion of your combat scenes and the issues of one Agenda for fights (or whatever, smaller) inside a larger one for the story (or whatever, bigger) will have to wait until after GenCon.

Jasper, Marek (chance.thirteen) - it's time to let your assertions and counter-points stand as they are, to be assessed by readers. You cannot be debaters and judges at the same time. You've made your points here. Let them stand.

I do suggest starting daughter threads to raise issues of the mechanicist notion. I am, after all, the author of an essay called System Does Matter, and frankly I'm starved for discussion of rules-combinations and how they do or don't yield fun play. But it's time to get that topic away from this thread.

Best, Ron
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chance.thirteen
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Posts: 211


« Reply #49 on: August 10, 2009, 10:18:24 AM »

People should address Jaspers ideas, I was just making a comment then answering a direct question. So no need to broaden or derail the thread on my account.
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Ayyavazi
Member

Posts: 128


« Reply #50 on: August 11, 2009, 04:49:00 AM »

Hello all,

Thanks for the responses. It feels good (in an odd sort of way) to know that I have a thread that is interesting for people and sparks new and creative thought (at least I hope its doing that, rather than simply giving people a chance to espouse their deeply held convictions).

That said, I am sad that Ron will not be able to answer my questions until after GenCon. All in all, I suppose it can wait. The situation is hardly life or death.

But, as for techniques not applying to Creative Agenda, I am surprised that you thought I meant that at all. Perhaps I wrote something that sounded like that (an example would be great). But, my intention is to show that because of the close nature of techniques (and groups of techniques) to Creative Agenda, and the given definitions of creative agenda, no hybrid play is allowed. What I mean is this: Each agenda is defined by being THE point of play. It automatically excludes any notion of hybrid play because then it would not be the only point of play, it would be one of two or one of three. Therefore, if everyone insists on keeping the agendas as they are, then new agendas need to be explicitly created and termed so that we can begin to discuss them. Sadly, I am not sure if such a path is worth treading until Ron is able to respond to my earlier post.

And for those of you who have repeatedly focused on the strong tactical play, please read this carefully. Our enjoyment did not come ONLY from the tactical play. It came from taking the risks and coming out on top. It also came from whatever (if any) small narrative moments were occurring in the fiction. For example, one time my character threatened a group of goblins that I would kill their children (whom I was keeping hostage at my magical fingertips) if they didn't throw down their weapons. Their response (calling my bluff, or even, just sheer desperation) forced me to address just how far my character would go to accomplish his God's and the State's will. The point was, he was beginning to care about the Goblins, even though he shouldn't have.

Either way, the point is that we weren't getting fun from just a combo of tactics and narrative. Some of the fun came from the backslapping on good choices. Essentially, within those moments, we had a dual purpose at the table. We wanted to address premise (assuming it was there) and we wanted to be esteemed for our tactical choices.

Ron had previously addressed this by saying that by being able to fully enjoy the addressing of premise, we were now open to enjoy other aspects of the system that were not necessarily narrativist in design. I think that though this has some truth in it (being that overall, we played narrativist), I also believe that in our geeky gamer hearts, we enjoy the backslapping just as much, and perhaps more, at least in the moment.

Cheers,
--Norm
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Ralek
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Posts: 16


« Reply #51 on: August 11, 2009, 09:00:30 AM »

Hi Norm,

The struggle you are going through in understanding what the Creative Agendas mean and how they apply is something I've stuggled with a few years back and you seem to be stuck roughly on the same points I was. It makes no sense to analyze Creative Agenda moment to moment. It can only become apparent after a full reward cycle, an instance of play.

Also, CA is entirely personal, there is no such thing as a group CA, although when everyone in the group shares the same CA during the same instance of play, play is considered coherent and, generally speaking, more fun.

Should also be noted that your own point of play can vary from one instance of play to another even with the same group and using the same system. Your "point of play" can vary between instances of play, but it is prevalent throughout a single one.

Explaining why you can only analyze CA after a full reward cycle is something entirely non-trivial and I'm going to try using an analogy. Let's talk about TV series and more specifically the TV drama ER. If you look at an individual episode of the series as a whole, its genre is pretty easy to identify. If you dissect that same episode into its individual scenes, you'll have some action moments, some comic relief moments and some dramatic moments. In fact all those elements are pretty much necessary for the episode to work and deliver its full dramatic impact, but you won't call it a comedy or an action show. You can enjoy the comic bits or the action bits tremendously, but that's not why you watch the show. By the same token, someone who likes comedies or action shows but dislikes soapy dramas, will not like an ER episode even if its a particulary comic or action oriented one.

Hope I made some sense.

Cheers,
--Rogerio
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Ayyavazi
Member

Posts: 128


« Reply #52 on: August 11, 2009, 09:31:42 AM »

You made plenty of sense. Its just the sense you are making that I have a problem with. :-)

Here's the thing. Ron has said that a person does not have a GNS specifically. That agenda is a group thing that pierces all aspects of the model. To me, this means it should be observable at all points, like in your scene to scene description. The biggest punch is at the end of the whole show, slightly less so per season, per episode and so forth. But if people can play any agenda and enjoy it, which seems to be what is being said by saying that people don't possess an agenda, they play it, then that means that the definition you give of agenda doesn't serve to address hybridization at all. All it says is that there may exist a play agenda that is hybridized Narrativism-Gamism, but Narrativism by itself can never be combined with Gamism. That sounds like we are just arguing the terms.

I am not trying to come off harsh or angry, because I am neither. I am just trying to understand. If I have to stop using Gamism and Narrativism in order to get my point across, I will. But this whole definition gripe is starting to be a little annoying. How are we supposed to discuss hybridized play if everyone keeps saying that by definition it can't happen? And every time I have seen an actual play post dissected, it seems like someone calls the CA, and there there may be some back and forth before it settles on one. If someone argues that there were two, it gets argued down to one, and the other was just exploration of other techniques that happened to generate lots of fun, rather than the possibility that there were two agendas present simultaneously, one more prominent than another. But I am probably ranting.

I do thank you for your input, especially if you think that we have similar problems, or at least you identify with my struggle. I would like to know more of your thoughts on this issue.
Cheers,
--Norm
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Ralek
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #53 on: August 11, 2009, 10:21:11 AM »

To me, this means it should be observable at all points, like in your scene to scene description. The biggest punch is at the end of the whole show, slightly less so per season, per episode and so forth. But if people can play any agenda and enjoy it, which seems to be what is being said by saying that people don't possess an agenda, they play it, then that means that the definition you give of agenda doesn't serve to address hybridization at all. All it says is that there may exist a play agenda that is hybridized Narrativism-Gamism, but Narrativism by itself can never be combined with Gamism. That sounds like we are just arguing the terms.

I believe you missed my point related to dissecting a full episode scene to scene. When someone is watching an ER episode and they utterly enjoy a comic relief moment, that doesn't mean they enjoy comedies (altough they may), it means they enjoyed that scene as it relates to the whole episode. The same way if you see someone utterly enjoying crunchy tactical combat in D&D it doesn't necessarily mean they are playing a Gamist agenda (although they may), it just means they enjoyed that tactical combat as it relates to the whole instance of play. To begin to garner what that person's priorities during play are, you have to take into consideration the whole instance, from start to end of the reward cycle. You can't determine or classify a single moment in play as belonging to one agenda the same way you can't determine a TV series genre from a single scene.

I think the thing you are stuggling with comes from the fact that you are trying to connect single moments in play to agenda where this itself contradicts the agenda definition. You are looking at someone who seems to be enjoying a crunchy tactical combat in D&D and labelling that as gamist which is grossly incorrect. You have to look at why he is enjoying it, what else did he enjoy, was he more worried about the consequences of said combat? Would he still enjoy that combat if there were no consequences?

In your own play, would you enjoy the tactical elements if there were no moral choices to be made and no thematic material to address? If not, then you (probably) don't like the tactical combat. You like the tactical combat when it serves as a tool to determine the consequences or causal effects of the choices you made when addressing the thematic material. Just because you really want to win and make every effort to make sure you do win, that doesn't mean you are stepping on up, it just means you are invested in the combat and the potential consequences.

Just because agenda pierces all aspects of the model, it doesn't mean it should be observable at all points. It IS present at all points, but you can't observe it without looking at the whole. Going back to my analogy, you can't also determine genre from a single scene. A scene doesn't have a genre. To understand the point of a scene, you have to look at the whole thing.

--Rogerio
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Caldis
Member

Posts: 392


« Reply #54 on: August 11, 2009, 10:45:02 AM »


Norm, I looked back over the thread and I have to ask what has changed in your thoughts since you wrote this?

So, in a system that attempts to equally reward more than one style of play, it can successfully reward them. But by doing so, groups will be split based on their basic desires of play. Gamists will ruin it for Narrativists and vice-versa. The only way a group could enjoy such a game is if everyone was on the same page, essentially making one whole set of reward-cycles useless and ignored.

So, in a game like mine (the DnD game I mean), players can't pursue both agendas at the same time, because to pursue gamism mars the pursuit of premise driven play, and vice versa. Any game that hybridized the two would need to somehow string its conflicts together so that both styles were rewarded in such a way that they complimented each other, with the Step On Up always reinforcing the Story Now, and the Story Now always providing a means to Step On Up. I dare say such a game has not been designed thus far, and whatever system is developed to do such a thing would be rightly called revolutionary.

But in the end, I think it means that for the moment, until such a game is designed, I understand and agree that the GNS agendas are mutually exclusive.

I think this is an excellent example of why Hybrids dont work in action.  Ron picked it out in his followup and I think this post and his reply pretty much answer all your questions.   Do you see something that remains unanswered? 
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Vladius
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Posts: 45


« Reply #55 on: August 11, 2009, 03:43:21 PM »

GNS theory is bunk altogether in my opinion, so I think you should just attempt a player revolt and have yourself made DM, because that seems to be the crux of the problem. Some people are good at it, and some others aren't. It's certainly possible to do good story with D&D 4e, and you shouldn't restrict yourselves just because you think it's "Gamist," which shouldn't be a derogatory term in the first place.
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Ayyavazi
Member

Posts: 128


« Reply #56 on: August 13, 2009, 05:10:10 AM »

Thanks for your input guys.

Rogerio, I do understand what you are saying. Essentially, we have to examine a full cycle of the game to get its agenda. But here's what I was wondering.

In a game like DnD, the reward cycle for combat is quicker than the reward cycle for premise driven play. You can get experience and treasure every single fight (yes, I know it can be argued that EXP is a pacing mechanism), but you only get that explosive moment of narrativism every session or two (at least thats how it happened in my example). As a result, you have one reward cycle happening within another.

Now, you asked if I would still enjoy the tactical combat if there were no story around it. If I say no, you say, "Well, then its narrativist play." If I say yes, you say, "Its gamist play." So, here's the rub: I can and do enjoy tactical combat on its own, as long as it is understood (consciously or subconsciously) that there is reward for that play, that is the social backslapping, the risk of looking stupid, and the in-game exp and treasure rewards. However, to be honest, that will lose its luster eventually (after several fun sessions). So, my answer is yes and no. Short term, sure, I would enjoy it. Long term, I wouldn't. Now, I probably completely messed up what your  hypothetical response would be, but I think that now the problem is made clear: You can have one reward cycle (the combat) within the greater scope reward cycle of narrativism and addressing premise. As such, I believe the game was a not-so-well-functioning hybrid. That is, not everyone was on board for the hybrid play. Dave (the DM) obviously was gunning for narrativism, full stop. Gerald and I were looking for a hybrid, Jenn was going for Narrativism, and Mike was going for Gamism. I know players can't have an agenda, but they can have play types they enjoy more, and my analysis (however flawed) is that those were the goals in our group, and what we actively worked to achieve.

So, for you and caldis, I think the reason the thread isn't done is because it has moved on to the discussion of reward cycles and their ability to fall within one another. Does that merit its own thread?

Thanks again for your input guys,
Cheers,
--Norm
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Ralek
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #57 on: August 13, 2009, 06:27:58 AM »

Hi,

I want to address this first and get it out of the way:

Quote from: Ayyavazi
Now, you asked if I would still enjoy the tactical combat if there were no story around it. If I say no, you say, "Well, then its narrativist play." If I say yes, you say, "Its gamist play."

Ugh... Don't put words in my mouth. First, I didn't say tactical combat with no story... I didn't even use story at all. I said tactical combat without addressing premise. Story can be there or not, but if there are no thematic choices with consequences for those choices then there's no premise addressing. I also made no mention whatsoever about using that question to determining agenda. Again, you can't look at a moment of play to determine agenda. The reason I asked that question was exactly to defuse that idea since you previously said that since you enjoy the tactical elements of play, you have a gamist preference, which is non sequitur. The question was meant to illustrate that there may be a varied number of reasons of why you enjoy the tactical elements, some of which are not even agenda related.

As an aside, just as a strong tactical element can be essential to reinforce fun while addressing premise, the other side is also true. A strong premise may be essential to reinforce fun while stepping on up, whether you address the premise or not. As an actual play example, in my current D&D3.5 campaign, which is as tactically centered as it gets (all we do is make tactical choices for our characters), but there is a lingering premise around, which will never get addressed because addressing it falls outside of our point of play, but it's mere presence serves to reinforce my fun while stepping on up to the challenges provided by the gm. The fact that these elements that seemingly fall outside the point of play can be essential to reinforce it maybe what is causing your attempts at understanding agenda to get sidetracked.

Quote from: Ayyavazi
You can have one reward cycle (the combat) within the greater scope reward cycle of narrativism and addressing premise.

Sheesh, what a confusing statement. You are confusing mechanical rewards with reward cycle. Just because the GM awarded xp doesn't mean you reached the end of a reward cycle. An instance of play is an instance of play, there's no larger instance for this and smaller for that. A combat is definitely not an instance of play. Everything leading to it, including decisions on who to fight and why, the combat itself, the aftermath and all consequences of said combat is an instance of play, along with all decisions (and their consequences) made by the players during that time. That is the reward cycle.

Finally, you called your game hybrid and I agree (and I always have) that a game can be an hybrid (as in it tries to support multiple agendas), but an agenda itself is not hybrid and more importantly, player priorities themselves during a single instance of play are not hybrid. What you are calling hybrid play (different players following different agendas during the same instance of play) is incoherent play and it can be fun for all involved, but it is rather hard to be fun in practice, especially in games which deposit high authority in the GM (which has his own priorities). Incoherent play is less fun than coherent play (since time has to be lost on stuff that doesn't matter) and a lot of times finally derails into disfunctional play, when agendas finally clash.

--Rogerio
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Ayyavazi
Member

Posts: 128


« Reply #58 on: August 13, 2009, 07:12:02 AM »

Thanks Rogerio,

I guess as long as everyone else agrees with you about hybrid play being incoherent but incoherent play being fun, then that would settle it. I don't care if my play is considered coherent or not. I care that it is hybrid and fun. I do think that function hybrid play (and the maximum fun of coherent play) is possible as well, so long as everyone's goals match, and they pursue the hybrid agenda uniformly. But I do not know if that is a separate discussion or not. Anyone care to shed some light on that?

Thanks again and Cheers,
--Norm
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Ralek
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #59 on: August 13, 2009, 07:51:34 AM »

Hi Norm,

Sheesh what a leap you made...

Quote
I guess as long as everyone else agrees with you about hybrid play being incoherent but incoherent play being fun, then that would settle it

I said incoherent play can be fun but it is rather difficult to attain in practice. The moment the incoherence is revealed, it will stop being fun for someone. Here's an AP report quote from this thread:

Quote
The in-game situation has our party tracking the NPC Gerard's group through the woods. We didn't really roll to find the tracks so much, because that would lead to uselessness. As we were preparing to frame the scene forward after some tracking, the GM said he would be calling for a roll. He meant for us to make a Woodcraft roll to see if we would catch up with Gerard under circumstances favorable to us or to him.

Godinho, however, interrupted him and stated that he wanted to pay special attention to see if anyone was following us. The GM pondered this for a minute, then announced he'd be calling for two rolls instead. He then proceeded to have us roll against someone who was indeed following us, which we managed to spot, then corner.

Here's the thing: this third party really didn't exist at all until Godinho said what he said. And here's the disconnect: Godinho, as a player, said what he said because he saw it as a "good move". Rogerio, on the other hand, chose to interpret it as an expression of interest on the player's part for the concept of having someone else following us. So, he created the follower on the spot.

A bit of further disconnect: when we did find and corner the guy, Rogerio was satisfied that he was done his job as GM by responding to the player's interest. Godinho was satisfied as a player to have had his good move pay off and be successful.

If this sort of incoherent play continues, eventually Godinho will catch up on the incoherence and his and the GM's (which is me, btw) play will clash and play will stop being fun for him. At that point, you turn incoherent into disfunctional.

Also, you have the big contradiction:
Quote
I do think that function hybrid play (and the maximum fun of coherent play) is possible as well, so long as everyone's goals match, and they pursue the hybrid agenda uniformly.
If everyone's goals match, it's not hybrid... everyone's pursuing the same agenda. There is no hybrid agenda.

As to why it is difficult to have functional hybrid play, the matter is really quite simple. Incoherence only works if one side is either unware of the incoherence, or he is aware but the incoherence doesn't interfere with his point of play. Sooner or later, everyone one becomes aware of the incoherence, so it really becomes a matter of whether being aware of that incoherence interferes with your point of play or not. In the example above it clearly does.

Also, it is possible for some players to have fun while others do not. That is my definition of disfunctional play. Disfunctional play is bad even for the players having fun, as the game would be better if the other players either aligned their goals or stopped playing.

--Rogerio
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