More Discussion About Sim
Posted by Nathan P. on November 29, 2005
Coming from the comments to my Simulationism post.
“After warming a little to GNS following my initial exposure, I’m back to being pretty critical of the concept of Sim (and thus of the entire categorization system). This is motivated largely by the many times that I’ve seen people claim that their games are “Sim” yet include moral decisions or challenges. Of course they’re always told that they’re really playing Nar or Gam.”
Uh….*shrugs* I’m a proponent of the idea that there’s “little-letter” moments of each CA in all instances of roleplay, and I don’t think this is too controversial a claim. Of course Sim can include moral decisions and challenge – all roleplay contains all of the CA processes. It’s when it’s mindful is when it tips over into “a Nar instance of play”, or whatever. I think that the tendency to slide many Sim accounts into Gam or Nar is a combination of the Forge focus and, as Mark W. says, talking about Sim play is oftentimes just not very interesting to those not involved.
For the record, I think that illusionism is bad roleplay, so I’m not gonna really talk about it.
“If that’s all there is to Sim, then I certainly agree with Ron when he says that (based on his own categories), Sim is smaller than originally implied by the essays, and that Sim’s “functional manifestations are quite rare”.”
I have no idea. I think Forge AP posts are a bad metric to go by, b/c of various reasons from the last post. Maybe it is quite rare – but then again, intentional play itself is fairly rare as well, right? I will say that I think the theoretical scope of Sim encapsulates a wider variety of play preferences than the scope of Nar or Gam, but it’s more difficult to articulate those preferences.
“By contrast, Sim designs may still be ubiquitous even if Sim play is rare. Why? While Sim play entails not Addressing Premise or Stepping Up, Sim design just has to avoid facilitating those activities. If they happen, they happen, but that’s up to the players. Based on a review I found, as well as your own comment (last paragraph) it sounds like Timestream falls into this category, rather than the more “positive” variety of Metal Opera-type Sim.”
I dig it.
Mark W. sez a lot of good things, but basically “…there’s a huge epistemic barrier to intelligent discussion about what happens in Sim play.”
“I think Mike Holmes is right when he suggests that it’s better to stop worrying about “sim qua sim” and start worrying about “participationism” or “virtuality” or whatever particular flavor of sim that interests you. Because you can’t design for virtual nonfiction and illusionism at the same time, nor can you make illusionist and virtual nonfic-ers happy at the same table with some perfect social contract, any more than a high point-of-contact nar design squares with the vanilla narrativism that I prefer.”
Yeh, I definitly see this. It’s a product of the large scope of play preference – but, I would argue, to the extent that different flavors of Sim can be so different that they don’t even agree they’re doing something similar, while most Nar players have an easier time seeing a design as Nar-supporting, even if it’s not their thing.
Rob: Cool! I definitely want to talk about your stuff, but in it’s own post, hopefully soon.