Hamsterprophecy: Prevision

It\’s All About Pen, Paper and People.

More Discussion About Sim

Posted by Nathan P. on November 29, 2005

Coming from the comments to my Simulationism post.

Elliot sez:

“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.”

Well put.

Jim sez:

“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.

9 Responses to “More Discussion About Sim”

  1. Hey, Nathan. If we’re talking about GNS as described by Ron & Vincent, the “little letter” moments have historically been a point of continuing confusion, as has been the idea of “mindful”. (At the moment, a Forge thread titled “The Secret of Sim” has yielded a description which is a bit more coherent, though.)

    In any case I completely empathize with your shrug. IMO there’s nothing wrong with unbundling the components of the CAs and combining them in a kind of goulash. As long as the result is coherent–as long as the bits don’t get in the way of each other (sort of like constructive wave interference as opposed to destructive interference)–it doesn’t matter how you categorize it. That goes for both design and play.

  2. Word, Eliot.

    If Nar play is a chef salad, Gam play a roast turkey, and Sim play a good loaf of home-made bread, there’s nothing stopping us from taking a little from here and a little from there. Like recipes, some ingredients do go better in some juxtapositions than others (the CAs being some recognized ‘good recipes’), but the only way we find new recipes is experimentation.

    As Jim suggested and Nathan quoted, I think there’s a lot of use in talking about the bits inside the burdensomely large Sim category, rather than the entire Sim distinction at once.

  3. Thanks, Josh. BTW, as an addended to my earlier comment, I see even more ferment in the recent threads “Constructive Denial?” and “Ignoring the Subjective”. And once you get past the political aspects (which aren’t particularly well-handled), the actual comments on the Sim Process (which IMO go rather well with idea of–collaborative–Bricolage that’s been advanced in some quarters) may help identify the simness-ingredient that can be part of a good recipe.

  4. Jim Henley said

    My (rash?) dream is that all of RPG theorydom is THIS CLOSE to a bigass group hug.

  5. Sadly, I think you’re mistaken, if the current round of parables over at the Forge is any indication.

  6. mark woodhouse said

    Not a group hug. An armistice. A decision to build our own castles in our own turf and live in them. Anybody who is taking Ron’s parables as a declaration of hostilities isn’t reading them – they’re reading something about their own issues.

  7. Jim Henley said

    Mark, you’ve really pushed one of my buttons, I’m afraid, which is that I keep running into people, many of them associated with The Forge Community TM, who will not take responsibility for their own god damn words and I’ve had it up to here. In this case it’s not your words, but you’re doffing Ron’s responsibility FOR him so the principle applies.

    It’s just like Landon in the DIP and DAS thread on 20×20, figuring he can throw around terms like “lazy” and “unfair” WITHOUT HAVING ANY CULPABILITY FOR THE REACTIONS THEY PROVOKE. It’s absolute bullshit. The ONLY person in the rp theory community who has been at all grownup about that kind of thing recently has been Lee Short on John Kim’s blog, when she wrote something snippy to you and appended an apology to that very post saying, Damn, I was snippy. My bad.

    Now I think I can fairly say that I have engaged you, Mark, with fairness and respect in recent conversations. So my hope is that you will read the above as coming from someone who bears you no special or reflex hostility, and is simply making a sincere complaint. If bunches of people are taking offense to what you say (the impersonal “you” of course), IT MAY BE *YOU*, NOT THEM.

  8. Hello,

    For what it’s worth, I consider the recent round of posts to have solved every historical substantive concern with Simulationist play, as idea and as application. (referring to Sim here as constructed by me, not as originally used in the Threefold)

    Not a bad capper to the closing of the forum.

  9. Nathan P. said

    Whoa-kay. Three things here.

    1st, re: big letter vs. small-letter and CA Goulash: Well, to be extremely clear, on the GNS/gns thing, I fall on the side of there can be and are small-letter moments, whether thats what the model officially says or not. At this point, I think we can start really looking at play with the intent to see how those moments work, and how they can inform design.

    2nd, re: conflict in Theorydom: Eh. I’m an “outsider” in what Ron’s talking about, so I’m not really identifying with anything in the parables, certainly not enough to get bent about it. I think we’re all out here, on the Forge and on blogs, working towards the same goal, and I definitly don’t have feelings of anger, or anything like that, towards other out there. So, like, chill, please.

    3rd, re: Simulationism: I agree with Ron, or at least I feel like I understand how Sim works in the Big Model, and thats awesome. As Joshua sez, it’s time to work on the bits inside. Rock.

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