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Creative Agenda: Processes

December 28, 2011

Different descriptions with the same fundamental meanings for Creative Agendas.

These sentences are short and precise, though that doesn’t necessarily make them easier to understand.

The one nice thing is that of these, only one word is used out of “general understanding” and that is “fiction” being the “Things we imagine at the table when we roleplay”.

I’ll go ahead and put up the usual, rarely heeded caveat that these descriptions indicate what each CA highly prioritizes over other things, which isn’t the same as completely excluding what the other CAs prioritize.

Narrativism:
Systems aimed at producing a creative process that creates emotionally meaningful improvised fiction.

Gamism:
Systems aimed at producing competitive challenges that includes non-quantifiable factors (Fictional Positioning) as aspects of play.

Notice that the non-quantifiable factors actually are what differentiate gamist rpgs from other types of general games (boardgames, minis, cardgames, etc.)

Simulationism:
Systems aimed at producing fiction and experiences within a given set of expectations and boundaries.

If we had a big 3 circle Venn diagram of system features*, you could put those definitions in their respective areas, and for the overlapping ones:

Narrativist/Gamist:
– Requires player agency
– Requires uncertain outcomes
– Often benefits from immediate reward systems to focus play

Narrativist/Simulationist:
– Requires coherent creative buy-in from everyone playing (even assuming everyone is going for the same agenda)
– Fictional elements are often key to decision making
– Often may benefit from having solid setting/situation materials from which to draw upon.

Simulationist/Gamist:
– Successful play requires a strong understanding of the limitations to acceptable action (whether fiction based or mechanics)
– Often benefits from mechanics designed to enforce consistency

ETA: It didn’t take long at all for people to already misread this venn diagram idea. So I guess I gotta break down.

Priorities. If you have to pick between putting A first, or B first, and you consistently pick A, we could say A is your primary priority and B is not. If you are asked to put A first, or B first, and you say “Both!”… well, you should go back to seeing if you can get the square peg in the round hole…

Creative Agendas are exclusive in that hybrids don’t make functional play, just like you can’t go both north and south at the same time.

That said, the features in Creative Agendas are identified by priorities, NOT exclusion – which means Narrativism prioritizes the things in Narrativist/Gamist and Narrativist/Simulationist OVER the stuff in Simulationist/Gamist (if such a game even gives a whit about those things at all). Likewise, Gamism puts it’s stuff in it’s two lists OVER the stuff in Narrativist/Simulationist, and likewise Simulationism puts it’s two lists OVER the stuff in Narrativist/Gamist.

For any CA, there’s one of those overlapping areas it puts last, under the things it DOES care about.

*These overlapping similarities should not be taken to assume these become compatible or hybrid options. I’d say, the illusion that the similarities might work together has probably been a source of a lot of unfun play for a long time now.

It’s rather like how a minivan, a race car and an 18 wheeler truck share similarities as automobiles but no one has really found a way to mix them in function.

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