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A GNS Question

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Apr. 25th, 2007 | 10:26 pm

John Kim's blog had a post about GNS and his interest or lack thereof these days. I have, as you know, been somewhat absent from this whole little mad field, myself, and I found myself thinking, "So what do I think about it these days?"

As I turn that over in my head, possibly profitably but possibly not, I have some questions for you. Please insert "and the Big Model" after GNS if that is helpful to you; I don't really care.

1. Do you find GNS useful in your current play?

2. Did you find it so in the past?

3. If you design games, do you think about this while you design (including general mulling over)?

4. Did you do so in the past?

5. Do you think that GNS should change and develop significantly?

6. Practically speaking, do you think it will change noticeably in the next year or so?

7. When you see someone make a GNS-based remark somewhere on the web, do you react with interest, annoyance, or what?

8. What is your overall assessment of what GNS has achieved in the past?

9. What is your assessment of its future?

You don't have to answer all that, obviously, but I am genuinely interested to know, as I see very, very different things about this.

Oh, one more thing: is it worth creating a poll like this? I've never done one.

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Raven Daegmorgan

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from: greyorm
date: Apr. 26th, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC)
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1. Yes.

2. Yes. It helped me determine why I wasn't enjoying myself in the games I was participating in/running at the time, what I did enjoy, and realize why the groups I was playing with would never be able to satisfy my preferences.

3. GNS or the Big Model? There's various parts of the Big Model I consider while designing, but GNS itself? No, that's a play thing, not a design thing (even the Big Model is not really a design thing, though structural parts can be taken away and looked at for design: such as the five elements of exploration, stance, resource interaction). For most of the rest of this, I am going to answer as though you're discussing the Big Model, and not GNS specifically.

4. Yes, after I discovered it, at least. It was very helpful in getting past designing incoherent games and understanding the incoherency in my designs. It was fundamental to the development of ORX, which kept going nowhere until I had internalized portions of the model and realized why the design attempts up to that point had kept falling flat or tripped over themselves.

5. SHOULD it? I have no idea. I'm guessing that depends on whether or not a person thinks the theory is complete in describing what it set out to describe. SHOULD Chaos Theory change and develop significantly? Should Relativity? What about Kinematics? I think WILL it is a much more answerable and reasonable question.

6. There's a point at which theories cease to have what might be called "significant" development because their foundation has been solidified. Is the Big Model there? I don't know. Nearly a decade of examining, clarifying, and changing the theory has led to what appears to be a fairly stable foundation: the specifics may change, things might be added, clarified, but will the core theory change noticeably? Honestly, I haven't paid enough attention to recent developments to know the rate at which it will develop. I don't know what "significant" or "noticeable" development means, either, in this context.

7. Depends on the individual making the comment and what their level of comprehension of the Big Model (and "political" affiliation) is. It's like listening to someone talk about evolutionary theory: creationists annoy because they have a vested interest in disproving evolution for political, social and emotional-personal reasons that have nothing to do with the theory, tend ignore inconvenient data, lie outright, and push a religious agenda; the general public can be either brilliant or stupid, depending on their level of comprehension (and their believed-vs-actual level of such) and personality; and actual discussion and argument about the theory by biologists is fascinating.

8. It brought greater attention to a number of behaviors and ideas that should have been obvious, but had been until that time obscured by tradition and the social presuppositions of our hobby. It has led to new developments and directions in game design, and increased interest in the idea of social theory applying to games, design, and game behavior (at least in our hobby: as game theory has been utilized and understood by designers in the wider games market for decades). It has created a well-known foundation to approach the issues from (which is also problematic, as this popularity results in popular conceptions and assumptions about the theory that are fundamentally flawed).

9. It will continue to develop, more slowly than before, but will be one of the corner-stones upon which future theory will be developed and tested against, until such time as something else supercedes or invalidates its insights. Given the nature of gamers and their cross-market interests, I have a feeling the Big Model's influence, at least in getting people to think about and examine their hobbies more critically from the social aspects to the actual mechanisms, will affect an even larger market than tabletop role-playing.

Oh, one more thing: is it worth creating a poll like this? I've never done one.

Polls are rarely useful unless properly conducted. Internet polls are almost never useful. The answers you receive are skewed by the segment of the population that chooses to answer the question, and already skewed by being from the segment that utilizes the internet.

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Raven Daegmorgan

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from: greyorm
date: Apr. 26th, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC)
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An addition to #2: It also helped me see past my own nose regarding those preferences, and opened up a wider world of play styles to my enjoyment (and while I still have preferences, I can at least understand those other preferences as "Not my thing, but whatever works for you" instead of "Ugh, you're doing it wrong! That's stupid!").

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