Author Topic: GNS theory  (Read 10265 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Shoggoth

  • That monkey with the orange ass cheeks
  • ****
  • Posts: 246
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2008, 07:11:28 AM »
I wouldn't worry about learning the intricacies of GNS.  

What you might like to know is that it was one of the major attempts to classify games in such a way that better games could be devised from principals rather than random ideas.  

This right here is the reason why I have been so enchanted with GNS theory.  I do realize that it's not perfect; I put it in the same sort of classification as the Meyers-Briggs or Enneagram personality profiles.  They're useful as tools for discussing the subject, but if you really get down into it they just aren't complete or granular enough to properly serve as a complete theory.  But I LOVE theoretical frameworks, and gaming as a whole has really suffered from a lack of any attempt at intellectual rigor for a long time now.

Quote
This now aging idea is not understood by most game designers. Unfortunately there is a sense of arrogance because the people in the know are a sort of clique.  

If I had a dollar for every person who told me they didn't like GNS because "That guy who wrote it sounds like a stuck-up asshole" I'd have one less car payment to make.   :lmao
Still came that eldritch, mocking cry - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths...had no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters.

Robert Bohl

  • Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
    • Misspent Youth
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2009, 12:24:06 AM »

Say what you will of GNS theory and Ron Edwards, but the Forge has been a place for some really amazing game designers to discuss and hone their ideas.  Games like My Life With Master, Sorcerer, Dogs in the Vineyard, Misspent Youth, Polaris, Shock, and a ton of others have come from the designers who get together and discuss gaming theory on that board.

The most important thing is not that they came up with GNS.

Rather they just tried to figure out the truth.
Josh, what do you mean by this? I can't figure it out.

Shoggoth, thanks for the kind words about Misspent Youth. I never much discussed theory on that board, but I am sort of second-generation from those who did. Misspent Youth is inspired by amazing games like Primetime Adventures, shock: social science fiction, and My Life with Master, all of whose designers did discuss theory there as far as I know.

As far as how useful GNS or The Big Model are? As a designer and a player, it's been inordinately helpful to me to have my consciousness raised about the issues brought up by it. Specifically, the idea that rules actually really matter, that you can design a game that does things, that following rules is worth trying, that games ought to make a certain kind of fun more likely otherwise what's the point, etc. Knowing there are tendencies in play styles is also useful. Being able to separate "realism" from the creation of a compelling narrative was another eye opener.

Josh

  • Brilliant Gameologist
  • Grape ape
  • *
  • Posts: 1835
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2009, 08:04:25 AM »
GNS is similar to ISO 9000, 6-sigma or 5S. 

None of those replaces intelligence or common sense, they just help people fake it.

Like most conceptualizations the important part is not making it, rather walking the road.
Ennies Nominees - Best Podcast 2009

Shoggoth

  • That monkey with the orange ass cheeks
  • ****
  • Posts: 246
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2009, 01:58:52 AM »
GNS is similar to ISO 9000, 6-sigma or 5S. 

None of those replaces intelligence or common sense, they just help people fake it.

Like most conceptualizations the important part is not making it, rather walking the road.

I'm not sure that's an apt comparison.

ISO 9000 and the like is (unless I'm mistaken) essentially a checklist of best practices for running a business.  It provides a way to A) check off the things you're doing right/wrong and B) allow for certification of your business from an outside agency to promote positive spin to your customers.

GNS is not really a checklist.  You can't use it to make games like that.  It's really more of a stab at an underlying theory of gaming - why we do it, different ways to approaching it, etc.

It's certainly not at a level where it could be taught in a college classroom.  But what it does do is get people thinking about these things.  As Robert said, it presents concepts to a potential game designer beyond mathematical system coherency and "good writing".
Still came that eldritch, mocking cry - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths...had no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters.

Josh

  • Brilliant Gameologist
  • Grape ape
  • *
  • Posts: 1835
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2009, 03:47:52 AM »
GNS is similar to ISO 9000, 6-sigma or 5S. 

None of those replaces intelligence or common sense, they just help people fake it.

Like most conceptualizations the important part is not making it, rather walking the road.

I'm not sure that's an apt comparison.

ISO 9000 and the like is (unless I'm mistaken) essentially a checklist of best practices for running a business. 

Yes you are mistaken.  ISO is a process, it is a philosophy that can be used as common sense by those who have none.

The ISO process itself is very much like GNS. 

Ennies Nominees - Best Podcast 2009

Caelic

  • Hong Kong
  • ****
  • Posts: 979
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2009, 03:33:59 PM »
  Oh, and they added a whole game-world to play around in, which is the only thing they ever did right.


...and then proceeded to bury said world in meta-plot, which never works out well, IMO.

Caelic

  • Hong Kong
  • ****
  • Posts: 979
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2009, 04:27:03 PM »
Yes you are mistaken.  ISO is a process, it is a philosophy that can be used as common sense by those who have none.

The ISO process itself is very much like GNS. 


The main similarity I see is in how both are misused.  My experience with companies striving for ISO9000 certification was not a particularly good one; they ignored the underlying philosophy, and simply treated it as a rote process to follow.  ("If we do X, Y, and Z, we will be a good company.")

Like GNS, going through the motions without understanding the underlying reasons didn't produce very good results.

Shoggoth

  • That monkey with the orange ass cheeks
  • ****
  • Posts: 246
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2009, 06:45:11 PM »
  Oh, and they added a whole game-world to play around in, which is the only thing they ever did right.


...and then proceeded to bury said world in meta-plot, which never works out well, IMO.

Yeah, I can't argue with that. 
Still came that eldritch, mocking cry - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths...had no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters.

Shoggoth

  • That monkey with the orange ass cheeks
  • ****
  • Posts: 246
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2009, 06:50:20 PM »
None of those replaces intelligence or common sense, they just help people fake it.

Like most conceptualizations the important part is not making it, rather walking the road.


As far as how useful GNS or The Big Model are? As a designer and a player, it's been inordinately helpful to me to have my consciousness raised about the issues brought up by it.

I'm a little confused by this.  GNS is a system to help people who are not intelligent to fake it, but a published game designer who's game several BGs love found GNS helpful to him in his understanding of game design?  Does that mean that Robert Bohl is faking it?

I'm not trying to be disingenuous, I'm just point out how broad of a brush your painting with in these statements.
Still came that eldritch, mocking cry - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths...had no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters.

Josh

  • Brilliant Gameologist
  • Grape ape
  • *
  • Posts: 1835
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2009, 07:27:38 AM »
None of those replaces intelligence or common sense, they just help people fake it.

Like most conceptualizations the important part is not making it, rather walking the road.


As far as how useful GNS or The Big Model are? As a designer and a player, it's been inordinately helpful to me to have my consciousness raised about the issues brought up by it.

I'm a little confused by this.  GNS is a system to help people who are not intelligent to fake it, but a published game designer who's game several BGs love found GNS helpful to him in his understanding of game design?  Does that mean that Robert Bohl is faking it?

I'm not trying to be disingenuous, I'm just point out how broad of a brush your painting with in these statements.
Does ISO help, yes.  But if it was so great why Six Sigma and 5S and the one with the tigers?  ISO helps people fake it, but it is not true understanding.  One of the tenents of ISO is that you should do the most efficient process everywhere you do that process.  A revelation only to the dense.  Sigma 6, that the slowest process determines the rate of the line.  5S, if people know where to find things they can work more efficiently. 

Similarly GNS tells you things.  If you are savvy you already know them, if not you learned something.  Heck I learned something from GNS, it validated many of the ideas I had come up with on my own (that and fate, karma, drama resolutions).

But there are deeper truths behind the approximations of GNS.  Also there are games that if you were shackled by the concepts of GNS you would likely not invent.  Fate and burning wheel in particular.  I think you'll see that GNS tends to help design the type of games it has helped design.  But there are more games on heaven and earth than dreamed of in your GNS theory Horatio.
Ennies Nominees - Best Podcast 2009

Josh

  • Brilliant Gameologist
  • Grape ape
  • *
  • Posts: 1835
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #30 on: January 16, 2009, 08:24:11 PM »
Let me clear something up about my earlier statements.  GNS did not teach Ron anything more than he learned in the process of making GNS.  A statement that seems obvious, but it is important.  There is more to gaming then GNS.  And I think that it's flaws are realy beginning to show. 

It certainly changed the world of games, but it's time has come.  I don't want to study GNS as the truth, I want to look at games and figure the truth out.

Ps-i don't want people to think that they are dumb if they learned from GNS.  For me it validated 10 years of research. 
Ennies Nominees - Best Podcast 2009

Shoggoth

  • That monkey with the orange ass cheeks
  • ****
  • Posts: 246
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #31 on: January 16, 2009, 09:15:31 PM »
Let me clear something up about my earlier statements.  GNS did not teach Ron anything more than he learned in the process of making GNS.  A statement that seems obvious, but it is important.  There is more to gaming then GNS.  And I think that it's flaws are realy beginning to show. 

It certainly changed the world of games, but it's time has come.  I don't want to study GNS as the truth, I want to look at games and figure the truth out.

Ps-i don't want people to think that they are dumb if they learned from GNS.  For me it validated 10 years of research. 

Thank you for the clarification. 

Certainly there is more to gaming than GNS, and I think Ron Edwards would agree with you.  The Big Model is a reflection of that understanding, and I'm sure he doesn't consider THAT to be the Grand Unified Theory of gaming.  I suppose it's possible that he does, but I hope not; I certainly don't.

The reason that I always try to defend GNS against all of it's many detractors is because I feel that while GNS and TBM are not perfect theoretical models by any means, the ideas explored in those essays are valid.  At one point many of them were truly groundbreaking. 

I know for myself, when I first read GNS, many of the ideas in there were ones that I'd already personally developed; others I'd contemplated but had not formalized.  Some of the implications of those ideas as explored in GNS really floored me.  Is it the end all and be all?  No.  Is it worthwhile to read through and at least give some thought to?  Absolutely.

This implied idea that it is better to come up with all of your own ideas really bothers me, to be honest.  There is no discipline that I can think of where the teacher will tell you that the textbook is worthless because you should be able to figure it all out yourself.  No one will tell you not to read the textbook on Geometry because everyone else of merit is on Diff EQ now, so really, shouldn't you have figured that out by yourself?  The entire point of written language is that pioneers can pass their ideas onto the next generation, who will be able to move beyond with those ideas into new areas.  Build on those ideas, don't throw them out!

I wouldn't ever tell someone that GNS is perfect.  Nor would I tell them that it is outdated crap.  I tell them to go read it, think about the ideas in there, and come to their own conclusions.  Anyone else is a pedant.
Still came that eldritch, mocking cry - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths...had no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters.

Shoggoth

  • That monkey with the orange ass cheeks
  • ****
  • Posts: 246
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #32 on: January 16, 2009, 09:39:58 PM »
I think you'll see that GNS tends to help design the type of games it has helped design.  But there are more games on heaven and earth than dreamed of in your GNS theory Horatio.

I actually have a pet theory about this that I can't prove easily, but that I think makes a fair bit of sense.

People are different in the amount of abstraction and conceptualization they are comfortable with.  Some people like things to be very concrete - we will be at place X at time Y, the job will require these 5 things, if I save $6/day for the next month I can afford to buy myself Z, etc.  More abstract people like to leave things open, are more comfortable with improvisation, and tend to be more concerned with what they COULD do than what WILL happen.

I think that this personality trait has a direct correlation to the kinds of games you like to play.  If you are a very concrete person, you probably want a coherent, inclusive ruleset that clearly defines what you can and cannot do, and it's doubtful that you want to play a story game with a skeleton ruleset and improvisation on the spot as a primary objective.  On the other hand, if you like abstraction, a rule system where one roll can be made to resolve any type of conflict, and the focus of the game is an concept or story conceit is what you're looking for.  Of course, not may people are at the far poles of the axis, so people generally like a bit of both, but they usually have a preference.

GNS is EXTREMELY conceptual.  It tries to take all of the nitty gritty details of system design and player experience and abstract them out into these sweeping generalizations in an attempt to explore the idea of "what IS this gaming thing we're doing?".  Conceptual people say "Gosh, look at those neat ideas!".  Concrete people say "This claims to be about how system affects gameplay, but there's nothing in here about how to make a better system.  All it does is try to stereotype me!".

So there's a correlation there.  If you are a game designer who thinks conceptually, you will probably make conceptual games, and GNS will probably intrigue you.  If you are a game designer who thinks very concretely, you will probably make mechanical games, and GNS will infuriate you.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2009, 09:46:59 PM by Shoggoth »
Still came that eldritch, mocking cry - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths...had no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters.

Caelic

  • Hong Kong
  • ****
  • Posts: 979
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #33 on: January 17, 2009, 03:02:59 AM »
One thing I'd like to see incorporated into any "Grand Unified Theory of Gaming" is the fact that play has purposes beyond "having fun."  Basically, I'd like it to incorporate the research done into the nature of play by various anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists.


Josh

  • Brilliant Gameologist
  • Grape ape
  • *
  • Posts: 1835
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #34 on: January 19, 2009, 08:15:47 AM »
One thing I'd like to see incorporated into any "Grand Unified Theory of Gaming" is the fact that play has purposes beyond "having fun."  Basically, I'd like it to incorporate the research done into the nature of play by various anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists.



Ahh, that's it there is no grand unified theory, there cannot be.  Until we have a grand unified theory of humanity we cannot expand it to a grand unified theory of gaming.

Quote
So there's a correlation there.  If you are a game designer who thinks conceptually, you will probably make conceptual games, and GNS will probably intrigue you.  If you are a game designer who thinks very concretely, you will probably make mechanical games, and GNS will infuriate you.


In any and all cases, If you are interested in learning about GNS then do so. 

In any and all cases, learning GNS is not required to make games

In some cases it may be helpful and in some it may be detrimental. 

And In any and all cases, GNS does not replace real knowledge about the nature of games and gaming.
Ennies Nominees - Best Podcast 2009

Shoggoth

  • That monkey with the orange ass cheeks
  • ****
  • Posts: 246
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #35 on: January 19, 2009, 04:44:07 PM »

In any and all cases, If you are interested in learning about GNS then do so. 

In any and all cases, learning GNS is not required to make games

In some cases it may be helpful and in some it may be detrimental. 

And In any and all cases, GNS does not replace real knowledge about the nature of games and gaming.

People made good games before GNS, and they'll make good games after, whether or not they've read it.  No argument there.

I'm curious though.  What constitutes "real" knowledge, and what is NOT "real" knowledge?  I wasn't aware there was anything such as fake knowledge.

Do you mean real experience?  I agree that someone couldn't read GNS, having never played a game, and write a RPG.
Still came that eldritch, mocking cry - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths...had no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters.

Josh

  • Brilliant Gameologist
  • Grape ape
  • *
  • Posts: 1835
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #36 on: January 20, 2009, 06:59:56 AM »

In any and all cases, If you are interested in learning about GNS then do so. 

In any and all cases, learning GNS is not required to make games

In some cases it may be helpful and in some it may be detrimental. 

And In any and all cases, GNS does not replace real knowledge about the nature of games and gaming.

People made good games before GNS, and they'll make good games after, whether or not they've read it.  No argument there.

I'm curious though.  What constitutes "real" knowledge, and what is NOT "real" knowledge?  I wasn't aware there was anything such as fake knowledge.

Do you mean real experience?  I agree that someone couldn't read GNS, having never played a game, and write a RPG.

"Real" knowledge is playing actual games and doing play research in the real world.  Not just playing but objective analysis. 

Ennies Nominees - Best Podcast 2009

Whisper

  • Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
  • ***
  • Posts: 206
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #37 on: January 27, 2011, 10:41:41 AM »

In any and all cases, If you are interested in learning about GNS then do so. 

In any and all cases, learning GNS is not required to make games

In some cases it may be helpful and in some it may be detrimental. 

And In any and all cases, GNS does not replace real knowledge about the nature of games and gaming.

People made good games before GNS, and they'll make good games after, whether or not they've read it.  No argument there.

I'm curious though.  What constitutes "real" knowledge, and what is NOT "real" knowledge?  I wasn't aware there was anything such as fake knowledge.

Do you mean real experience?  I agree that someone couldn't read GNS, having never played a game, and write a RPG.

"Real" knowledge is playing actual games and doing play research in the real world.  Not just playing but objective analysis. 



More to the point, real knowledge makes predictions and is falsifiable.

As such, GNS theory isn't a theory at all... because it cannot be tested. It does not make predictions that you can test, and if it doesn't do that, it doesn't tell you anything you can use.

It's just another bean-sorting system, somewhat like the Meyers-Briggs personality type inventory, in that it appears superficially insightful, is intellectually seductive, but is ultimately based on a bunch of nonsense dreamed up by a non-expert, published without testing, and no more valid than a horoscope.


Sunic_Flames

  • Organ Grinder
  • *****
  • Posts: 4782
  • The Crusader of Logic.
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #38 on: January 27, 2011, 03:31:09 PM »
Hi Welcome

Smiting Imbeciles since 1985.

If you hear this music, run.

And don't forget:


There is no greater contribution than Hi Welcome.

Huge amounts of people are fuckwits. That doesn't mean that fuckwit is a valid lifestyle.

IP proofing and avoiding being CAPed OR - how to make characters relevant in the long term.

Friends don't let friends be Short Bus Hobos.

[spoiler]
Sunic may be more abrasive than sandpaper coated in chainsaws (not that its a bad thing, he really does know what he's talking about), but just posting in this thread without warning and telling him he's an asshole which, if you knew his past experiences on WotC and Paizo is flat-out uncalled for. Never mind the insults (which are clearly 4Chan-level childish). You say people like Sunic are the bane of the internet? Try looking at your own post and telling me you are better than him.

Here's a fun fact: You aren't. By a few leagues.
[/spoiler]

Meg

  • Message Board Extraordinaire
  • Brilliant Gameologist
  • Man in Gorilla Suit
  • *
  • Posts: 2069
  • Are you rapier than me?
    • Brilliant Gameologists
    • Email
Re: GNS theory
« Reply #39 on: January 27, 2011, 06:26:57 PM »
Uh, no, a conversation like this is "timeless" and no worries at all about resurrecting it.
All of my updates are on twitter! 

This is my angry voice.  Text written in red, by me, is  an official moderator "suggestion"

Want to meet me or the other Gameologists?  Check out where we'll be on the Conventions, Meetups and Events board!