[RPG Theory] OK, Can someone explain the 'Big Model' to me?

cj.23

Registered User
Validated User
As the Forge Thoery has closed, and I still don't get it, can someone just briefly explain the Big Model and Creative Agendas to me in terms a dork like me might grasp? Fel free to use examples in games like Polaris, Dogs in the Vineyard, Inspectres or any other game system really. I sort of finally thought i understood G/N/S then it was replaced. So what do the terms mean? Perhaps if we can all understand the ideas we will be less judgmental about the Forge?

cj x
 

maddman75

Most Charming Man Ever
I would love for someone to describe this theory in a paragraph without bogging it down with jargon. If one can't do that, then either the person doesn't understand the theory very well or the theory is not well formed. I can describe evolution, gravity, or relativity in a paragraph, so don't try telling me 'its just too complicated' :D
 

Ben Brown

Radical Dslamist
Validated User
maddman75 said:
I would love for someone to describe this theory in a paragraph without bogging it down with jargon. If one can't do that, then either the person doesn't understand the theory very well or the theory is not well formed. I can describe evolution, gravity, or relativity in a paragraph, so don't try telling me 'its just too complicated' :D

Agreed. Posting a link which has a bunch of other links is like someone asking "how do you drive" and you handing them the owners manual for your car.
 

Kintara

Twisted and Tied
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Gamism and Narrativism are easy. Sim is where things get contentious and, well, fucked up. Not that there's anything wrong with people who identify with it, but it's just hard to pin down to me.

Gamism is Step on Up. It's about being challenged in the game as a player. This one really isn't that complicated to me. D&D is gamism, if done right. You have a series of encounters which the players tackle and win or lose. The important thing is that they get to Step Up. Hey, try to do THIS!

Narrativism is Story Now. It's about telling stories that are dramatically interesting. Narrativism is all about the premise. The game should have a premise that addresses an issue you find interesting as a player. Playing the game should help you to tell a story that develops that premise into a story about the issue. Story, in this case, means a dramatically well made story, not just a string of events. What makes a story a story is addressing the premise. A story is about something.

I hope that's not too reductive. I'm no expert. Sim is gobbledegook to me. Even though I grew up on GURPS, and I just know I've played in a Sim-focused game before, I don't know how to describe it.

Edit: I think that an important thing to note is that these are things you do, not something that just is. The rules work together to create a certain sort of play, but it can be dangerous to talk about GNS if you're not talking about actual play, which is one reason I think Ron did the recent forum closures.
 
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maddman75

Most Charming Man Ever
Ben Brown said:
Agreed. Posting a link which has a bunch of other links is like someone asking "how do you drive" and you handing them the owners manual for your car.
I don't really know much about Forge theories for that reason. Any time someone asks they get pointed to a page full of huge essays. I don't want to write a reaseach paper on it, I just want to know what you're talking about!
 

DarkDungeons

The GM Is Your Friend.
maddman75 said:
I would love for someone to describe this theory in a paragraph without bogging it down with jargon. If one can't do that, then either the person doesn't understand the theory very well or the theory is not well formed.
DING DING DING!
We have a winner.
 

Burning Luke

i burn worlds
RPGnet Member
Validated User
teh Vincent said:
So you have some people sitting around and talking. Some of the things they say are about fictional characters in a fictional world. During the conversation the characters and their world aren't static: the people don't simply describe them in increasing detail, they (also) have them do things and interact. They create situations - dynamic arrangements of characters and setting elements - and resolve them into new situations.

They may or may not have formal procedures for this part of the conversation, but the simple fact that it consistently happens reveals some sort of structure. If they didn't have an effective way to negotiate the evolution of situation to situation, their conversation would stall or crash.

Why are they doing this? What do they get out of it? For now, let's limit ourselves to three possibilities: they want to Say Something (in a lit 101 sense), they want to Prove Themselves, or they want to Be There. What they want to say, in what way they want to prove themselves, or where precisely they want to be varies to the particular person in the particular moment. Are there other possibilities? Maybe. Certainly these three cover an enormous variety, especially as their nuanced particulars combine in an actual group of people in actual play.

Over time, that is, over many many in-game situations, play will either fulfill the players' creative agendas or fail to fulfill them. Do they have that discussion? Do they prove themselves or let themselves down? Are they "there"? As in pretty much any kind of emergent pattern thingy, whether the game fulfills the players' creative agendas depends on but isn't predictable from the specific structure they've got for negotiating situations. No individual situation's evolution or resolution can reveal a) what the players' creative agendas are or b) whether they're being fulfilled. Especially, limiting your observation to the in-game contents of individual situations will certainly blind you to what the players are actually getting out of the game.
That particular essay is entitled Aside: GNS, but it has, if I'm not mistaken, become a fairly good summary of what lots-o-folks like to call The Big Model.



from Vincent's excellent page of expoundings on Forge theory:
http://www.lumpley.com/hardcore.html
 
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