Immersion is narrativism

edited April 2011 in Story Games
There was a discussion on Bill White's facebook and I figured this would be a good place to bring it to bear. For those whom this is an old argument or old discussion please enlighten me and send me links to books and site and posts to read. I do understand the idea of character as an alternate identity, part and parcel to the story but I'm uncertain how that challenges the idea as it has seemed to in the past.

Story - an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.

People, characters are at the heart of our hobby, our art, and no character can be brought to life without a player. There are time when the only even happening in the plot are the characters meeting. The story unfold from there. When the author or screen write tells a story, what is she doing? She's not only describing the weather and what paintings are on the wall, she's giving life to the characters through action and word.

How then is playing a character in improv or an RPG any different? Authorship does NOT separate one from the character. Authorship separates one further from the mysteries the author unfolds. There would be no story if the players didn't detail their characters involvement in the setting and events. And no plot moves forward until we see what the characters say and do in relation to the events and one another. That is clearly authorship.

A game supporting immersion simply means that surprises about ones own past and pacing mechanism must be kept at a minimum to give the player the most room to explore the character and briefly live like her. Walk in her shoes.

While players may seek after an immersive experience, it is by far not a creative agenda (and I mean that in a broad sense of the term, not necessarily tied to the Bog Theory). As with everything in a game, it should be part of the social contract. How far are we willing to go to suspend disbelief. For each group that answer is very different thus why we discuss line and veils. I say this to my groups all the time, remember that line and veils are not just for taboos like rape, torture and incest. Players have means of playing they prefer - the balance of rules, GM and player power; groups agreeing that in a group dynamic the good of the group outweighs the good of the player; how much table chatter there will be, etc. That's all part of lines and veils.

Some games support certain modes of play. D&D has a group dynamic clearly predicated on balance and fairness; Apocalypse World tells the Master of Ceremonies to make the players believe in the world; Fiasco allows you do determine your own successes and failures; while Burning Empires focuses on the effects the characters lives have on the larger story.

Immersion is just a way to tell your character's story - first person rather than third person.

Thoughts?
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Comments

  • I was about to respond but I realized I don't totally understand your post.

    Maybe you should link to the discussion on the blog and that'll clear things up...
  • My bad, actually, I meant Facebook. However here is the basis of that conversion - http://www.slideshare.net/BillWhite2/roleplaying-communities-cultures-of-play-and-the-discourse-of-immersion - and me reading the Turku manifesto where they list Immersionist along with Gamist, Dramatist and Simulationist. It was the change between dramatist and narrativist (but clearly talking about the same concept) that lead me to realize that Immersionist play wasn't so far removed from Narrativism - and Story Games - as I might have been led to consider.

    - Don
  • There is a very specific definition of immersion that some people have been using for many years in relation to RPGs. Some other people really dislike this definition, and are offended because immersion also has a broader meaning in general usage. Your description fits reasonably well with that broader meaning, but has little to do with the more specialized definition often used in relation to RPGs.
  • I too find myself kinda adrift in your post, but as far as I can tell, you're saying: Seeking immersion is not a creative agenda. And sure, I'll go along with that.


    Cheers,
    Roger
  • I dunno, Immersion is Immersion. I don't know how specific it has to be - okay, I disregard all the crap about requiring a GM to have immersive play, in fact I think a GM is something that removes someone from the act of playing your character. That being said, the thesis here is Immersion is a mode of narrativism. Paper tiger?

    Thanks for the input,
    - Don
  • Posted By: eruditusI dunno, Immersion is Immersion. I don't know how specific it has to be - okay, I disregard all the crap about requiring a GM to have immersive play, in fact I think a GM is something that removes someone from the act of playing your character. That being said, the thesis here is Immersion is a mode of narrativism.

    Well, ignoring forge definitions, then ... I'm 100% immersed in my real life, but if I were to give you a blow-by-blow description of that life it would be a crappy narrative...
  • Don,

    This is going to be all tangled in what people mean by Immersion (god help us) and Narrativism (god help us).

    But, for me (and I'm only speaking for myself here), I've never seen any tension at ALL between Immersion (identification with character, responding as character, experiencing the narrative elements through the character) and Narrativism.

    Narrativism depends on passionately driven characters driving stories forward through the actions and responses. The story is created in the wake of what the Player Characters do. So, for me, it's a non-issue. The Players are either heavily invested in playing as and for their characters or the playing falls apart. Period, Full Stop.
  • Crappy according to whom? There are lots of films, plays, even books that are just characters rambling on. Okay, so part of what we learn about developing good plot IS developing engaging situations. But that's just the beginning of the equation and your life still tells a story.
  • Yeah, Chris, we don't disagree.
  • 2 pennies:

    When looking for Immersion, as I know the thing, you don't give a rat's ass about story. It's just not on your mind.

    When looking to craft the narrative of play, you do. It's on your mind.

    They have similarities, sure - you flow and act and engage with the material in an ongoing thing. The act of play, and the events occurring in the fiction, are very much the focus. And I suspect that's what you're pointing at.

    But those similarities in state of mind don't make 'em the same thing.
  • edited April 2011
    Levi, that's your reading of Narrativism.

    That's awesome.

    It's not mine.

    When playing Sorcerer, for example, the players don't need to pay one moment's thought to the story as a whole. They only need to be doing their characters. That's it.

    The trick is, there are different games with different weights and levers for difference levels of responsibility for the Players. (Burning Empires, for example, has a lot of story-level thinking for the players.)

    But in the games I play and like, the Players don't need to do anything beyond what I've described above.

    [And Edited to Add] The Sorcerer Game Master has the role of paying attention to story--not where it's going but paying attention to the concerns of story--so the players don't have to. Again, different games distribute this balance in different ways.
  • edited April 2011
    Posted By: Christopher KubasikLevi, that's your reading of Narrativism.

    That's awesome.

    It's not mine.
    Da. It's why I avoided direct use of the word - I am not The Authority on it. By my definitions, these things are like-to-each-other, but incompatible. By yours, they are otherwise.

    So, some experience:

    When playing Dogs, I've made many choices (as GM or player) for reasons of pacing - wanting the fiction to intensify or relax, etc. And to me, those are not-immersed decisions. They're engaged decisions, absolutely. But they aren't about me playing to the character; they're about me playing to the story. People playing with me have reported similarly: This might be because I helped frame the discussion that way, though.

    That's the distinction I'm pointing at.
  • Levi You make a good point, especially where I fail to fill in the gap.

    So here it goes... Why it's the same is because while playing a character you* may not be thinking about the story the character's actions ARE the story. You are playing your character and putting your characters perspective before all other concerns (hopefully not to the detriment of the entertainment of your fellow players). That is just your method of storytelling. It is what makes the game sing for you and maybe the way you prefer to play, but you are still generating story none-the-less. Some people have more or less tolerance for rambly Woody Allen-esque narrative but narrative it is. So, as a point of example to bring it back to social contract, if you were to approach a game and say "what is my creative agenda" your choice would be among the three not to create another category. Now I think theres cross over and Immersionism is a mode of play but I am not going to get into that. All I'm going to say is that you are persuing the purest for of story by wanting to play out your character with as few distractions as possible.

    Obviously I wrote that with far less time and consideration than my initial post but hey, it can always get reworked :)

    Thanks,
    - Don


    *not pointed toward Levi but a general "you"
  • edited April 2011
    Posted By: Levi KornelsenWhen playing Dogs, I've made many choices (as GM or player) for reasons ofpacing- wanting the fiction to intensify or relax, etc. And to me, those are not-immersed decisions. They're engaged decisions, absolutely. But they aren't about me playing to the character; they're about me playing to the story. People playing with me have reported similarly: This might be because I helped frame the discussion that way, though.

    That's the distinction I'm pointing at.
    Oh, I believe the distinction is there. If one puts it there. As you said, you chose to play the game that way.

    I've never been a Player in a game of Dogs in the Vineyard and played it that way. Ever. To me, I'm that guy. I'm playing him full-tilt. "This is who I am, these are my goals, these are my passions." Go.

    Same with a game of In A Wicked Age... I played once -- still one of my most memorable gaming experiences. And we got a terrific story out of it.

    You chose to play the way you chose to play, and I'm choosing to play I'm choosing to play.

    And, as I edited above, the function of the Game Master, in the three games tagged so far (Sorcerer, Dogs, and Wicked Age...) is to handle certain "thinking-about-story" responsibilities so the Players don't have to.
  • Levi, I am not saying that those are the same ways to play the game. I'm saying that by playing your character you are "maybe inadvertently" pushing story forward. Within Narrativism I see a quality arguement between story-first and character first but that's within narrativism.
  • Don,

    Are you saying that immersion is *all* you need for a decent story to emerge? Because I agree that they're not mutually exclusive; I'm just saying immersion by itself isn't enough, witness my life and some particularly bad IRC games I've played.
  • edited April 2011
    Posted By: Christopher KubasikOh, I believe the distinction is there. If one puts it there. As you said, you chose to play the game that way.

    *Snip*

    And, as I edited above, the function of the Game Master, in the three games tagged so far (Sorcerer,Dogs, andWicked Age...) is to handle certain "thinking-about-story" responsibilities so the Players don't have to.
    Yeah, I think I can agree with that.

    I would note that in Dogs and in Sorcerer ( I don't know Wicked Age well at all), players have plenty of tools and space to go with thinking-about-story, and roll on in that mode.

    Which is why I hit those games as I do. If you hand me a hammer, baby, I'm going hunting for some nails.
  • I feel like this is the only way out: eruditus, is there any form of roleplaying (or, indeed, any human activity at all) that doesn't produce a story, as you've defined it?
  • edited April 2011
    Jamie,

    You addressed the question to Don, but I'm going to toss out my answer....

    "Are you saying that immersion is *all* you need for a decent story to emerge?"

    My answer would be, "No."

    The other pieces are the rules of the game (All of them, from the process of creating the characters, how the character sheets are designed) and what the other functions at the table are. Is there a Game Master? If so, what are his responsibilities as defined by the rules? If not, how are the Players responsible for handling responsibilities usually handled by the Game Master? (See: Polaris.)

    Certain games build the structure of storytelling into the rules, so the Players can step back and do the job of Playing the characters. That's been my observation, at least.
  • Posted By: RogerI feel like this is the only way out: eruditus, is there any form of roleplaying (or, indeed, any human activity at all) that doesn't produce a story, as you've defined it?
    Roger,

    For me, off the top of my head, a standard D&D dungeon crawl played from a module would not be a story.
  • edited April 2011
    Good question, Roger,

    Do you mean is there a means where the players come to the table and agree on how they want to play that doesn't produce story? Sure, pushing around minis where your interaction is "I roll a 18 and do 25 points of damage," Your point of pride isn't "that was a great story" rather "we nailed dem orcs good!" (yeah Im being simplistic and we all know these all work together) or when the players all sit back and say "okay, we have the natives under our thumbs and the water is rerouted to the settlement" whether or not it's a good story is immaterial, there your point to to create a world and develop it.

    And hell, I admit when you really get into a character and you two just connect (player and character) you don't necessarily recognize it as the same thing but I think it stems from the same point of pride. We often don't prescribe playing characters as being authors because our models are novel, films and the like where the author is more reflected in a GM role. However, RPGs are far more like improv. There is a situation and the players are taking it to a particular level.

    Now heres the part that gets under certain people's skin... it's all fiction. Yeah, you could argue theories of identity and "what's real" but we're all creating fiction. Whether a player thinks "wow, right now would be a great time in the story to bring out that I'm really the villain" or it just happens as a course of the player playing the character, the outcome and pride lands in the very same place.

    no?
    - Don
  • Jamie, what Chris said. Immersion is a mode of Narrativism in this model.
  • BTW thanks all because this really does help me flesh out the hypothesis and maybe create a more cogent presentation.
  • Yeah, that's sort of what I'm getting at -- even the most bog-standard D&D dungeoncrawl produces some form of narrative.

    So let's say we go a bit further and say, well hold on, dramatism or narrativism or whatever is distinguished by the high value placed on the quality of that narrative. And, sure, for the purposes of this thread, I can go along with that.

    I think the next hurdle to examine is, well, hey wait a minute. Are we talking about valuing the narrative in the moment, as we're creating it? Or are we talking about, after the play is done and the dice have been put away, standing around and valuing the narrative that we just finished creating? Or both, or neither? It might be sort of a subtle point but I think it's important to nail down.
  • edited April 2011
    I really admire the determined effort to (re?) claim "narrativism" but I kinda think the ship has sailed, gang.
  • Roger,

    You started with the word "story." Don introduced the word "fiction" (properly I think). And now you're discussing "narrative."

    I'd say you're right. In a dungeon crawl there is narrative. That doesn't make it story.

    A sequence of fictional things is certainly narrative. A story is something else more defined.

    I'd offer, to answer your question, when I play the games I like to play, I'm valuing the making of story both in the moment of creation (or, probably, in the split second after the moment, when I see what I thought up and realized it was good), and in the post-game reflection.

    I'll warn you, my head already is beginning to spin on, "When do we have an idea? What is an idea? When do we judge an idea in relation to having it?" I mean, we might need to bring in brain scanners if you want to go down the rabbit hole you seem to be pointing at!
  • I'm just trying to use 'story' the way eruditus has defined it:

    "Story - an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment."

    It may or may not be a good definition, but it's his thread, so I'm trying to play along.
  • Fair enough. My bad.
  • Yeah, I'm sorry guys. Trying to express it more clearly.

    I did introduce narrativism and Roger is right to point out that my thesis seems to say immersive play is Narrativism BECAUSE it creates a story. That's not what I am saying. Honestly I used to be one of the people who used to think the big model missed Immersive play and thought that some nod should have been made to people who focus not on mechanics, or the setting or the plot, rather the character itself... performers, people who took pride in playing their character well.

    After looking at it closer I just can't separate the performance from the fiction it's creating. Yes, I'm proud of the performance, of how I got the character, how things felt natural and energized. When it came down to it, though, that performance and the energy is the same thing that develops in improv and what we're going for ends up just being some gradient on two ends of the spectrum of authorship. Genre vs Literature.

    Does that make any sense?
  • It makes sense.

    What I find myself objecting to, though, is the suggestion that it's possible to be simultaneously immersed in character while also being outside of character and looking down on the story and appreciating it.

    It seems to me that it's essentially a "meta-game" activity to take any notice of story as it happens, and something that's entirely at odds with being immersed in character.

    Maybe that's not what you're saying, or maybe that is what you're saying but it turns out it's not problematic at all, or something else. Anyway, I think it might be worth addressing in some fashion.
  • edited April 2011
    Roger,

    This where I think the term Immersion begins to boggle me.

    You write: "What I find myself objecting to, though, is the suggestion that it's possible to be simultaneously immersed in character while also being outside of character and looking down on the story and appreciating it."

    But doesn't that beg this re-phrasing: "What I find myself objecting to, though, is the suggestion that it's possible to be simultaneously immersed in character while also being able to take a sip of diet soda or slide the pizza slice away from you as you begin a speech in character."

    Or: "What I find myself objecting to, though, is the suggestion that it's possible to be simultaneously immersed in character while also being aware you have to get back home by 10 o'clock to watch a show with your girlfriend."

    Or: "What I find myself objecting to, though, is the suggestion that it's possible to be simultaneously immersed in character while also being able to reach for the dice as you get ready to roll them."

    There is the bar for "Immersion" the way that some people use the word that seems not to exist outside of the Turku School. And I'm not saying the Turkus are wrong for reaching for that bar. I'm saying it's a strict discipline that I've never seen in practice anywhere I've ever been in any game session anywhere. Every game I've ever participated in people are constantly moving back and forth between engagement with their characters and being aware there's -- you know -- a real world outside of the fictional elements being verbalized at the table. I don't see any way around that.

    And if we want to really focus on the concept of "looking down on the story and appreciating it," I can only offer that any creative act is full of this all the time.

    A painter puts down a brushstroke that makes perfect, impulsive sense... and then takes a step back and looks at the painting as a whole once more, judging it, to see where he'll be putting a brushstroke next.

    A screenwriter is completely caught up in the experience of the characters, their emotions, the conflict of the scene... and then, looks over the page when he's done and has a sense of, "Ah, that's good," or "Oh, not yet..." and dives back in again.

    Actors in the wings of a stage can watch their fellow cast members acting out a scene onstage, judging it well and delighted with the work they are watching, and then step out on stage, "in" character, and start delivering lines as if they had just entered from the garden or whatever.

    Between these two points --1) that Immersion is never an unbroken sense of reality of experience the life outside of being the character (except, of course, outside the trance-like immersion the Turku School seeks); and 2) the reality that the creative act is always an moving seamlessly back and forth between open creation and judgment of some kind, I simply don't know what people mean when they say awareness of any kind outside their character "breaks" immersion for them.

    But that might just be me.

    Am I suggesting anything in the words above that seems really strange or contradictory to your experiences when you gather with friends to play an RPG session?
  • I don't want to ignore too much of the conversation, but it seems like there's at least one definitional gap in here.

    My gut reaction is Immersion is Simulationism.

    If your first internal question is "What would my character do, given the game world?", I'd call that Simulationist.
    If your first question is "What would make the most interesting story?", I'd call that Narrativist.
    ("What's the optimal thing for my character to do?" is the Gamist question. ;) )

    Of course, you can keep multiple questions in your head at once, and balance them off, and ignore some sometimes. But when push comes to shove, one of them is carrying more weight.

    The more you're making decisions that are at odds with what your character would want/would do, the less Immersive things are, right?
  • Posted By: eruditusAfter looking at it closer I just can't separate the performance from the fiction it's creating.
    I think this is where I feel doubtful about your thesis. The players I know who really value immersion insist that it's about their internal experience, not about the external outputs.

    The best metaphor I can come up with is that you can't separate the idea of a mode of transport with the fact of going somewhere. But while these players agree that the destination is important, they really want to travel slowly on a bicycle with the wind in their hair. The fact that you can get them to the same place in your car cuts no ice with them. They're going by bike, or not at all.

    Does that make any sense?
  • For starters, Immersion is poorly defined at best.
    http://www.liveforum.dk/kp07book/lifelike_holter.pdf

    My best attempt to define it (which is in an article that will be published this summer - I'll post links to it as soon as it is) has been to break it down into smaller player motives. Here's what I wrote:

    Immersionism focuses on deeply experiencing the character, to the point of minimizing the sense of self. This usually comes through a combination of the Embodiment, Flow, and Catharsis motives, often within the context of a strong Exploration interest. The focus on being the character often includes the Protagonist motive as well – it’s nice if your character has a visible impact on the world. Some Immersionists value Crafting either before or during the event as part of the overall experience, though Exhibition is often viewed as a purely player motive and discouraged. Other player-focused motives, such as Fellowship, are often discouraged as well.

    The motives I'm talking about (which are the focus of the article)
    1. Audience - Experience a satisfying narrative.
    2. Catharsis - Experience emotions through the character.
    3. Comprehension - Figure things out. Solve problems and puzzles.
    4. Competition - Win at something, or at least enjoy the act of competing.
    5. Crafting - Create non-ephemeral things (costumes, props, documents, etc.).
    6. Education – Take away new knowledge or understanding as a player.
    7. Embodiment –Make decisions based on character background, knowledge, and motivation.
    8. Exercise - Enjoy physical activity and movement.
    9. Exploration - Experience the fictional setting.
    10. Exhibition - Show off (costumes, props, acting chops, mad skillz, etc.) and get kudos.
    11. Fellowship - Enjoy time with friends (also includes flirting and such).
    12. Flow – Enjoy losing oneself in the moment.
    13. Leadership - Be important to the player community.
    14. Protagonist - Be important to the story and impact the game world.
    15. Spectacle - Experience the awesome stuff (pretty costumes, elaborate sets, funny NPCs, etc.)
    16. Versatility – Collect important things (spells, lore, favors, etc.) and have the right thing at the right time.

    -----

    Some games include explicit techniques to drive story that occur outside the personal characterization by the player. Many hardcore immersionist players balk at such techniques. For example:

    The bird-in-ear technique used in jeepform games. This is a technique where the GM speaks out an internal monologue on behalf of a player's character in an attempt to guide the game toward certain kinds of interactions - for example, having a character speak of his budding attraction toward another character. This level of external control of character thoughts is deeply offensive to many immersion-focused players, but it can be a powerful technique in helping to create a better story.

    The fan mail technique in Prime Time Adventures, where a player is encouraged to reward another player for creating awesome stuff in the fiction. This is a less invasive technique, but it's something that makes you think as a player rather than as a character, and many immersion-focused players find such a thing breaks them out of the flow of ideal immersion.

    ----

    I don't think anyone has ever tried to say that immersive characterization can't lead to a good story. I think it's a matter of priorities.

    A narrative-focused player may make a decision that is "bad" for their character, both from a strategy perspective (essentially the gamist perspective) and from a characterization perspective (basically the immersionist perspective) because that decision will make the story more awesome.

    Also, a narrative-focused player is more likely to accept outside influences on their characterization. Often among immersion-focused players, there is an unwillingness to accept outside influences on their characterization. (However, discussions of this often flip-flop between discussions of the Protagonist motive and the Embodiment motive, which I think are different things that get overlapped and confused in discussions of this.)
  • Posted By: cyIf your first internal question is "What would my character do, given the game world?", I'd call that Simulationist.
    If your first question is "What would make the most interesting story?", I'd call that Narrativist.
    Hi Cy,

    I'm going to stick to my guns here.

    What if one thinks the way to "make the most interesting story" is precisely to have "your character do, given the game world."

    Certainly that's what I believe to be the case. I honestly don't know how one separates these two things.
  • And there you have it - these terms are about the players agenda - what they want to get out of the playing the game, not what they do while playing it.
  • And, to be more precise....

    We want many things out of playing the games. And we do many things while playing the games.

    The terms refer to the priorities of what we want to get out of playing the games.
  • Hi Christopher!

    I think it's really hard to say beforehand that doing what your character would do is always what will make the most interesting story.

    I know I often find myself thinking in game:
    "I'm going to ignore that other character swooning at me for a while to build up tension, even though I'd be perceptive enough to notice it, and willing to flirt back."
    "I'm not going to leave him for dead even though my character's probably calculating enough to find the body and cut off his head. It's act one, and I want a nemesis."
    "My character is a normal person, who'd call the cops and hide in a corner, but this is an investigation game, so I'm going to go follow up on the creepy sounds."

    This is related to Jamie's point about real life being immersive, but not necessarily a good story. Most people want to resolve tension in their lives as soon as it comes up, will talk through misunderstandings with their friends if they see them starting to form, will avoid even slightly dangerous situations. A lot of PCs are less prone to act like that, but not necessarily in all areas. That's where the divergence between "character would do" and "interesting story" usually shows up for me.
  • edited April 2011
    Hi Cy,

    Yeah. I don't play like that.

    I can only point out here that I'm all about specific when I talk about these things: What games are we talking about? What rules are we talking about? How were the characters created? What's on the character sheet? What is the relationship between the Players and the Game Master?

    In a Sword & Sorcerer game that Jesse Burneko ran once, I was a guy -- just a guy. But my guy's Kicker was, "My Fiance has been kidnapped." Fuck all if I wasn't worried for my guy as he pushed deeper into trouble. But he wasn't going to wait around for the authorities. With my Kicker I had authored a situation I cared about and was going to take action on. My guy was going to drive forward to deal with the fact that his Fiance had been kidnapped. Jesse's job was to create opportunities and opposition to my efforts. Boom: Story. I didn't need to think anything through in terms of "best story." The game prep of Sorcerer sets up the pieces for a good story, and then the Players go to town. The story stuff is structured on the character sheet. Same with Dogs, same with In a Wicked Age..., same with Hero Wars, same with Polaris, and so on...

    As far as people wanting tension to dissipate goes, sure. But that's why there's a Game Master in these games. To keep throwing problems at the Players. How the Players choose to have their characters deal with the new problems -- well, that's up to them. But if the stakes matter to the Players (via the Characters they created) and the Game Master is paying attention to what is on those character sheets, it'll never be easy for someone to just walk away.

    I mean, I don't know. This might come down to, "You and I would have to play a game together some time and see how we play"!
  • Hi Don,

    Your descriptions of play make perfect sense to me. However, I don't see any connection between what you've described and Ron's definition of Narrativism as social priority recognizable by behavior. Digging into a character and churning out good stories could happen in any CA type.

    Levi's point about "keep an eye on story" seems to me to illustrate the G/N/S point, and Christopher's, "no, just play your character" seems to miss that point. It's never just "play your character" -- that would mean no CA is present. Every choice you make for how you play your character exists within the context of whether your group is trying to Dream, Step On Up, or Address Premise Now, and your play will be rewarded or not accordingly.

    I don't think it's hard to imagine highly immersive Gamism. Play a character trapped in a brilliant death trap with a ticking clock, and you must use your character's tools to escape or die in a single session. No die rolls, just working skillfully with the facts of the fiction. If that doesn't sound immersive to you, well, maybe your own immersion tastes simply run toward Story Now play. That'd make sense to me.
  • edited April 2011
    David, if I may...

    The thread was begun as a response to the notion that Immersion and Narrativism are somehow at odds to each other.

    I haven't said once that all one needs to do is "just play your character" to produce Narrativist play. In fact, I specifically replied to Jamie's question by explicitly stating that just being immersed would not be enough to produce story. My only point is you damned well better be playing your character to produce Narrativist play.

    I've suggested several times that one needs to bring in the context of the game at hand and the rules being used. That's usually where Premise gets baked into play. But that's been beyond the scope of this thread. Or, at least, I assumed it was.

    As far as I can tell this notion that Immersion and Narrativism work just fine together has been Don's point and concern all along as well. No one has made any claim to laying out ALL that is required for Narrativist play, just that Immersion and Narrativism play are not at odds. That's the only thing that's been at stake in this thread. As far as I can tell.

    Does that make sense?

    Now, when it comes to Narrativism, yes, that's where the Players have to address Premise in some way. And that's why Sorcerer has Humanity and In A Wicked Age... has competing Best Interests and different manners of addressing conflicts with different pros and cons as to what kind of conflict you're going have... But because these elements are baked into the procedures (from the first moment you begin creating a character onward), one doesn't have to sit around intellectualizing how to get around to making choices that address Premise as a Player. You're going to be rushing forward or recoiling via your character time and time again and the game -- because these are well designed games -- are going to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

    In all cases you're better off playing your character straight out of the heart. My only point was that playing straight out of the Heart, from the point of view of your character, experiencing the world via your character and responding in kind, is not only not at odds with Narrativism but vital for play.
  • For what it's worth, Vincent designed Apocalypse World as a Story Now game that explicitly supports at least one definition of immersion.

    I hear that worked out ok for him.
  • edited April 2011
    In Vincent's definition, we find this phrase, "Permission to act with passion," is a major component of what he's talking about.

    In Bill White's blog, he writes, "[Narrativism is] a kind of play that works by having one stand in a kind of alienation or distance from the character one plays."

    Obviously, Bill White is not alone in this thinking this way.

    So, a) I'm with Vincent on this one, and b) I've been under the impression that this discrepancy is what this thread is about.
  • edited April 2011
    The idea that Story Now play requires one to think about "The Story" over your character is utterly at odds with every established understanding of the creative agenda. It's the opposite of what Story Now means.

    This conception:
    Posted By: cyI don't want to ignore too much of the conversation, but it seems like there's at least one definitional gap in here.

    My gut reaction is Immersion is Simulationism.

    If your first internal question is "What would my character do, given the game world?", I'd call that Simulationist.
    If your first question is "What would make the most interesting story?", I'd call that Narrativist.
    ("What's the optimal thing for my character to do?" is the Gamist question. ;) )

    Of course, you can keep multiple questions in your head at once, and balance them off, and ignore some sometimes. But when push comes to shove, one of them is carrying more weight.
    Is very common and utterly incorrect.
  • Christopher,

    I apologize for misrepresenting your point. Sounds like we agree on everything except how we read Don's intent here. Maybe the thread is just poorly titled?

    Don, whaddaya think?

    As for Bill's point, though I wouldn't agree with that quote in a definitional sense, it's definitely descriptive of the general patterns of my own play. Perhaps addressing premise from actor stance is a finely honed skill, and it's easier for newcomers to do it from director stance instead? I dunno.
  • Oh, here's something I wrote about this idea a while ago.
  • edited April 2011
    Posted By: Simon CFor what it's worth, Vincent designed Apocalypse World as a Story Now game that explicitly supports at least one definition of immersion. I hear that worked out ok for him.
    If you bring the will to immerse in play, I think AW is only one of many Story Now games you could do that in. If you don't bring that intent, I think none of them are particularly conducive, AW included (I say this from personal experience).

    Do other games make you immerse? My gut says yes, but backing that up would be a longer conversation (Pendragon? Sign in Stranger? Cthulhu?).
  • David,

    That's an interesting thought. I think Vincent makes a strong case in the post I linked, but it's possible that what you're looking for in immersion is something different? I don't really have a bun in this fight, as I don't find (what I call) immersion particularly challenging.

    I think the current discussion around drama resolution and freeform play that came out of your Delve discussion is pretty interesting, and will hopefully yeild some useful insights.
  • edited April 2011
    Hi David,

    I really didn't notice the title. So, I'm not sure. I certainly will wait to hear from Don if I've been wrong about what he's saying.


    As for White's quote I just learned something really important tonight. I unlocked something that's boggled my mind for years as this confusion goes around and around forever.

    Here's the full quote from the blog post:

    "When you think about it, you realize that this mode is actually rather obscure, a kind of play that works by having one stand in a kind of alienation or distance from the character one plays in order to more strongly appreciate the moral weight of the decisions the character makes--this in contrast to the strong identification with character that is the desideratum of immersive play and the elision of character that is the hallmark of competitive play."

    Okay. I finally understand something.

    When folks are talking about how you can't be immersed for Narrativism there's this sense of it that you're supposed to be stepped back and judging what you're doing. Roger suggests as much with his post above. There's this notion that the Agenda of Narrativism is to make these choices and then step back and appraise them.

    No. It is not.

    The Agenda of Narrativism is address Premise. Period, full stop.

    That's it.

    Did you get a chance to address Premise? You did? Bam! Awesome. Let's move on.

    That's it.

    Addressing Premise has never been an intellectual exercise. It's visceral and emotional. You're wife finds ritual tools your closet -- ritual tools you're using to control a Demon that is keeping your daughter alive. Your wife confronts you. What do you tell her?

    That's it. You're about to address Premise. Because everything is complicated and you're about to make a statement with your characters words and actions about what kind of father and husband he is.

    But even that sounds too intellectualized. You don't need to be aware that you're doing that. What you need to be aware of is that the Game Master is portraying the wife and she's confronting your guy and you need to respond in some way...

    And if those are the moments that turn you on most in play -- whether it's Jack not sure if he should buy the magic beans, or Sam not sure if he should kill Gollum, or whether your someone on the Galactica not sure if you should rig an election to make sure to save the fleet -- if those kinds of moments are why you showed up, then your needs are being met, your hitting your Agenda and your having a great time.

    You don't need to sit back and judge how it went. You needed to just do it.

    Is everyone seeing this? It isn't about patting yourself on the back that you addressed Premise a moment ago. It's about addressing Premise in the moment you're doing it. For some people that's fun and compelling and the best reason for playing. That -- "addressing Premise", not "having addressed Premise" -- is the Creative Agenda!
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