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If you’re looking for a more loose definition that goes into the features typical of Story Games, this link does a good job of summing them up:https://www.google.com/amp/s/heterogenoustasks.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/what-is-a-storygame/amp/
I don't respect "story game" as an analytical term (it does not capture anything truly distinctive), but it is viable as a description of a specific subscene of roleplaying. In this sense "story games" are essentially games played by the Forge diaspora [grin].
The term "story game" does not have any useful definition.
In a traditional roleplaying game, a (non-GM) player's ability to influence the game is strictly limited to things that your character is capable of doing.
The primary purpose of play is to create a good story in which players work from the perspective of an author or a director. The story rather than inhabiting the subjective viewpoint of a single primary character is the goal of the game, both in the gameplay and in the design. This is not in some watered down sense—in a way that any role playing game could be defined as trying to create a good story—the telling of a good story is what the game is about, everything is aimed at this goal, and the shift in perspective to the directorial, authorial role is central to this. Rather than inhabiting your character or advocating for them, they are to be sacrificed happy if necessary, they are a tool to help create what is good and dramatically compelling for the overall story.
That said, Ben came up with this definition in 2012 and you have to give him credit for attempting to come up with a specific, useful and concise definition that made an important, if not all encompassing, central distinction.
The primary purpose of play is to create a good story in which players work from the perspective of an author or a director. The story rather than inhabiting the subjective viewpoint of a single primary character is the goal of the game, both in the gameplay and in the design.
Yeah, names come with a lot of baggage and debate. I think it's more productive to start from the other end: look at what is happening, rather than labels.
By all means, and I think that it is useful to have a term for that category of games even if I am doubtful about the wisdom of using that particular one.(I pick this particular touch-stone specifically because I usually see the term used in a way that explicitly includes a certain range of mechanically modern rpgs as being "story games" just because they are narrativist - in the GNS sense - or simply generally story-focused, or just because they feature a conflict resolution system.
Eero beat me to it:The issue with that approach to defining "story game" is that you are forced to omit the entire tradition which brought it forth in the first place: character-centric Narrativist games which expect you to inhabit the character...
I think that the distinction of these type of games—ie games whose man goal and focus is the telling of a good story, and, in which, the story is told by the players from the directorial, authorial stance—from other RPGs is an important and useful distinction. These two types of games are fundamentally different.
I strongly disagree as long as this is supposed to apply to GMless rpgs in general, Fiasco in particular. If there is a subset of rpgs that is "fundamentally different" in this manner, I'd say it is very small. Even a game like Lovecraftesque that calls itself "storytelling game" still needs the witness to be played in an empathetic way and not to be "told."
I’m not talking about all GMless games obviously. In the games I am talking about you’re playing them from an authorial perspective. You can be empathetic, and you should be to a point, it’s part of the fun...but, in Fiasco, for example, you should also be fine with your character’s head getting blown off, if it makes the story cool. That is, if your going to play it the way it’s written. I agree that there is nothing wrong with being into your character in these types of games, but if you trash the story because that’s your main concern that isn’t exactly the best way to play: Fiasco or Archipelago or Fall of Magic type games IMO. You have to build a story, and you have to build it with others.
Jeff,People may quibble with details, though, because you can have "GMless Games" where the story is not the key thing (those are rare, in my experience, but perhaps something like Once Upon a Time fits the bill), and you can have "traditionally GMed" games where either the game's design or the play culture around it means that we "[play] them to contribute to a shared story in order to entertain the audience (the players) by making that story dramatic, compelling, and so forth".
Speaking for myself, I find that, ultimately, debating the label takes more time and energy than just describing the games themselves. I have no problem with anyone using the term "story games" however they like, so long as they are willing to define the term and use it consistently, however.
(So, for me, "roleplaying games" and "storytelling games" are subsets of "story games".) I like that, because it frees me up to think about games and design in a more open-minded way.
If you don’t think it’s a useful distinction, fair enough; you may have good reasons for believing so. I’m offering my perspective and I’m more than willing to change it.
I read the article you're referring to a while ago and my takeaway was - and is - that the dividing line the author draws (authority that isn't based on character ability) unsurprisingly fits his own games and their rather marginalized characters best (Microscope says "vast creative authority"), others not so much. A GMless rpg like Dog Eat Dog encourages players to frame scenes based on what their characters would do, Hillfolk, which has shared scene-framing, works similarly. Even in Fiasco creative authority isn't really the point as opposed to operating in a dramatic framework set up before play. It becomes even more difficult when we assume that players in such a game "make something happen" because they want it as players, which to me, is always the case in the kind of conversation/negotiation of the fiction that makes up playing a rpg.
I would be interesting to see whether or not there are GMed games where the primary, overarching goal is to tell a compelling story, where all players contribute to the narrative in a authorial way (although obviously less than the GM), and where what the characters can do in the story isn’t limited by their fictional attributes (like stats or the like). Coincidentally enough, one of the two designs for House of Spiders I’m working on fits this discrimination. Do you know of any other games that would?
I wouldn't mind calling joint storytelling games "storytelling games" myself.
I've been toying with using "imagination game”...
I think "role-playing game" is a solid name for the thing where you play via your character.I think "story-telling game" is a solid name for the thing where you play by narrating what happens in the fiction.
Man, I had faith in the term but maybe we should really not use 'story game' any more if we want to avoid confusion and perpetual misunderstanding.
Who is having any actual confusion or stress about the term?