The Right Gaming Theory
A lot of people gripe about G/N/S theory (for those of you that don’t know, G/N/S stands for Gamerist, Narrationist, and Simulationalist), and I can partly understand that. I’ve read the original G/N/S essay and the accompanying 124 vital tie-ins that the Forge people said I had to read to get it, but after discussing it with Professor Curtis, I now feel it is a little too elementary for my tastes. Professor Curtis, when he isn’t busy these days working through Philosophy 102 (I guess that’s why he’s the prof and not me, huh?) has a different classification theory for games that I feel works a bit better:
Correctism: Playing the correct games correctly; i.e. exploring deep social and moral themes, self-publishing games, ensuring said games are profound enough. Games in this category: Professor Curtis’ games (inclusive), occasional Forge games.
Pseudo-Correctism: Playing games that are almost correct, but feature some form of combat or don’t explore social themes and issues deeply enough or sacrifice profundity for entertainment. Games in this category:
Wrongist: Playing games that are the correct games incorrectly. Examples: having fun killing people in Dogs in the Vineyard, playing or translating Nobilis in plain English.
Bankruptism: Playing games that lead to emotional and/or mental bankruptcy, or discourage people from enjoying more artistically important RPGs. Examples: Anything from Wizards of the Coast, Palladium, Steve Jackson Games, White Wolf (except Exalted, of course), and Hackmaster (which I hate to even be associated with by typing its name out).
Now, any game you play can be defined in those terms, and if you can’t do so, you’re likely doing something wrong.