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The Threefold Model or GDS theory of roleplaying games is an attempt to distinguish three different goals in roleplaying. In its original formation, these are: Drama, Simulation, and Game. It was the inspiration for subsequent theories, such as the GNS Theory, which retained a 3-way division but altered other aspects of the model.
A role-playing game theory is the ludology of role-playing games (RPGs) where they are studied as a social or artistic phenomenon. RPG theories seek to understand what role-playing games are, how they function, and how the process can be refined in order to improve the gaming experience and produce more useful game products.
In its most formal sense, the threefold model claims that any single gamemaster (GM) decision (about the resolution of in-game events) can be made in order to further the goals of Drama, or Simulation, or Game. By extension, a series of decisions may be described as tending towards one or two of the three goals, to a greater or lesser extent. This can be visualised as an equilateral triangle, with a goal at each vertex, and the points between them representing different weightings of the different goals. As a consequence, a player or GM can characterise their preferred gaming style as a point on this triangle, or (since no real precision is implied) in words such as 'mostly gamist' or 'dramatist with a bit of simulationist' or 'right in the middle'.
A gamemaster is a person who acts as an organizer, officiant for regarding rules, arbitrator, and moderator for a multiplayer role-playing game. They are more common in co-operative games in which players work together than in competitive games in which players oppose each other. The act performed by a gamemaster is sometimes referred to as "Gamemastering" or simply "GM-ing".
Another consequence of the model is the claim that by advancing towards one of the goals, one is moving away from the other two. Thus a game that is highly dramatic will be neither a good simulation nor a challenging game, and so on. This assertion has been widely challenged, and led to criticism of the model.
In the terminology of the threefold, the goals of drama, simulation and game have specific meanings.
The Threefold Model was widely discussed in the rec.games.frp.advocacy USENET group in the summer of 1997. Mary Kuhner had laid out many of the central ideas there and John H. Kim had later codified and expanded the discussion.The threefold arose following long arguments and flame-wars about whether one style of roleplaying was 'better' than another style. The name was coined by Kuhner, in a July 1997 post which outlined the principles. In October 1998, a "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) document by Kim on the Threefold Model clearly stated, "An important part of the model is recognising that there are valid different goals for gaming." It has since then been circulated in a variety of places. It was also the inspiration for a related model known as "GNS Theory", which has been articulated by Ron Edwards on the roleplaying discussion site The Forge.
Ronald Edwards is a game designer, theorist, and a member of the indie role-playing game community.
A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically portray their characters. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules or determined by consensus among players. Event arrangers called gamemasters decide the setting and rules to be used and facilitate play.
Permutation City is a 1994 science-fiction novel by Greg Egan that explores many concepts, including quantum ontology, through various philosophical aspects of artificial life and simulated reality. Sections of the story were adapted from Egan's 1992 short story "Dust", which dealt with many of the same philosophical themes. Permutation City won the John W. Campbell Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year in 1995 and was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award the same year. The novel was also cited in a 2003 Scientific American article on multiverses by Max Tegmark.
GNS theory is an informal field of study developed by Ron Edwards which attempts to create a unified theory of how role-playing games work. Focused on player behavior, in GNS theory participants in role-playing games organize their interactions around three categories of engagement: gamism, narrativism and simulation.
Social simulation is a research field that applies computational methods to study issues in the social sciences. The issues explored include problems in computational law, psychology, organizational behavior, sociology, political science, economics, anthropology, geography, engineering, archaeology and linguistics.
A campaign setting is usually a fictional world which serves as a setting for a role-playing game or wargame campaign. A campaign is a series of individual adventures, and a campaign setting is the world in which such adventures and campaigns take place. Usually a campaign setting is designed for a specific game or a specific genre of game. There are numerous campaign settings available both in print and online. In addition to published campaign settings available for purchase, many game masters create their own settings, often referred to as "homebrew" settings or worlds.
Gonzalo Frasca is a game designer and academic researcher focusing on serious and political videogames. His blog, Ludology.org, was an important publication during the early 2000s for academic researchers studying video games. For many years, Frasca also co-published Watercoolergames with Ian Bogost, a blog about serious games.
Interactive storytelling is a form of digital entertainment in which the storyline is not predetermined. The author creates the setting, characters, and situation which the narrative must address, but the user experiences a unique story based on their interactions with the story world. The architecture of an interactive storytelling program includes a drama manager, user model, and agent model to control, respectively, aspects of narrative production, player uniqueness, and character knowledge and behavior. Together, these systems generate characters that act "human," alter the world in real-time reactions to the player, and ensure that new narrative events unfold comprehensibly.
Dramatic structure is the structure of a dramatic work such as a play or film. Many scholars have analyzed dramatic structure, beginning with Aristotle in his Poetics. This article looks at Aristotle's analysis of the Greek tragedy and on Gustav Freytag's analysis of ancient Greek and Shakespearean drama.
Freeform role-playing games, also called freeforms, are a type of role-playing game which employ informal or simplified rule sets, emphasise costume and theatricality, and typically involve large numbers of players in a common setting. Actions are typically adjudicated on the spot by a referee, though variants exist whereby players jointly mediate their own actions.
Futures techniques used in the multi-disciplinary field of futures studies by futurists in Americas and Australasia, and futurology by futurologists in EU, include a diverse range of forecasting methods, including anticipatory thinking, backcasting, simulation, and visioning. Some of the anticipatory methods include, the delphi method, causal layered analysis, environmental scanning, morphological analysis, and scenario planning.
Role-playing game terms are words used in a specific sense (terms) in the context of role-playing games. This includes both terms used within RPGs to describe in-game concepts and terms used to describe RPGs. Role-playing games also have specialized slang jargon associated with them.
An indie role-playing game is a role-playing game published outside traditional, "mainstream" means. Varying definitions require that commercial, design, or conceptual elements of the game stay under the control of the creator, or that the game should just be produced outside a corporate environment.
Metagaming is a term used in role-playing games, which describes a player's use of real-life knowledge concerning the state of the game to determine their character's actions, when said character has no relevant knowledge or awareness under the circumstances. This can refer to plot information in the game such as secrets or events occurring away from the character, as well as facets of the game's mechanics such as abstract statistics or the precise limits of abilities. Metagaming is an example of "breaking character", as the character is making decisions based on information they couldn't know and thus would not make in reality.
Theatrix is a role playing game produced by the defunct Backstage Press and no longer in print. Primarily diceless, the game includes rules for using dice to resolve actions. The game applies cinematic concepts to role-playing—the players are "actors" and the GM is the "director." The games attempts to frame adventures in the model of screenplays, which have a structured plot consisting of a number of agreed upon acts, scenes, and "pinch-points". Players use plot points to guarantee success of an action or take minor control of the story. This was a relatively new and controversial concept being championed by few in mainstream RPGs at the time of its release.
A tabletop role-playing game is a form of role-playing game (RPG) in which the participants describe their characters' actions through speech. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a set formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom to improvise; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.
Durance is a science fiction role-playing game by Jason Morningstar, independently published by Bully Pulpit Games, who also released Fiasco. The game was a 2011 entry on the annual Game Chef game design competition and went on to raise $27,458 of its $5000 goal on kickstarter in June 2012.
Game design is the art of applying design and aesthetics to create a game for entertainment or for educational, exercise, or experimental purposes. Increasingly, elements and principles of game design are also applied to other interactions, particularly virtual ones.
Adept Press is an American game company that produces role-playing games and game supplements.
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.