So, I've been a bit quiet this past week, but not because I haven't been thinking about game design. Actually rather the opposite. Instead, as I linked in a past post, I've been checking out the design theory over at The Forge, specifically the articles (still trying to wade into the forum, which is daunting) and at anyway.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this shit has blown my mind. Seriously, though, some theory that I originally met with skepticism, on full read through has totally altered how I think about RPGs, what my design goals are, and how to achieve them. I look back at what I've posted over the last couple months, and I'm slightly embarrassed, as it seems to be hopelessly amateurish dilettante work at its worst, trying to address issues from what I now see as a constricted and unaware viewpoint.
That being said, I am currently at an awkward place. This new theory has made me look at what I was talking about and go "yuck" because it's ground that has already been covered better and in more detail by people who've thought harder about it than me. On the other hand, I am not yet comfortable enough with said new theory to really address it as someone who "gets it". I am still learning.
But, as I said, it has so fundamentally altered my perception of RPG theory and the notion of design that to try to continue without incorporating it would be stultifying and frustrating.
So, as a warning to anyone who's been following along so far: from this point forward, I will be discussing RPG design theory using terms from "The Big Model" as presented in the essays by Ron Edwards on the Forge website (see especially, "GNS and other matters of RPG Theory", Simulationism: The Right to Dream, Gamism: Step on Up, and Narrativism: Story Now. I'd recommend reading as many of the 'articles' on that website as possible, but those four are what I consider the most essential, with the first as practically required reading).
I will be happy to clarify any terms I use or what have you, but please understand that it will be as someone still learning - this stuff isn't mine, I just found it thoroughly convincing. Also, if you want to debate the conclusions drawn, that's cool too, but bear in mind that gobs of people have done so to death on the Forge, like, 5 or 6 years ago. So, what you're looking at when you read those articles is something that was pretty heartily discussed, challenged, and refined, and from what I can tell, has continued to be largely useful to designers since then.
At first it may seem like annoying intellectualism or elitism or whatever, but it's already doing wonders for my creative process, and I look forward to what the tools and methods of thought presented will help me come up with, and I hope everyone enjoys the ride.