Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I break Robin's Laws

My basic argument about the Robin's Laws player types is that they are things that almost anyone wants out of any gaming session.




Power Gamer


Method Actor








Casual Gamer


Law's Game Style
created with


Blogger Ron Edwards said...


12:39 AM  
Blogger jhkim said...

While that's true, I think the same can also be said of other categorizations, like the Threefold and GNS. The differences are of varying emphasis, not of pure type. In Threefold terms, we speak of position on the triangle. In GNS terms, we speak of subordinate modes. That is, yes everyone engages in tactics or alternately engages in "Step On Up" to a degree -- but for some people that is subordinate to other goals of play.

I think it's a good aspect to the online quiz that it doesn't try to force opposition between the types but rather tries to rate them separately. If I were doing a Threefold or GNS quiz I would try to do similar. That is, I wouldn't rate someone's play as 90% Simulationist just because she was only 5% Gamist and 5% Dramatist.

Out of curiousity, did you have your argument in mind when you were taking the quiz, or did the post occur to you afterwards?

1:41 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

John -- I've believed it since I encountered them, a while ago. It wasn't really on my mind when I took the test.

As for the rest: You're pretty well aware that that's not the way GNS operates. That's cool with me, that you think that, it just seems strange to frame it as a misunderstanding.


2:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The test is neat, because any balancing of one against the other (as Ben points out) is due to internal balancing, not a balancing of the test itself. And that internal balancing act is entirely about your expectations concerning what is possible and what you deserve.

Nowadays I feel very comfortable saying "Hell yeah!" to both "I base my decisions on understanding my character's psychology" and "I want plenty of chances to get into clobbering." I want (and expect) it all.

Some of my once-RPG-buddies though, have been taught different lessons by experience. They've been taught not to want so much, or, indeed to want anything at all. I find that sad.

4:13 AM  
Blogger JasonP said...

Tony, I can totally see what you are saying about many players having lost the wonder of gaming. It is a shame, though there is still a segment out there that simply know what they want ;)

Ben, did you really break the test? I mean didn't the result simply signify your versatile/multifaceted play agenda? (I'm not defending it persay, but taking another view)

Of course now I'm left wondering if you could score 100% on every 'type'... *chuckle*.

6:56 AM  
Blogger joshua said...

When I took the test, it pretty much gave me gobbletygook in response.

John, what you're proposing is that your hypothetical player actually doesn't want to play a role-playing game. If someone doesn't want to fulfill a Simulationist agenda (whatever that is), doesn't want to fulfill a Gamist agenda, and doesn't want to fulfill a Narrativist agenda, that's someone who doesn't want to play.

If someone wants to fulfill a Gamist agenda, I don't see how they could be satisfied by Narrativist or Simulationist play. You might be willing to compromise because you like your friends (see Ben's Social Agenda thing), but it doesn't mean you actually like those things. At all.

9:45 AM  
Blogger jhkim said...

Joshua -- I was talking about how I would implement a quiz. It's fine to claim that in theory that G, N, and S are a complete, mutually exclusive set of labels. However, there is no accepted test or even step by step methodology for diagnosing GNS mode of a game. While it has had more detailed discussion than Laws categories on many fronts, GNS is behind in this respect.

If someone does set up such a test, I'm saying that it should not assume exclusivity. That is, the theory should be falsifiable via the test. If people take the hypothetical GNS test actually demonstrate visible behaviors predicted by GNS, then that would lend credence to it as an objective and practical principle. As related example of such a quiz, I might suggest Nick Yee's Facets: 5 Motivation Factors for Why People Play MMORPG's.

Now, Tony's point as I understand it is that as empirical ad-hoc categories, these are rooted in mainstream RPG design. Say, Tactician is distinguished from Storyteller in part because the common RPG designs cause tactical play to result in poor stories -- as opposed to Capes, say. I agree (and I think that Laws would as well) that the types would be different in another environment -- for example, one where everyone is playing PTA and MLWM; or one where everyone plays freeform larps. But I think the distinctions are still meaningful.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

I feel like I'm seeing a bunch of "this one dude's arbitrary categories are broken -- but don't speak blasphemy in the church of GNS!" and that makes me pretty damn sad.

It also neatly sums up why I hate GNS advocacy. Oh well.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Fred, please leave comments at the discussion that pointed you here, rather than at a two year old blog post which doesn't even have to do with GNS


10:55 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I missed the date at the top and the comments don't list dates with the timestamps, so it looked fresh by the time I got to the bottom. Mea culpa.

11:54 PM  

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