Creative agenda

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"The players' aesthetic priorities and their effect on anything that happen at the table that has any impact on the shared fiction"

Why you play? What it's more important to you in this game you are playing right now at this table with these people? If you would have to choose (and you will have to) between different priorities during the game... are you sure that everybody at the table has the same priorities that you have?

Are you really playing the same game? The game you are playing can really be the same, if your "playing it well" is another player's "playing it wrong"?

... and the pigs who love them

"We love pigs." Imagine that as the rallying cry of people finding one another to enjoy their interest together.

Only then they might find ...

- Some of them love to kill, butcher, and roast pigs, and then fall to a joyous meal accompanied by side dishes and intoxicating beverages. - Some of them love to purchase and trade entertaining representations of pigs, whether china-glazed statuettes or photography or whatever. - Some of them love to house, breed, and raise pigs, habituating them to humans and distributing them to like-minded people as pets

Sincerely proclaiming "We love pigs" is not sufficient to ensure that any random grouping formed from these people will be able to have fun loving pigs together. Nor will it be functional for anyone to lay claim for their favored way to be the one-and-only way.

But that's what happened to the role-playing hobby. Somehow, "we love role-playing" is supposed to overcome any differences concerning why we play. And that is stupid, because it means that people get addled by the identity-issue of being a gamer and therefore suffer frustration and no fun because they keep trying to play with people with utterly different priorities (who are in exactly the same position). In trying to resolve it, their discussions instantly get bogged down with competing claims regarding who is or isn't the "real role-player" in the room.

Three types

Step On Up, Story Now, The Right to Dream

What, you think there's more? There may well be. Long and brutal discussions at the Forge typically landed us back at these three, though.

Why you can't play with two different Creative Agenda at the same time

In every single role-playing game session played in the history of the hobby the players showed their ability, addressed some human issue that they encounter and dreamt about being another person in another time and another place, and a lot of other cool things you can do in a role-playing game. This doesn't mean anything in Creative Agenda terms.

Because Creative Agenda is not about the presence of something in the game, and it's not even about "how much" that thing is present: Creative Agenda is about Priorities: what is more important?

And if in this game, for these people at this table at this time, "A" is more important than "B", "B" can't be at the same time more important that "A". You can't play with two different creative agenda at the same time. At most you can play without any creative agenda (and who wants to play without any clear game priority?)

No, not all at once, and not a little of each mixed together, either

One time at GenCon, this guy came up and belligerently insisted that the whole idea was bullshit, that in his game, all three priorities were evident. I asked him how that happened. Equally belligerently, he said, "By me running three separate games at the table at the same time!"

I can only spread my hands at that point.

See Agenda Clash, Incoherence, and Zilchplay.

Terms talk

The original terms proposed for a version of this idea were Gamism, Dramatism, and Simulationism (see the Threefold Model). This happened in a usenet group in the middle 1990s.

Later, different discussions resulted in some changes to their meanings (particularly regarding the role of systems) and in changing Dramatism to Narrativism; also this construction acquired the abbreviation "G/N/S" or "GNS." This happened at the Gaming Outpost and at Hephaestus' Forge, later renamed the Forge, from 1999 through about 2002.

The above points about how imagined events and role-playing procedures are tied together by these priorities have been discussed in detail since that time at the Forge and at some related sites such as Anyway, sometimes with reactive flare-ups at The RPG Site and The collective term Creative Agenda was coined in 2004.

The definition used at that time was "The aesthetic priorities and any matters of imaginative interest regarding role-playing". It was changed in this wiki for clarity (only the wording was changed, the meaning is exactly the same)