Old Familiar Skewed Battles
current mood: chipper
To paraphrase Vincent Baker: "Role-Playing's Fundamental Act is our ongoing [content] agreement, nothing more or less."
Most expectedly, this turned into another discussion of Ron Edward's Big Model (REBM) vs Social Gaming (SG). This shouldn't matter much, except these roads are well traveled, but completely lost.
Why is that? It's like arguing oranges and IBMs (over an Apple iPhone).
Let me draw a diagram that relates these and most Role-Playing Game (RPG) theory to each other:
Now, to understand where REBM is coming from you must consider that all that can be observed about play is how the players behave. By categorizing behaviour and finding structures within it, you can readily arrive at the Gamism / Narrativism / Simulationism (GNS) at the heart of REBM. When you consider the issues around this (like socializing) you can work out the rest of REBM.
Why does this have nothing to do with SG? Simply because SG is about WHY players play. REBM is about HOW they play. REBM does say that socializing is 'how' to play, but it can't say what is prioritized; that's a motive not a behaviour.
Now if you wanted to discuss what is fundamental in REBM, it would be people behaving in a fashion recognizable as RPG play. No 'why' and no 'priorities,' nothing about what comes first or what can't happen without another thing. Just 'how.'
In ways this is an ideal approach for a publisher. Publishers, but nature, are concerned with their product (whether or not they want to make money). How recognized this product is, is more or less how you could say they value it. That puts a high accent on the product and it's use. How do you measure use? By tracking the behaviour of the consumers. How do you determine the quality of use? By how closely their practices and outcomes mirror what you intended (measuring fun has never worked in product development). A model of how you can categorize behaviours is ideal for both these uses.
More on 'the other side of the coin' later.