Narrativist roleplaying

Blog post   •   Oct 01, 2012 07:13 GMT

We are often being asked if Dramagame is a roleplaying game. We are little hesitant to say that we are because of the huge amount of preconceptions people have for roleplaying games and computer RPGs.

Often roleplaying games evolve around building character statistics, leveling up and fighting orcs or elves (depending on the side you choose). Nothing wrong with those, but that doesn’t really describe what Dramagame is.

Then we learned about the GNS theory developed by Ron Edwards. The theory divides roleplaying games into Gamist, Narrativist and Simulationist games. Gamist gamers want to prove themselves and aim at winning. Most computer RPGs are like this. Simulationist games are, clearly, about recreating the characteristics of a particular genre or set of source material.

Dramagame is Narrativist roleplaying. To quote Wikipedia: “Narrativism relies heavily on outlining or developing motives for the characters, putting them into situations where those motives come into mutual conflict, and making their decisions in the face of such stress the main driving force behind events. For example, a Samurai character sworn to honour and obey his lord might have that loyalty tested when directed to fight against his own rebellious son. A compassionate doctor might have his sense of charity tested when an enemy soldier comes under his care. On the lighter end of the spectrum, a schoolgirl might have to decide whether to help her best friend cheat on an exam.”

We did not start out with “Let’s make a narrativist RPG!”. Rather we’ve developed a way to do multiplayer interactive stories. But turns out the Narrativism point-of-view is quite matching!

Naming other Narrativist computer roleplaying games is very difficult. If you can think of any, please write it on the comments below. There are many very interesting storytelling games though, that may or may not be classified as Narrativist roleplaying. I’ll introduce some of those in the following posts to come.

The role of stories and narratives in games seems to be rising up lately as a topic in game industry. That is great news for all of us who like to experience deep stories and be someone else for a while.


(Check out below a slightly humorous introduction to our 11 characters on Velvet Sundown)