There are a variety of approaches to thinking about role-playing games.

Threefold modelEdit

The threefold model divides decision-making into

  • Game: responding to challenges
  • Drama: artistic qualities
  • Simulation: resolution of in-game factors

The Threefold model inspired later models, such as GNS theory and the Big Model.

GNS theoryEdit

GNS theory posits a division of goals into

  • Gamist
  • Narrativist
  • Simulationist

The Big ModelEdit

This theory comes out of The Forge, an Indie RPG site. The Threefold model and GNS are forebears of this approach. The Big Model emphasizes a unity of play style. The Big Model tends to describe gaming in meta terms.

Atheoretical approachesEdit

  • Immersionism is about being inside a world or character. Loosely speaking, immersion is concerned with identifying with the reality of the game, rather than meta decision-making.
  • Cheetohism is a slang term for a pragmatic, socially oriented approach to gaming. Differences in approach are minimized, and action and successful interaction are maximized. This approach is related to the beer-and-pretzels genre of play.
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