In the big model (and earlier GNS theory), the three creative agendas are families of creative priorities that apply to a period of play. I prefer to understand the agendas by the central creative contributions of players that the group appreciates when playing according to the agenda. It seems that these central contributions can often be framed as choices.
Definition of creative agenda on the big model wiki: "The players' aesthetic priorities and their effect on anything that happen at the table that has any impact on the shared fiction"
My formulation (by the way of central creative contributions) focuses on the way the aesthetic priorities of players have an impact on the shared fiction. To be more explicit, the creative contributions are the way (or an important way) in which the aesthetic priorities show up and are revealed.
This approach (of central creative contributions) works well enough for gamism / step on up and narrativism / story now, but I am not sure if and how I can understand simulationism / the right to dream by it. Is it possible, and if yes, what are some examples of the central creative contributions/decisions in simulationist play?
I will present some examples of central choices in gamist and narrativist play as examples of what I'm looking for.
- Tactical figure chess; the system might be for example D&D 4: The central choices are the actions you take in tactical play - where you move, what powers you use, etc. The central choices are framed by character build, fictional events in play, and previous tactical choices. The consequences of the tactical choices clearly show up in play and reveal whether the choices were good or not.
- Character optimization; the system might be for example Pathfinder: The central creative act is creating your character, and especially its rules mechanical aspects. The rules system, with all the options, rulings and edge cases, provides the frame in which the creation is relevant. Feedback, or consequences of the central creative act or choice, are provided by actual play, which shows if your character is effective.
- Challenge-focused sandbox play; system might be, for example, an old version of D&D or some other OSR game: The choices are the adventures the players choose to take as their characters, and the preparations they do for them. The decisions are relevant, because the referee has prepared an objective sandbox, where the difficult of challenges does not change due to player character power level or because otherwise it would be to easy/hard. The worth of the decisions is shown by the death, survival or triumph of the characters.
- Character advocacy narrativism; the system might be, for example, Burning Wheel or Solar system: The central choices are the decisions where character acts according to or contra to their convictions and beliefs, or makes other such character-defining decisions. The decisions are relevant due to the fictional situation, and the explicit beliefs and convictions of the character (flags). The consequences of the decisions are shown by future play, and in particular the changes in beliefs and the fate of the character.
So, it boils down to this: I currently classify the Three Creative Agendas in terms of the decisions players make when pursuing them, but I'm having trouble classifying simulationism this way. Am I barking up the wrong tree with this approach?