The Threefold Model or GDS Theory is an early theory of roleplaying games that has been used to analyse larps. It identifies three different and competing agendas or styles in role-playing games: Gamist, Dramatist, and Simulationist. The theory is descriptive rather than normative, and does not advocate for any particular style.
The agendas are:
- Game approaches the rpg as a game, with consequent values of fairness, challenge, and being able to succeed or "win".
- Drama approaches the rpg as a story, and values creating a satisfying storyline for the participants.
- Simulation approaches the rpg as a simulation, and values internal consistency and the truth of the setting.
The three styles can be visualised as the vertices of an equilateral triangle, with each game (and each player's preferences) falling somewhere within the defined space in its combination of agendas.
The threefold model provided the foundation for the later GNS Theory, and for the larp-specific Three Way Model, which highlighted Immersion by replacing the Simulationist agenda with an Immersionist one.
- John Kim, The Threefold Model FAQ, q2, February 14 2003. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Petter Bøckman, The Three Way Model: Revision of the Threefold Model for Scandinavian LARP. April 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2016.