Pretty much. Ludology vs. narratology, gamism vs. narrativism vs. simulationism – however many sides you want to ascribe to the Grand Conflict, it’s all been done to death. Know your medium. To appraise a game as though it were a film or a book is foolish. To attempt a coherent vision or deliver a sustained insight is not foolish, but they cannot be the primary concern for something which is meant to be interactive, to derive its full value and function from player contributions.
Game materials which strive for ‘visual cohesion’ and ‘insight’ are the hallmark of the frustrated novelist, the non-interactive designer who really should have gone into amateur dramatics instead. I’ve read some pissing awful supplements in my time – I won’t carp about them, I’m trying not to dwell on the negative so much – and I’m more and more convinced that what’s needed is material on technique rather than “here is some gameable stuff I’ve designed so you don’t have to”.
Erin (not the fictional one depicted above, the real one from the Ravenloft report) has suggested I pull together some of the material from this blog, flesh it out into a proper system/tutorial book, a kind of guide to running games like I do, and publish it.