In some way, these are the “Timmy, Johnny, and Spike” of the D&D design world: we find ourselves aligning with one or more of the three, and our stance colors our beliefs about what is and what is not good design.
Simulationism may be mapped, somewhat, to the Pillar of Exploration. The Simulationist wishes to enter the fantasy world of the game, and does so by the reality of the world presented in the rules. The Simulationist desires the oft-mocked rules like encumbrance and aging because they ‘enhance versimilitude’ and generally prefers if the logical consequences of an action can be spelled out and accurately modeled by the rules as they are presented.
The Simulationist, on the other archetypes: “Neither of them truly understands what it means to be making a fantasy universe: the Narritivist disregards its logic when it collides with his plot, and the Gamist would gladly throw that logic away if it did not suit the experience at the table. My path is harder, but it’s more rewarding”
In some ways, Simulationism has been set as the opponent of Narritivism, but I find that dichotomy to be incomplete, for there are matters on which the Simulationist and the Narritivist may agree.
Narritivism may be mapped, somewhat, to the Pillar of Interaction. The Narritivist wishes to tell a fantasy story, weave together plot and character and doesn’t care much for the rules so long as they allow him to do so. The Narritivist desires some measure of control over the direction and flow of the plot, and generally prefers if the rolls of the dice can be mitigated should they conflict with that plot.
The Narritivist, on the other archetypes: “They’re letting things get in the way of the real role-playing experience: the Gamist neglects the plot, and the Simulationist would throw it out completely if it didn’t fit his ‘logic’. My path is more interactive for everyone at the table.”
Gamism may be mapped, somewhat, to the Pillar of Combat. The Gamist wishes to play a game, to be entertained by its mechanics and how they unfold upon the table. The Gamist desires balance and fun above all else, and generally prefers to be declaring actions and rolling the dice. The gamist likes abstraction, and dislikes things that get between him and his game.
The Gamist, on the other archetypes: “They’re forgetting the G in RPG: The Simulationist would turn out something totally unplayable left to his own devices, and the Narritivist wouldn’t even use rules! My path is the one that results in fun.”
Overlap is, of course, common: most of us have at least a drop of each of the three in us, though we may swing hard to one corner. I consider myself a Simulationist first, a Narritivist second, and a Gamist third. I’d like a playable, balanced game, of course: it’s better than not. However, I take considerations from the other two archetypes as paramount, and say “balance around this!”