Simon! I think I can sort of understand what's going on here and what your problem is with some of the distinctions. I'll attempt to interpret what I see. I might be way off-track, but whatever. If this clears the mists for you a bit, awesome. If not or if I'm dead wrong, or both, eh.
When you look at any instance of play, overwhelming, to a great degree, the participants are focused on creating interesting and coherant fiction.
Even in the most hard-core, pawn-stance, play-your-fighter-right-or-we-send-you-home, three-hours-of-combat-five-minutes-of-talking game, the orcs are orcs and they stay orcs for the duration of the game, and it matters that they're orcs and not goblins, and not just because the numbers are different, but because we said they were orcs and you can't change that now. And what's that for? Why go to all that effort (and it is an effort) if it doesn't support what's supposed to be the point of the game?
Yes, even the most hard-core, pawn-stance, step-on-up game will have (more or less) coherent fiction. What's that for?
It's for roleplaying. It's a roleplaying game.
If we think of creative agendas like these broad, umbrella terms that cover a lot of ground, yes, they show different ways to play. But they're all about different ways to play roleplaying games, yeah?
If I say science fiction, I could be thinking District 9 or Star Wars or Space 1999, right, but I'm still talking about science fiction.
If I say roleplaying, I could be thinking of step-on-up play or rtd play or story now play, but I'm still thinking about roleplaying. The coherent fiction is there even if we play D&D like chess, because it's still a RPG. It starts to drift, but we're still onboard regarding that.
It's like saying "why is Star Wars science fiction, there isn't any science in it" or something.
I don't know if I'm explaining myself well, but I'm trying.
I mean, every rpg text I've read starts with the assumtion that there will be an engaging and coherant fictional world created in play. None of them (except for a very few) talk explicitly about winners and losers. Does that mean that I haven't read any Step on Up supporting texts? That every group playing Step on Up is drifting the rules?
I get even more confused thinking about Right to Dream.
Ok, yeah, still the same. I believe "an engaging and coherent fictional world" is part of roleplaying, not any creative agenda in particular. It's like when someone answered Jared Sorensen "Exploration." to the "What is your game about?" question and Jared said something like "That's stupid, all games are about exploration." Exploration being, in this instance, in my opinion, exploration of a fiction, of a fictional enviroment, fictional world.
As for texts, few if any of them address their agenda so explicitly. Few are even designed with an agenda in mind. Do you see any explicit "This game is about creating theme by putting characters in untenable situations" in Dogs or AW? Likewise, D&D isn't going to tell you "this is a game about winners", but it's there. It's about facing challenges and using your resources the best way possible to beat those challenges.
Right to Dream is
the most problematic of the bunch. I'm not exactly sure why, but if I understand Vincent's interpretation of RTD correctly, it's about wish-fulfilment. It's a "don't mess with my fantasy", "original character do not steal" type of thing. I'm not sure how a game text would address that. Not there yet.
Here's what I'm getting at: We play our bunch of dudes, all sword-bearing psycopaths, barely even personalities, let alone protagonists. We send them out murdering folk who look different from them, just because it's fun for us to show off our skills at that. I think that means something. I think the violence isn't just backdrop, I think it's central to the experience of the game. It's fun because it's us, me and my buddies, triumphing over the things that are not us.
People who just want to show off their tactical skills play chess.
To me, that's Step on Up. It's about triumphing, so it's about winning. It's about the satisfaction of using your skills to beat someone or something, to overcome, right?
But because it's a roleplaying game there's also the element of the fiction (which is missing in chess). That doesn't negate what the SoU creative agenda is about.
The whole thing about how much we're IN the fiction and how much we respect it, I think that's sort of a fourth axis to GNS. If GNS is space, then "immersion" or "strenght of fiction" or whatever is time. If we ignore the fiction, if fiction stops to matter, then we're not playing a RPG anymore but a boardgame or whatever. But for the duration of the roleplay, we're roleplaying the the GNS space.