Yes, and you've committed a subtle but important fallacy.
You are confusing "player driven" with "character driven". The two things are not the same thing. I agree that you can have a campaign that is driven by the personalities of the characters and that the fundamental issue that is always being tested is the personality of the characters and personality conflicts by the characters. But the fact that your plot is "character driven" doesn't mean that your game is necessarily player driven or that character driven stories are the only way to have player driven games.
'Fallacy', ROFL! Who role plays the characters? Who constructs their personalities and decides how they react to various situations, and probably (in my play at least) determines what sorts of situations those are? The PLAYERS. Characters aren't 'driving' anything, they're played by the players! This entire notion is strange and incomprehensible to me!
The fundamental problem with "character driven" play is that there is no guarantee at all that that is the desire and primary aesthetics of play of the players. It's not necessarily the case that the players want to see play that is primarily about their characters beliefs, bonds, and personality. They may have no interest at all in testing whether "our party, one that is potentially a bit of a powder keg, will they, can they, pull together?" And if I the GM am deciding that that is what the game is about, well we'd have character driven stories in a GM driven game.
Maybe the players have no interest in the 'GM driven game' either! Maybe they have no interest in picking from a menu of which bounties to hunt, etc. Maybe the player wants to explore just exactly what it means to decide that his character is angry enough to kill, or if he will betray his friends to get what he wants.
Players and characters aren't the same thing. We often confuse those terms and say things like, "I killed all my players last night.", but as the example shows, it's important to keep that distinction.
Players do the playing, not characters. The wants and desires of the characters, their personalities, etc. are FICTION, part of the state of the world that the players shape and act within. Providing both constraints and material with which to act.
Certainly you can mine all sorts of stories out of these sorts of conflicts, but the thing is, if this is the sort of story the players want to have they don't really need all that much support from me. Players can choose to lean into these sorts of conflicts on their own initiative because they are interested in it. They don't really need rules or a system. Issues like the above are potential subtext of even the most traditional sorts of games. I've seen players that want to lean into that sort of play and so they do, and that's great. One of the best things as a GM is being able to just lean back and watch your players entertain you with great intra-party RP.
I disagree. I mean, not with all of what you have said here, but with some of it. I may also agree with another part. That is, I don't think the players DO need that much from the GM, except to be a sort of organizing influence in terms of pace, setting, and the behavior of NPCs. However, they DO need, or at least can very much profit from, a good set of rules which supports what they're doing. Again, look at the rules for Dungeon World, which offer a very comprehensive set of elements, organized in a sort of 'onion-like' way (Vince Baker observed this about AW, not me). At the core is "RPG as conversation" and then there are the agenda, principles, and specifics of character, and finally the moves and other mechanics. You can strip away elements even, but this is a very thoroughly designed and explicated rules structure which, if played with integrity (IE as instructed) will produce dramatic, thematic, narrative role play. Sure, you CAN do without it, but WHY? It is QUITE useful! Finally, I agree it is great to see, and participate in. I'm not sure I'd use the term 'lean back', because IME the GM has a fairly active part to play.
But if that's what players want, they don't need to be forced to do it.
Nobody can or wants to FORCE anyone to do anything. Do you FORCE players to do stuff in your games? Of course not, they come to the table and play, of their own free will. You CAN however kill the sort of play I'm talking about! Heck, its quite easy, as most players are not really aware of what different sorts of games are like, unless they have some experience. If I take 5 naive players and we play trad D&D through some pre-written module, how would they know there's anything else? I mean, that's fine, but if I show them a strongly narrative game, they're equally going to build their understanding on that basis and be just as likely to be entertained that way.
I'm familiar with the theory and the style. My problem with it both as a player and a GM is that it isn't the experience I'm going after, even though as a player I am the sort of guy willing to lean into intra-party RP and conflict if I have other players willing to lean that way and skilled enough to do it. The problem I have with that "Nar" "Indy" style is that in the way it usually describes its processes of play is that the resulting play doesn't resemble being participants within a novel or a movie, but instead resembles the process of being a creative team tasked with creating a screenplay collaboratively. And that's a very different experience, and it's not one I particularly enjoy as either a player or a GM nor is it an experience that I think my current players are apt to enjoy. The aesthetics of play that are enjoyed by my table just aren't met through those processes of play.
I'm not so sure about this. I mean, its not up to me to tell you what your preferences are, but IME narrative play is not THAT different from trad play. Most of what you are doing is describing what your character does, and seeing what happens. At various junctures there are likely to be 'story determining' bits where the players interject some direction into play. Exactly what those are and how they happen varies a lot from game to game. In Dungeon World the GM is bound to ask questions, and use the answers, and there are certain mechanics which let the players ask specific questions that MUST be answered by the GM, which often binds the participants to some new fiction. In Blades in the Dark there's a whole set of game 'phases' where different activities happen. During a score the players mostly just RP in character. The GM may ask questions, but generally the thematics and whatnot are already decided for that session. Those decisions are most likely to happen in 'down time' or 'info gathering' phases of the game where the players decide what sort of score they are doing, and in the process likely propose some fiction (IE "we are pretty sure that the Billhooks are moving some contraband tonight, maybe we can rob them.") It never, IME, feels like 'creating a screenplay'. Again, I'm not in charge of what you decide to like, but your descriptions don't match well with my experiences.
But you don't have to run games that way for them to be either player driven or character driven or to run stories where you don't know where the story is going to go or for the GM to be surprised by where it goes.
Well, this isn't the sort of statement that, IMHO, leads to any conclusion about anything. Sure, ANY sort of play MIGHT possibly arise out of almost any RPG. That's a pretty banal statement if you ask me. I mean, if I take what you tell me at face value, then all the discussion, as well as all my experience and expertise in different types of play is basically just nuthin about nuthin. lol. Color me unconvinced.