1st Edition

Role-Playing Game Studies Transmedia Foundations

Edited By Sebastian Deterding, José Zagal Copyright 2018
    464 Pages
    by Routledge

    494 Pages
    by Routledge

    This handbook collects, for the first time, the state of research on role-playing games (RPGs) across disciplines, cultures, and media in a single, accessible volume. Collaboratively authored by more than 50 key scholars, it traces the history of RPGs, from wargaming precursors to tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons to the rise of live action role-play and contemporary computer RPG and massively multiplayer online RPG franchises, like Fallout and World of Warcraft. Individual chapters survey the perspectives, concepts, and findings on RPGs from key disciplines, like performance studies, sociology, psychology, education, economics, game design, literary studies, and more. Other chapters integrate insights from RPG studies around broadly significant topics, like transmedia worldbuilding, immersion, transgressive play, or player–character relations. Each chapter includes definitions of key terms and recommended readings to help fans, students, and scholars new to RPG studies find their way into this new interdisciplinary field.

    1 The Many Faces of Role-Playing Game Studies

    Sebastian Deterding and José P. Zagal



    2 Definitions of "Role-Playing Games"

    José P. Zagal and Sebastian Deterding



    3 Precursors

    Jon Peterson

    4 Tabletop Role-Playing Games

    William J. White, Jonne Arjoranta, Michael Hitchens, Jon Peterson, Evan Torner, and Jonathan Walton

    5 Live-Action Role-Playing Games

    J. Tuomas Harviainen, Rafael Bienia, Simon Brind, Michael Hitchens, Yaraslau I. Kot, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, David W. Simkins, Jaakko Stenros, and Ian Sturrock

    6 Single-Player Computer Role-Playing Games

    Douglas Schules, Jon Peterson, and Martin Picard

    7 Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games

    Mark Chen, Riley Leary, Jon Peterson, and David W. Simkins

    8 Online Freeform Role-Playing Games

    Jessica Hammer

    9 The Impact of Role-playing Games on Culture

    Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Jaakko Stenros, and Staffan Björk



    10 RPG Theorizing by Designers and Players

    Evan Torner

    11 Performance Studies and Role-Playing Games

    Sarah Hoover, David W. Simkins, Sebastian Deterding, David Meldman, and Amanda Brown

    12 Sociology and Role-Playing Games

    J. Patrick Williams, David Kirschner, Nicolas Mizer, and Sebastian Deterding

    13 Psychology and Role-Playing Games

    Sarah Lynne Bowman and Andreas Lieberoth

    14 Literary Studies and Role-Playing Games

    David Jara and Evan Torner

    15 Learning and Role-Playing Games

    Jessica Hammer, Alexandra To, Karen Schrier, Sarah Lynne Bowman, and Geoff Kaufman

    16 Economics and Role-Playing Games

    Isaac Knowles and Edward Castronova

    17 Science and Technology Studies and Role-Playing Games

    Rafael Bienia

    18 Game Design and Role-Playing Games

    Staffan Björk and José P. Zagal

    19 Communication Research and Role-Playing Games

    William J. White



    20 Worldbuilding in Role-Playing Games

    Karen Schrier, Evan Torner, and Jessica Hammer

    21 Role-Playing Games as Subculture and Fandom

    Esther MacCallum-Stewart and Aaron Trammell

    22 Immersion and Shared Imagination in Role-Playing Games

    Sarah Lynne Bowman

    23 Players and Their Characters in Role-Playing Games

    Sarah Lynne Bowman and Karen Schrier

    24 Transgressive Role-play

    Jaakko Stenros and Sarah Lynne Bowman

    25 Sexuality and the Erotic in Role-Play

    Ashley ML Brown and Jaakko Stenros

    26 Representation and Discrimination in Role-Playing Games

    Aaron Trammell

    27 Power and Control in Role-Playing Games

    Jessica Hammer, Whitney Beltran, Jonathan Walton, and Moyra Turkington


    Sebastian Deterding is a Reader at the Digital Creativity Labs at the University of York (York, UK). He has been an RPG player and designer for more than 20 years and has published ethnographic portraits of the German pen-and-paper RPG subculture. He is founder and organizer of the Gamification Research Network and co-editor of The Gameful World (MIT Press, 2015), a book about the ludification of culture. He holds a PhD in media studies from Hamburg University. See also: http://codingconduct.cc/.

    José P. Zagal is an Associate Professor with the University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering program. He wrote Ludoliteracy (2010) and edited The Videogame Ethics Reader (2012). In 2016, he was honored as a Distinguished Scholar by the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) for his contributions to the field of game research. He also serves as the Editor-In-Chief of DiGRA’s flagship journal Transactions of the Digital Games Research Association (ToDiGRA). He received his PhD in computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008. See also: http://www.eng.utah.edu/~zagal/.

    "Multivocal, robust, and, indeed, compelling....Role-Playing Game Studies is an excellent resource and starting point for a great many research projects touching on RPGs, and a welcome addition to the game studies literature."--Alex Chalk, First Person Scholar

    "An incredibly wide-ranging look at role-playing games from multiple angles, this book is set to become the authoritative work on the subject for years to come. If you’re looking to learn more about RPGs, whether as a player, researcher or designer, there’s something – many somethings! – in here for you." - Richard Bartle, MMO pioneer, co-creator of MUD, author of Designing Virtual Worlds

    "The sheer, massive range of subjects that are covered in Role-Playing Game Studies makes it a must-have for any serious scholar in the field. Especially the interdisciplinary texts are worth diving into - since this is, at its heart, an interdisciplinary field." - Claus Raasted, CEO of Dziobak Larp Studios, Chairman of Rollespilsfabrikken, Co-founder of The College of Extraordinary Experiences

    "Given the sheer number of perspectives compiled within this volume the editors skilfully enable and maintain a coherent narrative whilst allowing for different voices and viewpoints to develop and flourish. It is a generous and yet congruent approach that is to be applauded. In summarising over four decades of research, whilst encouraging an interdisciplinary attitude and introducing the reader to current issues (that should serve as inspiration for future studies), this book should be considered as essential reading for any scholar wanting to incorporate RPGs of any variety into their research." - Sam Illingworth, Games Research Network