The Fantasy Role-Playing Game: A New Performing Art

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McFarland, Aug 11, 2017 - Games & Activities - 215 pages
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Many of today’s hottest selling games—both non-electronic and electronic—focus on such elements as shooting up as many bad guys as one can (Duke Nuk’em), beating the toughest level (Mortal Kombat), collecting all the cards (Pokémon), and scoring the most points (Tetris). Fantasy role-playing games (Dungeons & Dragons, Rolemaster, GURPS), while they may involve some of those aforementioned elements, rarely focus on them. Instead, playing a fantasy role-playing game is much like acting out a scene from a play, movie or book, only without a predefined script. Players take on such roles as wise wizards, noble knights, roguish sellswords, crafty hobbits, greedy dwarves, and anything else one can imagine and the referee allows. The players don’t exactly compete; instead, they interact with each other and with the fantasy setting. The game is played orally with no game board, and although the referee usually has a storyline planned for a game, much of the action is impromptu. Performance is a major part of role-playing, and role-playing games as a performing art is the subject of this book, which attempts to introduce an appreciation for the performance aesthetics of such games. The author provides the framework for a critical model useful in understanding the art—especially in terms of aesthetics—of role-playing games. The book also serves as a contribution to the beginnings of a body of criticism, theory, and aesthetics analysis of a mostly unrecognized and newly developing art form. There are four parts: the cultural structure, the extent to which the game relates to outside cultural elements; the formal structure, or the rules of the game; the social structure, which encompasses the degree and quality of social interaction among players; and the aesthetic structure, concerned with the emergence of role-playing as an art form.
 

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Contents

From War Games to Role Games
13
ADD and Dragonlance as a Case for the RolePlaying Games Reciprocal Relationship with Fantasy Literature
17
The RolePlaying Games Dialogue with Popular Culture
20
Playing in Imaginary Entertainment Environments
26
The Machinery Manufacturing the Ghost in the Machine
37
Everway as a Case Study for RolePlaying Game Interface Design
40
A Taxonomy
48
Inscription Transcription Prescription
49
Structures of Power
92
What Leaks? The Archiving of the PlayerCharacter
98
The Archived PlayerCharacter in the Ongoing Narrative
106
Shared Substance Emancipation and Discipline
107
The Efficacy of Entertainment
109
Becoming the Spectator
117
Narrative as Aesthetic Object
121
The RolePlaying Game Performance and Ergodic Literature
131

Frames of Interaction
53
How the Theater of the RolePlaying Game Narrative Exists within the Sphere of the RolePlaying Game Performance
57
The Structural Foundation of the RolePlayers Subjectivity
63
Festival Subculture
69
RolePlaying Games as Systems of Cultural Allusion
73
Making the Score in the Liminal Mind
76
Strips of Imaginary Behavior and the Assemblage of the Character
79
A Phenomenology of the RolePlayed Performance within the Theater Sphere the Performative and Constative Frames
85
A Phenomenology of the RolePlayed Performance within the Script Sphere Narrative Frame
87
The RolePlayed Performance within the Script Sphere Narrative Frame
88
Wherefore the Insistence of Aesthetics?
135
Demiurge in the Mind
136
Frosting and Defrosting the Windows of Otherworldliness
150
The Paradigm for Analysis of a New Performing Art
157
AFTERWORD
161
NOTES
165
BIBLIOGRAPHY
185
Index
193
Copyright

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About the author (2017)

Daniel Mackay holds an M.A. in performance studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.

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