vendredi 24 mars 2017

We’re Just Playing: The Influence of a Modified Tabletop Role-Playing Game on ELA Students’ In-Class Reading [peer-reviewed article]

Cook, M. P., Gremo, M., & Morgan, R. (2017). We’re Just Playing: The Influence of a Modified Tabletop Role-Playing Game on ELA Students’ In-Class Reading. Simulation & Gaming, 48(2), 199-218. 
An ELA teacher adapts the short story The Most Dangerous Game into a tabletop RPG and runs it as gamemaster for 36 middle schools students (classroom divided in 2 groups of 18, then divided in teams of 4-5). The system used is a simple adaptation of Pathfinder RPG. All material and video tutorials online here.

Students positively :
- Used informations from the story (plots and setting) to drive their decisions
- Played roles of characters
- Collaborated meaningfully and helpfully

- Teacher has to be confortable and experienced as gamemaster
- Prior instructions on: how to engage with the game and the story + how to communicate and work in small groups

vendredi 17 mars 2017

D&D at CIA [media buzz + historical context]

Four CIA training agents attended the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX march 2017. They displayed some tabletop/board/role-playing games used to train agents of the CIA.

Benefits of tabletop games :
- Low cost
- Easy and quick to design, modify and adapt
- Stimulate collaboration and cooperation in team
- Train to manage resources, budget and time
- Help analyze, modelize, synthetize and forecast complex environments and quick changing real-world problems
- Force players to handle multiple scenarios simultaneously
- Develop critical judgement on the game model and its biais

"People playing a game, together they're experiencing the designers’ mental model [...] They are learning it, very quickly, because they’re inside, operating in it. Pushing levers, pulling cords, seeing what happens. Stories are very sticky, and they’ll remember their own stories. [...] The greatest power of simulation games is that players have to operate these games themselves and know the rules." (David Clopper, CIA Senion Collection Analyst, game design program since 2008, admitted player of Dungeons and Dragons).

Sources: Ars Technica, SXSW & LaPresse

* * 
Previous Intelligence/Military training games:
  • China: Wei-hai (-500) and Weiqi (-400) as games of encirclement, outflanking and territorial acquisition for the scholar caste.
  • Germany: various Kriegspiels (from 1797 to 1876) were used by the military elite as simulation of battle conflicts. During WW1, the german high command playtested the 1918 spring and final offensives.
  • UK: the War Office designed Rules for the conduct of the war-game on a map in 1896 (before HG Wells published the miniature commercial wargame Little Wars in 1913).
  • US: RAND Corporation designed the Cold War Game (in 1955 and 1956): four political massive strategic and role-playing games. The wargame Tactics was published one year before (1954) and it started the beginning of the golden years of wargaming in America.
Sources: cf. Zotero TRPG-JDR > History of RPG > Cold War-Wargames

lundi 6 mars 2017

Referencing the Imaginary: An Analysis of Library Collection of Role-Playing Game Materials [peer-reviewed article]

Schneider, E. and Hutchison, B. (2015). Referencing the Imaginary: An Analysis of Library Collection of Role-Playing Game Materials. The Reference
Librarian, 56 (3) : 174–188.

A recent survey shows RPG materials are very poorly collected and referenced in public and academics libraries, even in the Library of Congress (Schneider and Hutchison, 2015). Two reasons reported are the lasting effects of the moral panics of the 80s and the repeated book theft by patrons. I add other reasons: weeding of overused books, policy and choice of collection development, misknowledge of the complex publishing habits of the hobby (numerous game lines, numerous editions and optional books).
Q1: How Widely Are These Materials Collected by Libraries? 
The answer to this question is clearly that these materials are not widely collected. Looking at only the 953 OCLC participants that had any of these titles, the average number of titles in a collection was 3.67, or 5.16% of the search list. More than 90% of OCLC participants in the United States had no materials from the search list.(Schneider and Hutchison, 2015, p.184).

Theses local libraries have the largest RPG collections in the survey, ie. at least 100-150 items (Schneider and Hutchison, 2015, p.185).
  • Public libraries 
    • Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana 
    • Genesee District Library in Flint, Michigan
  • Academic library 
    • Oberlin College Library in Oberlin, Ohio


Noncirculating collections of TRPG 

The Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library includes 10,000 items (250 lin. ft.) : 2400 game books, 75 boxed sets, 140 packs of figurines, 19 card games, 100 different magazines and serials, even 13 manuscripts material from the Murray’s game notes. The collection ranges from 1972 to 2011. Unfortunately, « no other library collection was found anywhere near the scale of this collection. » (Schneider and Hutchison, 2015, p.186).

*   *

My own quick searches in national libraries catalogs 

The Library of Congress online catalog, with the subjects ’Roleplaying game’ or ’Roleplaying game supplement’, showed only 71 results.

In the online catalog of the BnF (Bibliothèque nationale de France), the request ’Jeux de rôles (jeux)’ as subject heading showed that approximately 285 items (25% of the 381 results were adventures gamebooks or choose your own adventure books) were TRPGs. Most of them were core rulebooks and there was not complete series of any game.

The online catalog of the BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec), with the request ’Jeux de rôle (Jeux de société)’ as subject heading, showed 160 items (61% of the 404 results were non RPGs books). 151 of these items were from two Québec publishers named Dream Pod 9 (138 items) and Ianus Publications (23 items). These items are constituting complete collections but they are available for consultation only in the Collection nationale of the BAnQ because, through legal deposit, BAnQ collects all materials published in Québec.