vendredi 28 avril 2017

Anthropology and role-playing games

A list of links between RPGs and the discipline of anthropology (+ethnology +sociology).

a)  games and role-playing games sessions are mainly small societies with rules, structures and values.

b) a lot of role-playing games have their game design based on retension-fascination where players like to explore and to investigate. Also, a lot of game settings like to run thoughts experiments with imaginary cultures. To decipher the story the gamemaster cooks to them, the players are building guesses and theories based on perspective-taking, and they are negociating differents points of view.

c)  Call of Cthulhu, a major RPG for 40 years, has Academic professor as character profile, with a lot of skills related : Anthropology, Archeology, Cthulhu Mythos, Geology, History, Languages, Library Use, Occult, Psychology, Psychoanalysis (sic)...

d) the sociologist Gary Alan Fine was the first renowned scholar to study RPG players (sociology). Now, several academic scholars are studying RPGs through [anthropo/ethno/socio]-logy : Sarah Lyne Bowman, Olivier Caïra, Nicholas Cragoe, Sébastien Kapp, Nicholas J. Mizer, Heather Shay; Laurent Trémel,...

e) several famous game designers have an anthropology background :
- M.A.R. Barker,  linguistics: Empire of the Petal Throne
- Pete Fenlon, anthropology: Rolemaster, MERP
- John Snead, anthropology: Blue Rose, Exalted, Trinity, Mage
Or they created game settings with a strong anthropological flavor :
- Greg Stafford: Glorantha/RuneQuest
- Greg Stolze: Reign
- ...

f) this spring 2017 an anthropology undergrad course is taught on RPGs (UC Davis)

g) anthropology can help understand RPG what happens at the game table (rituals, liminality, symbolic manipulation,...).

h) a blog about geek stuffs with an anthropological point of view : The Geek Anthropologist

vendredi 21 avril 2017

De l’expérience ludique aux compétences humaines : le potentiel formatif des jeux de rôles ludiques [chapter]

Daniau, S. (2015). De l’expérience ludique aux compétences humaines : le potentiel formatif des jeux de rôles ludiques. Dans L. Mermet et N. Zaccaï-Reyners (dir.), Au prisme du jeu: concepts, pratiques, perspectives (p. 137‑153). Paris : Hermann. 

The trans-formative role-playing game is a concept explaining, from a role-playing game experience and through an important self-reflection debriefing, how to offer the opportunity to transfer emerging learnings from the game to the real life of the players (active listening, critical thinking, detachment, oral expression, creativity,...).
This self-reflection debriefing is facilitated by the gamemaster. It takes place after the game for at least 30% of the game time. It is collective but also can be individual. It is structured: fisrt, a return on the game played; then some contextualization and search for sense and meaning of what happened; finally, multiple points of view are shared and they offer the opportunity of transforming the way of thinking of the players.
Without this debriefing, there is a risk that the game experience stay at the table (at the levels of the character and the player). Thanks to this debriefing, it's offer an opportunity of transformation (at the levels of the person and the human).

This chapter precedes the article published in Simulation & Gaming and commented on this blog.


Idea read : Winnicot (1971) has said that people suffering from depression, paranoia and schizophrenia are facing difficulties to immerse an imaginary character in a fictional world. [Winnicot Donald W. (1971), Playing and Reality, London: Tavistock].
My comment: need to check.

mercredi 19 avril 2017

Virtual Edgework: Negotiating Risk in Role-Playing Gaming [peer-reviewed article]

Shay, H. (2017). Virtual Edgework: Negotiating Risk in Role-Playing Gaming. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 46(2), 203-229.
Can we consider playing role-playing games like an edgework activitie (ie. a voluntary risk-taking activity that can put yourself in danger like base jumping) ? It seems RPG players are engaged in a safe/virtual edgework where they experience freedom, mastery, control and excitement without danger. Examples: clearly delimitating emotions of game and emotions of real life, pushing the limits of lack of sleep, feeling compression of time in game, pseudo-controling the dice roll results, keeping the experience in the community and not trying to explain to non-gamers.
In the observed players, RPGs were "better than their real lives, that it served as an escape from feelings of boredom, anxiety, and powerlessness." RPGs have the potential to help imagine and push to work for a better world, but they also can stay a "therapeutic relief that inclines gamers to tolerate political marginalization, crave physical safety at all times, and accept a brave new world of state surveillance" (p.225).