jeudi 10 mai 2018

On the shoulders of dwarves: Citation practices in tabletop role-playing games

Dwarf on the shoulders of a giant. Detail of a german book, XVe, Library of Congress.

I am collecting citation practices in TRPG to make a paper of it someday. As a librarian interested
in scientific publishing, the motto On the shoulders of giants resonates strongly inside me, and I am making sure it resonates in the ears of my students every day.

I was happily touched by what Romaric Briand said on his 31th podcast La Cellule when he was asking a friend to playtest his last game Vade+Mecum (red is from me) :
« (01:42:30) In Vade+Mecum, everytime I am using a mechanic from another game, I insist to cite its author and his game. (...) So people who read my game can go to see other games and see what it looks like.

» It's all because this scientific serious methods we learned at the university (...) : when you have an idea, it doesn't come from nowhere. The least you can do is to provide a bibliography and a precise citation. Not at the end of your book, where nobody goes. Not in the aknowledgements, where nobody knows what you are thanking for. But in the body of the text. (...)

» [I wrote a RPG theory named the Maelstrom] Thanks to your tests, your experiment, you saw the limits of my theory. We almost have a scientific TRPG here. Played RPGs sessions are an experimentation of the theory. (...) They test its limits, they inspire critics and make me grow because they make me see stuff I didn't see before. (...)

» By making ourselves acessible, clear and simple, we get stronger. We are opening ourselves to critics and it make us grow and go forward. » 

1) His game Vade+Mecum seems to be the first game ever to cite its ludographic references in the body of the text. Congratulations! Since the "independant" movement in TRPG publishing, I noticed TRPGs are more and more citing their references. Examples :
2) Romaric Briand also shared an interesting idea: a role-playing game session can test a role-playing game theory. By its iterative designs, designing, running and assessing a TRPG can look like a scientific method. I spoke about it a little in an interview I gave to the Chroniques d’Altaride (no. 42).

The title of this post is for fun. It's important to « climb on the shoulders of dwarves to slap the elves who doesn't stop complaining about how it was better before.» There is no link with the excellent podcast On the Shoulders of Dwarves.

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