“Miniaturized, A Bit Abstract, But Strangely Compelling”

A Review of Role-Playing Game Studies: A Transmedia Approach

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In the introduction to Role-Playing Game Studies: A Transmedia Approach, José P. Zagal and Sebastian Deterding call games “trusty little mirrors of social life . . . miniaturized, maybe a bit abstract, but strangely compelling” (1). The latter portion of that quote serves just as well to describe their book’s relation to its topic. Noting a lack of cohesion in the study of role-playing games (RPGs), Role-Playing Game Studies strives to integrate scholarly works dispersed across a variety of disciplines and locales, and to begin the work of establishing a canon of RPG scholarship. Indeed, in a space already so nebulous and uncentered as game studies, RPGs appear mostly as curiosities – blips scattered across journals, institutions, and conferences, with little sense of who else is studying them and why. Continue Reading

Immersion into LARP

Theories of Embodied Narrative Experience

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Some forms of immersion focus upon the repetitive execution of a particular task or activity involving a certain degree of agency (Adams, 2004; Holopainen & Björk, 2004; Ermi & Mäyrä, 2005; Calleja, 2011). While in video games, immersion into activity often involves manipulating interfaces using a keyboard, mouse, or controller; in larp, kinesthetic involvement is more fully embodied. Some larps still use representational mechanics for combat, e.g. using one’s hands in rock-paper-scissors in a Vampire: the Masquerade larp. Others use a mixture of embodiment and mechanics, such as hitting a combatant with a foam sword and calling out numbers to represent the amount of damage incurred. Continue Reading

Nordic LARP

Edited by Jaakko Stenros & Markus Montola

Review - Nordic LARP

Live Action Role-Play(ing), or LARP, is a type of playful activity incorporating elements from (tabletop) role-playing games, improvisational theatre, historical re-enactment, and performance art, among other things. In the book Nordic LARP, editors Stenros and Montola present an engaging and valuable overview of LARP in the Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland), a tradition and community that has become famous for its experimental and artistic approaches to LARP. The book is filled with accessible sketches of selected LARP games from the Nordic tradition, illustrating the diversity of the LARPing scene, as well as Nordic LARPing communities’ inclination towards exploring the boundaries of the medium itself. As such, it is a book aimed both towards the critical LARP enthusiast and those involved in the study of games in a broad sense. Continue Reading