chapter  1
16 Pages

The Many Faces of Role-Playing Game Studies

WithSebastian Deterding, José P. Zagal

Role-Playing Games (RPG) sit at the intersection of four phenomena are roles, play, games, and media culture. They take a fundamental form of play – make-believe – and a fundamental aspect of social reality and identity – roles – and give them the structured form of a game. RPGs involve play. Play transforms and recombines other, functional behaviors, exaggerating, varying, and rendering them incomplete so they lack their "serious" consequences and thus their obvious instrumental or survival value. RPGs involve roles, another universal human phenomenon that has been studied for over a century. Roles are patterns of behaviors and attitudes expected from a person occupying a given social position. In terms of play, RPGs provide insight into adult pretense and role-play, which occur in many places besides RPGs: many board, card, and video games have moments of emergent micro-role-play. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.