chapter  11
14 Pages

Performance Studies and Role-Playing Games

WithSarah Hoover, David W. Simkins, Sebastian Deterding, David Meldman, Amanda Brown

This chapter begins with the basis of role-play as ritual performance, moves to an exploration of how we understand the rules of performative play and then concludes with a contextualization of theater and role-play theory and practice. It discusses some concepts and techniques from performance that can enhance our understanding of role-play. Role-play and role-playing games (RPGs) show close formal ties to and influences from the many practices of theater and performance. Performances can reproduce, critique or transform individuals and the societies in which they live, and found theatric and RPG examples for each. A historical survey of Aristotelian, realist, and postdramatic theater found parallels, connections, influences and inspirations aplenty. Similarly, RPG designers may find connection to and inspiration in postdramatic theater as it incorporates participation, a variety of performance activities and multiple narratives. Postdramatic theater has its roots in the individualism, public spectacles, skepticism of established social and political institutions, technological advances and cultural exchange, characteristic of the West.