chapter  14
18 Pages

Literary Studies and Role-Playing Games

WithDavid Jara, Evan Torner

Literary Studies attempts to understand what texts mean and how they evoke these meanings. Analogously, past role-playing games (RPG) studies have chiefly adopted two major manifestations of Literary Studies: textual analysis concerned with the meaning and interpretation of RPGs and narratology, which is more interested in formally describing how RPGs and their stories are constructed. Literature itself has constantly staged its own playful nature. Game-like contests between poets featured prominently in early literature, such as the Greek eclogues. RPGs create a fictional reality that is 'embedded' in the real world. When communicating within the fictional world of the game, the language use functionally 'mimics' everyday language. Analog RPGs allow participants to directly affect or modify a game's basic 'architecture'. Tabletop players may point out inconsistencies in a location's description or request additional information during an ongoing scene. Digital RPGs become a stage for 'vast narratives', thanks to the capacity of computers to process huge amounts of information.