The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games


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About the Book

Tracing the evolution of fantasy gaming from its origins in tabletop war and collectible card games to contemporary web-based live action and massive multi-player games, this book examines the archetypes and concepts within the fantasy gaming genre alongside the roles and functions of the game players themselves. Other topics include: how The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings helped shape fantasy gaming through Tolkien’s obsessive attention to detail and virtual world building; the community-based fellowship embraced by players of both play-by-post and persistent browser-based games, despite the fact that these games are fundamentally solo experiences; the origins of gamebooks and interactive fiction; and the evolution of online gaming in terms of technological capabilities, media richness, narrative structure, coding authority, and participant roles.

About the Author(s)

Game designer, author, and artist Michael J. Tresca has authored numerous supplements and adventures for publishers of fantasy role-playing games. An administrator at RetroMUD, he lives in Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

Michael J. Tresca

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 238
Bibliographic Info: 10 photos, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-5895-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6009-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Preface      1
Introduction      5

1. The Lord of the Rings      23
2. Collectible Card Games and Miniature Wargames      47
3. Tabletop Role-Playing Games      59
4. Play-By-Post and Browser-Based Games      92
5. Gamebooks and Interactive Fiction      100
6. Multi-User Dungeons      111
7. Computer Role-Playing Games      134
8. Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games      162
9. Live Action Role-Playing Games      181

Conclusion      200
Glossary      203
Sources      207
Index      217

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Chronicles the vast history of RPGs from Dungeons and Dragons to World of Warcraft…a great book to learn how and why certain RPG game mechanics came about. Surprisingly, it is one of the few of its kind…incredibly informative…interesting to read…does an excellent job chronicling early forms of role-playing games and explaining the effects they had on the development of later games…a must-read”—Examiner
  • “it’s a grand history of role-playing in its many forms…[Tresca’s] love of games and imagination rings clearly throughout his perceptive analyses and clear, cogent descriptions of games, ideas, and behavior. He brings a thoughtful, theoretical background, based on his own wide experience in gaming and his graduate work examining the behavior of online gamers…highly recommend[ed]”—Games and Education
  • “an academic look at the development of fantasy role-playing across multiple gaming platforms…by focusing on the element of collaborative play, Tresca has identified and explained the element that makes role-playing games different from so many other endeavors, and what makes them such a valuable experience for so many of the participants.”—Dreaming About Other Worlds
  • “history of the various game genres, annotated and with a huge bibliography…has fascinating points to make”—ICV2