The Postmodern Joy of Role-Playing Games

Agency, Ritual and Meaning in the Medium

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About the Book

Historian Johan Huizinga once described game playing as the motor of humanity’s cultural development, predating art and literature. Since the late 20th century, Western society has undergone a “ludification,” as the influence of game-playing has grown ever more prevalent.
At the same time, new theories of postmodernism have emphasized the importance of interactive, playful behavior.
Core concepts of postmodernism are evident in pen-and-paper role-playing, such as Dungeons and Dragons. Exploring the interrelationships among narrative, gameplay, players and society, the author raises questions regarding authority, agency and responsibility, and discusses the social potential of RPGs in the 21st century.

About the Author(s)

René Reinhold Schallegger is an assistant professor for British studies, Canadian studies and game studies at Alpen-Adria-Universität in Austria.
Matthew Wilhelm Kapell worked in the Media and War & Society programs at Swansea University, United Kingdom. He lives in Roseville, California.

Bibliographic Details

René Reinhold Schallegger. Series Editor Matthew Wilhelm Kapell
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 258
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6493-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3146-2
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Studies in Gaming

Table of Contents

Preface: Joyful Games of ­Meaning-Making 1
1 ■ The Power of Words: Postmodernism in a Nutshell 11
2 ■ Homo Ludens: Theories of Play and Games 45
3 ■ Of Dice and (Wo)Men: What Are ­Role-Playing Games? 69
4 ■ Generations: The Origins and Development of RPGs 104
5 ■ Constructing Understanding: RPG Theory 141
6 ■ Metalanguage: Critical Literature on RPGs 164
7 ■ Reframing: Alternative Theoretical Perspectives 181
Conclusion: Making Connections 215
Abbreviations Used 233
Chapter Notes 235
Bibliography 238
Index 247