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The Functions of Role-Playing Games: How Participants Create Community, Solve Problems and Explore Identity

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This study takes an analytical approach to the world of role-playing games, providing a theoretical framework for understanding their psychological and sociological functions. Sometimes dismissed as escapist and potentially dangerous, role-playing actually encourages creativity, self-awareness, group cohesion and "out-of-the-box" thinking. The book also offers a detailed p This study takes an analytical approach to the world of role-playing games, providing a theoretical framework for understanding their psychological and sociological functions. Sometimes dismissed as escapist and potentially dangerous, role-playing actually encourages creativity, self-awareness, group cohesion and "out-of-the-box" thinking. The book also offers a detailed participant-observer ethnography on role-playing games, featuring insightful interviews with 19 participants of table-top, live action and virtual games.


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This study takes an analytical approach to the world of role-playing games, providing a theoretical framework for understanding their psychological and sociological functions. Sometimes dismissed as escapist and potentially dangerous, role-playing actually encourages creativity, self-awareness, group cohesion and "out-of-the-box" thinking. The book also offers a detailed p This study takes an analytical approach to the world of role-playing games, providing a theoretical framework for understanding their psychological and sociological functions. Sometimes dismissed as escapist and potentially dangerous, role-playing actually encourages creativity, self-awareness, group cohesion and "out-of-the-box" thinking. The book also offers a detailed participant-observer ethnography on role-playing games, featuring insightful interviews with 19 participants of table-top, live action and virtual games.

30 review for The Functions of Role-Playing Games: How Participants Create Community, Solve Problems and Explore Identity

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    Who is a book like this for? The most essential question of a book to ask is why does this book exist? Who is it for? What is the author trying to accomplish with this work? In this particular case, we have a short book that focuses on the scholarly and academic importance of role playing games, where the author herself is both a fond participant in role playing games as well as a scholar who has used her interest as a means of bringing some academic legitimacy to an interest of hers. The author Who is a book like this for? The most essential question of a book to ask is why does this book exist? Who is it for? What is the author trying to accomplish with this work? In this particular case, we have a short book that focuses on the scholarly and academic importance of role playing games, where the author herself is both a fond participant in role playing games as well as a scholar who has used her interest as a means of bringing some academic legitimacy to an interest of hers. The author clearly comes to this material with ulterior motives, most notably a desire to justify herself (and other games) to an academic community that might look down on role playing games. Similarly, the author desires to encourage a community that she views as being involved in important community-building activities that she credits with building empathy as well as creative insight by means of being able to imaginatively play as a different sort of being. The book is thus a demonstration of the truth that all people desire to justify themselves, and that this tendency is not in any way lessened by someone's academic ambitions or the sorts of habits and hobbies one wishes to justify. This book is a relatively short one at just shy of 200 pages, divided into seven chapters that demonstrate the author's desire to turn role playing games into the fuel for her own academic ambitions. The author begins with acknowledgements, a preface, and an introduction. After that she explores the historical evolution and cultural permutations of video games with a (not very) subtle plug for the games that she is most familiar with from her own personal experience as well as those which are particularly popular (1). The author then explores role-playing in communal contexts, pointing to the community-building that results from a shared experience in creating a story as one does in role playing games (2). The author then explores interactional dynamics in role-playing games, pointing to how people play games and deal with both in-character and out-of-character matters (3). After that there is a discussion of role-playing as scenario building and problem solving, an obvious case for justifying it (4). This leads to the author discussing the importance of tactical and social problem solving (5), before moving on to discuss role-playing as an alteration of identity, which leads her to discuss the issue of identity (6), before closing with a discussion of character evolution and the types of identity alteration (7), a conclusion, interview questionnaire (i), chapter notes, bibliography, and index. Even though as a fellow role-playing gamer, I might be expected to appreciate this book a great deal, there are at least a few elements in this book that keep me from enjoying the book as much as I would be expected to. A large part of this barrier between me and the author's attempt at justification comes from the author's continued focus in certain aspects that are modish within academia, such as a focus on gender and sexuality. Other aspects of the barrier come from her drawing attention to the way that gamers tend to comment that they are different from most gamers in not being socially awkward, which the author views as being some sort of violation of the community spirit that should come from gaming. I suppose the author does not think of herself as someone who is socially awkward herself, nor does she want to concede anything to the prejudices of those who would be hostile to gaming. The author sees is as an aspect of community theater which she predictably ties to neo-paganism and leftist political causes because everyone sees in what they love a reflection of what they believe in. And what this author believes in, I want no part of whatsoever.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    It was lovely to find a text that did not focus solely on Dungeons and Dragons. The inclusion of LARPing can dramatically broaden the RPG scholar's conception of player immersion (especially if we add in Bowman's later essays on "Bleed," or how character and player perspectives can bleed over to the other). The conception of the different types of characters players generate is also great, if partial and not necessarily giving full consideration to the impact of game rules on player options. It was lovely to find a text that did not focus solely on Dungeons and Dragons. The inclusion of LARPing can dramatically broaden the RPG scholar's conception of player immersion (especially if we add in Bowman's later essays on "Bleed," or how character and player perspectives can bleed over to the other). The conception of the different types of characters players generate is also great, if partial and not necessarily giving full consideration to the impact of game rules on player options.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rhockman

    Es un listado muy abarcativo de distintas formas en las que pueden estudiarse los juegos de rol y un montón de referencias a estudios que se hayan hecho. Podría servir de guía de referencias para alguien que quiere estudiar al respecto pero no hay ninguna interpretación o aporte de parte de la autora.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peter Martin

    An interesting book and one of the first of its kind, The Functions of Role-Playing Games tackles the psychological aspects of tabletop RPGs and LARP. The first 5 chapters can be a little dry for experienced RPG hobbyists, but chapters 6 and 7 where the author finally gets to stop laying groundwork and actually is able to start doing some analysis are great and very interesting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    QBook International

    Good quality research on RPG players with well flushed out history/background.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Ellwood

    In this book, the author shares her research and experiences with role playing games and explores how such games can be used to explore different identities. I found this to be an intriguing exploration of role-playing games and how people use them to explore their identities as well as how they are used by society in general for problem solving. The author does an excellent job of showing the breadth of role-playing games, and the various uses they are put to. This is an excellent book to read In this book, the author shares her research and experiences with role playing games and explores how such games can be used to explore different identities. I found this to be an intriguing exploration of role-playing games and how people use them to explore their identities as well as how they are used by society in general for problem solving. The author does an excellent job of showing the breadth of role-playing games, and the various uses they are put to. This is an excellent book to read to understand identity alteration and how the assumption of different roles allows people to explore who they are in relationship to the characters they create and become. The author also provides some useful insights via Jungian theory on archetypes and identity that can be helpful for understanding the psychology of role playing games.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    This book is a little clunky but I give it 4 stars because it's got some really solid ideas. I think the author maybe tries to take on a little too much in it, but that's not surprising given the great deal of crossover between role-playing games and other types of re-enactment and theater. She draws her sources from a lot of different disciplines which is really the strength of this book. This book is a little clunky but I give it 4 stars because it's got some really solid ideas. I think the author maybe tries to take on a little too much in it, but that's not surprising given the great deal of crossover between role-playing games and other types of re-enactment and theater. She draws her sources from a lot of different disciplines which is really the strength of this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    OK, I'll admit. I skipped quite a lot in this book. This is an academic look at RPGs. Very well done, and I'm glad I read most of it, but some was just not of interest to a non-academic. If you are researching RPGs -- in particular the psychology of them, this is a good book to read. OK, I'll admit. I skipped quite a lot in this book. This is an academic look at RPGs. Very well done, and I'm glad I read most of it, but some was just not of interest to a non-academic. If you are researching RPGs -- in particular the psychology of them, this is a good book to read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Александр Гидревич

    Bibliography in this book - great example and help for person who looking for academic approach to subject of role-playing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nathanael F

  11. 4 out of 5

    DAVID

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marco Simeoni

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rook

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrew T. Oliveira

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nick LaLone

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ben Platt

  17. 4 out of 5

    Salvatore

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Schneider

  19. 5 out of 5

    William

  20. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Snelling

  21. 4 out of 5

    ERIK J

  22. 4 out of 5

    John

  23. 4 out of 5

    Renee (The B-Roll)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rejo Reta

  25. 4 out of 5

    C.J.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Corey Walden

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily Waters

  28. 4 out of 5

    Saga

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

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