The Many Faces of Role-Playing Games

Michael Hitchens, Anders Drachen

    Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Role-playing games have grown and evolved into a large number of forms in the last thirty years, spanning digital as well as non-digital media. They demonstrate a wide variety in the number of participants, style of play and the formal and informal systems that govern them. Despite this diversity players at least seem to think they know when something is a role-playing game. Yet there is no commonly accepted definition which both captures games generally accepted as role-playing games and distinguishes them from other, similar, games which begs the question, whether roleplaying
    games are united by anything more than a colloquial name. Additionally, research involving these games is hampered by lack of a widely accepted definition of what constitutes a roleplaying game, as it is then not even possible to clearly delineate the subject of such research. In this paper various example of role-playing game are examined in an attempt to identify the defining set of characteristics of these games. On that basis a definition for them is proposed which is
    hopefully more successful at separating roleplaying games from other, similar, game forms.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe International Journal of Role-Playing
    Pages (from-to)3-21
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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