The Format's Significance for the Experience of Role Playing Games

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Bo Sebastian Wunderlich Jensen
4. term, Interactive Digital Media, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis aims to understand how the experience of role playing games (RPGs) benefits from the format. “Format” is a term borrowed by Allen Tychsen (See reference in the thesis) and is here used to describe a broadly recognized group of games that shares many characteristics. The focus will be on interactivity/interaction, features that are unique the specific kind of RPG or to the genre as a whole, and features of the media which affects the experience of RPG. For the sake of simplicity the thesis focus on tabletop RPGs (PnP), single player computer RPGs (CRPG), and live action role playing (LARP).

The thesis covers some of the existing theory on role playing games and discusses these shortly to show that the common definition of RPGs is based on tabletop RPGs. The result is that the definition does not take the possible benefits of the medium into account. To expand the understanding of the role playing game genre the theory will also be used to identify features which may be seen as either common for the whole genre or specific for one type. The final theory covers both digital and non-digital media in an effort to further improve the understanding of formats, which will form the context of the later discussions.

To further understand the formats’ importance for the experience of RPG additional data is gathered through a qualitative interview. The interview contains eleven questions which includes, but are not limited to, the interactivity and social aspect of a RPG. The six subjects who participated in with the interview are role players from the local RPG association, The Realm of Adventure (TRoA). The subjects have experience with all three types of RPGs. This data is used to determine how the medium contributes to the gaming experience, as well as to identify previously unknown factors relevant to the gaming experience.

In conclusion, the benefits of the formats are evident in how the subjects play the RPGs. In PnP the experience inherently relies on imagination and the participants’ creative abilities to contribute to a dynamically developing story. The GM’s skills as a storyteller and rule manager influence the gaming experience. Single player CRPG lacks the social aspect of other RPGs, but allows for a single player experience which makes it good for relaxation. In LARP the game is both restricted and boosted by reality as the players are limited by their own inhibitions and physical skills. The benefit is that players are in a position where they, as the character, experiences real emotions unfiltered, which adds to the immersive experience. The freedom to act in LARP is affected by how similar the imaginary world is to the real world in terms of possible skills.

All in all the benefits of the formats depends on how the participants play the RPGs, and how much the RPGs rely on the features provided by the medium on which they are played.
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2 Jun 2014
Number of pages78
ID: 198275704