January 10, 2008

Taking Tabletop Seriously: Second Person part 1

by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 9:38 am

While in game studies we often reference tabletop role-playing games — especially Dungeons & Dragons — there are few academic press publications that take them seriously, and much of the discussion situates tabletop games as computer game incunabula. Pat Harrigan and I decided to take a different approach with Second Person, inviting a range of RPG practitioners and theorists to look carefully at tabletop structures, experiences, and histories, with or without reference to their digital counterparts.

We’re very happy with the results — and now I’m happy to announce that these essays are becoming part of the First Person thread on electronic book review. This not only makes them publicly available, but also brings them into ebr’s network of ripostes, glosses, enfoldings, and so on. We’ll be adding the essays to ebr over time, this is only the first release, and I’m excited to see that a couple thought-provoking ripostes are already present.

This release begins with our overall Second Person introduction and an introduction to round one of Tabletop Systems. There are also three full-length essays:

Next are three shorter contributions outlining specific aspects of innovative RPG publications:

Finally, the two ripostes are “Playing with the Mythos” by Van Leavenworth and “Limiting the Creative Agenda: Restrictive Assumptions In Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu by David Alger. The first of these is a response to Hite’s essay, arguing that “character and open-ended play styles have been made insignificant in CoC because they are secondary to the importance of the [Lovecraft] Mythos.” The second, responding to Herber’s contribution, argues that “Cthulhu is more gamist [rather than simulationist or narrativist] than it needs to be (or indeed wants to be) and The Haunted House scenario falls into the same trap.”