Role-playing games are games in which players choose different, varying roles for themselves to play, as well as scenarios to play them in. Not to be confused with historical re-enactments, RPGs are usually played with pen and paper and almost always based on fantasy. It is my thesis that the development of RPGs across time is evidence that can be used to support the notion that nerd culture and its transition over time has been, at least indirectly, dictated by bureaucracy. That is to say, I believe there has, for as long as RPGs have existed, been a sort of paradoxical situation where “nerds” trying to escape reality through RPGs end up actually projecting parts of reality. I will be arguing my thesis by looking at the development of RPGs over time alongside some of the things going on in society across the same time line. Below is a table of some of the sources I’m going to be using along with descriptions of those and the applications of Burke I made to them.
The Commedia dell’Arte
The Sixteenth Century
The first article is about the development of the CdA. CdA was basically improvised acting but with a few more restrictions - likening it to RPGs. The second article talks about the flourishing of Europe (where the game was played and invented) during the time.
In practically everywhere CdA is occurring, the areas in which it is occurring is prospering. While the people participating might be trying to escape reality - they are only afforded the opportunity to do so because of the state of the bureaucracy.
What is Wargaming?
This talks about Wargaming, which is basically an RPG with a bit more application to real life. There is a lot written about the development of Wargaming in relationship to war tactics and war in general. In the article are a few pieces of actual rhetoric from some of the first players of the game.
This is a lot like the above. The next movement after CdA was Wargaming, that was only really invented as a way strategize for war. I can’t say Wargaming was a forced niche but it really was a result of other things going on.
D&D Turns 40
This article really just highlights the prevalence of RPGs in the contemporary, while also providing rhetoric from someone who avidly plays the RPG D&D.
This article highlights how D&D has a nerdy stigma to it, while also highlighting the popularity of it. Social identification is exhibited as a result.
The Function of Role-Playing Games
The author here discusses RPGs and the way they can be used to analyze human behavior. She does so through multiple studies of what could be considered “nerds.”
The author of this study reflects on the increasingly social aspect of RPGss. I’d liken this to the increased social aspect of everything on the internet. Again, people are trying to escape playing these game, but piety to the norm of increased social interaction everywhere stops them.
This is an interview of some of the top RPG makers. They share with the interviewer the direction in which the industry is going.
What’s interesting about this is the RPG makers assert that they are trying to implement more globalization. It’s my idea that consumers wanting this is a result of the world becoming increasingly globalized. This would be an example of piety to the norm.