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The Role-Playing Society: Essays on the…

The Role-Playing Society: Essays on the Cultural Influence of RPGs

by Andrew Byers (Editor), Francesco Crocco (Editor)

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The essay's seem to have been written with teachers and scholars in mind rather than gamers, but while the essay's are geard towards academia I still found it very intetesting and fascinating to read. I would recommend it ( )
  NickKnight | May 4, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was too much of a nerd in high school --in a jock school-- to have the opportunity to play RPGs, and then life got in the way of having fun that required any regular investment of time. But my husband came complete with a couple crates of D&D manuals and old (OLD) Dragon magazines, and now all three of my sons play D&D. My oldest writes his own games with a friend. So this book looked intriguing.
The book's generally academic, with a very wide range of areas represented among the articles. It starts with a little history of the "Satanic Panic" and the push against RPGs, then moves (eventually) to a fascinating article on "Adaptive Choice in Ludic Literature" -- including RPGs and the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. The author discusses these in light of the uncertainties associated with the Cold War era and the US government's distribution of pamphlets telling citizens what they can do to protect themselves from nuclear war. The idea there being that having a plan would keep up morale (even if it wouldn't necessarily help to save your butt). He suggests that RPGs create a proxy world in which you have choice and power and the ability to survive, which provides a sense of mastery and counteracts a sense of hopelessness about the larger world situation (which you are indeed powerless to change). A book I read a while ago, "Dancing at Armageddon" suggests something similar about the survivalist culture: that having a plan and taking steps to prepare for your favorite apocalypse provides a sense of mastery that offsets the alienation and powerlessness people feel in their daily lives.
Since I'm a physics teacher, "The Teacher as Dungeon Master" also caught my eye. Gamifying learning is a thing, of course, and sounds wonderful -- in a world where you have a small enough number of students to manage (what DM would consent to a campaign containing 26 PCs?) and aren't chasing meaningless content standards. The author acknowledges the risk: that the "epic quest" can either uplift the students or kill their intellectual interests.
All in all, an interesting book. Not every article will interest every reader, but I think every reader will find an article that interests them. ( )
1 vote jwpell | Dec 28, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Surprised me a bit from the start. The collection of essays was far more wide-ranging and informative than I expected, and made me think I understand less about this subject than I had previously believed. I knew that RPGs were not my strong suit despite having been exposed to many over a period of many years, but I've always had a thing for gaming and a particular interest for wargames and video games, especially some of the classic RPGs of the Super Nintendo era. Yet I still found this collection of essays provided new information I had never considered. Well done. ( )
1 vote IbnAlNaqba | Oct 10, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Anyone who picks this up saying, "Ooh, a book about games," is going to be disappointed. This is not light reading. It is an academic book. However, as an academic book, it covers a very interesting and culturally relevant topic - gamification in society and education. Each chapter is an essay by a different academic, covering a different aspect of this topic. The early chapters discuss the evolution of rpgs, focusing heavily on Dungeons and Dragons, and how gaming has evolved from a suspect activity that many non-gamers suspected to be connected with Satanism to an activity so normalized that it can be used as a basis for hiring decisions or class exams. There is a lot in the book's middle section about how rpg elements can be used in the classroom. The latter part of the book's essays focus on the ways that rpgs themselves have evolved. One essay focuses on the social network rating system Klout. Another deals with Ingress, which is now known increasingly as the forerunner to the currently popular Pokemon Go app. A third essay deals with the way that tabletop rpgs themselves have evolved from a system involving a lot of dice, graph paper, and rule books to board games with an underlying story, or card games - and what is gained or lost in such a transition.

If you are an academic studying anything vaguely related to games, this could be a valuable resource for your next paper. As a non-academic, the book made me want to seek out other sources. It is a flaw among academic research everywhere that citations sometimes take precedence over substance. I found myself wanting to know more - which games are the instructors using, and what are they like? What does a character sheet for a literary RPG look like? I wanted less of the general and more of the specific. But it was a good overall look of how games have permeated almost every aspect of society, and the many and varied ways that they can be used to enhance life both in and out of the classroom. ( )
  AnnieHidalgo | Sep 11, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There might be something to this dusty tome covering the topic of roleplaying. Then again they may not be. It is rather hard to say, unfortunately. Perhaps you should give it a try just in case it tickles your fancy. As for me I think I shall shelve it where I needn't be able to find it in a hurry. ( )
  jreinhart | Sep 6, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Byers, AndrewEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crocco, FrancescoEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786498838, Paperback)

Since the release of Dungeons & Dragons in 1974, role-playing games (RPGs) have spawned a vibrant industry and subculture whose characteristics and player experiences have been well explored. Yet little attention has been devoted to the ways RPGs have shaped society at large over the last four decades.
Role-playing games influenced video game design, have been widely represented in film, television and other media, and have made their mark on education, social media, corporate training and the military.
This collection of new essays illustrates the broad appeal and impact of RPGs. Topics range from a critical reexamination of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, to the growing significance of RPGs in education, to the potential for "serious" RPGs to provoke awareness and social change. The contributors discuss the myriad subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways in which the values, concepts and mechanics of RPGs have infiltrated popular culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 19 Feb 2016 18:12:14 -0500)

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