Cover Image

Playability as Realism

Jon Garthoff

Abstract


In this essay I discuss how realism operates to constrain games, especially role-playing games, that take place in a fantasy milieu. The design of these games involves tradeoffs between two values, which are sometimes labeled “realism” and “playability”. These values are ordinarily understood to be wholly independent and competing. Using resources drawn from John Rawls's conception of political theory as a search for a “realistic utopia”, I show how these values can instead be understood as aspects of the more general value of creating and conceiving a realistic fantasy through the medium of game play. I also explain how realism operates differently as a constraint on tabletop role-playing games from how it operates in realistic video games and live-action role-playing.

Full Text:

PDF

References


Arneson, Dave and Gary Gygax (1974). Dungeons & Dragons. Tactical Studies Rules, 1974.

Flanagan, Mary (2009). Critical Play. MIT Press, 2009.

Frasca, Gonzalo (2008). “Make a Point and Score Ten Thousands: Learning from Serious Games”. In Mirror Images: Popular Culture and Education. Counterpoints Vol. 338. Peter Lang AG, 2008.

Freeman, Samuel (2007). Rawls. Routledge Publishing, 2007.

Garthoff, Jon (2016). “Rawlsian Stability”. Res Publica 22:3, 2016.

Grubb, Jeff (1987). Manual of the Planes. Tactical Studies Rules, 1987.

Gygax, Gary (1976). “Realism v. Game Logic”. In Best of Dragon Vol. II. Tactical Studies Rules, 1981.

__________ (1977). Monster Manual. Tactical Studies Rules, 1977.

__________ (1978). Players Handbook. Tactical Studies Rules, 1978.

__________ (1979). Dungeon Masters Guide. Tactical Studies Rules, 1979.

__________ (1983a). World of Greyhawk. Tactical Studies Rules, 1983.

__________ (1983b). Monster Manual II. Tactical Studies Rules, 1983.

__________ (1985). Unearthed Arcana. Tactical Studies Rules, 1985.

Jackson, Steve (1986). Generic Universal RolePlaying System. Steve Jackson Games, 1986.

Juul, Jesper (2005). Half-Real. MIT Press, 2005.

Mohan, Kim (1986). Wilderness Survival Guide. Tactical Studies Rules, 1986.

Niles, Douglas (1986). Dungeoneers Survival Guide. Tactical Studies Rules, 1986.

Nussbaum, Martha (2000). Women and Human Development. Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Nussbaum, Martha and Amartya Sen (1993). The Quality of Life. Oxford University Press, 1993.

Peterson, Jon (2012). Playing at the World. Unreason Press, 2012.

Rawls, John (1971). A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press, 1971.

__________ (1993). Political Liberalism. Revised Edition. Columbia University Press, 1995.

__________ (1999). The Law of Peoples. Harvard University Press, 1999.

__________ (2001). Justice as Fairness. Harvard University Press, 2001.

Rein-Hagen, Mark (1991). Vampire: The Masquerade. White Wolf Publishing, 1991.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1762). On the Social Contract. Trans. Judith R. Masters. Ed. Roger D. Masters. St. Martin’s Press, 1978.

Sen, Amartya (1987). Commodities and Capabilities. Oxford University Press, 1987.

__________ (1992). Inequality Reexamined. Harvard University Press, 1992.

Sicart, Miguel (2011). “Against Procedurality”. Game Studies 11, 2011.

__________ (2014). Play Matters. MIT Press, 2014.

Turnbull, Don (Ed.) (1981). Fiend Folio. Tactical Studies Rules, 1981.

Vance, Jack (1950). The Dying Earth. Hillman Publishing, 1950.

__________ (1966). The Eyes of the Overworld. Ace Books, 1966.

__________ (1983). Cugel’s Saga. Timescape Publishing, 1983.

__________ (1984). Rhialto the Marvellous. Brandywyne Books, 1984.

Ward, James M. (1988). Greyhawk Adventures. Tactical Studies Rules, 1988.

Ward, James M. and Robert J. Kuntz (1980). Deities and Demigods. Tactical Studies Rules, 1980.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5617/jpg.2705

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.