Semester(s) Offered: Fall
Credits: 2
Course Call Number: GAMES-GT 402/GAMES-UT 402
Taught By: Naomi Clark

Dungeons & Dragons, first published in 1974, remains one of the most unavoidable influences on authored games; concepts it popularized, from the mechanics of hit points and “leveling up” to themes of conflict‐ridden exploration in detailed fantasy worlds, have spread from the tabletop role‐playing games that flourished in Dungeons & Dragons’ wake to first­‐person shooters, massively multiplayer online games, and even games on social networks intended for the broadest of audiences. In the roots of table‐top roleplaying games, we can also find the beginnings of other, less widely adopted currents of experience and design: collaborative storytelling structured by process and rules; game dynamics that steer towards moral dilemmas that intertwine with competitive and cooperative mechanics; asymmetrical power structures that assign participants very different roles and blur the line between player and designer; and many more.

This course will examine the history, practice, and current state of the art of independent role­‐playing games, focusing on non‐digital roleplaying games generally played by two or more participants in person. Selected games will be played in‐class as well as assigned for out-of­‐class play, and will emphasize works that explore themes, mechanics, and play dynamics beyond the most familiar and popular forms of fantasy role‐playing game.