Tags: Timothy Burke and I, Napoleonic miniatures on acid, the first Dungeon Master, God versus the Metric System, the Lost Tribe.
Timothy Burke and I at the AHA in January:*
Me: It seems like 2006 was the year that a lot of academic bloggers came out of the closet as online gamers.
Tim: Definitely. There used to be a real social stigma attached to gaming in academia, but now with World of Warcraft and Second Life and so on, it really can’t be denied that online roleplaying games are a social phenomenon worthy of serious critical study.
Me: I’m just waiting for the same thing to happen to tabletop roleplaying games.
Tim: You mean like Dungeons & Dragons?
Me: More or less.**
Tim: Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen… loser.
It’s not much of a secret, if you’ve read my LiveJournal or just triangulated from my other interests, but from 1980-1990 and then again from 2001-2005, I played a lot of roleplaying games. Which today are called tabletop roleplaying games or pen-and-paper games, in the sort of prefix addition (think dial telephone, snail mail, liberal Democrat) that generally implies the object in question, while once the norm, is well on its way to the boneyard.
I’m writing something on the history and pre-history of tabletop RPGs for Jonathan Walton and his excellent journal Push: New Thinking About Roleplaying. You can see my original sketch of the article at the top secret Push forum, but it keeps getting longer and weirder than I’d planned. And although I just emailed Jonathan to tell him I’m going to miss his already generous deadline, what follows is something I’m not sure I can fit into the article and that I wanted to share right away. Read more