Rolling Cameras and Dice: Analog Role-Playing Games, Cinema and Media

full name / name of organization: 
Evan Torner (University of Massachusetts Amherst) and Felan Parker (York University)
contact email: 
etorner@german.umass.edu

Rolling Cameras and Dice: Analog Role-Playing Games, Cinema and Media

From the the moral panic of Mazes & Monsters (1982), Dungeons & Dragons-inspired fantasy films like Krull (1983) and early franchise RPGs like James Bond: Role-Playing in Her Majesty's Secret Service (1983), to more recent televisual representations on Freaks & Geeks (2000) and Community (2011) and franchise tie-in games like the Battlestar Galactica Roleplaying Game (2007) and Marvel: Heroic Roleplaying (2012), audiovisual media and analog or “tabletop” role-playing games have been in dialog. Likewise, since the early days of computers, roleplaying games have been one of the most significant genres of digital games, from early experiments based on Dungeons & Dragons to “AAA” blockbusters like the Mass Effect trilogy, and this influence feeds back into tabletop versions of games such as World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game and Dragon Age: Dark Fantasy Roleplaying.

As Frank Rose has noted in his recent book, The Art of Immersion, contemporary films, television shows, video games, and other media frequently pivot around the exploration and mastery of immersive, transmedia fictional worlds, similar to a roleplaying game. Similarly, some modern roleplaying games, such as Fiasco, Feng Shui, Mist-Robed Gate and Primetime Adventures, are structured according to the forms and conventions of film and television narratives.

This panel, to be held at the 2013 meeting of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), seeks to address the ways in which analog roleplaying games can be understood in context of cinema and media studies, and how cinema, television and video games themselves have taken up certain fictional and mechanical logics – goal-oriented quests, character creation, leveling up, competition against the GM – derived from tabletop role-playing games. Ultimately the panel is intended to tease out the aesthetic, narrative, industrial and social connections between seemingly disparate cultural forms.

Panel submissions may address a related topic and/or one of the suggested topics below:
* Aesthetic similarities and divergences between tabletop RPGs and film/television
* Narrative conventions derived from television in tabletop RPGs, and vice versa
* Spin-offs and licensed RPG products vs Gaming in the "spirit" of a film
* Industrial analyses of RPGs in transmedia franchises
* The role of tabletop and digital RPGs in transmedia franchises and convergence culture
* Fandom in relation to RPGs and other media
* The Gamers, The Guild, and other RPG-related fan media
* Film theory and criticism vs Roleplaying Game theory and criticism
* Roleplaying games as playable film theory or criticism
* Paratextual analyses of RPG materials in relation to film and television
* The relationship between tabletop RPGs and computer RPGs
* Remediation of film and television in RPGs
* Historical accounts of the relationship between RPGs and film
* Popular representations of RPGs in other media
* The politics of RPGs and other media
* Cross-cultural analyses of RPGs and other media in different global contexts
* The role of chance and contingency in RPGs and film

Please send a title, a draft abstract no longer than 2500 characters, 3-5 bibliographic sources, and a bio no longer than 500 characters to Evan Torner at etorner@german.umass.edu by August 10.

cfp categories: 
film_and_television
humanities_computing_and_the_internet
popular_culture
twentieth_century_and_beyond