The Broken Game of Peer Review
The Essence of RPGs (2): Rule-play

The Essence of RPGs (1): Children of TSR

Over on ihobo today, the first of a three-part serial looking at what makes a role-playing game. Here's an extract from the first part:

For any given game, its lineage is a network of games (and other artworks) that contribute to the inherent qualities of that game. It is akin to inheritance in biology, except games exchange their constituent elements in a manner more akin to bacteria than to mammals – leading to the impossibility of identifying any strict concepts of genus and species. What’s more, these relationships aren’t best understood in terms of material factors. It may be tempting to relate games by their designs, but this is an abstraction of what is being passed on between games: player practices. Whereas sports are founded upon the principle of conserving such practices over time, most games thrive on experimenting with new combinations of player practices, either by baking them into the artefact by design, or by supporting the creation of new player practices within the accompanying fictional world. Whichever way you look at it, we can’t just treat a game as a sterile material object: an artefactual reading is always an incomplete reading.

You can read the entirety of Part One: Children of TSR over at This serial is dedicated to anyone who has ever played one of my role-playing games, whether on a computer or on a tabletop. Long may these games thrive!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)