Having just written a rather academic answer, I'm again at the point where I'm wondering if I can make RPGs a genuine research output.

I'm prepared to, over the next 8 months, try to find a journal willing to do a special topics issue on RPGs if I can have 8-12 people who are willing and able to contribute academic papers on the topic of RPGs. (What specific facet of RPGs is... somewhat open to interpretation and will be coordinated with the authors.)

If you have an idea for a paper that's around 6-8k words (including references), please leave it in the answers. If we can get enough, then I'll feel comfortable trying to get a special issue and peer reviewers lined up.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd be willing but I am certainly not able - never written an academic paper even in my native language. \$\endgroup\$
    – Maurycy
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ To that end, you may be interested in finding a local acaemic with research interests in this area and collaborating with them. Domain expertise is just as valuable to researchers as is a knowledge of the formalisms of academic writing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 5, 2013 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ With that said, the intent of this special topics is to advance the state of academic knowledge of RPGs, RPG design, and RPG theory. As it is an academic persuit, it will be peer reviewed as any journal would be, and we will have no formal provision for "student papers." Though I have no plans of rejecting anything save for its content and writing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 5, 2013 at 23:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't know if I can contribute material, but I'd be game to contribute peer reviewing and editing. This sounds really interesting. \$\endgroup\$
    – LitheOhm
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dammit!!! I do not have free time to spend doing this... So, I'll limit myself to two papers. ^_~ +1 \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 14, 2013 at 10:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I swear there was a journal or equivalent that discussed roleplaying games... perhaps I'm mistaken? I bet Ron Edwards would know. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 23:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's the IJRP, but that doesn't fit my targeted idea of RPG pragmatics. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 16, 2013 at 0:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe Are you thinking of Push, perhaps? I believe it only ever saw one issue, sadly. It's less academic, or academic in a different direction, than I think Brian is thinking though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 19, 2013 at 3:45

4 Answers 4


Obviously, I'd work up the two RPG-theory papers I'm sitting on:

Brian Ballsun-Stanton, Ernest Mueller, C Ross Eskridge (2012) Clerics , Magic Users , Fighters and Thieves : Theoretical Approaches to Rules Questions on the Role-Playing Games Stack Exchange.

Brian Ballsun-Stanton, Samuel Russell (2012) Constrained Optimization in Dungeons and Dragons : A Theory of Requirements Generation for Effective Character Creation.


Of the top of my head I would be interested in writing an article on issues of authorship and authenticity in the Encounter Critical hoax, connecting it to the originary anxieties of the Old School Renaissance.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That is an article I'd be very interested to read. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 19, 2013 at 3:46

Title: Topics in running systemless RPG

Abstract RPG systems have evolved from war games and the rules (or system) were expended to model the world. Over the years, this modelling have changed to include modelling story telling or doing away with dice or simplifying the model to a few skills. This paper shall focus on specific topics in doing away with a system altogether or systemless including character creation and development, in-game conflict resolution, and general pitfalls.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Co-authors are most welcome. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 14, 2013 at 10:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ How is this not making a system? \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 23:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ It depends on your definition of what a system is... \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 16, 2013 at 6:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to address the definition of system as a preliminary topic in the paper. In particular, peer reviewers may bring up Vincent Baker's formulation ("System is what we do."), so addressing and disposing of contrary definitions in favour of your own definition foundation may be helpful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 19, 2013 at 3:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: Thank you for your feedback. If this project goes forward, I shall do that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 20, 2013 at 7:12

Title: A statistical analysis of combat or why your system (probably) sucks at modelling combat

Abstract: A statistical analysis of a few combat system taking (i) a Muay Thai boxing match and (ii) a marines gun battle in Afghanistan as examples of why the modelling used in most RPG fails to model reality. A new approach to modelling combat will be described and offered as an alternative. Note that the point that not all systems are created to model reality shall be taken into considerations.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Co-authors are most welcome. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 14, 2013 at 10:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Be careful you don't imply that RPGs should model reality. Some aren't trying to, they're just trying to model what's fun (whether that's overly lethal or not at all). Since they're games, that's kinda the point. I like it though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 14, 2013 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Indeed, I fully agree with you there. Answer edited to make that clear. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 14, 2013 at 14:40

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