Noli Timere Draconem – How TRPGs Create Space to Play with Fear and Collaborative Storytelling


In the digital era, and the fourth industrial age, agency and ownership of storytelling has been shifting. How might we deal with the fears that bubble in these stories? The hypothesis of this doctoral research is that imagination is ‘eventified’ within roleplaying gameplay and can be shaped like a theatre performance, and therefore studied as performance. This study experiments with concepts of authorship and liveness, in an information age where engagement with entertainment and narrative is located more often within digital (or analog) games.This paper is an exploration of how dramatisation in the future of globalised society has moved from the proscenium-stage to the immersive stage-space. Key theorists in roleplaying-as-performance are Sarah Lynn Bowman and Jane McGonigal. The former claims that role playing games, “impose limitations on imagination and enactment through rules, norms of the play culture, and genre considerations… role-players enact their characters mainly for their own edification and in order to engage with one another… Therefore the expectations of performativity are different in role-playing” (2015: 5-6).This study therefore argues that the space of the ‘theatre of the mind’s eye’, the imaginative playground of collaborative storytelling – more often than not, around a simple table - can engage player identities in such a way as to practice/‘rehearse’ roles/stereotypes; or alternate solutions to problems. This particular presentation of the research focuses on one core question: How does improvisation contribute to a sense of imagined embodiment in creating alternate realities and alternate selves?

Author Information
Tristan Jacobs, AFDA, South Africa

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2018
Stream: Arts - Performing Arts Practices: Theater, Dance, Music

This paper is part of the ECAH2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon