Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
The International Journal of Role-Playing (IJRP) aims to be a hybrid network for exchanging knowledge and research about role-playing games among the varied groups interested in role-playing. These groups include academe, the games and creative industries, and role-playing communities [which number among their members actors, larp’ers (live action, role-playing gamers), computer game players, and artists]. With international editorial and review boards, the journal’s stated primary aims is “to facilitate and promote inter-network communication.”
Each issue of IJRP contains an editorial (which usually speaks to the development of the journal and special themes in certain issues) and four to five in-depth articles, mostly by academic authors (from such widely-distant institutions as the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; the Interactive Institute, Sweden; IT University of Copenhagen; Macquarie University, Australia; the University of Heidelberg, Germany; the University of Tampere, Finland; the University of Texas, Dallas; and Uniwersytet Kazimierza Wielkiego, Bydgoszcz, Poland). They are heavily footnoted and referenced, and are written mostly for an academic audience, with articles such as: “Social Conflict in Role-Playing Communities: An Exploratory Qualitative Study,” “A Hermeneutical Approach to Role-Playing Analysis,” “Playing House in a World of Night: Discursive Trajectories of Masculinity in a Tabletop Role-Playing Game,” and “Immersion as a Prerequisite of the Didactical Potential of Role-Playing.”
The journal’s submission guidelines note that each submission must contain a “popular abstract,” that is, “an abstract (which is set aside in an independent text box in the published article), which is written in non-technical, popular language, which addresses the key points of the publication. This abstract is designed as a tool for aiding the cross-platform functionality of the IJRP.” Here is the popular abstract for the article, “Between Game Facilitation and Performance: Interactive Actors and Non-Player Characters in Larps”:
“The challenge of combining narrative and gameplay in live action role-playing games (larps) has been successfully negotiated with the use of runtime game mastering and interactive actors (ractors) performing non-player characters (NPC). Based on expert interviews six functions for the interactive actors (facilitating, content creation, character portrayal, entertaining, playing, safeguarding) are identified and explored. The paper also reviews existing literature on NPCs in larps, and goes on to offer design insights for runtime game mastering. In addition, certain practical aspects of separating non-player characters from the actors who perform them in pervasive games are considered.”
This journal is for those interested in role-playing games on a professional level, and librarians in public libraries and academic libraries will do well to recommend it to researchers active in game development and analysis and those seeking to work in those fields.