The aim of The International Journal of Role-Playing is to act as a hybrid knowledge network, and bring together the varied interests in role-playing and the associated knowledge networks, e.g. academic research, the games and creative industries, the arts and the strong role-playing communities.
The International Journal of Role-playing is an international, double-blind peer-reviewed scholarly journal that examines all facets of role-playing for an audience of academics, developers, and role-players themselves. Issues appear online once or twice annually, with a rolling deadline for submission of new content. Founded over a decade ago, the IJRP continues to serve as a platform for documentation and analysis of role-playing games as a global cultural phenomenon that straddles the traditional and the transgressive, the analog and the digital, individual and community, as well as theory and praxis. The journal is Open Access that charges neither authors nor readers any fees. Authors retain the right to use their published articles elsewhere, given the mention of the IJRP as the original publication channel.
The journal was founded as a response to a growing need for a place where the various fields of role-playing research and development, covering academia, the games industry, the arts and the strong non-academic role-playing communities that exist worldwide, can exchange knowledge and research, form networks and communicate. While IJRP articles are subject to academic peer-review, we encourage an exchange of ideas from these various fields.
Since the release of D&D in 1974 Fantasy role-playing games in its many incarnations (tabletop, LARP, MUD and MMORPGs, mixed reality role-playing games) became an important cultural phenomenon in Europe, America, Asia and Australia. Over the last years role-playing-focused (or related) studies and development projects are increasingly common in the games studies field, in game development and outside these two areas. Role-play is a much broader concept than fantasy role-play, which means we can also find role-play and role-play research in the context of theatre, interactive storytelling, therapy, education, training etc.
Within academia, recent presentations at the DiGRA Conference (2003, 2005, 2014, 2015); DAC 2003 & 2005; TIDSE 2004; Interactive Storytelling 2003 & 2005; Other Players 2005; Interactive Entertainment 2005 & 2006; Seminar on Playing Roles (Tampere University, Finland, 2006); Strange Convergences seminar (University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, 2006); the Role-Playing in Games seminar (Tampere University, Finland, 2012); and the Living Games Conference (New York, 2014 and Austin, Texas, 2016) have focused on role-playing. Furthermore, presentations at game development conferences (e.g. the ACE, GDC, FuturePlay conferences) and elsewhere, have demonstrated a snowballing research and development environment. These presentations feature content either focused on role-playing or related to it, e.g. augmented reality gaming and social studies.
In the semi-academic and popular area, online communities such as The Forge, Places to Go People to Be, RPG.net, GameDev.net, were active in forming theories of role-playing games, producing content of high quality. Discussions of role-playing games and associated research were historically carried out on these forums, and on online forums such as Terra Nova. The Nordic Knutepunkt conferences, running since 1997, have produced volumes containing RPG theories and practical methods since 2001. Currently, social media networks such as Facebook and Google+ have become the most popular locations for discussion of role-play theory and practice.
A massive, global community of knowledge networks, e.g. role-playing gamers, actors, larpers, computer game players, artists etc. constitute a vibrant part of mainstream culture, which has given rise to numerous gaming conferences, thousands of role-playing clubs and societies etc. The associated industry is especially significant in the USA and Europe, with Asia and Australia forming other important markets for role-playing associated products. However, despite the presence of these knowledge networks, surprisingly little communication occurs between them.
Similarly, role-play studies has blossomed as a field in its own right, as evidenced by the upcoming Role-Playing Game Studies: Transmedia Foundations textbook, edited by Sebastian Deterding & José Zagal. Planned for 2019 publication by Routledge, this book examines digital and analog role-playing from a wide variety of historical, theoretical, and methodological perspectives. The IJRP has a similar goal, encouraging the analysis of role-playing games from interdisciplinary fields and lenses. Thus, the primary aim of the IJRP is to facilitate and promote communication between all of these networks, while maintaining high academic rigor and standards for research.