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 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.
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 2003 & 2005 Conference, DAC 2003 & 2005, TIDSE 2004, Interactive Storytelling 2003 & 2005, Other Players 2005, Interactive Entertainment 2005 & 2006, Seminar on Playing Roles (Tampere University, Finland, 2006) and the Strange Convergences seminar (University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, 2006), have focused on roleplaying. Furthermore, presentations at game development conferences (e.g. the ACE, GDC, FuturePlay conferences) and elsewhere, have demonstrated a snowballing research and development environment; this being either focused on role-playing or related to it, for example 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, are active in forming theories of role-playing games, producing content of high quality. Discussions of role-playing games and associated research are also carried out on these forums, and on online forums such as Terra Nova. The Scandinavian Knutepunkt conferences, running since 1997, have produced five volumes containing RPG theories and practical methods, the latest in 2006.
A massive, global community of knowledge networks, e.g. role-playing gamers, actors, larp’ers, 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, there is surprisingly little communication between them. One of the primary aims of the IJRP will be to facilitate and promote inter-network communication. In summary, the study and development of role-playing and related aspects draw researchers from a wide variety of academic fields, industry interest from e.g. game development, has a huge popular theory following and a wide hobby base, which points to the potential for a broad market basis for a journal of this focus. It would appear that there is now a supply chain strong enough to support a journal on role-playing, and that the potential market for such a journal is more than wide enough to justify its existence.