mercredi 20 septembre 2017

Defence wargaming handbook [excerpt]

Defence wargaming handbook is a very good and open-access introduction to what is a wargame and how to design it for training and learning purposes. Wargames were at the origins of the first role-playing game (D&D).

About the determining the outcomes of players decisions (free, rigid, semi-rigid or minimal/consensual adjudications), role-playing is cited as a tool and a technique that can be used to support adjudication (p.44) :
« Role play. Defence wargames sometimes include an element of role play, but are rarely role-play-only. Role play can exert a strong influence towards free, or even consensual/minimal, adjudication. Constraining role-play actor interactions can reduce the influence, but that risks lessening the benefits of role play (free thinking creativity). The ultimate expression of role play is completely open-ended games featuring consensual adjudication. There is some evidence,[footnote] when considering human conflict situations, that role play is a better predictor of outcomes than either a single ‘expert’, or game theory, or simulated interaction and unaided judgement for forecasting decisions in conflicts. »
[footnote = Green, K. C. (2005). Game theory, simulated interaction, and unaided judgement for forecasting decisions in conflicts: Further evidence. International Journal of Forecasting, 21(3), 463–472. You can download an earlier open-acces version here on SSRN]

vendredi 15 septembre 2017

D&D in prison... which kind of escapism ?


For inmates, tabletop role-playing games can be an important leasure activities.
  • « Above all, without fail, any gang ties, religious obligations or racial affiliations are superseded by the game. (...) Dungeons and Dragons is my rehabilitation that I can deal with to escape into my own reality to solve my own problems. » (1)
  • An inmate's justification of pencil-stabbing an inmate who was repeatedly interupting his game: « In the facility, we have three hours a day of pod time where we have access to the tables and we're not locked down. So we have very little time to game and this time has to be shared with phone calls, showers, etc. » (1)
  • Inmates can be ingenious to build DIY dice (2).

For the US penal system, TRPGs can be an activity that :
  • can lead to gang behavior, the « players looking at the Dungeon Masters, rather than to the prison's own carefully constructed hierarchy of authority.» (3)
  • « games like D & D can impede rehabilitation (...) could foster an inmate's obsession with escaping from the real life, correctional environment » (3)
  • can promote « competitive hostility, violence, and addictive escape behavior, which can compromise not only the inmate's rehabilitation and effects of positive programming » (3)
  • can be banned because « punishment is a fundamental aspect of imprisonment, and prisons may choose to punish inmates by preventing them from participating in some of their favorite recreations. » (3)


If escapism is a strategy of avoidance, in this case « distraction from the suffering one has caused » (1), boreness of the prison,...  Frode Stenseng (4) found out it can lead to negative outcomes. He named this strategy self suppression escapism. [NB : Others comment it can also lead to positive outcomes, especialy in prison where boredom can lead to psychopathologies (5)]
If escapism is a framework for seeking new skills and improving personality, in this case
developing cooperative behavior, communicating, practicing simple math skills, using active imagination, playing the role of a character who experiment personal growth,... it can lead to positive outcomes. Stenseng named this strategy self-expansion escapism.



(1) Dragons in the Department of Corrections
(2) How Inmates Play Tabletop RPGs in Prisons Where Dice Are Contraband
(3) source: US Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit; with Google Scholar, search Case Law with "Singer v Raemisch". Context: in 2010, the court affirmed a judgement about the ban of D&D game and material in prison.
(4) U Oslo, Psychology.
(5) How to survive solitary confinement.  
Other sources used : When Dragons Plays Dungeons + Zotero database > History of RPG > RPG bashing and defense > prison.

Social Workers’ Perceptions of the Association Between Role Playing Games and Psychopathology [peer reviewed article]

Ben-Ezra, Menachem, Eric Lis, Agata Błachnio, Lia Ring, Osnat Lavenda et Michal Mahat-Shamir. « Social Workers’ Perceptions of the Association Between Role Playing Games and Psychopathology ». The Psychiatric Quarterly, 2017, 1‑6. doi:10.1007/s11126-017-9526-7.
The more social workers (n=130) know about RPGs like D&D, the less they see a connection between the use of RPGs and any psychopathology listed in the DSM-IV-TR.

This study follows 2 previous studies: Psychiatrists’ Perceptions of Role-Playing Games & Psychiatrists’ Perceptions of World of Warcraft and Other MMORPGs. The 2 studies were made from the same survey targeting psychiatrists practionners of the McGill U hospital network. They could have a response bias : 48 responded on 160. 22% of the psychiatrists who answered perceived a link between RPGs with mental health problems (such as depression, social anxiety...).23% once played RPGs, 6% in the last 6 months.

vendredi 8 septembre 2017

Role Immersion in a History Course: Online versus Face-to-Face in Reacting to the Past [peer-reviewd article]

Buchanan, Thomas C. and Edward Palmer. « Role Immersion in a History Course: Online versus Face-to-Face in Reacting to the Past ». Computers & Education 108 (2017), 85‑95. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2016.12.008.
Reacting to the past (RTTP) is a teaching technique based on historical non-costumed role-playing characters in debate scenarios.
It is costy because its a face-to-face technique. Authors find out making the role-play online has the same effect on learning, but the students like it less. For better students satisfaction, they suggest a mixed format, blending online techniques (preparation for the scenarios, video presentations, discussions) with face-to-face techniques (sophisticated negociations and decision-makings).
Notes: 2nd & 3rd year university students in Australia (n=51+87); a very good literature review.