Abstract

This is a copy of the abstract I submitted to the International PlayTrack 2017 Conference. If I manage to buy a plane ticket, this should give you an idea of the research I intend to present in Denmark at the Aarhus University conference which is funded by the Lego Foundation.

Update: You can contribute to my fundraiser to help buy a plane ticket here. Please do.


This poster will show the results of textual analysis on fifteen larps published during 2012-2017. Having selected fifteen live-action roleplaying games of a similar format, I intend to perform a comparative textual analysis to determine the game designers’ assumptions about play. I have selected five games each from three larp designers, Avery Alder, Caitlynn Belle, and Jackson Tegu. These designers publish 5-16 page American Freeform and experimental larp games through Patreon. Examining quantifiable features like word length, word frequency, sentence length, lexical density, and Gunning Fog Index readability, we can infer several things about play experience of these games.
Every game designer makes assumptions about play. By examining the complexity of the text, we can infer the assumed education level of the player. By cataloguing undefined game terms, we infer what prior game experience the designer assumes for a player. By textual analysis of gender, age, and sensory terms, we can even infer the demographic profile of assumed players.


In addition to assumptions about players, textual analysis also exposes designers’ assumptions about play experience. The explicit rules for play give a skeleton of the designer’s intent for play experience. Various textual features flesh out that play experience. The number of phases or scenes in the game, the number and length of instructional steps for those phases, the ratio of procedural text to diagetic text on each page—even the presence or absence of game art—are quantifiable textual features that reveal the author’s intended play experience.

I select these designers and these larps because of their similarity in publication format, year of publication, page length, and game genre. By analyzing the instructional text of a handful of games from Alder, Belle, and Tegu, this poster will visibly, quantifiably indicate similarities and differences in these designers’ intended play experiences.

The Imposters Teaser

“Delve into a world rife with conspiracy and resistance and leave behind your illusions of safety.” —Jeremy Morgan, Editor

Our next book, The Imposters, is coming to Kickstarter tomorrow. Want to support seven game designers who struggle with Imposter Syndrome? Want to get your hands on seven new or revised larps and tabletop rpgs?

The Imposters is an anthology of seven tabletop and live-action roleplaying games from seven different designers. Some of these games are brand new; some are revised and updated versions of games that have won prestigious indie gaming awards like the ENnies, Golden Cobra, and the 200WordRPG contest. All seven games offer a play experience you’ve never had before.

 

For example, the anthology contains “They’re Onto Me” by Banana Chan, a game about paranoia and the possibility that your co-workers have been replaced by duplicates. You can watch two run throughs of “They’re Onto Me” on Youtube now.

Here is the short version of a “They’re Onto Me” run by my friend, Norwegian larp designer Ole Peder.

This second run of “They’re Onto Me” is by my friend, Filipino rpg designer Tobie Abad.

You can support get your hands on this game and six more like it by backing The Imposters on Kickstarter tomorrow. Information Day, 4/11. #RUready4theTruth?