Ropecon 2021: Academic Keynote on RPGs of Japan
Keynote about non-digital role-playing games in and from Japan at Ropecon 2021 Academic Seminar, Helsinki, July 30, 2021.
Non-Digital Role-Playing of Japan: Approaching RPGs as a Practice
Date & Time: July 30 (Fri), 9:45-10:45 (EEST)
Location: Zoom (cf. conference website)
With cosplay, the masquerading as fictional characters, being closely linked to Japanese popular culture it came as a surprise in 2010 that live-action role-play was not practiced in Japan when I set out to study non-digital forms of role-playing. This situation has changed dramatically in the past decade, with dozens of new larp clubs organizing events throughout the country (until corona brought a halt to this development). Role-playing games in and from Japan offer complex insights into intermedia citations and cross-media productions as well as adaptation and appropriation.
This presentation will engage the fluidity and multiplicity of these games with a focus on Japan but seeks to avoid an emphasis of unique “Japanese” characteristics because what it means to take on a character in a role-playing game always amounts to a particular, contingent realisation of these practices. Still, the Japanese RPG industry extended these practices in particular ways not explored elsewhere. Thus, the aim of this talk is to trace the transcultural entanglements of RPG practices with a focus on Japan but in a global context, including recent “booms,” such as of Call of Cthulhu or larp. Understanding role-playing games as a network of partially connected practices instead of as a “culture” or “community” made this tracing possible and will be discussed as the theoretical perspective of the study underlying this talk.
Since 1994, Ropecon is the largest non-commercial role-playing convention in Europe organised entirely by volunteers. The three day convention offers a variety of programme suitable for attendees of all ages ranging from tabletop and live-action role-playing games to card games, board games and miniature wargames. In addition to tournaments and other game programme Ropecon also features presentations, panel discussions and workshops on a wide variety of topics related to role-playing games. Two major awards, The Golden Dragon and The Deed of the Year, are presented annually at Ropecon for achievements and contributions to the role-playing game culture in Finland.
Academic Seminar Schedule (July 30, 2021)
All times are Eastern European Summer Time (EEST).
09:30–09:45: Opening words
09:45–10:45: Keynote: Björn-Ole Kamm
11:00–13:00: Session 1
– Harrer & Laiti: Outside the racist nostalgia box: rethinking Afrikan Tähti’s cultural depictions
– Tacq & Barbier: Community resources and authorship: how women authorship can give us an insight on resources mobilization in board games world
– Delgado: Designing Original Position – An investigation into the design process of justice-oriented civic board games
– Prax: Why do we even need Games Workshop? The case of Warhammer 40k on Tabletop Simulator
14:00–15:30: Session 2
– Kaufman: Blades in the Dark as an affective system: an exploration of alternative play and alternative selves
– Apperley: From ‘the fiend factory’ to Fiend Folio: world building and monster design in AD&D
– Torner: From listservs to itch.io – indie tabletop role-playing games as post-digital space
15:30–15:45: Closing words
2020. Role-Playing Games of Japan: Transcultural Dynamics and Orderings. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
2019. Adapting Live-Action Role-Play in Japan—How German ‘Roots’ Do Not Destine Japanese ‘Routes.’ Replaying Japan, no. 1: 64–78.