The Bethesda Style, 2: Progression by Performance

Jun 06, 18 The Bethesda Style, 2: Progression by Performance

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I apologize for not replying to comments on the first post of this series! I’ll remedy that now, and promise to be more vigilant with this post! Digital RPGs have a wide variety of ways to allow the player-performer to progress their player-character towards greater prowess. The process is universally referred to as leveling...

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The Bethesda style of oral formulaic epic, part 1

May 22, 18 The Bethesda style of oral formulaic epic, part 1

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In a series of essays starting in 2004 and including a series of posts here on Play the Past, I’ve described player-performance in adventure games of various genres as examples of what Albert Lord, in The Singer of Tales, the seminal work on oral formulaic composition of homeric epic, calls thematic recomposition. Briefly put,...

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Games as Text and K12 Social Studies

Jan 01, 14 Games as Text and K12 Social Studies

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I’m often asked by colleagues who know my interest in games in education to suggest a game students can play that will teach them some particular set of knowledge or skills. “Do you know any iPad games that can teach quadratic equations?,” or “Has anyone made a game about conjugating Spanish verbs?” While these games may...

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Plundering the Past: Historical Tech in the Science Fantasy RPG Numenera

Oct 23, 13 Plundering the Past: Historical Tech in the Science Fantasy RPG Numenera

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The cat’s meow in tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) for the last several months has been Monte Cook’s Numerera. Set one billion years in Earth’s future during a time known as the Ninth World, Numenera is a Kickstarter-funded science fantasy RPG that embraces as its core concern one of the fundamental dynamics of most tabletop...

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Historical Hit Points 3: A Gen Con Interlude

Sep 06, 12 Historical Hit Points 3: A Gen Con Interlude

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Three week ago, I set off with some gaming buddies on a five hour road trip to Indianapolis, Indiana, to attend Gen Con, the largest RPG gaming convention in the United States. Billing itself as “The Best Four Days in Gaming,” the con is a gigantic gaming whirlwind of crowds, cosplay, and commerce that takes over central...

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