Author: Roger Travis

Roger Travis is Associate Professor of Classics in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages of the University of Connecticut. He is also the Director of the Video Games and Human Values Initiative (, based at UConn, an interdisciplinary online nexus for online courses and scholarly activities like fellowships, symposia, and the initiative’s Proceedings, of which Travis is the editor. He received his Bachelor’s degree in classics from Harvard College, and his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley before arriving at UConn in 1997. He has published on Homeric epic, Greek tragedy, Greek historiography, the 19th C. British novel, HALO, and the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game He has been President of the Classical Association of New England and of the Classical Association of Connecticut. He writes the blog Living Epic ( about his discovery of the fundamental connection between ancient epic and the narrative video game. In the 2009-2010 academic year, Travis offered the first courses ever designed entirely as practomimes (see for detail), a form of serious game.

Cards from the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

The analogy is imperfect, but if we compare that difference in progression style between the epics to the different kinds of scenario deck(s) in the LCGs, and the difference among books (really, more properly, oimai [‘threads’]) within the epics to the different mechanics in each game among differing scenarios, the broad shape of a comparison begins to appear. Continue Reading

Cards from the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

The LCG’s unique way of doing epic — that is, of allowing its player to perform their own recomposed elaborations of the storyworlds’ narrative materials — stems from the nexus of the ludic and the narrative to be found in these scenario-making cards. There’s a deceptively simple comparison to be made with what we know as the books of the Iliad and the Odyssey, which almost certainly originate in individual songs that a bard might have sung on a given occasion.Continue Reading

Cards from the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

Let’s start with the cards themselves. They work like epic formulae (e.g. the “cunning” in “cunning Odysseus”) but with game-mechanics, and with pictures, some of them lovely and some merely serviceable. In homeric epic, certain formulae — the epithets every student remembers, like podas okus “swift-footed,” periphron “thoughtful,” and polumetisContinue Reading

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 universallyContinue Reading

In this post I’ll expand on some points I made in my last. By opening out the notion of Socrates as fundamentally a participant interactive performances (that is, like his fellow Athenian elites, steeped in a culture founded on homeric epic), I mean to launch the principal argument of this post-series/book.Continue Reading

I’m glad to say that I have real hope of starting to contribute to PlaythePast again. I’m working on a book I’m excited about, though I have no idea whether it will ever actually emerge in any traditional “book” format. In any case, I’m going to start broaching the subjectContinue Reading