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A Storm in Dream Park. The Virtualisation of the German Fantasy Ro

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In this presentation from the IR11.0 on June 15, 2010 in Gothenburg, I report ethnographic findings on the transformation of the German pen-and-paper role-playing scene through the emergence of the …

In this presentation from the IR11.0 on June 15, 2010 in Gothenburg, I report ethnographic findings on the transformation of the German pen-and-paper role-playing scene through the emergence of the Internet and Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games.


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  • 1. A Storm in Dream Park the virtualisation of the german fantasy role-playing scene Sebastian Deterding Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research Internet Research 11.0, Gothenborg, 15.10.2010 c b n
  • 2. Research background
  • 3. • Many studies on individual virtual(ized) fandom communities, few on relations and virtualisation of communities • Assumed happy marriage of Fantasy fandom and MMORPGs • Assumed happy marriage of fandom and the Internet in general Starting points
  • 4. The German RPG Scene fantasy fandom rpg scene larp
  • 5. • Ca. 450.000, in steep decline since late 1990s • Focus: transportation into fantastic transmedia worlds through shared production and reception of artefacts, practices and media • Two value poles: immersionist vs. hedonist The German RPG scene
  • 6. The perfect Dream Park?
  • 7. Do MMORPGs Kill Pen-and-Paper?
  • 8. Do MMORPGs Kill Pen-and-Paper? »Nothing against MMORPGs, but ... I see a black future for good old RPG with pen and paper *whine*. Reason: Youngsters are simply lazy, and media sensory overload destroys their imagination.«
  • 9. • Split between hedonist and immersionist • Conflict narrative: MMORPGs and TCGs siphoning off young players and money • Conservative media critique: MMORPGs as convenient, dumbed-down, shallow, passive, isolating • Romanticist techno-criticism: No space for artistic self-expression in MMORPGs Reactions in the P&P community
  • 10. • Distinct P&P playing style: rich in reference, proper »in-character« behaviours • Self-segregation into »Role-Play Intensive« servers In-MMORPG differentiation
  • 11. The Eternal September http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/S/September-that-never-ended.html
  • 12. MMORPGs and the RPG Scene fantasy fandom rpg scene larp mmorpg 1 scene mmorpg 2 scene mmorpg 3 scene
  • 13. • Fantasy/RPG fandom is a varied landscape differentiated by values and practices online and offline • Single MMORPGs and P&P RPG players form distinct communities • Adoption of Internet is potentially just as disruptive to fandom communities as other social groupings and institutions Conclusions
  • 14. Thanks. sebastian@codingconduct.cc @dingstweets codingconduct.cc License: Creative Commons by-nc/3.0

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