What I’m doing this week

Part of my life is being manager of the Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research. Every week the researchers get together and there’s a presentation of some sort or another.
This week, I’m doing one. I’m not a cross-cultural researcher, but I am a giant geek. So:

Playing culture: Dungeons & Dragons, fantastic ethnicity, and the undisciplined mimetic imagination

For several decades, intercultural education has made productive use of interactive exercises, role-plays and simulations. These “infinite games” offer a way to explore and practise cultural interaction in a way that is immersive, memorable and supportive of exploration. Such engagements are carefully managed with inductions and post-experience briefings to contextualise what has taken place.

However, there exists a vibrant strain of parallel activity that is purely informal. For forty years, small groups of people have gathered together and imagined intercultural experiences without any inductions, briefings, or contextual guides. Tabletop role-playing games use an infinite game structure for the shared creation of character-based narrative fiction, and intercultural engagements often feature. In this presentation, I’ll describe how these games have presented and explored culture, and how innovative techniques are opening new possibilities for playing culture. To explore some of these ideas, a prototype for a new game based directly on cross-cultural research will be presented for discussion and feedback.

Happening Thursday. Should be fun.

3 thoughts on “What I’m doing this week”

  1. Open to the public?

    Indie-focussed? Or “look at the Gazetteers”?

    I guess there are some pretty odd ideas out there, like Earthdawn’s “everything is magic” or the various incarnations of Runequest, or the various Traveller races. I remember advice in the Vargr sourcebook about how to try and see humans as the Vargr do… I think they compared it to the Western stereotype of Imperial Chinese, opaque and rule-driven.

    (Hmm. It might be interesting to go back and re-read the Zhodani/Imperium stuff now that we’ve moved away from the Cold War, and our point-of-view has changed.)

    Are you looking at a game system that tries to maximize Colour?

  2. I’d call it semi-public. Small room that will be full of the usual research crowd. So other people will have to wait to get their hands on my notes…

    Its a tour through how culture has been handled in RPGs (clue: badly). Looks at technology used: for most of gaming, a laundry-list/anthropological descriptive style for culture, which doesn’t lend itself to successful cross-cultural experience because who actually reads all that stuff? And looks at indie style techniques for ways to do culture more successfully.

  3. You should recall the inter-cultural relationships between female drow/elves and a (surprisingly diplomatic!) rock and/or roll barbarian!

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