CONTEXTCreated for THE LAST ONLINE SHOW! 2021 MFA thesis exhibition.
PEOPLESam Malabre : Game Designer
Game Pieces works through ideas about Tabletop Roleplaying Games [RPGs] in a society [the US] that weaponizes its media and militarizes its culture—games included. It begins with wargames, a common ancestor of RPGs and other military themed games, like First-Person Shooter video games. It then argues that many of the structures of RPGs are derived from wargames, and that this military origin can serve as a foundation for interrogating the practice of designing RPGs.
By beginning with this military origin, and the logic of game design it imparts, Game Pieces questions dominant understandings of RPG design that draw common cause between RPG design and game design more broadly. Dominant understandings of RPG design focus on incentivizing specific actions, eliciting specific reactions, positioning the priorities of the rules [game text] and the goals of the game designer as both a system for play and a moral authority.
Game Pieces presents RPGs as games that rely on players to interpret and enact a game text, and thus enable players and designers to explore themselves as people, the games they play, the systems their society gamifies, and their relation to those systems.