FT 08-A From Dungeons to Azeroth: a History of Role-Playing Games
Michael Abbott, Department of Theater
Humans naturally engage in role-playing from early childhood, immersing ourselves in imaginary worlds, pretending to be superheroes, and playing games like Cops and Robbers. We retain this powerful impulse as adults, and for many years designers and developers have built interactive games that engage this creative part of our nature, enabling us to experience complex stories, create compelling characters, and explore vivid worlds.
This course will consider the historical arc of RPGs, reflecting their origins and evolution from early pen and paper games like Dungeons and Dragons through the development of computer and console games. Special focus will be directed at games that made a notable impact or illustrate important transitions in the evolution of the medium. Students will play and analyze a wide range of RPGs encompassing a variety of gameplay and design variations. We will also read a wide assortment of books, essays, and online texts that consider RPGs in their historical, artistic, and cultural contexts.
Among the games we will examine are: Rogue, Wizardry, the Ultima series, the Final Fantasy series, Earthbound, Planescape: Torment, Fallout, the Legend of Zelda series, Deus Ex, the Elder Scrolls series, Mass Effect, and World of Warcraft.