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The Fantasy Role-Playing Game: A New Performing Art Paperback – March 1, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0786408153 ISBN-10: 0786408154

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 215 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786408154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786408153
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #922,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Daniel Mackay holds an M.A. in performance studies from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert Damen on December 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the first book I have read about role-playing games that both suggests that role-playing games have had some kind of impact outside their own isolated world and, at the same time, cuts deeper into the historical and psychological origins of this peculiar, late-twentieth century phenomenon.
Mackay breaks his book up into four sections. The first examines the history of the role-playing game, particularly in relation to other forms of popular culture: fiction, film, comic books, and computer games. The second section looks at the rules that structure role-playing game. The third section looks at the social relations between players within the performance of the game. The fourth section explores the aesthetics of the rpg and includes a fascinating history of the emergence of fantasy as the key to commercialism that it is today from its humble roots as an object of suspicion in orthodox Christian Medieval Europe.
Mackay does not dumb-down his writing, and I'm sure other role-players, as well as others interested in the history of fantasy, will appreciate this. At times, he gets a bit carried away with his systems of organizing the game and describing it, but that is easily forgiven given the groundbreaking nature of this book. Of critical importance is his treatment of the performance of the role-playing game, and not simply as a game made up of a bunch of rulebooks and a bag of dice. The afterword by Marshall Blonsky is as astute and concise an analysis of fantasy gaming (whatever form it may take) as you'll find anywhere. My only question, why did it take so long for a book like this to hit the shelves?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Daniel Mackay, The Fantasy Role-Playing Game: A New Performing Art (MacFarland and Company, 2001)

The RPG has long been the redheaded stepchild of the gaming world when it comes to serious critical studies. Those few studies that have emerged, while valuable, haven't really looked at the RPG as an art form. Mackay makes an attempt to start a poetics of the role-playing game (it would be hubris, pure and simple, to think a single book could provide a complete poetics of the RPG, and Mackay does not suffer from hubris), a book that other critical observers will be able to build on in the future. In my opinion, for the most part, he succeeds.

The one thing of which most books of critical theory cannot be accused is readability. Mackay does a fantastic job, in most of this book, of keeping it readable; after all, his target audience is not just critical theorists, but role-players as well. He gets into the jargon late in the book, but hopefully by the time the role-players will already be engrossed enough to keep going. And there's another fortunate side effect of the book-- getting more people reading critical theory for fun. Not nearly enough people do that these days; Mackay actually addresses this fact late in the fifth chapter when he talks about the self-referentiality of modern literature, poetry, art, and critical theory.

It's the fifth chapter where Mackay seems to fall off the plant somewhat, though. It becomes obvious that Mackay is of the socialist school of critical theory, though even this comes into question at one point, when he seems to lump socialism in with capitalism as one of the reasons society's going to hell in a handbasket.
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