Emotional and Psychological Safety in TRPGs and Larps (2020/03/15; 2020/09)


Physical safety has played an important role for larp practices worldwide, especially concerning boffer-weapons. The introduction of a safety seal by the Japanese larp association CLOSS, directly after larp increased in popularity in Japan, attests to the concern about bodily harm. Recently, the attention is moving towards questions of emotional and psychological safety: Pre-game workshops, post-game debriefings, and various calibration tools have become a cornerstone of Nordic larp discourse but also in other regions and fields of role-playing. This first issue of the journal seeks to link the mostly English-language discourse to related concerns in the Japanese context and extend the discussion to table-top/talk role-playing games and other connected practices. The need for a safe environment to immerse oneself into a role-playing game requires continued interrogation, especially considering the increasing trend of pedagogical and applied forms of role-playing game practices.

We seek submissions that address practical questions of creating safe environments, the use of calibration tools for larps and TRPGs, and concerns of in-game/out-of-game relationships between players and player communities. This issue is particularly interested in best-practice examples from within but also outside Japan and thus welcomes also translations of existing scholarship that so far is not available in English or Japanese. We also seek papers dealing with epistemological and ethical questions of what emotional and psychological safety entails in a transcultural context when players of different backgrounds and playstyles come together. Furthermore, we welcome contributions addressing questions of cultural appropriation and games in which majority members play people of marginalized or minority groups, such as LGBTQI or people of colour. This area connects to questions about a safe environment, where everyone feels at home.

In addition, we seek pieces that explore directly questions of safety in TRPGs. So far, this discussion took mostly place in relation to avant-garde larp, where participants seek extraordinary experiences in extreme situations, such as occupation by a hostile force or a plague during a nuclear winter. With the widespread success of the horror genre in Japan, which works as a new motor of player recruitment, many new TRPG players have to deal with similarly emotionally taxing situations. Thus, we encourage articles addressing the psychological safety of such new players and the horror genre as well as tools specifically designed for TRPG play. This field thus encourages also submissions about game design (for TRPGs and larps), such as transparency against possible triggers.

We also welcome pieces focused on applied role-playing game studies and projects using analog RPGs in the classroom or in therapy. This issue invites the publication of calibration tools and educational material, including class syllabi.

Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • Calibration techniques and tools
  • Definitions of safety in role-playing games
  • Workshops and debriefings
  • Accessibility (e.g., barrier-free larps)
  • Triggers in role-playing games
  • Transparency vs. surprise plots
  • PTSD-safe play
  • Bleed In/Bleed Out (e.g., Post-Play-Depression)
  • Youth protection/safe space to explore
  • Sexualized or sexualizing content
  • Violence (in/out-of-game)
  • Missing stairs (in communities; Yes means Yes/No means No)
  • Issues of racism/sexism/ableism
  • Playing minorities (LGBTQI, PoC, mental illness)
  • Shaming (bodies, religions, status)
  • Transculturality vs. cultural appropriation
  • RPG methodologies in the classroom

Submission guidelines
The Japanese Journal of Analog Role-Playing Game Studies (JARPS, https://jarps.net) is a bilingual, peer-reviewed journal published by the Japanese Association for Role-Playing Game Studies. JARPS publishes articles under a Creative Commons license about (primarily) non-digital (“analog”) forms of role-playing, with a focus on table-top/table-talk role-playing games (TRPG) and live-action role-play (larp) in and from Japan but in a global context. JARPS welcomes academic articles of varying scope as well as other forms of contributions, such as educational material, best-practice guidelines, and practical case descriptions.

Original Article: New research. Peer reviewed, ca. 6,000 words (English) or 12-15,000 characters (Japanese).
Theoretical Article: Conceptual essay. Peer reviewed, ca. 6,000 words (English) or 12-15,000 characters (Japanese).
Case Report: A hands-on report and/or best practice example. Peer reviewed, ca. 4,500 words (English) or 8-12,000 characters (Japanese).
Educational Material: Tools useful for teaching or calibration. Peer reviewed, ca. 4,500 words (English) or 8-12,000 characters (Japanese).
Essay: Non-academic article or symposium report. Editor review, ca. 3,000 words (English) or 4-6,000 characters (Japanese).
Book Review: Discussion of publications on safety. Editor consultation, ca. 1,500 words (English) or 2-3,000 characters (Japanese).

Please visit JARPS’s website (https://jarps.net) for complete submission guidelines, or e-mail the editors with questions or inquiries at editors@jarps.net.

Due Dates: Please send an e-mail expressing your intent to submit a contribution until January 15, 2020, to issue_1@jarps.net, including the section (theory, case, material etc.) and topic of your contribution to allow for a timely reviewer recruitment. Please also state in which language you intend to submit your contribution or if you seek to have the paper published in both languages, English and Japanese. Submission deadline for manuscripts is March 15, 2020, for a publication in early September 2020.