The Master with a Thousand Faces: Game Mastering, Organizing, Plotting, and Running Analog Role-Playing Games (2022/04/30; 2022/09)

2021-12-20

World builder. Storyteller. Rules arbiter. Plot writer. Director. Facilitator. Actor. Entertainer. Improv expert. Enemy. Caretaker. Group manager. Event host. The game master (GM) fulfills many tasks, takes on many roles, too numerous to count, and thus, has many faces – and also many names. In TRPGs, usually one single GM juggles all the aspects of this role. In larps, we literarily can encounter a thousand faces if we consider mass conventions. Plot-GMs and battle-GMs have direct player contact in mainstream larps, with plot writers and logistics managers working in the background but with equal importance. Many game masters – or storytellers, dungeon masters, keepers – and organizers prepare and host play as a hobby. Increasingly, we encounter professional GMs, for example, in TRPG cafés in Japan or as educational larpwrights working for an NPO. The thousand faces become ten thousand. Contrastingly, some games follow a trend of GM-less play, eschewing this role completely. Still, how individual GMs take on their role or how the game dislocates the game mastering onto rules or the other players, crucially affects the entertainment value of TRPGs and larps or how they can become vehicles to transport messages and learning goals. We believe the time is right to put the GM into the spotlight of academic and practical investigations.

The JARPS 2022 special issue will deal with all aspects of game mastering, focusing on this particular role, but being open also to questions of larp organization or plot writing. Thus, we are seeking papers engaging everything related to game mastering, be it practical questions, best practice examples, philosophical considerations, or investigations into legal or organizational matters. GM here stands in for the individual game master in a single play troupe but also the many writers, organizers, and helpers who represent individual aspects of game mastering in larger events.

JARPS 2022 and the related symposium (scheduled for September 2022 during the annual TRPG Fes) are again part of the Game in Lab RPG Conference Cycle, which in 2022 engages the theme of corporeality(ies) of play and kinesthetic activities within and around gameplay. Thus, we especially welcome contributions dealing with physical and material aspects of game mastering, such as the arrangement of tables, the use of dices, character sheets, props, and costumes, or the GM as an embodiment of game aspects, the GM’s body in larps, the ritualization brought by the GM.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to

  • Technical aspects of game mastering
  • Case reports of GM practices
  • Relationships between players and GMs (including power relations)
  • The role of the GM in specific situations and activities
  • The corporality of the GM
  • Ritualization of game mastering
  • Game mastering in non-GM play
  • Handling of multi-GM play
  • The hidden labor of entertaining
  • Legal aspects of organizing
  • GMs and leadership

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 February 15, 2022, to issue_3@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 April 30, 2022, for a publication in late September 2022.