Gaming, World Building, and Narrative

This paper reports on the findings from an experimental creative writing course entitled “Gaming, World Building, and Narrative” that incorporated digital and tabletop role-playing game principles to teach fiction writing. Students studied the narrative unit operations (Bogost 2006) present in short fiction, films, and the videogame Fallout 3 before collaboratively creating an immersive fictional world by populating a wiki with items, locations, and characters. Students explored their newly created world through tabletop role-playing campaigns and wrote vignette-length stories from their characters’ perspectives. Students strongly preferred this approach to the traditional workshop method commonly used in creative writing classes, citing stronger understanding of character and motivations as well as the significant benefits derived from collaborative writing. Role-playing also fostered a strong and supportive community for student writers. Despite institutional challenges, role-playing games offer a compelling way to improve current fiction writing pedagogical practices and encourage new modes of collaborative writing.

Using Role-playing Games to Teach Fiction Writing
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