Studying Gamebooks: A Framework for Analysis
– Marco Arnaudo
Climate Larps: Environmental Design in Nordic Larp
– Laura op de Beke
As we all recover and watch videos of panels we might have missed from the July 2023 Generation Analog conference on “Biased Play,” we take comfort in the fact that long-form written essay format is still alive and well. This issue offers three deep dives into fundamentals of analog game representation: how games tell stories, how games represent complex systems, and how games transcend restrictive, normative categories such as “fun.”
Marco Arnaudo’s essay “Studying Gamebooks: A Framework for Analysis” offers a nuts-and-bolts taxonomy for analyzing non-digital branching narratives, often called “gamebooks” or “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Arnaudo’s essay insists on the materiality of these texts, both in the ways they tell stories and the forms of agency they provide a savvy reader. It lays clear foundations for future study, while never losing sight of the design traditions that produced this form. Another essay on how form and content relate to each other is Laura op de Beke’s “Climate Larps: Environmental Design in Nordic Larp.” Here, we see both op de Beke’s design interventions in the environmental discourse with a game called Leviathan, which has players navigate a steadily-changing landscape and set of resources, as well as the many other forms of environmental engagement in the Nordic larp community. This essay is an invitation for others to critically assess their own climate-change game designs, as well as see themselves in vibrant dialogue with many others. There is, after all, no single way to represent hyper-objects such as climate change and ecological crisis. Finally, Aria Chen’s essay “Towards a Transpacific Future: A Historical Perspective of Board Games in Taiwan” addresses the colonial and ideological history of Taiwanese board games such as the ever-popular Richman. This game, which is oft compared with its predecessor Monopoly, contains within it both the desires and anxieties of a specifically Taiwanese population, requiring Chen to provide an accessible overview of Taiwenese history and engagement with analog gaming.
It is, as always, an honor and a pleasure to put such analyses before the eyes of a broader audience. As always, we appreciate you reading and hope you enjoy this autumnal feast!
–The Editors, September 18, 2023
Featured image “315/366” by Ava R @Flickr CC BY-SA.