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Where the Veil is Thin Announced!

Hello folks! So, coming in February, will be a campaign for our latest anthology - Where the Veil is Thin. Featuring stories from David Bowles, Seanan McGuire, Glenn Parris, Shanna Swendson, Gwendolyn N. Nix, L. Penelope, Alethea Kontis, Linda Robertson, Grey Yuen,...

APEX LAUNCHED

Hello everybody! It took us a while, but APEX: Collected Edition is now LIVE on Kickstarter! Thank you for being patient, giving us feedback, and sticking with us while we sorted out all the details to give this the biggest chance of success as possible. We appreciate...

APEX to Launch January 7th!

Hello everybody! We're well aware that we've had multiple announcements for the launch of APEX: The Collected Edition on Kickstarter and apologize for that. We were excited about getting the game back out there and we made announcements prematurely. To that end, I...

Fox & Willow Acquired by Outland Entertainment

Fox & Willow, an online grim fairytale series, has been acquired by Outland Entertainment. Written by Allison Pang and illustrated by Irma ‘Aimo’ Ahmed, Fox & Willow debuted in April 2012 and has maintained a strong fanbase ever since. Following the runaway princess, Willow, and her mischievous fox spirit companion, Gideon, the overarching plot…

APEX Kickstarter Launch Date Revisited

Hello everybody! I know that we announced the hard launch date for the Kickstarter for APEX: Collected Edition yesterday. When we announced that, we felt pretty sure we were ready to roll, but we had a significant amount of feedback on the campaign. Because of how the...

APEX Kickstarter Launch Date!

Okay folks! We finally have news. We're planning to launch the APEX: Collected Edition on Tuesday, December 10th. Here's a preview of the campaign that you can check out before launch!...

Final 20 Hours of The Jötunn War Issue 02 Kickstarter!

The Jötunn War Issue 02 just reached it's primary funding goal on Kickstarter! We're now at the final 20 hours of the campaign and we're hoping to raise funds for issue three! Thank you all so much for your continued support! The Jötunn War is a FOUR ISSUE graphic...

Apex Kickstarter Update

Hello everybody! A quick update on the status of the upcoming Apex Theropod: Deckbuilding Game Collected Edition Kickstarter. We had expected to launch the Kickstarter last week, but it took a little longer than we anticipated to get all the details in from the...

Outland Stock Art on Patreon

Hello folks! We just launched a stock art initiative on Patreon! Outland Entertainment has provided thousands of images to publishers over the years, ranging from black/white quarter page illustration to full color covers, interior artwork, and graphic design. Over...

Outland Entertainment Partners with KickCTRL

Hello folks! I know that things have been a bit quiet most of the last year, but things have been grinding along! We've been looking into ways to correct some of our past mistakes, namely, the extreme mismanagement of our crowdfunding campaigns. We KNOW we have really...
What We Can Learn from Video Games: Tabletop Roleplaying Games as Art

What We Can Learn from Video Games: Tabletop Roleplaying Games as Art

There is an immense community of video game designers that, over the last 10 years, have worked towards furthering video games as an artistic medium. While some of this progress relates directly to the rise of the video game industry, this progress is also the result of artists and designers making a conscious choice to consider video games as an artistic medium.

Despite the relative age of the medium, these efforts have made the argument of video games as art a serious academic discussion. Museums across the United States now consider the value of video game exhibits. Even Roger Ebert has taken up the discussion, lending credence to the debate despite his own conclusion that art cannot be won. While there is significant overlap between the design factors involved in video games and tabletop roleplaying games, efforts to further tabletop roleplaying games as a medium are virtually nonexistent.

How have video game designers made progress furthering videogames as an artistic medium? Here are 2 approaches that may serve as a guidepost for the future of tabletop roleplaying games as a medium.

Tell Different Stories

Designers of video games who want to reach a wider audience have made significant gains by following in the footsteps of comic book creators. In the same way that graphic novels like Maus and Persepolis have transcended the idea that comics and the superhero genre are the same (comic books are not a genre), releasing video games outside of typical genres like Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Phoenix Wright, and Dance, Dance, Revolution has increased the breadth of the video game audience.

Experiment with the Medium

While hardware limitations have always served as a catalyst for creativity in video game design, it has rarely served as the source for major innovation. Instead it has been the role of indie game studios, often on limited budgets, to create innovative game structures. Major studios may occasionally break new ground, as Lucas Arts did with its noir-comedy Grim Fandango, but for each example of innovation from a major studio, there are a dozen indie examples. Developers, thatgamecompany, are perhaps the most well-known, having released the highly experimental Flower and Journey.

Tabletop roleplaying games are a medium that has a significant amount in common with video games. Yet the community of video game designers working to further their medium has no equivalent in tabletop roleplaying games. This isn’t to say that there are none, only that those treating tabletop RPG design as an artform are limited.

These series of posts will discuss tabletop roleplaying games as a medium for artistic expression. The first article in the series can be found here: Why Roleplaying Games “Don’t Get No Respect” Our next instalment will take at tabletop roleplaying games that blur lines between simple game and artwork.

Why Roleplaying Games “Don’t Get No Respect”

Why Roleplaying Games “Don’t Get No Respect”

The first time that I sat in my friend’s basement–polyhedron in hand–I understood that Dungeons & Dragons wasn’t an activity that one advertises. The intense focus on D&D as “satanic training” from the 1980s wasn’t the issue (this was 1991). Mazes and Monsters was simply another brilliant comedic performance by Tom Hanks. While the 12-year-old me couldn’t pinpoint the issue, looking back, I think it was as simple as my subconscious realizing D&D was considered mindless entertainment. Something that “rots your brain,” like comic books or video games.

What constitutes mindless entertainment has changed a lot in 20 years. An entire generation of video game addicts have grown up–brains intact– had kids, and continue to be “gamers” while functioning as productive members of society. Family nights at the Symphony that once consisted of Star Wars and Indiana Jones scores, now include orchestral interpretations of Zelda and Mario. Even the Smithsonian American Art Museum has opened an exhibition that celebrates 40 years of games. While never reaching the commercial heights of video games, it can be argued that comic books have been more successful in claiming the title of art. Gene Luen Yang, author of the graphic novel American Born Chinese, was a finalist for the national book awards in the Young’s People’s Literature category in 2006. An achievement that follows in the footsteps of the special Pulitzer Prize awarded to Art Spiegelman for his book Maus.

Gaining acceptance as an art form is a monumental task. Early novels were seen as the frivolous pastime of aristocratic women. Fantasy novels were labeled as children’s books for decades, despite their intended audiences, and even today’s writers of the fantastic often feel the need to relabel their work as speculative fiction. It seems most mediums and genres are subject to this artistic rite of passage, forcing me to wonder why some forms succeed while others fail.

These series of posts, in the vein of Susana Grilo’s exploration of speculative fiction, will discuss tabletop roleplaying games as a medium for artistic expression. In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, why don’t roleplaying games “get no respect?”