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Accepted Paper:

Around the table, a world of one's own: Tabletop roleplaying games and the collective narrative creation of a future after climate collapse  
Kellynn Wee (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

My research on roleplaying games investigates collective narrative practices and contingency in Singapore. Collaborating with a producer to develop a solarpunk game set in a post-climate collapse Asia, I show how games enable people to explore alternative ways of thinking about the future.

Paper long abstract:

A renewed focus on multimodal anthropology invites us to consider anthropological production not in the form of single-authored textual exegeses but as “encounters in which the unexpected, the unforeseen, and the otherwise may be coproduced” (Dattatreyan and Marrero-Guillamón 2019). Focusing on tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) in Singapore, my research investigates collaborative narrative practices and how they relate to experiences of contingency in everyday life. Part of my research involves a collaboration with a game producer to develop a solarpunk game set in a post-climate collapse Asia. The game is designed to reflect a politics of hope rather than apocalyptic despair; its setting invites us to approach crises with a sense of possibility, and reflects resource distribution and ideological systems that call into question current social realities. Its mechanics make popular TTRPGs’ valorisation of wealth accrual and combat as methods of advancement both explicit and ironic, offering a metatextual challenge to implicit assumptions of how we, as players and as people, are and can be in the world. I unravel how tabletop roleplaying games, as a method of knowledge production as well as a tool for research, create open and generative spaces for people to collectively create alternative ways of thinking about the future. I propose that games are a way of inviting others to participate in encounters of knowledge production not as researcher/subject, or even as creator/audience (as implied in mediums such as films, exhibitions or installations), but as players and co-creators, with generative, unexpected and protean outcomes.

Panel P43a
Lateral Ethnographies: Exploratory Knowledge Production, Speculative Fictions, and Alternative Future-Making
  Session 1 Friday 10 June, 2022, -