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1st colloquium of Rolistics
19th april 2008

In memoriam Gary E. Gygax (1938-2008), his family and RPG fellows...

This colloquium will be held at the Université Paris 11 (France), at the same time than the second gaming convention at the campus (Royaume des Avatars, la Croisée des Légendes, eXpressions Ludiques).

This first symposium aims at setting up the corner stones of a new multidisciplinary fields of research, "Rolistics", that could be defined as "the art and science of roleplaying". Roleplaying can be thus considered as opening both rich artistical questions (being a new kind of literary language), as well as technical, scientifical and even philosophical questions (following its innovative approach of virtuality).

This colloquium would provide space, time and facilities (like this wiki...) to gather roleplaying games (RPG) amateurs & professionals, as well as personnalities from academic communities (cognitive sciences) and artistic communities (theatre, litterature ...), and allow them to exchange and build a new, active and organized community about rolistics topics.

Scientific organization: Marc Torregrosa
Local organization: Philippe Marty
Sponsor: Université Paris 11 ( )


[modifier] Call for participation

To present your work, thoughts, point of view on following topics, 2 possibilities:

  • oral presentation
  • poster

In both cases, please register to our scientific organization ( ) before the 12th april 2008, with following indications:

  • references: name, forename, RPG type (amateur, professional ...), gaming/work place or institution, etc.;
  • presentation title;
  • abstract;
  • electronic paper easy to edit (wordpad, word, open-writer, abiword, latex ... no PDF nor PostScript please...) corresponding to your presentation, which will published within the conference proceedings (single document for download, as well as independant wiki articles).

Note: if you cannot attend the colloquium but wish to publish anyway within our proceedings, this is possible; please follow described registration directions!

If you wish to simply attend without presentation, please join freely, without pre-registration!

Nota Bene : Rolistics or RPG professionals and associations, attending with our without presentation, are also invited to communicate about their activities; some booth places will be available in public areas, common to the colloqium and gaming convention. Please register for a booth to our local organization ( ).

[modifier] Place & Time

The colloqium will be held at the university campus in Orsay (France), building #450, in parallel to the second campus gaming convention (Orsay - XL 2008 federated to the Rencontres Multijeux Essonniennes 2008).

19 april 2008
Bdg. 450
Campus Université Paris-Sud 11
91400 Orsay

Access maps are provided below...

  • Welcome booth starting at 12:00
  • Communications from 13:00 to 19:00
  • Round Table from 20:00 to 21:00
  • Free discussions beyond 21:00...

The spirit of this colloquium being to allow people from miscellaneous origins to meet and establish collaborations, we invite all participants (speakers and free attendees) to attend this event as long as possible and talk together around posters and booth areas during coffe breaks.

[modifier] Programme

[modifier] Welcome Session (12:00-13:00)

In order to allow for optimum presentation quality, we strongly suggest ALL participants to register at the welcome desk (bât. 450) BEFORE 13:00.

[modifier] Talk Sessions (13:00-19:00)

The final programme will depend on answers to the call for participation. Two coffee breaks will allow for some rest and free talks around the posters area, during the afternoon.

Topics which we would like to be discussed:

  • Roleplaying along time:
    • evolution of Roleplaying definition (RP history focused on its definition)
  • Roleplaying Games:
    • standard RPG setup (mise à niveau de l'auditoire pouvant venir d'horizons divers)
    • variants and non-standard games (brief overview: solo and gamebooks / TFAIWYATH, multi-GM and multi-desks, by snail- or e-mail, killer and live / LaRP, video textual or graphical, on line / MUD, massively on line / MMORPG, etc.)
  • other forms of Roleplaying:
    • therapeutical, educational, theatrical freeform, etc. (how do these kind of RP forms differ?)
  • RPG with / without rules:
    • why (origins, pros and cons)
    • technical consequences (how to handle gaming situations?)
  • players's gaming experience: (how players do benefit in particular from their RPG practice?)
    • standard model: socialization / taking control over the tale / excitement of adventures
    • the reality: players' point of view (they will expose and analyse a given gaming situation, which they have lived as a strong human experience)
  • relations between the internal and external natures of Roleplaying:
    • limits to the external perception VS richness of the internal experience
  • RPG as novating literary language:
    • proposals
    • consequences : diffusion of the RPG paradigm into other domains
    • consequences : interaction / improvisation / virtuality paradigms
    • etc.
  • specificities of RPG aesthetical language:
    • why is RPG being specific and not included into other arts?
    • non-exhaustive examples and references to particular topics:
      • theatre: the merging of actors / playwright / public (Grotowski)
      • cinema: the character being self-aware
      • litterature: interactive tale / collective tale
      • tale: opposition to the proppian model

[modifier] Lunch break (19:00-20:00)

Time to go for rest and sandwiches... You'll also be able to participate to social events, related to the gaming convention.

[modifier] Round Tables (20:00 +)

[modifier] mandatory topic: 20:00-21:00

A round table, common to the gaming convention and the colloquium, will give all participants an occasion to freely debate about the relation between the characters and the scenario in which they are involved.

Some (too many?) games are crippled due to mismatch between the story plots and the characters (mainly their motivations to get and keep involved in the story), or even between the characters and the players...

Debating should focus onto this question of players' characters motivations toward the tale (which in turn often determine the players' motivations toward their characters and their roleplay), and more precisely the importance of the characters within the story, their goals and possibilities of achievements, the issues they will face...

Writing advices to scriptwriters, acting advices to players, points of view from amateurs and enlightenment from specialists will be welcome!

[modifier] free talks: 21:00 +

The spirit of this symposium being definitely to allow for the start up of an active community, the building and rooms will remain opened until very late in the evening, so that people wishing to go on debating informally will be able to do so.

Therefore, we kindly invite all participants to plan to attend as long as possible and to extensively use our accommodation facilities!

[modifier] Social events

If you can stay all the week end in the vicinity, you will also be able to:

  • attend the gaming convention (mainly on sunday 20. april) which will be held in parallel to our symposium, in the same building, and hence join free of scheduled RPG and board games desks;
  • visit the University Paris-11 campus at Orsay, a great part of which being ranked as "botanical reserve";
  • do some tourism in Paris...

[modifier] Organization

[modifier] Logistics

Timing for oral presentations: 20 minutes maximum each.

Talks will be held preferably in French, but english contributions are also welcome!

Presentation media could be:

  • purely oral,
  • blackboard (chalk),
  • retro-projector (transparencies),
  • video-projector (to plug onto your personal laptop, or onto that of a local organization member if you've got a standard PDF file on USB key for instance).

Warning: there probably will have no network access within the symposium area.

Posters: A0 format maximu; realization (PDF master for instance) is at the charge of the participant; local printing could be possible at the charge of the participant and provided the master file has been submitted at least 1 week in advance.

[modifier] Fees & Funding

Participating to this symposium (for every kind of attendee as well as for accompagnying persons) is completely free of charge, except for travel and accomodation fees.

On the other hand, we have no fundings for people travelling from far away. Hopefully next year?!...

[modifier] Food

Fast food (sandwiches, sweeties, coffee and other drinks at very low price...) will be available in the gaming convention area.

There are also many french restaurants in the vicinity (at your charge), but participants are invited to stay together at all time, freely discussing around posters or boothes area.

[modifier] Accomodation

Participants who wish to stay until sunday (or later), because of travel schedules or in order to attend the end of the gaming convention, may book (as soon as possible please! email to our local organization a room within the students hall (ca. 10€ for a night) or within a hostel in the vicinity ("les Jardins d'Orsay", "B&B Hotel", "Resid'Ulis"... rooms from 30 to 90€ for a night).

[modifier] Travel

Travel is at the charge of participants.

Access maps:,2.180627&spn=0.000581,0.001403&t=h&z=20&msid=106248986612752189312.00044a268c66a2173f04b

  • by car: national way N118, Orsay town centre exit, there are car parks next to the public baths & pool, at the door of the campus
  • by plane: Paris Charles de Gaulle or Orly airport => train (RER-B)
  • by train: Paris or Massy TGV => train (RER-B)
  • by RER train: line B, southward, Orsay-ville station
  • by foot: from the Orsay-ville RER station, it is straightforward!

[modifier] Rationale

Starting in 1974, Gary Gygax (1938 - 2008) published the first Roleplaying Game (RPG), based on his wargame experiences, and distinguishing itself from Moreno's roleplaying therapeutics.

After more than 30 years of existence, RPG seems to have reached maturity and suggests the richness and originality of innovative and aesthetic semantics.

Shortly after its origins, the RPG got inspiration from theatre, movies and literature. This new medium then smoothly built its own narrative language, following its own rules, whose study now opens a whole new fields. Besides recreational, educational or psychotherapeutics, roleplaying gives possibility for a brand new literary genre in its own right, according to the predictions from playwrights Jerzy Grotowski ( "Towards a Poor Theatre", Simon & Schuster, 1968) and Antonin Artaud in his "Theatre of cruelty". Hence RPG seems to roots into an "art of life experiences rather than an art of representation" (Marc Torregrosa, "Traité de Rôlistique", in preparation).

Besides its literacy dimension, roleplaying also addresses issues in scientific fields, such as:

  • Modeling "actions" (probability of an action being successful in a given situation) following wargames (started in the 70s),
  • Modeling "individuals" (the being and the knowledge, psychological identity and social identity, personality traits useful to the game...) after simulationism (started in the 80s),
  • Modeling "complex human societies" according to narrativism (started in the 90s),
  • The nature of virtuality (in its epistemological aspects rather than technical or computer related...),
  • The nature of the tale (theory of scenario, tree of game plots versus linearity...),
  • Aesthetics (epic, intimate, baroque, neo-realist...),
  • Etc.

Applications are now an issue not only technical and social, but also economical, and are expected to grow: cognitive sciences, modeling and interaction sciences (informatics among others), education, "serious games", industry of narration (video games, movies, literature)...

Some work, scientific as well as artistical, all over the world, is beginning to take the measure of the richness of this area, and to set up framework for a multi-disciplinary theory of roleplaying.

So, perhaps we could be on the same track than the cinema, which rose in a century of entertainment from a minor art to a major one, equal of literature?

This symposium ambitions to allow several communities (cognitive sciences, social sciences, theater, writing, boardgames and video games industries...) getting closer to each other and to contribute to the birth of synergies, including the development of communication tools that will in the future promote sharing and organizing knowledge related to roleplaying and finally the emergence of this new research topic.