“LET ALL PARTAKE IN THE SUFFERING”: MÖRK BORG as a Visual-Material Toolkit for Fan Remix

Berge PS
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

MÖRK BORG—an ENnie award-winning, heavy-metal, rules-lite tabletop roleplaying game (TRPG)—provides a unique case study into fan-creator and remix culture. Defying the reactionary ethos of other ‘old school revival’ games, MÖRK BORG reimagines the established dungeon crawler in politically subversive ways. Half rulebook, half artbook, MÖRK BORG has engendered an impressive response from fan-designers—eliciting hundreds of hacks, adventures, monsters, and zines. This article explores the MÖRK BORG fandom as an active zine culture and supportive community for new TRPG designers. I analyze how the visual and material design of the MÖRK BORG sourcebook—namely its visual layering, palette, typography, and deathpunk emphasis on illegibility—empowers even novice fan-creators. Pulling from game and feminist media scholars, I argue that MÖRK BORG extends ongoing discussions of punk zine culture to tabletop roleplaying games and serves as an exemplary toolkit for inclusive and remixable analog game design.


Playful Fandom: Gaming, Media and the Ludic Dimensions of Textual Poaching

Mavridou Orion
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This paper discusses the idea that fandom, as the collection of activities and behaviours relating to the fan identity, has a ludic dimension, and that said dimension merits individual inquiry from a game studies perspective. Furthermore, it is argued that there is mutual benefit in exploring the intersection between fan studies and game studies, which has so far been overlooked in research design and direction.


Cosplay – Material and Transmedial Culture in Play

Lamerichs Nicolle
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Through “cosplay” (costume play) fans perform existing fictional characters in self-created costumes, thereby enriching and extending popular narratives. Cosplay is a scarcely studied form of appropriation that transforms and actualizes an existing story or game in close connection to the fan community and the fan’s own identity (Lamerichs, 2011; Newman, 2008; Okabe, 2012; Winge, 2006). The activity can be read as a form of dress up. In the field of game studies, dress up is an often overlooked but significant category of play with its own affordances (Fron, Fullerton, Morie, & Pearce, 2007). While dress up can involve actual costumes or fantasy play, it is also encouraged in digital games and their user-generated content. Customizable characters and “dollhouse” structures in The Sims series are but one example (Wirman, 2011). Similarly, cosplay provides the player with the joys of make-belief and productive play. This paper explores the possibilities of reading the costume itself as a product that facilitates performance and play. I analyze cosplay as a transmedial activity that is constructed at different online and offline sites through small-scaled ethnography and close-reading. The transmediality of cosplay is foregrounded in the methodology that, rather than adopting a player-centered approach, construes a cultural reading that involves both participants and spectators (e.g., photographers, fans, media professionals or outsiders such as parents). Through two case-studies, I focus on the costume’s materiality and emerging performances. The first case details the materiality of cosplay through its consumption culture. Cosplay blurs the relations between labor and play. The activity takes shape at fan conventions but also increasingly at promotional events of the industry itself. Costumes are commodified by fans themselves as well that sell their cosplay photos, commission their dress from others or buy parts of them. Increasingly, costumes and accessories are sold over platforms as eBay and Etsy which will illustrate the dynamics between commerciality and creativity. The second case explores the visuality of the costume through its mediation. While the costume can be experienced first-hand at convention sites, it is also remediated in photography, for instance, thereby extending its potential audience and performative possibilities. I exemplify this transmediality through cosplayer music videos (CMV) that are commonly produced at convention sites. These rich videos are created by and for fans and juxtapose different cosplayers and texts. Informed by work on other fan videos such as “machinima” (Lowood & Nitsche, 2011) I propose a reading of a selected corpus of videos. Thus, this study analyzes the dynamics of costume culture as it transcends the convention grounds.


All Your Base Are Belong To Us: Videogame culture and textual production online

Simons Iain Newman James
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This paper examines the practices and activities of videogame fans online. In scrutinising a variety of player-produced texts including walkthroughs, fanart, theorising and FAQs, the authors seek not only to highlight the creativity and vibrancy of the participatory culture of videogame fandom but also to examine the ways in which discussion and the production of such texts are used by players to generate and communicate their identity within the community of otaku and modify the terms of engagement with the game. In this way, the authors seek to interrogate player-produced texts as examples of the involvement and activity of players in the construction of videogames’ meaning and as a means of problematising discussions of the pleasures of gameplay.


‘Can’t Stop The Signal?’ The Design of the Dutch Firefly LARP

Lamerichs Nicolle
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

In this paper, I analyze the design of a Dutch live-action role-playing game (LARP), based on the television series Firefly. I discuss it as part of the recent participatory culture in which fans mediate existing fiction into other products such as games. Game studies have often bypassed types of gaming that are initiated by players themselves by taking professional and digital games as their starting points. By focussing on a local example of a fan game, I hope to provide new insights in game design and play. After disseminating between fan and game practices, and sketching some of the previous research thereof, I shall elaborate upon the design of the game in four ways by focussing on the designer, the context, the participants and its construction of meaningful play. I argue that the fan LARP displays a particular design perspective based on the co-creative ethos of role-playing and fandom itself. Whereas existing research isolates the actors that are relevant in game practices, designer, player and fan modes clearly interrelate here.