The Anti-Immersive Theatre of Role-Playing Games

Michael Ryan Skolnik


This paper examines anti-immersive theatrical aesthetics (Brechtian epic theatre, Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed) in relation to the game play experience of tabletop role-playing games. In contrast to claims that immersion is the basis for a meaningful experience of interactive narrative in an interactive entertainment medium, this paper argues that a role-playing game aesthetic based on anti-immersive defamiliarization offers role-players a meaningful game play experience with additional critical possibilities and more favorable ideological implications.