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Roots of the RPG Research Project

by Hawke Robinson published Nov 11, 2016 01:02 AM, last modified Nov 11, 2016 01:02 AM

W.A. Hawkes-Robinson first began the roots of the RPG Research project around 1983/1984 in reaction to the "moral panic" of the 1980's backlash against the popularity of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (and other popular media of the time). In early high school at the time, he wrote an 8 page essay for the school English course at Realms of Inquiry "A school for gifted and talented children" in Salt Lake City, Utah. The instructor then asked that he read this essay to the entire upper school with a follow up Q&A. The essay and subsequent discussion of role-playing games and role-playing gamers provided (then) current information strongly countering the media's misleading negative claims about role-playing gaming and gamers. Some of the students and staff that had been previously skeptical, concerned, or mocking about role-playing games and gamers, became interested enough that they at least discontinued the harassment of role-playing gamers, and some even began participating in the actual role-playing game sessions.

Around 1984/1985 Hawkes-Robinson convinced the high school headmaster (Ross Jones of Realms of Inquiry, a "school for gifted and talented children" in Salt Lake City, Utah) to allow temporarily running a role-playing gaming class for all the students, every school day, for several weeks, in lieu of the drama classes, while the school looked for a new drama class instructor. More details on that experience here: Anecdotal Experiences of Social Stigma as a Tabletop Role-playing Gamer

In 2004, the RPG Research Project was formally created by W.A. Hawkes-Robinson, and received it's own dedicated website in 2006, open to the international community.

The RPG Research Project is providing an online research repository and an open, international community of researchers investigating the effects of all role-playing game formats: tabletop, live-action (LARP), computer-based, and solo adventures. The project is also taking a longitudinal approach, planning to span many years (decades) creating new research and experiments attempting to identify any causality related to the therapeutic and educational impact of role-playing gaming, and the possible development of controlled uses of role-playing games for specific therapeutic goals where potential is found to be appropriate.