1 Introduction

The Process Model of role-playing is a set of concepts and tools to describe, analyze and discuss the act of role-playing. The design goals of the model were as follows:

  1. to identify distinct elements and components inside the act of role-playing and create a vocabulary of such concepts, and
  2. to describe how these components interact to make or break a game.

The model can be used for the following:

  1. to describe and analyze singular or typical gaming sessions from the viewpoint of an individual or a whole group,
  2. to plan and communicate visions of future sessions and campaigns, and
  3. to describe play preferences of an individual or a whole group.

The core modeling concepts utilized are those of process and process interaction. These concepts were chosen because they provide a very natural methodology for modeling and abstracting such complex time-varied phenomena as role-playing. The concepts are also well defined and widely in use in a number of fields, including social, cognitive and computer sciences.

This article is divided into two parts, plus appendices. The first part gives a full understanding of the base model, introducing the main descriptive framework of the model. It contains the core of the article, and it is intended that after reading it, one can apply the model in all its uses.

The second part of the article advances on the first, introducing normative restrictions to the model in the interest of rigidness and the creation of a common vocabulary. This is attempted by categorizing the instances of the various model component types as exhaustively as possible. With the vocabulary at hand, further analysis of the interactions of the various components is undertaken. The second part closes with a discussion of weaknesses and ambiguities in the model and other areas of future work.

Appendix A gathers the terms used in the model in a glossary. In appendix B, the model is put to the test of describing different gaming cultures around the world. Finally, in appendix C, the model is compared to other models of role-playing, primarily focusing on how the concepts of the model relate to the concepts of the other models compared.

The terms used for the concepts of the model have been selected to be as fitting as possible. Some of the terms selected are however already being used with varying meanings in the general role-playing community. The reader is advised to see the definitions given here as normative with regards to the model, and read no more into the terms in relation to the model than is given in the term descriptions. In the text of the article, capitalized words refer to Process Model definitions, lower case words to common language concepts.

Eetu Mäkelä 2005-03-02