Sam Malabre

[0]: Game Pieces – 0: Rules for the Construction of the Roleplaying Games.
[1]: Game Pieces – 1: A Modern Wargame

[ 0 ] Game Pieces — 0: Rules for the Construction of the Roleplaying Games

Media: 34 page Half-Letter PDF
Date: 2021
Link: Download PDF

[ 0 ] about:

In Game Pieces, I think through designing Tabletop Roleplaying Games [RPGs] in a society [the US] that weaponizes its media and militarizes its culture—games included. I begin with wargames, a common ancestor of RPGs and other military themed games, like First-Person Shooter video games. I argue that many of the structures of RPGs are derived from wargames, and that this military origin can serve as a foundation for interrogating the practice of designing RPGs.

By beginning with this military origin, and the logic of game design it imparts, I hope to question dominant understandings of RPG design, that draw common cause between RPG design and game design more broadly. Dominant understandings of RPG design focus on incentivizing specific actions, eliciting specific reactions, positioning the priorities of the rules [game text] and the goals of the game designer as both a system for play and a moral authority.

I present RPGs as games that rely on players to interpret and enact a game text, and thus enable players and designers to explore themselves as people, the games they play, the systems their society gamifies, and their relation to those systems.

[ 0 ] includes

An Essay

3 Ways to Play Chess

3 Spells to Cast on Your Table

And More.

[ 0 ] read online:

[ 1 ] Game Pieces — 1: A Modern Wargame

Media: 34 Page A5 PDF
Date: 2021
Link: Download PDF

[ 1 ] about:

In 2020, I got access to a development document for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare  and its spin off battle-royale mode Call of Duty: Warzone.

The documents I acquired were a roleplaying game [RPG], written primarily by Modern Warfare’s Narrative Director, Taylor Kurosaki, and Campaign Gameplay Director, Jacob Minkoff. They used this roleplaying game to help them plot ideas for linking the story of Modern Warfare to this new Warzone mode and to quickly test drastic changes to Warzone. Should civilians be present in Donetsk Verdansk? Should players have access to killstreaks, like Predator UAVs or white phosphorus? The developers played this rpg to find out what happened.

Like many roleplaying games, A Modern Wargame existed only as an incomplete Google Doc. Nevertheless, I felt it was worth releasing it in-full as an insight into how the developers of Warzone, a game that boasts 110 million monthly active users [about 1/3rd of the US population], war gamed their war game. And so you can play this war game yourself.

[ 1 ] contains:

0. Installation

A guide to the files and setting up the game.

1. Operators

Details the Operation, your Operator, and your Weapons.

2. Procedures

Procedures for conducting the Operation. Incoming…

3. Assets

Describes the Area of Operations and the Opposing Forces. Incoming…

X. Operator Sheet:

For recording your Operator’s information.

X. Tactical Map

For detailing and tracking the area of Operations. Incoming…

[ 1 ] read online:

Sam Malabre
[they / them]

Sam is a grad student in the Design | Media Arts program at UCLA and a resident at the UCLA Game Lab. They make work about US imperialism, escapist fantasies, and the intersection between the two.

They would like to thank Chandler McWilliams, Danny Snelson, Eddo Stern, Jenna Caravello, Tyler Stefanich, Willem Henri Lucas, and everyone they’ve run games for at the lab.