Tabletop roleplaying games (TRPGs) are an increasingly important mode of contemporary cultural production and a medium through which received ideas about the classical past are reproduced through play. This article shows how TRPGs can be analyzed in conjunction with classical texts and topics to highlight processes of cultural production in the ancient world in a university-level first year seminar through a series of cases comparing Homeric gods and heroism in the Iliad to the treatment of those topics in Dungeons and Dragons (1974) and Agon (2006), and a simple design exercise using Fate Accelerated (2013). These cases provided context and scaffolding for creative assignments in which students used ancient material to design their own games. Fostering student engagement with ancient material through the analysis, play, and design of modern games gives another pedagogical avenue for approaching ideas about how cultures influence texts and how ideas about the past are received in contemporary media.
Imagining Classics: Towards a Pedagogy of Gaming Reception
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