Date of the first use of "roleplaying" term
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Post Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:18 pm 
 

After a short discussion on French forums, we wondered when the term "roleplaying" was used for the first time. The first appearance seems to be in Metamorphosis Alpha or in Dragon mag, in 1976. We didn't go through all the OD&D rules but didn't think that the word was used there.

Any previous occurence?


Adventures in Austerion : a fantasy RPG, with boardgame mechanisms and modular battlemap. By Guillaume Tavernier and Géraud G.


Last edited by lokiwookie on Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:09 pm 
 

Plenty, but there are the usual context and spelling/phrasing matters to address as noted.
Same point could be made for dungeonmaster/DM and gamesmaster/GM, etc., of course. :)

e.g.

"Last but not least, a carrot to dangle before you. TSR have just about completed the production of a new role playing game. This one is a Science Fiction game entitled, rather surprisingly, Metamorphosis Alpha and not Asteroids & Armpits as you'd expect. We don't know much about it except that it is a role playing game 'with a twist' to quote TSR. Price unknown but we expect to have it in stock late December/early January." - Editorial (IL); O&W #20, 11/76

Oops... maybe I just cited that one as a friendly jab to the usual MA (vs. Starfaring, etc.) & S3 1976 Origins release date cluelessness. :lol:

"It is a multi-player role-playing game vaguely similar to Dungeons & Dragons, comprising only of a rulebook and played with pencil, paper and dice." - En Garde! review (SJ); O&W #15, 4/76

A bit better, perhaps, but say hiya to the slinky hyphen. ^^


"7.3 ORGANIZING THE PARTY: Always have a keg, even if it's BYOB...
7.4 TAKING THE GAME SERIOUSLY: Don't"

  


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Post Posted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:14 am 
 

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary gives a  1949 quote from R.G. Lambert.

  

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Post Posted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:24 am 
 

q.e.d. :twisted:


"7.3 ORGANIZING THE PARTY: Always have a keg, even if it's BYOB...
7.4 TAKING THE GAME SERIOUSLY: Don't"

  

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Post Posted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:11 am 
 

Thanks both!

So the first time in a RPG publication would be in O&W? Excluding the Merriam-Webster dictionnary reference.


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Post Posted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:41 pm 
 

lokiwookie wrote:Excluding the Merriam-Webster dictionnary reference.

*g*. Context is always fun, no? Such as gamesmaster/GM (etc.) being used in RPG-specific contexts prior to D&D but (obviously?) not dungeonmaster/DM.

lokiwookie wrote:So the first time in a RPG publication would be in O&W?

As if I had the resources on hand to state that definitively. ;)

Anyhow, that would be an apparent draw with SR #7 (ongoing discussion behind the scenes?) although IIRC Steve Jackson (UK) had claimed he used the term in context first, and it wasn't actually /in/ En Garde!
Excluding near-misses such as "playing... roles", I thought I'd spotted it a bit earlier in context elsewhere (as that was mentally flagged at the time) but the casual A&E trawl didn't cough up any results.

Really needing to carry out that thorough terminology trawl sometime since keeping putting that off for "missing resources" reasons and suchlike hasn't worked in the past decade! :?


"7.3 ORGANIZING THE PARTY: Always have a keg, even if it's BYOB...
7.4 TAKING THE GAME SERIOUSLY: Don't"

  


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Post Posted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:13 pm 
 

faro wrote:Excluding near-misses such as "playing... roles"


Which start on the first pages of Men & Magic. Considering that we've got "playing roles" in use from the beginning, & the term "role-playing" already in common English usage (to describe children playing, actors on stage, & psychological exercises), an awfully wide net is cast.

I.e., it didn't require a creative spark to reverse the order of words, it's probably something early D&D gamers began saying without even noticing it. Considering that the printed matter of the time is mostly amateur/semi-pro, it could be an endless task to track down the first recorded use.

  

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Post Posted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:14 pm 
 

Thank you!

My question was the first published use because some French guys said that D&D is not a RPG, but a wargame... since the term "roleplaying game" was not used in the rules... (I know I know... some people are just ... hmm you know)


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Post Posted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:31 pm 
 

lokiwookie wrote:My question was the first published use because some French guys said that D&D is not a RPG, but a wargame... since the term "roleplaying game" was not used in the rules...

:lol:

It is a fair point, though.

sauromatian wrote:Which start on the first pages of Men & Magic. Considering that we've got "playing roles" in use from the beginning, & the term "role-playing" already in common English usage (to describe children playing, actors on stage, & psychological exercises), an awfully wide net is cast.

Hardly "common use". Even in rare press appearances (e.g. Chicago Tribune and Miami News for 1971/72) the concept of a roleplaying game was presented in a framework of relatively limited scope and/or duration and it's not as though every college student had a copy of Fantasy Encounter Games lying by their bedside. ;)

Neither were there many individuals in the gaming domain (psychologists didn't popularise "modern RPGs"... or even "modern RPing" ;)) who crossed the bridge in the other direction to realise that "freedom to redirect the action" (to quote John Cleaveland) could extend far beyond endlessly retelling the same scenarios/stories (WoW = MMORPG, really?).

sauromatian wrote:I.e., it didn't require a creative spark to reverse the order of words, it's probably something early D&D gamers began saying without even noticing it.

You'd think so, but that doesn't appear to be the case. At least not in terms of what made it to print... and I am including APAs with non-trivial LoC such as A&E, which should help amplify the individual voice.
The emergence of the term "roleplaying game" as applied to D&D is only apparent some time after other games similar to D&D were being published and /especially/ after other similar non-fantasy games started appearing. It is probably notable in that context that En Garde! is the O&W reference since until then - and indeed, some time afterwards - D&D was being referred to as "Sword & Sorcery wargaming" or more generically as a "(free-form) Fantasy game".

sauromatian wrote:Considering that the printed matter of the time is mostly amateur/semi-pro, it could be an endless task to track down the first recorded use.

Agreed. And trying to search only for a "first recorded use" whilst adopting a reductionist mentality (single-origin, single-threaded genesis such as Wesely->Arneson->Gygax, say ;)) is not best use of time perhaps. Tracking terminology as that parallels evolution is far more interesting IMHO.

02c, anyhow, and feel free to translate that if you wish, Géraud!


"7.3 ORGANIZING THE PARTY: Always have a keg, even if it's BYOB...
7.4 TAKING THE GAME SERIOUSLY: Don't"

  

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Post Posted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:46 pm 
 

faro wrote:... and I am including APAs with non-trivial LoC such as A&E, which should help amplify the individual voice.

Well, on that score even if there is any "roleplaying game" citation prior to #9 (3/76) that would almost certainly be an isolate given Lee Gold's comment in that ish that "The AWA has chosen the name "Unstructured Games" to describe the new games, as good a name as any."
I didn't have quite so much fun actually /finding/ that terminology in their newsletter, however. :) (Presumably missed by myself within a poll or suchlike, in passing?)

In previous issues, D&D is merely a "new set of rules" (albeit being played in a dozen games at any one time) according to the GenCon VII report in The American Wargamer for 9/74 and as a fantasy wargame (by implication) in the review the following month.
Classification matters hadn't progressed much further than being a separate class of wargame "if it is one, a thing of which I am not convinced"/"not a wargame in the usual sense" by 3/75, before lapsing back to a generic "fantasy game" categorisation to be compared with the "new fantasy game" (EPT), reviewed 8/75. En Garde! (review same issue) is merely "similar to games such as Dungeons & Dragons".

Looking elsewhere, D&D is a "milestone in the development of wargaming" in Supernova for 3/75 but at least it's easier to check earlier issues for D&D refs there than for AWG since Lew's publication schedule was spotty to say the least after late 1973. Will trawl forwards again to resolve a lurking suspicion once the later issues decide to unhide themselves. ;)


"7.3 ORGANIZING THE PARTY: Always have a keg, even if it's BYOB...
7.4 TAKING THE GAME SERIOUSLY: Don't"

  


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Post Posted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:48 am 
 

faro wrote:it's not as though every college student had a copy of Fantasy Encounter Games lying by their bedside.


Probably true, although I did just find an interesting fact about Jacob Moreno, credited with inventing psychological roleplaying games in 1932: he died in May 1974, just short of seeing the popularization of his work.

faro wrote:psychologists didn't popularise "modern RPGs"... or even "modern RPing"


Not entirely true, in that this kind of exercise has become pretty widespread on its own. To quote Wikipedia, "The psychodramatic method is an important source of the role-playing widely used in business and industry." My own employers use roleplaying to train supervisors; another use would be sales training, where one person roleplays being a difficult customer.

  

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Post Posted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:29 am 
 

sauromatian wrote:although I did just find an interesting fact about Jacob Moreno, credited with inventing psychological roleplaying games in 1932: he died in May 1974, just short of seeing the popularization of his work.

Hadn't spotted that particular synchronicity... Would've been interesting to have had his feedback to go alongside Tolkien's. (;))

sauromatian wrote:Not entirely true, in that this kind of exercise has become pretty widespread on its own... My own employers use roleplaying to train supervisors

Yep; as stated, psychologists /didn't/ popularise "modern RPGs"... or even "modern RPing". Another obvious example is within the Social Work domain, but still with "relatively limited scope and/or duration" in general.


"7.3 ORGANIZING THE PARTY: Always have a keg, even if it's BYOB...
7.4 TAKING THE GAME SERIOUSLY: Don't"

  

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Post Posted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:18 am 
 

sauromatian wrote:Probably true, although I did just find an interesting fact about Jacob Moreno, credited with inventing psychological roleplaying games in 1932:  


Actually, I guess that, for a lot of people, RPGs are some kind of therapy in their social life :)


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Post Posted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:34 pm 
 

I did some research into this and there nothing prior to 1976/1977. For those of you with the Dragon Magazine Archive can see the increasing use of the term in that time period. The most popular term prior to roleplaying game seemed to be Adventure Games.

  
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