The painful art of extreme role-playing | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1757-191X
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1928


Fun is often seen as a necessary gratification for recreational games. However, like all other forms of art, games can also be created to convey painful experiences. This article studies two non-digital freeform role-playing games, The Journey and Gang Rape, that aim to create extreme experiences of tragedy, horror, disgust, powerlessness and self-loathing. Even though the games successfully produce unpleasant experiences, they gratify their target group of experienced role-players. Almost all of the sixteen interviewed players appreciated their experiences, despite crying, experiencing physiological stress reactions and feeling generally ‘bad’ during play. It was also found out that players feel intimately connected after play, and felt the need for thorough debriefing afterwards.


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