Michael Tresca Interview of RPG Research's Hawke Robinson - Part 3 of 3

by Hawke Robinson published 2015/10/15 15:15:00 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:26:36-07:00
Hawke Robinson is founder and Primary Investigator for The RPG Research Project, and the creation of the RPG Trailer. Michael Tresca: "I've known Hawke Robinson, Washington State registered Recreation Therapist (#RE60526204) for some time but haven't gotten a chance to interview him before." This is part 3 of 3 parts to this interview...

Michael J. Tresca

Interview with Hawke Robinson, Part III


This is a continuation of my interview with Hawke Robinson.

For the first two installments, see Part I and Part II.


MT: What kind of games will be played in the RPG Trailer?

HR: All forms of role-playing games: Tabletop RPG (all genres and systems), interactive versions of choose your own adventure books and solo RPGs, computer-based solo and multi-player offline and online role-playing games, and live-action role-playing games of many types.


MT: What about role-playing games makes them a useful tool in development and rehabilitation?

HR: This varies much from population to population, and specific client needs. To answer this question effectively would be several pages in and of itself, and is the core of my research that I have been working on since 2004.

It also varies between RPG formats (tabletop, live-action, computer-based), and there are caveats with each as well, mostly keeping balance and not getting too obsessive (like most things) with something that is so rewarding. I have provided some examples with the explanation about how the RPG Trailer will help others.

For tabletop RPG the physical in-person social interaction and cooperative problem solving of a shared narrative are very powerful for most groups. Additionally, depending on the game system, basic skills such as math, reading, writing, researching, can all be enhanced. Tertiary benefits may be triggered by player interest in related topics such as history, metallurgy, science, geology, and other topics that come up during game play.

For computer-based RPG, a fair amount of research from others, including video game advocate Jane McGonigal, indicate that about 1-2 hours per day of any computer-based game is “good” for you, and computer-based RPGs with their added complexities and potential social interaction in MMORPGs provide additional benefits. There is research indicating that too much definitely can be “bad” for you in a number of ways, and some video game designers intentionally try to feed the areas that contribute to the “bad" side-effects to meet business revenue goals. So it is very important that players balance their time commitments.

For live-action role-playing (LARP) participants receive the social benefits of tabletop, plus the physical benefits of not just sitting at a table or in front of a screen. In competitive LARPS (such as boffer style), some populations may find the requirements for coordination and physical prowess more frustrating than fulfilling, and may be happier with more drama-based RPGs. Since the LARP form of RPG is often more visible to the public's stigmatic responses to gamers, and often equipment costs can add up either in time to create, or the expense to buy, these can be barriers for comfortable adoption of this form of RPG. If players can overcome these issues, it is a very rewarding and beneficial form, and in addition to the many other benefits of RPG, can help address the “plump gamer” issues of the other two more sedentary formats by providing physical exercise of varying degrees.

These are all extremely over-simplified summaries. For more detailed information about the potential benefits of role-playing games for education, therapy, rehabilitation, etc. I think it would be easiest to provide links to many essays, videos, and research so that people can read more about each area in depth at their leisure:


MT: What kinds of gaming mediums will you use in the trailer?

HR: For tabletop RPG, the trailer will accommodate up to 6 participants in wheelchairs at a time, or up to 10 non-wheelchair seated players.

For LARPing, in addition to being able to haul considerably more LARP-related materials (that can quickly take up a lot of space, even in my large SUV), the trailer can be used as headquarters (HQ), and additional features can be added such as exterior lighting (for night sessions), exterior shower (cool off on the hot days), external awning to add extra sheltered space for setting up gear out of the sun or rain, and of course the toilet, shower, sink, fridge, etc. so that those lengthy LARP sessions at remote locations can still have "facilities" better than those nasty "honeybucket" port-a-potties at many LARP locations.

For computer-based RPG, I have 4+ consoles (Wii, PS/2, etc), and many PCs (thanks to my successful career in Information Technology (IT)) that allow for various targeted goals of guided video gaming for specific needs (TBI for example).

I am also working on incorporating bio-monitoring and neuro-monitoring for some of my research goals, and hope to later incorporate some interesting bio-feedback and neuro-feedback computer-based RPGS that have been recently under development.


MT: Where can fans find you online?



MT: Anything else you'd like to add?

HR: This trailer will also greatly help to improve the reach of The RPG Research Project's efforts to be broader in geography rather than limited to only the Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho areas. This allows for broader demographic diversity.

The total for this fund drive covers the down payment on the trailer. It also takes into account the additional fees for GoFundMe's site and payment charges for each donation, as well as gas to drive down and pick up and return with the trailer. The total cost of the portable office trailer is $25k for the stripped-down model that is still wheelchair friendly, and up to $40K for the features such as air conditioning, generator, stabilizers, etc. I can easily afford the monthly payments, they will be comparable to my existing monthly office lease, which would no longer be necessary once the trailer is a reality. It is just the initial down payment costs that are a challenge.

Once I have the down payment, it will take the company 6 to 12 weeks to build the trailer (in Mesa, Arizona). The more money I can raise for this project, the more people I can continue to provide free RPG sessions to across North America.


This article was made possible by my amazing patrons. Want more? Join us on Patreon for just $1/month; follow me on Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest, Twitter, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution  of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar. Thanks for reading!


Comment moved from w3:

Hawke Robinson
Hawke Robinson (rpgresearcher@gmail.comsays:
Sep 24, 2015 08:43 PM
For even more detailed examples of sample program plans with specific populations, see the Q&A on #RPGNET from September 23rd, 2015. The entire log of the 2 hour session can be found on the link in this page: http://rpgresearch.com/[…]/join-live-rpg-research-q-a-on-rpgnet


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