What exactly is meant by "RPG theory?" Does anyone know who coined it? Are there any sources defining it?
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To provide some further context, the phrase film theory is quite common.
RPG theory is pretty much exactly the same thing, but with a different media the target of scrutiny. And of course, it doesn't have as much academic grounding at this point in history -- we can hope that changes over time!
The concept of RPG theory exists completely separate from any particular model, such as GNS.
The Wikipedia entry on Role-playing game theory is rather comprehensive. It makes note of the Threefold Model, GEN Theory, The Big Model, Color Theory, Channel Theory, The Turku School, and The Meilahti School, each of which is an example of a particular theory of roleplaying games.
The page leads with this definition of RPG theory:
I don't think someone really coined the term, for RPG Theory is, well... the theory that stands behind roleplay games. No less and no more.
As for the sources: