The Word for World is…

(2019 – present)

The Word for World is… is a reading group and play group interested in the intersections between belief systems and systems of play. We’re focused on ideas of communal world-building and critical engagement between a multidisciplinary array of participants, with topics ranging from biopolitics to exegesis, and collapse to roleplay. Our monthly reading and table-top game sessions accommodate a parallel project of collectively creating a roleplaying game that foregrounds how different conceptions of faith allow for contrasting, mutative and imperfect solutions to problems facing contemporary humankind.

We depart from the debate around what role forms of religious experience, whether explicitly defined as “organised religion”, spiritual movements or personal faith, play in the dialogue around transforming the Western European nation state, post 9-11. This takes place in the context of the rise of religious extremism, neo-conservative politics and never-ending war, but also the search for ethical values that can grapple with such complex times. The Word for World is… is interested in critical approaches to the common assumptions in this discussion, including: Euro-centrism, belief in the very idea of the state, resolution as normativity, binary assumptions of ‘faith’ and ‘secularism’ and the imbalance of these respective actors in approaching dialogue.

While a variety of projects have sought to challenge these assumptions, The Word for World is… does so from the strategy of collaboratively authoring a new fictitious world in which beliefs are discussed, debated and imagined from the bottom up. We believe in the radical potential inherent within communal world-building, and the unforeseen imagined potential (personal and political) which can arise from the act of role playing within the boundaries of a game system.

The Word for World is… is a project organised by writer Rachel Pafe and artist and game designer Aidan Wall.