Gaming as Culture

Essays on Reality, Identity and Experience in Fantasy Games


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About the Book

Since tabletop fantasy role-playing games emerged in the 1970s, fantasy gaming has made a unique contribution to popular culture and perceptions of social realities in America and around the world. This contribution is increasingly apparent as the gaming industry has diversified with the addition of collectible strategy games and other innovative products, as well as the recent advancements in videogame technology. This book presents the most current research in fantasy games and examines the cultural and constructionist dimensions of fantasy gaming as a leisure activity. Each chapter investigates some social or behavioral aspect of fantasy gaming and provides insight into the cultural, linguistic, sociological, and psychological impact of games on both the individual and society. Section I discusses the intersection of fantasy and real-world scenarios and how the construction of a fantasy world is dialectically related to the construction of a gamer’s social reality. Because the basic premise of fantasy gaming is the assumption of virtual identities, Section II looks at the relationship between gaming and various aspects of identity. The third and final section examines what the personal experiences of gamers can tell us about how humans experience reality.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

J. Patrick Williams is an assistant professor of Sociology at Arkansas State University.

Sean Q. Hendricks is a lecturer and research consultant at the University of Georgia.

W. Keith Winkler studied Anthropology and English at Emory University and International Business at Georgia State University. He is an adjunct faculty member at Murray State University in Kentucky.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by J. Patrick Williams Sean Q. Hendricks and W. Keith Winkler

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2436-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5406-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Introduction: Fantasy Games, Gaming Cultures, and Social Life      1

1. The Role-Playing Game and the Game of Role-Playing: The Ludic Self and Everyday Life      19
2. Incorporative Discourse Strategies in Tabletop Fantasy Role-Playing Gaming      39
3. Social Events and Roles in Magic: A Semiotic Analysis      57

4. Consumption and Authenticity in the Collectible Strategy Games Subculture      77
5. Desktop Conquistadors: Negotiating American Manhood in the Digital Fantasy Role-Playing Game      100
6. Playing with Identity: Unconscious Desire and Role-Playing Games      120
7. The Business and the Culture of Gaming      140

8. Online Gaming and the Interactional Self: Identity Interplay in Situated Practice      154
9. Invoking the Avatar: Gaming Skills as Cultural and Out-of-Game Capital      175
10. Vicarious Experience: Staying There Connected With and Through Our Own and Other Characters      196

About the Contributors      215
Index      219

Book Reviews & Awards

“perfect…studious and detailed”—Midwest Book Review; “impressive…superb…insightful perspectives”—Journal of Popular Culture; “this book presents the most current research in fantasy games”—New Books in the Communications Library.