The Functions of Role-Playing Games

How Participants Create Community, Solve Problems and Explore Identity


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About the Book

This study takes an analytical approach to the world of role-playing games, providing a theoretical framework for understanding their psychological and sociological functions. Sometimes dismissed as escapist and potentially dangerous, role-playing actually encourages creativity, self-awareness, group cohesion and “out-of-the-box” thinking. The book also offers a detailed participant-observer ethnography on role-playing games, featuring insightful interviews with 19 participants of table-top, live action and virtual games.

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

About the Author(s)

Sarah Lynne Bowman is an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, Richland College, Ashford University, and Brookhaven College. Her current research focus emphasizes character development and social dynamics in role-playing games. She lives in Round Rock, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

Sarah Bowman

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4710-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5555-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface      1
Introduction      7

1. Historical Evolution and Cultural Permutations      11
2. Role-Playing in Communal Contexts      33
3. Interactional Dynamics in Role-Playing Games      55
4. Role-Playing as Scenario Building and Problem Solving      80
5. Tactical and Social Problem Solving      104
6. Role-Playing as Alteration of Identity      127
7. Character Evolution and Types of Identity Alteration      155

Conclusion      179
Appendix: Interview Questionnaire      183
Chapter Notes      185
Bibliography      197
Index      203