An 'incredible' incipient change of activity token in a tabletop roleplaying game
This study uses conversation analysis to explore the use of a responsive practice for the purpose of changing activity within a campaign of Dungeons & Dragons, a multiplayer roleplaying game. Dungeons & Dragons has become the focus of a growing body of academic literature, and it is a significant part of the current and recent historical zeitgeist. It is a game where the goal is collaborative storytelling, and as such it offers insight into a uniquely non-competitive gaming dynamic. This study is interested in the way that players navigate this complex dynamic and manage the development of the gameplay. This study focuses on 18 episodes of the Dimension 20 Live series (published by CH Media), which captures more than 41 hours of live Dungeons & Dragons gameplay. This study qualitatively examines the use of the word incredible in order to signal an incipient shift in activity within gameplay. These analyses demonstrate that incredible can function as a change of activity token, with robust effects on the participation of all parties. Through these analyses, the present study reveals distinctions between participants’ levels of autonomy and authority in gameplay, and demonstrates how this responsive practice efficiently manages progression in a complex, multi-activity environment.