Rethinking the binary: how Dungeons and dragons complicates the player/game relationship
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 01:49 authored by Jeremy Alexander Hall Spence
This thesis will explore how tabletop role-playing games use a three-part game system in order to construct player experience, and how such a system complicates the traditionally very clear divide between player and game that much of the current game studies' literature suggests. To do so, it will look at how the three main units of the Dungeons and Dragons game system: the rules, the dungeon master, and the players, each function independently to shape the game experience, but also how each unit of the system limits the control that the other two units possess over the game. The thesis will primarily be drawing upon literature from the field of game studies, both concerning video games and tabletop role-playing games, but will also employ theorists from broader disciplines. It will utilize the anthropological works of Victor Turner in order to understand tabletop role-playing games as a social ritual, possible worlds theory,as described by Marie-Laurie Ryan, to discuss the multiple fictional worlds that exist simultaneously within games such as Dungeons and Dragons, and Michel de Certeau's views on power, in order to analyse the power relations between the three units of the game system.