Tabletop Role-Playing Games: Perspectives from Narrative, Game, and Rhetorical Theory.

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dc.contributor.advisor David Herman, Committee Co-Chair en_US
dc.contributor.advisor David Rieder, Committee Co-Chair en_US
dc.contributor.advisor Michael Carter, Committee Member en_US
dc.contributor.author Cover, Jennifer Ann Grouling en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2010-04-02T17:55:19Z
dc.date.available 2010-04-02T17:55:19Z
dc.date.issued 2005-04-05 en_US
dc.identifier.other etd-03262005-191219 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/424
dc.description.abstract Miller (1984) notes that when a communicative action is repeated and acquires a name within a community, it is probably functioning as a genre. In conjunction with the creation of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) in 1974, the term 'role-playing game' has been used by gamers to specify a particular type of game that involves face-to-face interaction between a gamemaster and players with the intention of creating a narrative. Theorists of games often acknowledge D&D as a foundational text, but do not consider it a separate genre from games that involve the control of an avatar in a computer-mediated environment. However, that tabletop RPGs have not been replaced by computer games and that gaming communities continue to refer to them by separate terms suggests that there are generic differences at work. The purpose of this thesis is to begin a more detailed study of the RPG genre by examining specific examples from a D&D adventure. I build on the work of Fine and Mackay but offer perspectives from narrative, game, and rhetorical theory. While my own study must be limited in scope, I suggest a possible framework for future study of RPGs as a rhetorical genre. To establish this framework, I use Ryan's (2001) study of narrative as virtual reality to explain how RPGs are examples of texts that involve productive interactivity. In Ryan's terms, they combine elements of immersion and interactivity, and of narrative and game. I propose viewing RPGs as a system of frames based on Ryan's (1991) possible-worlds terminology and Cook-Gumperz's (1992) account of forms of talk in make-believe games. I define these frames in terms of their reference to a social sphere, a game sphere, and a narrative sphere. To explain the structure of the plot in RPGs, I compare them to Ryan's (2001) tree-diagram format for interactive texts and Aarseth's (1997) cybertext model. I conclude that none of these formats fits the RPG completely, and that it should be viewed as its own genre. Because they combine qualities of immersion and interactivity in a way that offers productive interactivity, RPGs grant players a narrative control that is not possible in computer-mediated environments. I conclude by defining RPGs as immersive and interactive story-creation systems that involve a group of players and a gamemaster who appropriate popular culture to create new texts as a way of connecting with each other in a social setting. Finally, I point out the possible implications this rhetorical definition has for the ways in which we talk about authors, audiences, and texts. en_US
dc.rights I hereby certify that, if appropriate, I have obtained and attached hereto a written permission statement from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis, dissertation, or project report, allowing distribution as specified below. I certify that the version I submitted is the same as that approved by my advisory committee. I hereby grant to NC State University or its agents the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible, under the conditions specified below, my thesis, dissertation, or project report in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis, dissertation or project report. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis, dissertation, or project report. en_US
dc.subject genre en_US
dc.subject narrative en_US
dc.subject dungeons and dragons en_US
dc.subject role-playing games en_US
dc.title Tabletop Role-Playing Games: Perspectives from Narrative, Game, and Rhetorical Theory. en_US
dc.degree.name MA en_US
dc.degree.level thesis en_US
dc.degree.discipline English en_US


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