Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Sociology and Criminal Justice

Advisor

Steven Worden

Committee Member

Douglas Adams

Second Committee Member

Shauna Morimoto

Abstract

Tabletop roleplaying is a dynamic and flourishing hobby that has become increasingly accessible to a wide variety of participants. The games themselves, as well as the gaming subculture, offer players a number of personal and social benefits that continue to enrich their lives long after they leave the table. Using Goffman's theories of Dramaturgy and Frame Analysis, this paper seeks to examine the positive impact of gaming in three key areas.

The first is an analysis of the subculture which includes the evolution of the games, the growth and diversification of the roleplaying community, and the current shift in stereotypes about gaming. The second section discusses the ways in which microcultural worlds are created, with an emphasis on the systematic alignment of group frames, different types of emotional and social crossover that occurs, and the conveyance of status. The final segment describes the processes that create engrossment and identification in the games. It focuses on the balance of the three frameworks used in fantasy creation, types of physical aids used to bridge fantasy and reality, relationships that exist between players and their characters, and the negotiation of role conflict that arises from maintaining multiple roles simultaneously.

The benefits players gain from roleplaying are diverse. It provides socialization and recreational enjoyment, improves role negotiation and impression management, allows players to experience elements that are beyond their reality, creates a safe environment to test new elements of identity, promotes creative problem solving, and builds critical thinking.

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