Tabletop Role-Playing Games and the Actual Play Show: Author, Audience, and Adaptation

dc.contributor.authorWhittemore, Rhys Duncanen
dc.contributor.committeechairHodges, Kennethen
dc.contributor.committeememberLindgren, Chris A.en
dc.contributor.committeememberSwenson, Karenen
dc.description.abstractThough tabletop role-playing games, or TRPGs, have received some scholarly attention since the creation of Dungeons and Dragons in the 1970s, very few scholars have considered how TRPGs function as a vehicle for long-form narrative. As an inherently collaborative form of narrative, the TRPG demonstrates a unique relationship between author and audience, as participants take on both roles during play. Previous narratological models of author-audience interaction are insufficient to understand the way that authorship functions in the TRPG, and the rise of actual play shows, where TRPGs are broadcast for an audience of nonparticipants, adds an extra layer of complexity to these author-audience relations. This thesis identifies key narrative elements of the TRPG, including game mechanics, framing, and collaboration, and examines how popular actual play shows and their graphic adaptations engage with these elements to create their narratives. This examination indicates that TRPGs create complex author-webs where each participant is both author and audience, and this influence pushes actual play shows and further adaptations of TRPG narratives to expand the ways in which audiences can influence and interact with narratives as they are created. The TRPG genre continues to explore how these elements can be developed beyond traditional understandings of narrative, and this development provides a framework for further narratological study of interactive works, which will only continue to evolve and grow in popularity and complexity in the continuing digital era.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralThe tabletop role-playing game, or TRPG, has been growing in popularity since the creation of Dungeons and Dragons in the 1970s, and the rise of the actual play show, where a TRPG game is broadcast to viewers via video or podcast, has spurred both casual and scholarly interest in the TRPG. Players of TRPGs create narratives through collaborative storytelling moderated by certain rules and game mechanics, so each participant in a TRPG acts as both author and audience, as they create certain elements of the narrative and also witness the narrative creations of the other players. This particular collaborative author-audience model is not seen in any other form of narrative, and existing models of author-audience interactions do not account for authorship in the TRPG. Therefore, this thesis examines how several elements of the TRPG, such as the use of game mechanics to structure the narrative, the multiple frames in which players interact with each other, and the collaboration inherent in every game, contribute to the ways that authorship and audience interact in the narrative. It also looks at how popular actual play shows and the graphic novels they've created of their narratives engage with these elements to create their own unique audience interactions. As audience participation in the development of the stories they're consuming become more prominent with the rise of video games and other interactive media, an understanding of the evolving relationship between authorship and audience developed by the TRPG becomes important for examining interactive works in general.en
dc.description.degreeMaster of Artsen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjecttabletop role-playing gamesen
dc.subjectgraphic narrativesen
dc.subjectnarrative theoryen
dc.titleTabletop Role-Playing Games and the Actual Play Show: Author, Audience, and Adaptationen
dc.typeThesisen Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen of Artsen
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