Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Rhetoric and Composition


English and Humanities

Research Advisor

Dr. Marc Scott


Tabletop roleplaying game (TRPG) play involves complex social interactions and imaginative processes. These recursive elements cause players to evaluate and reevaluate the identities of themselves and the identities of their imagined characters. Previous research has established that TRPG play unwittingly allows players to rehearse social interactions and potential self-identities. Explorations such as these can be desirable to educators trying to give students a critical outlook on identity and perspective. This study presents a novel survey of Discord users from communities with the goal of understanding players’ awareness and experience with these identity-making processes. Nineteen experienced TRPG players responded to the survey and their responses were segmented, coded, and analyzed using a constructivist approach. The resulting themes show that players do frequently use TRPG play as an opportunity to explore alternative perspectives and identities. Players reported exploring various moral and social outlooks, as well as genders and sexualities that differ from their own. These explorations happen dynamically, with players initially creating characters with varying degrees of similarity to themselves and reevaluating this similarity as their identity or their character’s identity changes over time. TRPGs have potential as tools in the college composition classroom as a way of giving students a critical outlook of identity and the perspectives of themselves and others. Additionally, TRPGs can be a way of approaching these and other topics in a way that feels politically neutral and unobtrusive.



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