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21/10/2021 21:30:24Multiple statistical tests: Lessons from a d20Journal ArticleChristopher R. Madan
Statistical analyses are often conducted with α= .05. When multiple statistical tests are conducted, this procedure needs to be adjusted to compensate for the otherwise inflated Type I error. In some instances in tabletop gaming, sometimes it is desired to roll a 20-sided die (or 'd20') twice and take the greater outcome. Here I draw from probability theory and the case of a d20, where the probability of obtaining any specific outcome is 1/20, to determine the probability of obtaining a specific outcome (Type-I error) at least once across repeated, independent statistical tests.
20/10/2021 23:35:16"Play, Performance, and Participation: Boundary Negotiation and Critical Role"ThesisRobyn Hope
Critical Role is a livestreamed spectacle of play, in which eight professional voice actors come together once a week for a session of the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons. This show first launched in 2015, and, after one hundred and fifteen episodes spanning nearly four hundred and fifty hours of content, reached the conclusion of its first major narrative arc in October 2017. In this time, the show has attracted a dedicated fanbase of thousands. These fans, known as “Critters”, not only produce creative fanworks, but also undertake massive projects of archiving, timekeeping, transcribing and curating Critical Role. The main project of this thesis is to argue that Critical Role facilitates an ecosystem of ideas, where ideas change hands quickly and fluidly – and, in doing so, it has caused familiar boundaries between author and audience to blur or even collapse. In some cases, this blurring allows for incredible collaborations between fans and performers; at its most challenging, the collapse of familiar author-audience dynamics creates unfamiliar conflicts with no obvious solution. Using Erving Goffman’s model of interactional frame analysis, this thesis will isolate different areas of challenge, collapse, and change. First, it will demonstrate how the dynamics of traditional tabletop roleplaying transform when the roleplayers are put before an audience. The Critical Role cast must negotiate double identities as both players and performers. This thesis will then transition to the behaviour of the audience. The act of watching Critical Role requires a keen understanding of the different frames at work inside the show, and fans have done a considerable amount of work to help each other understand these frames. Finally, this thesis will establish the concept of the fan frame. Both Critters and cast members consider themselves fans in some way. While familiarity with fan culture helps these two groups understand each other, it also creates conflict when the values of fans do not line up with the demands of online content production.
YesMAMia ConsalvoNo
24/10/2021 13:55:43"Dungeons and Queers: Reparative Play in Dungeons and Dragons"Online PublicationElise Vist
"I like D&D a lot, but I have to do some work to make it into something that I love. I am still inspired by Mary Flanagan’s depiction of young girls who “‘hacked’ the household norms of Victorian period through their own critical forms of doll play” (17). Where critical play stops being useful for me as a way to think about my relationship to games, though, is the idea that critical play is designed into the system by the game maker. Flanagan may see hints of critical play in the hackers of Victorian doll play, but, as the title makes it clear, critical play is a kind of game design – one that I love but does not quite describe how I like to play inside systems.

D&D is my favourite way to play rules-based-pretend (no one who knows me is surprised that “rules-based pretending” is my favourite activity), but it’s taken me several years to become comfortable in my D&D play. I learned D&D in 3.5 and 4e, both of which focus a lot more on the system than the feelings like 5e does, and when I tried to find a less min/max kind of play, I found people who played D&D without any system and–well, there have to be rules (I am clutching my dice like pearls as I say this, a horrified expression on my face). What I love most is making characters and playing around with possibilities–and my fellow queer gamers/scholars might recognize hints of Jose Muñoz in this: I like nothing more than to “squint” and “strain my vision” to see those places where what is not-yet might be (22). The constraints of the system make that squinting more or less necessary, and more or less possible. The system of D&D-style tabletop RPGs and especially computer-based RPGs comes down to the math of it, and part of the fun (for me) is finding ways to subvert that system while playing within it."
YesFirst Person ScholarNo
24/10/2021 12:50:34"A Chronology of Dungeons & Dragons in Popular Media"Journal ArticleAlex Chalk
"Over the past few years, the Dungeons & Dragons has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity. This new popularity is accompanied by a significant increase in visibility for the game and its players. A whole cast of new actors have appeared as public faces for the game, in the staggeringly popular streaming web series Critical Role. Occasional appearances of the game on TV shows like Community and The Big Bang Theory have spun out into entire plot arcs. A short weekly D&D segment on Dan Harmon’s podcast Harmontown evolved into HarmonQuest, an extensively produced animated TV series featuring the ludic hijinks of its host and a rotating cast of celebrity guest stars. And as Aaron Trammell2 points out, even corporate brands are getting in on the action, as evidenced by Old Spice’s use of a D&D class to sell their brand of masculinity to a previously untapped market of geek men. As mainstream depictions of the game have become more numerous in pop culture, the types of stories told about it have changed as well."
Yesopen accessAnalog Game StudiesYes
24/10/2021 11:52:03"Which Foot Forward?: An analysis of footing in the Dungeons & Dragons stream Critical Role"ThesisEmma Lindhagen
Tabletop roleplaying games are a type of social, narrative game driven by a group
conversation in which a narrative which is co-created by the participants and propelled
forward by some mechanical component (for example dice rolls used to determine the
narrative outcomes of actions). As mode of spontaneous conversation that has a unique
set of specific characteristics, it might be fair to claim that TTRPGs constitute a unique
oral genre (or, in conversation analytic terms, a unique speech-exchange system).
One of the most notable characteristics of TTRPGs as conversations is the intensive use
of footing shifts. As the players alternate between orienting toward the conversation as
players of a game with mechanical components and as co-creators of a joint narrative,
various different resources are used to signal what footing a particular turn-at-talk is
produced from. Using video from Critical Role, a live-streamed Dungeons & Dragons
show, this paper examines the use of footing in TTRPGs and what resources are used to
signal these.
The results of the study showed that several different types of footing were used in this
material, with a large amount of overlap between them. Though it was possible to
identify the primary resources for signalling some of them, for others it was not clear
YesBASilvia KunitzNo
20/10/2021 23:51:51"Procedural Storytelling in Dungeons & Dragons"Book ChapterSteven Lumpkin
Tabletop role playing games (TTRPGs)—like Dungeons & Dragons—are a fascinating design space. In an industry like ours, where product release cycles regularly stretch to the half-decade mark at the high end, and even at the low end rarely compress lower than 6 months, a tabletop role playing game can offer creators the opportunity to rapidly iterate on their creative output. More than that, our table offers us the opportunity to test and explore the very essence of the creative process itself. In the era of Twitch and Critical Role, when the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons is growing massively in popularity and profitability, if you haven’t begun exploring this fascinating tool, let me be the first to encourage you to do so. This chapter will explore some of the tabletop role playing games available to you and show examples for integrating procedural generation as a tool into your creator’s toolkit. Finally, we’ll tie it all together by discussing what the experience of creating content through a highly procedural, improv-heavy process can teach us about the nature of player stories, player engagement, and procedural generation’s goals, risks, and successes.
A K Peters/CRC Press
Procedural Storytelling in Game Design
Tanya X. Short and Tarn Adams
21/10/2021 00:03:17"''Roll for Seduction': Sex as Forbidden Play in Critical Role and The Adventure Zone Fan Fiction"Book ChapterJosh ZimmermanAntonnet Johnson
In the introduction to the 5th edition Player's Handbook for Wizards of the Coast's Dungeons and Dragons, the classic tabletop roleplaying game is described as sharing "elements with childhood games of make-believe." 1 Building from that place of childlike wonder, the reader is told that "anything is possible" in a game of Dungeons and Dragons (DND), assuming
the dice roll in your favor.? This invocation of childlike wonder and possibility, however, reveals a limitation not explicitly stated but nonetheless present at the tables of many players: certain realms of "adult" material are discouraged if not outright forbidden. Tabletop gaming, in general, tends to reflect the confounding American acceptance of violence, even extreme and gruesome violence, while rejecting sexuality and sex almost completely.

In this chapter, we explore one way that players and enthusiasts have attempted to resist this aversion and to fulfill their desire to make visible the unspoken erotic possibilities of tabletop roleplay: through the creation of fan fiction. Framing our analysis through Henry
enkins's foundational work on fandoms, Textual Poahners, we examine the works of fan authors in relationship to the boundaries of play offered by the wildly popular actual-play webshow Critical Role and the actual-play podcast The Adventure Zone. Through this analysis, we argue that fan fiction exploring the romantic and sexual adventures of characters from these series acts as a strategy through which fans can circumvent the widespread spread antipathy toward sex and sexuality at the table. We blend the broader definition of a kink as a curve or twist in something otherwise straight with its often colloquial emphasis on eccentricity and peculiarity, especially in sexual practices. We also draw on the work of feminist writer and activist Tristan Taormino, who describes kink as "an intimate experience, and exchange of power between people that can be physical, erotic, sexual, psychological, spiritual, or, most often, some combination. People who practice kink explore the territory between pleasure and pain, eroticize the exchange of power, experience intense physical sensations and psychological scenarios, and test and push their limits." 5 Thus, throughout this chapter these three descriptions of the term "kink" converge and function as an umbrella term for unconventional, non-normative practices. Ultimately, then, this chapter highlights the ways these fan-created texts attempt to resolve the contradiction at the intersection of fantasy gaming and sexual fantasy: namely, the exploration, discovery,
and play offered by sex and kink are often forbidden at tables where exploration, discovery, and play would seem to be the.whole point. To begin this discussion, we will turn first to the fraught role of sex and sexuality in tabletop games.
Yesnot open access DXRowman & Littlefield
Representing Kink: Fringe Sexuality and Textuality in Literature, Digital Narrative, and Popular Culture
Sara K. Howe and Susan E. Cook
24/10/2021 13:52:03“Their Game or Our Show? Creating a White Canon in Critical Role”Conference PaperElise Vist
conference presentation
Fan Studies Network-North America (FSN-NA)
Chicago, IL, USANo
24/10/2021 12:32:30"Dungeons & Dragons as transmedia vehicle of the 20th century literature in pop culture"ThesisJorge Vallejo García
"With the new possibilities of social media and streaming services, some narratives like table-top role-playing games seem to find their way through pop culture. Their repercussion and referencing in TV shows and the Internet support the increasing awareness in pop culture at the same time that this sort of games is re-configured to meet the modern times in media, keeping their essence of pen, paper and friends around a table. This dissertation analyses the influence of the game in modern texts through its highest representative, Dungeons & Dragons. The successful show Stranger Things serves the purpose of analysing how the nostalgia created around the eighties and its aesthetic use of Dungeons & Dragons as vehicle for the main elements of plot and the focalised vision of the same. The live streaming of role-play sessions has also helped in this spread of the community, like Critical Role, allowing a higher engagement of the audience through the ease of the relaxed atmosphere of friends enjoying their hobby, yet reaching almost a professional level of production and writing. The analysis also discusses the roots of this game in the work of J. R. R. Tolkien and H. P. Lovecraft, highlighting several points of the game like the characterisation of the races, influenced by the concepts in Tolkien’s literature and the addition of a dark element from the cosmic horror genre, introducing recognisable elements of vulnerability, horror and antagonists’ new definitions."
Yesopenly availableBA
Miguel Ángel Martínez-Cabeza Lombardo
24/10/2021 13:28:46"Information Check: Studying the Information-Seeking Behaviors of Dungeons & Dragons Players"ThesisKayla N. Gibson
"This study explores how, how often, and where players of the tabletop game Dungeons &
Dragons search for information. Over 2,500 participants were surveyed about what
information they sought, what resources they used, and why.
While participants’ purposeful information seeking was fairly similar to habits described
in other studies of everyday life information seeking, participants had strong opinions
about what resources were missing from the realm of existing D&D resources and what
was most important to them when selecting a resource for use. Among the most common
concerns were ease of access, cost of access (both temporal and monetary), validity of
information, consolidation of information, and the feel of the resource."
available open access; CR not main focus but mentioned
MALeslie ThomsonNo
20/10/2021 23:33:10"Storytelling with Dialogue: A Critical Role Dungeons and Dragons Dataset"Conference PaperRevanth RameshkumarPeter Bailey
This paper describes the Critical Role Dungeons and Dragons Dataset (CRD3) and related analyses. Critical Role is an unscripted, live-streamed show where a fixed group of people play Dungeons and Dragons, an open-ended role-playing game. The dataset is collected from 159 Critical Role episodes transcribed to text dialogues, consisting of 398,682 turns. It also includes corresponding abstractive summaries collected from the Fandom wiki. The dataset is linguistically unique in that the narratives are generated entirely through player collaboration and spoken interaction. For each dialogue, there are a large number of turns, multiple abstractive summaries with varying levels of detail, and semantic ties to the previous dialogues. In addition, we provide a data augmentation method that produces 34,243 summary-dialogue chunk pairs to support current neural ML approaches, and we provide an abstractive summarization benchmark and evaluation.
full text available, no paywall
58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
21/10/2021 10:16:18Fan Worlds: Expanding the Horizons of Fandoms and Fan StudiesThesisLeslie Melian Taylor
The field of fan studies has gone through several transformations in semantics and dialectics since its conception in the latter half of the 20th century. However, it is overdue for a complete revolution in the way that scholars conceptualize fans and fandoms. Matt Hills (2017) introduces the theoretical concept of fan worlds to expand our thinking on what constitutes a fan or fan community. The author builds on Hills’ concept of fan worlds to introduce it as a way of mapping and orienting space using the practices that form an affective bond between a fan subject and fan object. This mapping of space is visualized through social media, which renders legible the relationships that form between fans, fan objects, and media institutions. Using social media, issues of accessibility, anonymity, economy, and transcultural contact zones can be identified and mapped into the fan world. In turn, social media also forms infrastructure that connects spaces within the fan world to one another and the world as a whole to other fan worlds. Scholars of fan studies should adopt the concept of fan worlds within their own projects and continue to map out the world systems that exist around fan objects
Critical Role is one of the main fandoms that I survey in my thesis with a focus on Critical Role fandom on Facebook
MAThomas LamarreYes
20/10/2021 23:39:56"The Critical Role of Media Representations, Reduced Stigma and Increased Access in D&D’s
Conference PaperPremeet SidhuMarcus Carter
Over the last five years Dungeons and Dragons [D&D] (Arneson & Gygax, 1974) has
risen in prominence and popularity with a broadening of its player demographic.
Though the game’s resurgence has been widely discussed in non-academic outlets, it
has been neglected in academic literature. While there are many factors motivating
renewed and engaged play of D&D, in this paper we draw on our 2019 study of
contemporary D&D players to present key contextual factors of the game’s resurgence.
Through discussion of our results, we argue that the influence of representations and
trends in popular media, reduction of associated stigma, and impact of convergence
culture (Jenkins, 2006) on increased game access, have led to the resurgence of D&D
according to our participants and shed light on some key reasons for its success in recent
Proceedings of DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association) 2020
24/10/2021 13:37:50"D&D Beyond Bikini-Mail: Having Women at the Table"Journal ArticleDaniel Carlson
Dungeons and Dragons represents a space that is often treated as an echo chamber for young (usually white) men to act out fantasies of power and control, which makes up for their inability to perform such actions in the real world. Using the work of Sherry Turkle and Michelle Dickey, I posit that this game is a nuanced location acting as a safe space for people to act out different aspects of their identity or life experiences in a low-risk environment enhanced by the connections made between the players and their characters. In this work, I have utililzed feminist frames of criticism and analysis developed by Gesa Kirsch, Jacqueline Royster, Sonja Foss, and Cindy Griffin to show how the developers of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons have made a feminist intervention on their own product. This feminist intervention, comprised of changes to rules and art policies, invites players to consider their preconceptions of race, gender, and sexual orientation. These
challenges now materializing from within a space traditionally associated with the toxic masculinity of western popular culture are designed to make players think about the nature of the imagined worlds of gameplay while also considering the ways that their own world’s norms and expectations have been constructed. Hence, through this game, players are offered the opportunity to learn and understand complicated concepts that impact their daily lives.

Keywords: Dungeons and Dragons, D&D, Invitational Rhetoric, Rhetoric, Strategic Contemplation, Critical
Imagination, Role-play, Toxic Masculinity, Popular Culture, Critical Role
Yesavailable open access
Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy
24/10/2021 15:36:53
"It crits different: analysis of Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop roleplaying games as an oral, collaborative, and immersive genre of literacy"
ThesisOlivia Haslett
With the introduction of multimodality enhancements to literature, such as e-books and audiobooks, alongside the resurgence of Tabletop Roleplaying Games such as Dungeons & Dragons, there has been little consideration for how these two seemingly unrelated fields marry into a new opportunity for literary development. These games often have a fundamental purpose: storytelling. Storytelling has long since been an oral tradition which has been converted into its literary form: books. Books tell us their story without the need of company and are often written by a sole author. However, with more and more Tabletop RPGs coming into popularity, storytelling is reverting back into a collective ritual. However, the story is complicated by chancing the dice, multiple players weighing in on the narrative, and the intrinsic immersive nature of these games. Even so, Tabletop RPGs are now paving the way for a new method of narrative: one that is being created and shaped as the players involve themselves at the table, but also by the luck of the rolls, what backstories each player contributes, and even the music and battlemaps created. Therefore, these methods of storytelling are quickly evolving into a new genre of literacy, featuring immersive and interactive narration alongside multiple-authorship. This type of storytelling, influenced by not only the Game Master, but also the players, battlemaps, and dice, truly becomes a new type of literacy that Crits Different!
YesBADominik HeinriciNo
20/10/2021 23:45:57"Dungeons, Dragons, and Music: The Immersive Qualities of Sound in Dungeons & Dragons"Journal ArticleAndrew Borecky
Since 1974, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has existed on the fringes of popular culture alongside many other tabletop roleplaying games. In recent years, however, D&D and other RPGs have emerged at the forefront of gaming culture. The allure of fantasy and magic draws players into creating and roleplaying characters in a mediated fantasy space through social interaction. Though largely untheorized, Dungeons & Dragons has been examined through sociological and philosophical lenses, though these studies often ignore the performative aspects of the game itself.

During gameplay, Dungeon Masters (DMs) often exploit sensory detail, music specifically, in order to encourage roleplay in their players. The fifth edition handbook of D&D states that DMs can use “music, art, or recorded sound effects to help set the mood, and many players and DMs alike adopt different voices for the various adventurers, monsters, and other characters they might play in the game.” The following research explores the use of music within D&D as it relates to the players’ ability to immerse themselves within the game, drawing on research in ludomusicology and applying a lens of reflexive and close ethnography. Additionally, this research explicates a growing popularity of D&D on the internet through shows such as Critical Role and the live storytelling genre, as well as how it has altered ideas concerning the performance of voice. Based on interviews with players and observations of D&D games in person and via online streaming services, this article asserts that music allows players to immerse themselves within the setting of the game, which in turn creates a form of participatory performance for both the players and the Dungeon Master.

Keywords:Dungeons & Dragons, video game, soundtrack, fantasy, performance, participatory
Yesfree, open access!
University of California Press
Journal of Sound and Music in Games
20/10/2021 23:28:30"The Critical Role of New Media in Transforming Gamers Into Remixers"Book ChapterLisa HortonDavid Beard
The resurgence of Tabletop Role-playing Games, and their explosion into new media, which the authors have participated in and enjoyed, invites the reader to consider their place in redefining remix culture in the twenty-first century. As scholars and optimists, the authors hold out hope that remix, as modeled by Critical Role, will offer the reader a way to bridge political divisions, to collaborate in policy in the real world in the same way that the people collaborate in their fantasy medieval campaigns. Navas defines a regenerative remix as a recombination of content and form that opens the space for Remix to become a specific discourse intimately linked with new media culture. There is something powerful about differentiating remixes generated by algorithms from remixes generated by the human hand. Critical Role embodies the constant change through the evolution over the campaign and across platforms.
The Routledge Handbook of Remix Studies and Digital Humanities
Eduardo Navas, Owen Gallagher, xtine burrough
21/10/2021 08:11:00"'Is It Thursday Yet?" Narrative Time in Critical Role"Book ChapterEmily C. Friedman
This essay uses a narratology frame to examine how audiences consume and participate in media experiences that tell one story over a very long duration in terms of “discourse time”, looking specifically at the first years of the long-running actual-playstreaming D&D campaign Critical Role.
Roleplaying Games in the Digital Age Essays on Transmedia Storytelling, Tabletop RPGs and Fandom
Stephanie Hedge, Jennifer Grouling
“Is It Thursday yet?” Narrative Time in a Live-Streamed Tabletop RPG
24/10/2021 12:57:52"Blessed Are the Legend-Makers: Experimentation as Edification in Dungeons & Dragons"Journal ArticleAaron Hollander
"The twenty-first century has seen speculative fiction surge ever more vigorously into the mainstream, among which must be reckoned the remarkable renaissance of tabletop roleplaying games (Dungeons & Dragons especially), which generate fictional narratives through collaborative, improvisational, rule-constrained storytelling. D&D, this article argues, not only contains a remarkable array of politically and theologically implicative contents (such as agonistic cosmologies and racial hierarchies) but also entails and incentivizes theopolitically significant social practices on the part of participants – most significantly, narrating player-characters into and through moral dilemmas. Attending to players’ testimonies of personal renewal and political resistance, we find that D&D is an arena for what I theorize as edification: an enrichment of one’s subjectivity that is experienced as beneficial, transformational, or even salvific (that is, as effecting rescue or liberation from ruinous ways of life), even as it proves culturally contested and socially divisive.

KEYWORDS: Creativity, ethical formation, fiction, game studies, imagination, racialization, resistance, storytelling, subculture, subjectivity"
Yesnot open sourcePolitical Theology204316331Yes
24/10/2021 12:46:47"Pivotal Play: Rethinking Meaningful Play in Games Through Death in Dungeons & Dragons"Journal ArticlePremeet SidhuMarcus Carter
In game studies, meaningful play is commonly discussed and situated through Salen and Zimmerman’s (2004) definition describing it as the integrated and discernible relationship between player actions and system outcomes within the context of the game. However, this overlooks other ways that play can be meaningful. Based on observation and interviews with 20 Australian players, this article examines experiences with death in the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). In the context of meaningful play (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004) and positive negative experiences (Hopeametsä, 2008), we discuss (1) the impact of shared physical and social realities on death in D&D, (2) the design of death in D&D, and (3) how death in D&D shapes the future play and lives of players. From this, we argue that play can have meaning that transcends game boundaries, subsequently proposing the concept of “pivotal play” to describe appealing, memorable, and transformative play experiences.

Dungeons & Dragons, death, meaningful play, positive negative experiences, pivotal play
Yesnot open access, sadlyGames & Culture 1555-4139Yes
24/10/2021 13:23:26"An Examination of Gaming Environments in Dungeons and Dragons Groups"DissertationJoe Lasley
Gaming, Holding Environment, Role-Play, Leader-Member Exchange

Tabletop Role-Playing Games (TRPG) like Dungeons & Dragons are unique phenomena within the topics of game-based learning and gamification of leadership development. Games in general are used for both game-based learning (learning from playing games) and as sources of inspiration for gamification: the application of game design elements in non-game contexts like business or education. Many potential benefits of playing TRPGs have been observed including transformative experiences linked to collective creativity. Knowing more about the transformative potential of TRPGs can inform facilitation of creative learning environments and guide the use of TRPGs for leadership development.

The concept of a holding environment frames play and creativity as activities that promote personal growth embedded in a psychological or group environment. Drawing from a developmental environment framework, a gaming environment can be considered as the psychological group environment present while playing a TRPG. Applying this developmental environment framework to TRPG groups builds on previous research that reports transformative growth in TRPG experiences by providing a group level of analysis. This research explored gaming environments in TRPGs, specifically Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (D&D 5e).

This qualitative study employed content analysis, group observations, and interviews for data collection and analysis. A group of participants was solicited to play D&D 5e specifically for this research. Thematic analysis was used to identify group interaction patterns by observing the group playing D&D 5e over the course of several sessions. Then, semi-structured interviews with the participants were conducted to investigate individual perspectives of specific observations from the group sessions. Interview topics included descriptions of the group of players, defining events in the group, and factors influencing the play experience. Recordings of gaming sessions and transcripts of individual interviews were subjected to continued analysis. Findings indicated that the gaming environment was a psychologically layered container which depended on the use of authority in leader-member relationships and utilized framing and storytelling processes for containing emotions. These findings can be used to inform the design of TRPGs for leadership development and expand how we construct knowledge about group environments in creative contexts.
Yesavailable open access
Cheryl A. GetzNo
24/10/2021 12:39:05"Telling Stories through Multi-User Dialogue by Modeling Character Relations"Conference PaperWai Man SiPrithviraj Ammanabrolu
This paper explores character-driven story continuation, in which the story emerges through characters' first- and second-person narration as well as dialogue -- requiring models to select language that is consistent with a character's persona and their relationships with other characters while following and advancing the story. We hypothesize that a multi-task model that trains on character dialogue plus character relationship information improves transformer-based story continuation. To this end, we extend the Critical Role Dungeons and Dragons Dataset (Rameshkumar and Bailey, 2020) -- consisting of dialogue transcripts of people collaboratively telling a story while playing the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons -- with automatically extracted relationships between each pair of interacting characters as well as their personas. A series of ablations lend evidence to our hypothesis, showing that our multi-task model using character relationships improves story continuation accuracy over strong baselines.
preprint version/writeup of conference paper
Mark O. Riedl
In Proceedings of SIGDIAL 2021
24/10/2021 14:15:22"Contesting the Political: Violence, Emotion and the Playful Subject"Journal ArticlePeter Rogers
"Tabletop role-play games (TRPG s) are undergoing a resurgence in popularity tied, in part, to the release of Dungeons and Dragons (5th edition) and a vibrant culture of live-streaming role-play games online. Research has now also shown that TRPG s – such as Dungeons and Dragons – provide a unique environment for the development of prosocial behaviours. There is an opportunity for researchers interested in political emotions and ideological performance to explore a community of collaborative storytelling where the altruism derided by philosophies of neoliberal economic rationalism is performed as a core value, with tangible outcomes for tolerance, generosity and well-being. As TRPG s become commonly accepted as part of the toolkit in both education and therapeutic contexts, they provide a new avenue of engagement for those interested in the development of prosocial values, community and social inclusion in the digital age."
Yesnot open access sadlyBrill
Emotions: History, Culture, Society
20/10/2021 23:55:43
"The Portrayal of the Irish English Accent in Critical Role: From Mollymauk to Lucien, from Taliesin Jaffe to Matthew Mercer"
ThesisJacob Pettersson
The study aims to investigate the differences between Taliesin Jaffe and Matthew Mercer’s
portrayals of a standard Irish English accent in Critical Role in their respective performances
of the character Mollymauk/Lucien. Using previous studies on Irish English pronunciation, the presence of each established feature was investigated to find how authentically the actors succeed to produce the accent. The main features investigated were the rhoticity, plosivization of /θ/ and /ð/, lenition of /t/ and /d/, yod-dropping, diphthongs, and some monophthongs. Using transcripts to locate the instances of said features, the audio of the footage was studied to discover whether the phonemes were produced in accordance with the proposed realizations within Irish English. Both actors were found to excel and struggle with different features, with plosivization of /θ/ and /ð/, lenition of /t/ and /d/, and aspects of yod-dropping proving especially difficult to consistently produce in accordance with supraregional Irish English. The study concluded that neither accent comes close to achieving an authentic Irish English accent and that both portrayals share many similarities with each other, as well as overlapping with the actors’ native General American accent, especially in cases where Irish English and General American shared potential realizations of phonemes.
Keywords: Irish English, phonetics, acting, Critical Role, accents
Yesfreely availableBAJonathan WhiteNo
24/10/2021 12:03:53"Critical Role and Audience Impact on Tabletop Roleplay"Book ChapterRobyn Hope
Actual play refers to the live performance of non-digital roleplaying
games. In order to understand actual play, we need to understand tabletop roleplaying games—both in their original private incarnation, and how
they transform when they become spectacles. The goal of this essay is to
examine actual play as a performance in order to understand exactly what
the players are creating and why it appeals to viewers. Or, in other words:
What is so exciting about watching someone else’s Dungeons & Dragons
game? (first paragraph of chapter)
Yesnot open access, sadlyMcFarland
Watch Us Roll Essays on Actual Play and Performance in Tabletop Role-Playing Games
Shelley Jones 35673978-1-4766-7762-0Yes
24/10/2021 12:08:12"Critical Fails: Fan Reactions to Player and Character Choices in Critical Role"Book ChapterChristine Dandrow
Critical Role is a weekly livestreamed web show in which groups of
professional voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons, a phenomenon also
known as an “actual play podcast” due to its nature as a game turned into
entertainment for viewers. Fans of the show, who call themselves Critters,
experience a sort of dual fandom in which the media they consume contains
elements of both the actor and the character at different times and occasionally simultaneously in a very explicit way. By livestreaming their game,
the cast of Critical Role complicates the role of the fan. Are they a fan of Sam
Riegel, Scanlan, Sam-Riegel-as-Scanlan, or some combination thereof?
Because the nature of tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) is such that
the player-character relationship is not stable (Mackay, 2001), it can be difficult for fans to interpret which actions and beliefs are being espoused by
whom. This specific type of entertainment—not just tabletop roleplaying
games or livestreamed gaming, but the combination of the two—is so new,
having only gotten popular in the past few years (Hall, 2018), that there are
not firmly understood frameworks for understanding the fan-cast relationship. This study (which consists of a qualitative questionnaire) is concerned with how fans of Critical Role understand their relationship to the show’s cast and characters.
Yesnot open access, sadlyMcFarland
Watch Us Roll Essays on Actual Play and Performance in Tabletop Role-Playing Games
Shelley Jones6118135978-1-4766-7762-0Yes
24/10/2021 12:20:10"Diversity and Audience Interaction in Critical Role and The Adventure Zone"Book ChapterG.L. van Os
Over the last decade, actual play has rapidly expanded and made a name for itself. One of the most well-known shows within the genre, Critical Role, recently raised 11 million dollars with a Kickstarter to create a cartoon adaptation of their stories, which shows the scale of the medium and its audience. An area where actual play stands out from other forms of traditional media is the amount of interaction between content creators and their audience, which also seems to be an important factor in the popularity of the concept. This interaction can lead to audience influence on the game and story, depending on the game system and the creators. Additionally, often audience members become inspired by the games they watch, and they start their own role-playing games, which may lead to more actual play content. It is then necessary to look at actual play from an academic standpoint, since it is a fast-emerging cultural practice with significant influence. It is especially valuable to look at diversity within this new media and new form of storytelling, since while there are diverse games available, many of the well-known shows are predominantly white and straight, and do not feature minorities.
Yesnot open access, sadlyMcFarland
Watch Us Roll Essays on Actual Play and Performance in Tabletop Role-Playing Games
Shelly Jones588117978-1-4766-7762-0Yes
24/10/2021 14:03:31"Birth of a New Medium or Just Bad TV? Framing and Fractality of Actual Play"Book ChapterJulie J.C. Blau
"Actual play shows record a group of people playing a role-playing game (RPG). In a typical RPG, players (professional actors or otherwise) act as characters engaging in scenarios put together by the game master (GM, also known as dungeon master, DM). Typically, the scenarios contain a blend of combat and personal interaction with freedom and flexibility in how the players achieve their goals within the scenario. Following rules from one of a variety of RPG systems,1 success or failure at attempting actions is determined either by chance (dice rolls, pulling cards, etc.) or by the GM (Tychsen, 2006; Deterding, & Zagal, 2018). Actual play shows might choose to present all of the action (as Critical Role does; Critical Role
Productions, 2015), or they might choose to present only the action that is related to the narrative (as Titansgrave does; Geek and Sundry, 2015); in either case, the narrative is an emergent property of the GM-actor-game system interaction. The recording of actual play shows comes in a variety of forms. Audio-only (or podcast) forms are common, but video-and-audio forms are the focus of this essay. Hosted on platforms such as Twitch ( and YouTube (, they are recorded
using what are almost certainly digital cameras and often live-streamed (i.e., broadcast to an internet audience in real-time, while being recorded for later viewing). Some shows have high production value and are backed by production companies (such as Geek and Sundry), while others are amateur productions using the players’ own equipment."
Yesnot open access, sadlyMcFarland
Watch Us Roll Essays on Actual Play and Performance in Tabletop Role-Playing Games
Shelly Jones23253978-1-4766-7762-0Yes
24/10/2021 12:25:57"Actual Play Audience as Archive: Analyzing the Critical Role Fandom"Book ChapterShelly Jones
"Arguably the most popular actual plays is Critical Role, a weekly live-show that streams every Thursday on As of the writing of this essay, Critical Role has approximately 600,000 followers on Twitch and almost a million subscribers on YouTube. On average, their episodes, each of which is usually between three to six hours of content, are watched approximately two to four million times. Incredibly, the video for their first campaign has been watched on YouTube over 14 million times. As evidenced by these numbers, the fandom surrounding Critical Role has been growing steadily since the show’s debut in 2015. A further testament to the show’s success is its 2019 Kickstarter for an animated video series of the show’s original story arc. This funding campaign raised $11.4 million and is currently the sixth highest grossing Kickstarters of all time. The fan-base for Critical Role, dubbed “Critters” by the community, are arguably the largest and most active fandom within the overall actual play medium. While other actual play shows like The Adventure Zone (a spin-off show of the popular podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me) and Acquisitions Incorporated (a D&D podcast turned live-show featuring the founders of the Penny Arcade webcomic and PAX convention, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik) have sizeable fan support as well, the Critters have proven themselves the most active, embracing participatory technology to interact with the creators of the show and each other. As Taylor notes in her study of video game live streaming, these “communities will also frequently expand the sphere of interaction with other platforms or creative activities, such as forming groups
in games or producing fan art” (p. 45). While most actual play shows that broadcast via include a live chat in which viewers can comment, pose questions, and even sometimes interact with the show (e.g., vote on specific aspects of the upcoming show like which monsters to fight or the name of a non-player character [NPC], etc.), the Critters have gone beyond this basic level of audience-participation by amassing their own fan-created
platforms. In addition to typical fannish acts of labor such as fan art and fan fiction, Critters also dedicate their time to metatexts and paratexts, websites external to Critical Role that collect, collate, and calculate information about Critical Role. These fan-made sites include the Critical Role fandom wiki, a website dedicated to documenting aspects of the show; CritRoleStats, a website “dedicated to keeping track of stats, lore, and anything that can be quantified” (“About CritRoleStats,” n.d.) on the show; Critical Role Transcripts, a fan-site dedicated to writing closed captions and complete transcripts of the show for fans who are deaf or hard of hearing, or just prefer a written document to a video; and Critical Role Translate, a fan-run site dedicated to translating Critical Role episodes into more than 30 languages by providing language-specific closed captioning on the YouTube videos."
Yesnot open access, sadlyMcFarland
Watch Us Roll Essays on Actual Play and Performance in Tabletop Role-Playing Games
Shelly Jones7136156978-1-4766-7762-0Yes
24/10/2021 13:19:404160EA: TECH LITERACY AND CULTURE How Games Tell Stories (Fall 2021)SyllabusEmily Friedman
"Syllabus for a upper-level English course focused on roleplaying games. Features active learning classroom, contract grading, and student-led midsemester readings. (This was the document students received on the first day, and has already changed. You can follow my "campaign diary" recapping discussions at Course Description: We are quickly approaching the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, the 10th anniversaries of Twitch and, and the ninth generation of video game consoles. The most successful TV/film Kickstarter of all time funded the animated series for D&D livestream Critical Role. Game Studies has existed as an interdisciplinary field for over three decades, withs its own subfields and debates. This course will explore games as storytelling devices. We'll read academic articles, games journalism, and video reviews, and think about what makes for successful writing about games. We'll think about the new narrative frames introduced by actual plays and livestreaming. We'll think about games as transmedia phenomena, influencing and being influenced by television, film, comic books, and many other genres and modes. We'll examine representation in games: both what is depicted and who creates them. And of course, share a lot of games, big and small, with one another. Students will gain knowledge of the field of narratology (the study of the structure of stories) and how it related to ludology (the study of actions and events in games). In an active-learning classroom and in collaboration with the new RBD Library Innovation Commons, students will apply what they learn in practice as both makers and critics. No prior technical experience or console/specific platform is required."
21/10/2021 00:15:00"Intimacy Games: Critical Role's Struggle to Maintain Its Tabletop Authenticity"
Journal ArticleErik Kersting
Every Thursday evening approximately fifty-thousand people tune in on Twitch to
watch a live episode of Critical Role. Unlike most Twitch streams where viewers
watch streamers play video games, these viewers are tuned in to watch voice actors
play the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. D&D has reemerged
a cultural phenomenon in recent years, with its fifth edition skyrocketing the game's
popularity. This growth can, in part, be attributed to shows like Critical Role, whose
live audience only represents a fraction of its fans: weekly uploads of the three- to
five-hour show to YouTube hover around a million views. As a result, the cast of
Critical Role are considered the “ambassadors” of D&D by the community and
game designers. In 2019, Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, played an
adventure with Matthew Mercer, the show's dungeon master, and Amazon
purchased streaming rights to two seasons of an animated series based on the
show’s intellectual property.

Critical Role is, in essence, a Twitch live stream of Mercer's D&D campaign,
set in the fictional world of “Exandria.” It features a variety of “nerdy-ass voice
actors,”1 as Mercer calls them at the beginning of each episode, who role play as
heroic characters going on adventures and interacting with the fantasy world. The
entirety of this role playing is done verbally, with the occasional inclusion of
professionally and fan-made character art, and a short introductory animation,
which remediates some visual aspects of the story. The primary selling point of the
stream is the professional voice-over talent of the cast, which creates the show's
compelling atmosphere, as their skills in vocal performance translate readily to a
D&D live stream. It is useful to understand the show as a mix between game: the

players roll dice and make tactical decisions as RPG characters, theater: the players
perform roles, craft a compelling narrative, and put on accents for a live audience,
and improv: since both the dungeon master and players are making consequential
decisions moment to moment and playing off each other in character. As the show
has grown in popularity its creators have become their own media company with a
dozen or so other live shows outside the flagship D&D campaign, including talk
shows, comic books, video game streams, and the aptly named
#EverythingIsContent variety show.
As both Critical Role and D&D continue to gain popularity they offer a
compelling medium to study in terms of broadcast and fan culture. First, the show
is a remediation of D&D, a game not traditionally understood as a spectator affair.
Following the definitions set forth by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, the
show is a mix of transparency and hypermediation, it attempts to balance being a
simple game of players around a table (transparency) with the heightened
performance of professionals trying to create an engaging and profitable piece of
entertainment (hypermediation). Second, Critical Role succeeds not because it
mediates a tabletop game, but the feeling of sitting down with friends at the table
for game night. It functions as a site of affective response akin to the theater: the
audience empathizes with the players, relishing in their victories and sulking in
their defeats. The players are immediate to the audience, which generates a sense
of intimacy between them. This intimacy allows for more profound emotional
resonance, as Jonathon Flately writes in Affective Mapping, “Powerful emotional
experiences – quite different from more cognitively mediated ones – connect us
with, even transport us into the materiality of the world around us” (18) [emphasis
original]. For Critical Role this might imply that the audience's affective response
places them at the table with the players. Third, this intimacy is encouraged by the
cast, who have cultivated a highly engaged fan community (named “critters”) and
incorporate their fans into their broadcasts via Twitch chat, having episodes in front
of live audiences, and featuring fan art on each stream. Finally, in recent years, the
cast have started their own media company and are branching into other media,
primarily live streaming, but also comics and animated television. Considering that
one of the primary appeals of Critical Role is the perceived authenticity of the cast
and the intimacy the show creates with viewers, their attempts at maintaining the
affect of the D&D table while expanding as a media corporation, and the conflicts
that arise as a result, offer an interesting case study on the strained relationship
between media and audience in the digital age.

open access and freely available!
Popular Culture Studies Journal
24/10/2021 13:14:51"From Tabletop to Screen: Playing Dungeons and Dragons during COVID-19"Journal ArticlePaul Scriven
"Abstract: Media reports suggest that the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons saw its biggest year to date in 2020, with many such reports touting the interactive and social benefits for people facing COVID-19 lockdowns. This paper explores the reported challenges and benefits of playing D&D through teleconferencing hardware and software, and the experience of using virtual tabletops. A thematic analysis of a sample of Reddit threads discussing player experiences of transitioning D&D to remote play during COVID-19 social distancing was undertaken. The findings highlight a variety of player attitudes and preferences towards playing D&D remotely. The data suggest a mostly negative sentiment towards playing D&D online for groups that had transitioned from in-person to remote play. Loss of in-person socialisation was identified as an important contributor to a poor play experience, but groups would persevere with remote play to maintain social relationships, suggesting that, for many players, D&D serves an important social function beyond mere play. Some avenues for future research are identified.

Keywords: COVID-19; gaming; dungeons and dragons; tabletop role-playing games"
Yesopen access!Societies 11125113Yes
28/10/2021 20:15:59"Fantasy After Representation: D&D, Game of Thrones, and Postmodern World-Building"Journal ArticleRyan Vu
My essay is premised on the observation that while canonical theories of fantastic genre fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror) proposed by critics such as Tzetvan Todorov and Darko Suvin center on epistemic aporia, most recent examples in popular culture reject fundamental difference, alterity, and the unknown in favor of postmodern play within a limited set of generic conventions. I argue that today, tabletop roleplaying game systems (RPGs) provide a superior hermeneutic for understanding how the fantasy genre operates in mass culture than does traditional genre theory. After providing a brief overview of the historical development of fantasy gaming out of wargaming and mass market fantasy literature in the 1970s, I show how RPGs formalized fantasy’s generic tropes into a modular system that enabled participants to produce fictions across and between genres. Through a reading of Poul Anderson’s use of the “multiverse” trope in his novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, the notion that reality consists of an infinite number of interconnected worlds, I argue RPGs completed a reorientation toward the fantastic begun by mass-market fantasy literature. Epistemological concerns, distinctions between fantastic genres, and individual authorship are de-emphasized in favor of established formal conventions, a shift which encourages a participatory model of consumption and ease of transmission across diverse media. I then use the HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones novels as an example of how this paradigmatic shift in the fantastic has moved beyond the niche markets of fantasy fiction and roleplaying games to manifest itself today as a hegemonic cultural norm.
Yesnot open access, sadlyExtrapolation582-32733012047-7708Yes
28/10/2021 20:28:41
"“A World Where They Belonged”: Queer Women’s Use of a Dungeons & Dragons Game to Experiment With, Express, and Explore Identity"
ThesisNathaniel Rogers
With the renewed interest in tabletop roleplaying games (TRPGs) worldwide,
communication scholars are offered an unprecedentedly rich site to conduct observation and research of communication phenomena. Being a game played through an extended series of performative utterances, researchers are able to observe the expression, experimentation, and exploration of identities as a negotiated process among players. Of particular interest are the expression of identities that may be marginalized and thus closeted by bearers. For TRPG players with stigmatized identities, the game serves as a back-channel function for enacting these identity performances. This study found that players used the game to experiment with, express, and explore through a confluence of validating communication to facilitate authentic or sincere play. As a result, players more fully immersed themselves in the narrative experience which was used to integrate underdeveloped facets of identity into their primary identity. These findings support the forwarding of theoretical and material contributions that communication scholars can find by studying TRPG spaces, particularly those used by people with marginalized identities.
Keywords: virtual worlds, narrative, theory, LGBTQIA+, Dungeons & Dragons
available through ProQuest
MAKurt LindemannNo
28/10/2021 20:37:16"Dungeons, Dragons, & Star Wars: Sound in Tabletop Role-Playing Games"ThesisEmma Jensen
In this thesis I posit that sound – including music, the voice, and ambient and environmental
noises – is necessary for creating immersive environments in tabletop role-playing games
(TRPGs). It is the first ethnomusicological study to examine the role of sound in these TRPGs, although previous, related musicological scholarship has focused on video game and computer role-playing games (Cheng, 2014; Miller, 2012). Throughout the thesis, I draw on my own experiences with these games, participant-observation and observation of other TRPG groups, and interviews I completed with eighteen informants. Through analysis and interpretation of data collected using these fieldwork methods, I examine specific examples of how music is used in gaming sessions, explore how the use of music relates to Daniel Mackay’s “imaginary entertainment environment” (2001), and offer the term “movie simile” to describe common comparisons that players make between film and TRPG soundtracks. My theoretical framework on voice draws from Brian Kane’s model (2014) to discuss how players utilize echos, logos, topos, and technê to create meaning and worlds in their games, as well as to illustrate how reallife experiences with the voice affect a player’s reception of natural and character voices. Additionally, I offer the term “haptic audition” to describe how tactility and space affect the ways in which players experience these sonic gaming environments. Throughout the thesis, I describe my model of sonic and perceptual layers that include the musical layer, the vocal layer, and the third and fourth layers, which include ambient and environmental noises, respectively.
Yesavailable on ProQuest
Master of Music
Michael BakanNo
28/10/2021 20:41:50"Exploring Online Dungeons: Streaming Dungeons & Dragons as Transmedia Extension"ThesisKyllian Franken
The most recent edition of tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has gained much popularity. This is often contributed to the presence of D&D in popular media and of players livestreaming their D&D game online. This form of live-streaming has also garnered popularity online. D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast has also started their own official D&D streaming channel on the platform Twitch. This paper examines the relationship between these official streams and the game itself through the lenses of paratext and transmedia. This allows insight into how these streams extend the game into a new medium and illustrates how these streams can influence the perceptions of the viewer on the game. These aspects in the streams will be examined in order to argue that Wizards of the Coast’s move to regularly live-stream Dungeons and Dragons sessions compliments the transmedia
aspect of Dungeons and Dragons as a franchise.
Yesfull text available!MANo
28/10/2021 20:46:33Dungeons and Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games 2eBookMatt BartonShane Stacks
Computer role-playing games (CRPGs) are a special genre of computer games that bring the tabletop role-playing experience of games such as Dungeons & Dragons to the computer screen. Thisnew edition inlcudes two new chapters: The Modern Age, and a chapter on Indies and Mobile CRPGs. The new modern age chapter will cover, among other topics, Kickstarter/FIG crowdfunded projects such as Torment: Tides of Numenera and Pillars of Eternity. It'll also bring the book up to date with major games such as Dragon Age, Witcher, Skyrim. Expanded info in first chapter about educational potential of CRPGs.
not open access; 2nd ed of book
CRC Press9781351273398No
28/10/2021 20:52:00"Current role-playing and role of mediation in the Czech Republic on example of Dungeons & Dragons"ThesisAdéla Motlová
This thesis examines the RPG game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and its players in the Czech Republic. Although, D&D is primarily a game that uses physical components such as paper character sheets or dice, technology has also found its way to it, which is no surprise because current world is full of new technologies. The aim of this work is to examine the motivation of players to play, what role mediation plays, what technologies are used in playing and what are the main differences players perceive in the case of face-to-face session and in the case of online session. Many different technologies are used in both cases. Research questions dealing with these topics are answered through semi-structured interviews with a total of eight players and two participant observations of a player group's session. The most important reasons to play are the social and creative aspects of the game - players play with others, with whom they often form long-term friendships, and enjoy creating and using their imagination to create unique characters, narratives and worlds. D&D is also a source of inspiration for them. The main differences in offline and online game are especially in sociality and opportunities for communication, which is related to the atmosphere and experience, which in the case of face-to-face game...
open access; abstract in English, thesis in Czech
MAJaroslav ŠvelchNo
30/10/2021 21:08:10
The Player Character's Journey: The Hero's Journey in Moldvay's Dungeons & Dragons Dungeons & Dragons
ThesisRobert Leopold
This study explores the archetypes, motifs, and stages of the Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey as they are found in the Moldvay revision of the rules to Basic Dungeons & Dragons, that emerge from playing the game using the seven adventure modules printed for these rules. Using narratological concepts, the definition of what makes narrative is expanded to include the narrative that emerges by playing story-based roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons. These narratives, based on the seven adventure modules, are the analyzed using Campbell's monomyth as an interpretive tool, showing that these types of narratives are up to similar academic scrutiny as other forms of narrative. Such scrutiny shows that the types of narrative that emerge from playing a tabletop roleplaying game like Dungeons & Dragons need an expansion of the models for narrative analysis. This expansion presents a myriad of opportunities for future study.

Keywords: Storytelling, Monomyth, Dungeons & Dragons, Roleplaying Game, Narratology

Yesavailable open accessMADelanna ReedNo
30/10/2021 21:11:47The World of Critical Role: The History Behind the Epic FantasyBookLiz Marsham
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Dive deep into the history of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG livestream with the cast of Critical Role in this definitive guide featuring never-before-seen illustrations and photos.

From its unassuming beginnings as a casual home game between friends to the role-playing phenomenon it is today, Critical Role has become the stuff of legend. These pages chronicle how a circle of friends who all happen to be talented voice actors built the most-watched tabletop role-playing livestream of all time.

Discover dazzling new illustrations and richly written insights into the locations, characters, and adventures featured in the hundreds of episodes across Critical Role’s two campaigns, Vox Machina and the Mighty Nein. Go behind the scenes with archival photos and exclusive interviews with Dungeon Master Matt Mercer and the entire Critical Role cast as they explore their characters’ most triumphant moments and darkest hours. And celebrate the massive community of Critters who support and expand the show’s world through a highlighted tour of the crafts, cosplay, and art they create every day.

Featuring a foreword from Felicia Day, lush illustrations, and the inside story you won’t find anywhere else, this book is your indispensable guide to Critical Role. The adventure begins!
Yesnot open access
Penguin Random House
30/10/2021 21:15:21"Slaying Dragons: The Therapeutic Value of Tabletop Gaming"ThesisKimberly Brown
Tabletop role-playing games is a dynamic hobby in which players take on the mantle of a character they have created and collaborate with a game master to create adventure. The game itself offers a multitude of personal and social benefits to all players involved, which may enrich their lives long after they have left the table. 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 space to test new elements of identity, promotes creative problem solving and builds critical thinking. Gaming is an environment where these skills can be tested and explored with minimal risk. I argue in this thesis that it can and should be used in a therapeutic setting.
available open access at the link above
Master of Counseling (MC)
Christine DennstedtNo
30/10/2021 21:19:33
"Gaming Intentionally: A Literature Review of the Viability of Role-Playing Games as Drama-Therapy-Informed Interventions"
ThesisJonathan Mendoza
Tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGS) and live-action role-playing (LARP) games have recently risen in popularity in the cultural zeitgeist with the advent of popular gaming shows like Critical Roll and The Adventure Zone, as well as popular media like Community and Stranger Things. While some literature exists linking the concepts of roleplaying to theater and psychotherapy in the pursuit of deeper game design, little exists that attempts to bridge the gap by examining the potential of role-playing games (RPGs) as therapeutic tools informed by drama therapy practices and theories. This literature review provides a brief overview of basic RPG terminology, styles, and similarities to psychodrama and theater. It also demonstrates a basic analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of four TTRPGs and LARPs as therapeutic tools through the lens of drama therapy. This literature review is in service of future research into the application of drama therapy practices to role-playing gaming, as well as into clinical game design based in therapeutic goals and structure.
available open access at link above@
MALaura WoodNo
30/10/2021 21:27:10"Conclusion: How Do You Want To Do This?"Book ChapterStephanie HedgeJennifer Grouling
Looking ahead to the future of TTRPGs played online, either in private games or shows like Critical Role, The Adventure Zone, and more.
not available open source
Roleplaying Games in the Digital Age Essays on Transmedia Storytelling, Tabletop RPGs and Fandom
Stephanie Hedge and Jennifer Grouling
last 215end 978-1-4766-7686-9Yes
30/10/2021 21:35:27"Roll for Identity: A Study of Tabletop Roleplaying Games and Exploring Identity"Thesis Lilia Soto
The game of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), which was created in 1974 by Gary Gygax
and Dave Arenson, has become a pop culture icon in the last decade. This game, which was once synonymous with socially awkward nerds hiding in their basements, has erupted into a massive community around the world filled with all kinds of people including celebrities such as Matthew Lillard, James Gunn, and Joe Manganiello. This explosion in popularity, which can be attributed to the rise in live streaming platforms such as, the release of the game’s fifth edition by the current copyright holder, Wizards of the Coast, which was aimed at accessibility for new players; and the growing mainstream popularity of nerd culture, has created an entire pop culture community of Dungeons and Dragons players that come from groups that nerd culture and specifically older editions of Dungeons and Dragons sought to exclude in the past.
People of color, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals have found an accepting community within
D&D culture across the globe with many Dungeons and Dragons celebrities, streaming channels such as “Critical Role”, and even the company itself advocating for equality and inclusivity within the community. A perfect example of the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons can be found in one of the most popular Dungeons and Dragons livestream campaigns, “Critical Role”. This show, which began in 2015, is a group of famous voice actors out of California who stream their Dungeons and Dragons games live on once a week. This show stars a group of very prominent pop culture icons: Ashley Johnson, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Liam O’Brian, Sam Reigel, Taliesin Jaffe, Marisha Ray, and Matthew Mercer. All of these individuals had established careers as voice actors prior to the start of “Critical Role”. This live show consists entirely of these eight individuals sitting around a table and playing a long running campaign of D&D.
Due to this game’s growing popularity, it has become a cultural touchstone that cannot be
ignored in cultural scholarship, American Studies scholarship, as well as in queer theory
scholarship. This game has become a haven for many LGBTQ+ identifying individuals as well as many other people who do not conform to the hegemonic White societal standards including neurodiverse individuals and people of color. It is a game that has become so powerful and so popular that marginalized communities are calling upon the publisher, Wizards of the Coast, to ensure that this fictional world is a place of acceptance and tolerance. Dungeons and Dragons has become a pillar of American society in the same way that other modern media has. For many of these marginalized individuals, they can find representation in D&D characters from livestreamed shows such as the many queer identifying characters and characters of color in “Critical Role."
Yesavailable open accessMARachel SailorNo
10/11/2021 16:26:50"Critical Role's Liam O'Brien and Laura Bailey Tease the Big Secrets of Campaign 3"Online PublicationJames Grebey
The D&D actual-play series Critical Role recently launched its third campaign, and nobody — not even the cast — really knows what to expect.
Yesnot paywallSyFy WireNo
13/12/2021 07:51:54How Accretive Phantasia Can Illuminate Communal Creativity in the Fan Art of Critical RoleBlog PostJordan Loveridge
One of the most successful examples of "live-play" tabletop roleplaying game streaming, the web series Critical Role’s success is due, at least in part, to its ability to cultivate and sustain a core fanbase through the cast and show's engagement with fan-created media. The centrality of fan art in particular, authorized by “art dad” Liam O’Brien, created a communal space that fostered dialectic creativity, encouraging Critters to draw from one another for inspiration and leave their own marks on character designs. I want to discuss how the rhetorical concept of phantasia can help scholars understand how communal, curated, spaces such as those fostered by Critical Role enable and direct communal imagination.
YesIn Media ResNo