Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Role playing-Psychological aspects, Interpersonal relations, Social groups, Communities-Psychological aspects, Social skills, Identity (Philosophical concept), Role-playing, Trauma, Community, Narrative, Identity, Adults, Play, Relational theory, Group dynamics, Executive functioning, Dungeons and dragons, Resiliency, Shared narrative, Gender identity, Sexual identity, Belonging, Acceptance, Identity integration, Unconscious content, Exploratory


This qualitative study examined the experiences of participants with table-top roleplaying and with the gaming community. Specifically this study asked: In what ways do fantasy play and participation in the role-playing community benefit participants? This study aimed to address the lack of social work literature regarding the emotional and social benefits that roleplaying games provide consumers. Data were collected from interviews with six individuals who regularly engage in tabletop role-playing games. The study asked open ended questions regarding participants' experiences with the role-playing community, thematic and emotional content experienced within the fantasy setting, and benefits participants felt they'd gained from role-playing games and access to that community. The key findings of this study were that community access and feelings of belonging were an important part of the role-playing experience, that participants reported the context of fantasy play decreased their social anxiety which allowed them to interact with their own emotional content meaningful ways, and that role experimentation through their characters led to improved social skills in all participants.




iii, 45 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 35-37)