The friends that game together

A folkloric expansion of textual poaching to genre farming for socialization in tabletop role-playing games

  • Michael Robert Underwood Ivy Tech Bloomington
Keywords: Exalted, Fans, Gaming, Participant observation, RPGs, Subculture


Tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) are a folkloric form for creating and reaffirming community bonds and performing identity. Gaming is used to communicate and perform cultural capital and identity through fictional narratives, functioning as a form of community building and/or personal expression. With quotations from ethnographic research over the course of 2 years, including interviews with several groups of gamers and participant observation, I examine the ways that players create and affirm social bonds. I return to Michel De Certeau's idea of textual poaching, as adapted by Henry Jenkins, to contrast with it a new concept of genre farming. As both platform for and object of genre farming, RPGs allow players to display cultural competence, create and reaffirm social ties, and seek entertainment in a collaborative fashion.

Author Biography

Michael Robert Underwood, Ivy Tech Bloomington
Adjunct Instructor at Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, IN. M.A. in Folklore Studies from University of Oregon.
How to Cite
Underwood, M. (2009). The friends that game together. Transformative Works and Cultures, 2.