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.