Rafael Bienia: Narrative Fan Practices in Role-Playing Games (2011-2015)

Rafael Bienia:  “Narrative Fan Practices in Role-Playing Games”
NWO “Narrative Fan Practices. A Key to Cultural Dynamics”
Maastricht University, Department of Literature and Arts
Promotor, supervisor: Prof. Dr. Sally Wyatt, Dr. Karin Wenz
August 2011- 31 July 2015

At work and in free time, most of us communicate, share information, and make decisions often simultaneously in the physical and the digital. How do people make sense of their experiences? In my dissertation, I investigate the creative practices that a dedicated group of people has evolved in three different types of role-playing games: live action role-playing, augmented reality role-playing games, and tabletop role-playing games. In these games, participants imagine fictional roles to take control of a narrative they share with each other. While book readers follow the narrative as written down by the author, role players take over the author’s part to some extent. Moreover, in role playing participants share one common narrative and influence the experience of each other while ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ simultaneously. The difference between the three types is based on the game materials used to communicate within the narrative and share the decisions of the chosen roles. I have chosen Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to answer the question how role players create a stable network and how game materials influence narratives. As it is debatable whether ANT is a theory at all, another challenge in my work is to find a solution for this seeming dilemma.