Gaming as Culture

I just got a note from Patrick Williams about Gaming As Culture: Social Reality, Identity and Experience in Fantasy Games, a new book that he edited (along with Sean Hendricks and Keith Winkler) that treats fantasy roleplaying games as serious works worthy of study. It’s wonderful to see this relatively new field of entertainment get some respect from the halls of higher learning, and I’m looking forward to getting a chance to read it.

And that’s not just because it includes an article by the well-educated Michelle Nephew, my friend and one of the owners of Atlas Games. See the table of contents and back cover copy after the break.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Fantasy Games, Gaming Cultures, and Social Life (J. Patrick Williams, Sean Q. Hendricks, and W. Keith Winkler) 1

1. The Role-Playing Game and the Game of Role-Playing: The Ludic Self and Everyday Life (Dennis D. Waskul) 19
2. Incorporative Discourse Strategies in Tabletop Fantasy Role-Playing Gaming (Sean Q. Hendricks) 39
3. Social Events and Roles in Magic: A Semiotic Analysis (Csilla Weninger) 57

4. Consumption and Authenticity in the Collectible Strategy Games Subculture (J. Patrick Williams) 77
5. Desktop Conquistadors: Negotiating American Manhood in the Digital Fantasy Role-Playing Game (Kevin Schut) 100
6. Playing with Identity: Unconscious Desire and Role-Playing Games (Michelle Nephew) 120
7. The Business and the Culture of Gaming (W. Keith Winkler) 140

8. Online Gaming and the Interactional Self: Identity Interplay in Situated Practice (Florence Chee, Marcelo Vieta, and Richard Smith) 154
9. Invoking the Avatar: Gaming Skills as Cultural and Out-of-Game Capital (Heather L. Mello) 175
10. Vicarious Experience: Staying There Connected With and Through Our Own and Other Characters (Tim Marsh) 196

About the Contributors 215
Index 219

From the cover:

Since tabletop fantasy role-playing games emerged in the 1970s, fantasy gaming has made a unique contribution to popular culture and perceptions of social realities in America and around the world. This contribution is increasingly apparent as the gaming industry has diversified with the addition of collectible strategy games and other innovative products, as well as the recent advancements in videogame technology. This book presents the most current research in fantasy games and examines the cultural and constructionist dimensions of fantasy gaming as a leisure activity. Each chapter investigates some social or behavioral aspect of fantasy gaming and provides insight into the cultural, linguistic, sociological, and psychological impact of games on both the individual and society. Section I discusses the intersection of fantasy and real-world scenarios and how the construction of a fantasy world is dialectically related to the construction of a gamer’s social reality. Because the basic premise of fantasy gaming is the assumption of virtual identities, Section II looks at the relationship between gaming and various aspects of identity. The third and final section examines what the personal experiences of gamers can tell us about how humans experience reality.