All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Alison Chapman

Advisory Committee Members

Margaret J Jessee

Daniel Siegel

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


Role-playing games can allow for extreme creative freedom where world building is concerned. In this sense, they inherit much of their structure from Tolkien’s idea of sub-creation. However, along with this creative freedom, RPGs contain rote rules and restrictions that must be followed. This paradox creates an intrinsic tension that players are forced to deal with. Rather than casting off restrictions, or punishing players that do not submit, gamers need to understand the purpose and necessity of rules, and be empathetic towards other players when they have difficulty following the dictates of a gaming manual. If these principles are followed, then true sub-creation can take place, and players can enter fully into a secondary world.



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