Essays on Transmedia Storytelling, Tabletop Role-Playing, and Fandom

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Jennifer Grouling & Stephanie Hedge
contact email: 

Essays on Transmedia Storytelling, Tabletop Role-Playing, and Fandom

This edited collection will be a part of McFarland & Company, Inc.’s Studies in Gaming series. It will be peer reviewed.

A New Yorker article in late 2017 called “The Uncanny Resurrection of Dungeons and Dragons” explores the ways that Dungeons and Dragons (and other role-playing games) have shifted towards the mainstream in our collective cultural consciousness--a far cry from the doom and gloom cultural attitudes that decried DnD as satanic at worst, and isolating and weird at best. The article cites two popular actual play podcasts, The Adventure Zone and Critical Role, as testaments to how accepted and popular RPGs have become in the mainstream. However, what the New Yorker article misses about TAZ and Critical Role is the way that fans have embraced the storytelling through the creation of fanart, fanfiction, cosplay, and more. These fanworks have been embraced by the authors--for example, a fan-drawn scar on the face of a character in TAZ has been adopted by the creators as canonical. The Adventure Zone is not only played across multiple media, as three brothers and their dad play DND across timezones, but is embraced by fans through podcasts, liveshows, and an upcoming comicbook. The dungeons and dragons that has resurged, then, is one that makes space for transmedia storytelling--the affordances of new media have created new narrative ecologies that incorporate multiple media outside the established boundaries of the game. Given the mainstream acceptance of RPG games like dungeons and dragons, and the opportunities afforded by new media, scholarly work that explicitly explores the transmedia storytelling features of contemporary gaming is both timely and necessary.

We are also interested in exploring the ways that transmedia storytelling in gaming can be read through the lens of assemblage theory, defined by Johnson-Eilola and Selber (2006) as “texts built primarily and explicitly from existing texts in order to solve a writing or communication problem in a new context”. Increasingly, boardgames and RPGs involve more than one type of stable text, many of which are not developed or promoted by the creator of the game--for example, custom character sheets for Dungeons and Dragons, or user-created score cards. We are interested in exploring the ways that users/players are creating extratextual works that support gameplay and storytelling, and the ways in which these documents/texts/artifacts draw from and exist within existing cultural and social contexts. How are users remixing, repurposing, and re-creating existing genres, artifacts, and texts to create their transmedia narrative ecologies?

Finally, we are interested in the interaction between technology and tabletop role-playing games. For example, while ten years ago tabletop role-playing represented a distinct medium from computer role-playing, we now see the use of technology such as Roll20 being used to successfully digitize the face-to-face tabletop experience. In addition, boardgames have begun to incorporate both storytelling and technology, such as the use of an app for storytelling elements in Mansions of Madness. How do these technological mixings complicate our notions of role-playing games?

We seek articles from a variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, games studies, narrative studies, rhetoric & composition, communication studies, sociology, anthropology and digital humanities.

Possible Chapter Topics Include, but are not limited to:

  • New definitions or theories of narrative and storytelling in transmedia tabletop role-playing games

  • Exploration or examples of tabletop board games based on role-playing games or other media which explicitly invite or require transmedia or multi-genre elements

  • Discussions of podcasts, videos or other actual play media of role-playing games (eg. The Adventure Zone, Critical Role, Friends at the Table)

  • Intersections between role-playing game participants and activities and media produced by fandoms of those games

  • Analysis of user engagement with of Roll20 or other online services, tools, and/or sites designed to explicitly support tabletop role-playing games

  • Exploration of the use of social media, chat apps, and other non-game specific media to support gameplay

  • Examination of supplemental texts and technologies created separately from the game and used for gameplay

  • Roleplaying game playtests and experiences at conventions shifting with technology

  • Discussion or analysis of apps that are explicitly designed to work with role-playing board games and/or board games that require app support for gameplay (eg. Mansions of Madness, Escape Room)

  • Analysis of legacy games or other storytelling games and their relationship to tabletop role-playing games

  • Textual analysis of supplemental materials for role-playing games, texts resulting from role-playing, or marketing and engagement materials as produced by either individuals or corporate entities


Please submit a 300 word abstract including title and keywords to:


Submit Proposals by: July 15, 2018

Acceptance Notifications by: August 15, 2018

Chapters Due: December 15, 2018