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Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games as Social Worlds
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Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games as Social Worlds

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  71 ratings  ·  10 reviews
This classic study still provides one of the most acute descriptions available of an often misunderstood subculture: that of fantasy role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Gary Alan Fine immerses himself in several different gaming systems, offering insightful details on the nature of the games and the patterns of interaction among players—as well as their reasons ...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published August 14th 2002 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1983)
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Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
The vast majority of the non-fiction works I've read were read back when I had access to a college library and tended to live in it - often to the detriment of my studies. They aren't listed in Goodreads simply because they tend to unmemorable academic titles and I forget their names until someone mentions one in some discussion, and I think, "Oh yeah. I remember that book."

Fine's work might not be a particularly stellar or insightful bit of academic research, but it's still extremely valuable s
Michael Burnam-Fink
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, academic, rpg
Shared Fantasy is an ethnographic description of the fantasy role-playing games community circa the early 1980s, linked to a functional, if not exactly scintillating, theory of fun and games. Fine is a sociologist, and he's interesting in the workings of status in the young, male, gaming group that he studied, and also the creation of a shared culture around an imaginary world of magic, heroics, violence, and ever fickle dice. He treats RPGs as entertainment, with all the care that the subject d ...more
John Carter McKnight
Sep 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic
Perhaps the best book on game culture I've read - astonishing for a 1983 book on 1979 research. A participant-observer study of three tabletop gaming groups, Fine's work has a strong theoretical component, using Goffman's frame analysis.

Much of the work is still applicable, to tabletop groups and MMOs alike, as well as social virtual worlds. My copy is a forest of sticky tabs: the insights come at a swift and steady pace.

A truly outstanding piece of readable academic ethnography and analysis.
Aldo Ojeda
Nov 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: games, sociology
I often say that rpgs made me who I am today, which may explain my interest in the archeology of the hobby. This review then, will be not so much on the investigation by Gary Alan Fine (I believe it was well done, with honesty and the best intentions) but with the gaming subculture that he described.

While reading this analysis made in 1979 (just five years after the release of the original Dungeons & Dragons) I was thinking: “man, I would love to have lived in the early days of rpgs.” It was
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
In the late 70s/early 80s, sociologist Gary Alan Fine became interested in the then-new phenomenon of Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy roleplaying games. He spent over a year as a participant-observer in several different gaming groups, and the result is this fascinating study of an emerging subculture. What was most interesting to me was how very different many of Fine's experiences were to my own, despite the fact that I also play RPGs. Some of this may be related to time and setting. ...more
Nov 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is an excellently written and extensively researched sociological study of roleplaying games and the people who play them. The author's data and conclusions, while probably nothing surprising to veteran RPG players, are very interesting and well-articulated for those of us who have only a peripheral understanding of this world. The author's writing style is accessible and jaunty, but he never strays too far from theoretical and professional sources. Even though some of his characteriza ...more
Michael Underwood
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic-reading
This book is as old as I am, but it's important for being the first book-length analysis of tabletop role-playing. A good number of his points are still relevant, but the hobby/subculture has changed substantially since the time period of his research. If you're in tabletop RPG studies, you need to read this book.
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great book. It brings together a large amount of research into language and ties it all together in the broader framework of joint action.
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fascinating academic study of gaming in the late 70s and early 80s. Despite its academic approach, Shared Fantasy is an interesting, engaging read.
Nov 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting read and a nice snapshot of 1983 Roleplaying Game culture. I especially liked reading more about M.A.R. Barker and Tekumel.
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