Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thesis Underway

The great school monster destroyed my prolificness on this blog, which barely got started before it went away.

Well, it's summer, and I'm doing my M.A. Thesis research this summer, so I intend to be more productive on this blog, and will be in blogland more, rather than just Drama-filled Livejournal. (Though my personal journal is more usually filled with random geekdom and angsting over various crushes than any real Drama. Anywho).

For my Folklore of Subcultures and Folklore Fieldwork classes, I did a combined Fieldwork assignment, working with an Exalted group here in Eugene that meets at Evolution Gaming. It's a neat store, the best FLGS in town that I've found.

My nominal focus was on RPGs as a form of community building/maintaining. It turned out to be much more spastic and all over the place, since it had to fufill two classes requirements.

I deal with Dick Hebdige's Subculture: The Meaning of Style,

Paul Hodkinson's Goth: Identity, Style, and Subculture, as well as both of the big scholarly books on RPGs, (Gary Alan Fine's 1983 Shared Fantasy: Role-Playing Games as Social Worlds and Daniel Mackay's 2001 The Fantasy Role-Playing Game: A New Performing Art) as well as Henry Jenkin's idea of fans as "textual poachers" (meaning that they steal texts and characters and put them to their own use, like writing fanfic, fan art, etc. It's un-sanctioned, and does things with the texts or characters that defies authorial control).

I attempted to extend the metaphor of "textual poachers" to include RPG-ers who are really doing their own thing, with home-brew settings and rules, but still engage with genres like SF, Horror, etc. The idea there is that RPG-ers can be "genre farmers" or "genre cultivators" More will be done with this later.

I think for my overall thesis, I'd like to focus on the creative/performative process itself, to focus on examining and describing the details of the form, analyzing them with Bauman, Briggs, Bakhtin, and people who focus on verbal art and genre, as well as bringing in some theory about acting from a Theatre standpoint, especially stuff on improv. This will all of course involve ethnography and getting gamer's perspectives on these matters, since one man talking to the wind is not my style of scholarship when it comes to gaming. I can rant all I want about RPGing by myself, but what I say holds more credence, I think, if I've got people backing me up. I'm also planning to do an article on gender in role-playing, which I can start brainstorming about here on the blog before I get into ethnographic work. And I'd love to get input from you hypothetical blog readers, as well.

In other news: I miss gaming. I'm really looking forward to getting to actually play rather than just talking and writing about gaming. Perhaps an Exalted modern game, perhaps a short game of Promethean (longer if I'm staying in Bloomington next year), and some good Changeling gaming. I'd really love to get in on a superhero game, but I'll be jazzed as heck if I can play the Star Wars and Rythfar games I was in last summer.

Back to the Monkey House.