Roll For Democracy: Tabletop Role-playing Games as Essential Civic Formation in the Deweyan Tradition

Susan Haarman


The dynamics of the complex negotiations that tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) typically demand of their players in order to ensure that games move forward in a way that is effective and enjoyable can be an unintentional enacting of some of John Dewey's philosophical principles around educative deliberative process and its impact on the civic and moral habits of individuals. While not explicitly intended as such, the dynamics of games like Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) give players a chance to experience deliberation around something they are personally invested in within a low risk environment. These games are able to create educative experiences that capture the broader Deweyan understanding of democracy, which sees democratic life as the habits and interactions people have with one another, and not just a list of protections from and duties to the state.

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