Advancing the Value of Ethnography

“Resistance is Possible”: The Ethnography of Roleplaying


Cite this article:

2019 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918,

PechaKucha Presentation

Roleplaying games, such as the popular Dungeons & Dragons, ask players to take on roles of particular people and contexts. As a researcher, my experience conducting playtesting and ethnographic work for a roleplaying game on the Holocaust called “Rosenstrasse” profoundly affected me. In this PechaKucha, I ponder how roleplaying games might inspire the communication of ethnographic insight. As a medium in which storytelling isn’t linear or prescribed, how can roleplaying games effectively transfer cultural understanding? Just as a Games Master and game design facilitate this knowledge transfer, perhaps ethnographers can use techniques similar to roleplaying to increase change-making by enabling greater agency in stakeholders and teammates.

Nathan LeBlanc is a design researcher currently working at Scoop. He holds a BA in Anthropology and Linguistics from Grinnell College and a Masters of HCI from Carnegie Mellon University.