Defense Date

4-22-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Degree Name

Composition, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

First Advisor

Melissa Bianchi, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Eric Mason, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Juliette Kitchens, Ph.D.

Abstract

Roleplaying games (RPGs) are powerful tools that encourage players to form and alter identities (Bowman, 2010; Gee, 2003; Johnson, 2012), compose texts for the gaming community (Alexander, 2009; Colby & Colby, 2008), and evaluate texts in innovative ways (Glazer, 2015; Ostenson, 2013). However, there is research missing in the way of practical applications of RPGs in first-year composition (FYC) classrooms. This thesis presents a six-week tabletop roleplaying game (TRPG) module called Under Shady Terms, which uses the mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), fifth edition. My design of the TRPG takes into consideration composition scholarship on writing identities (Johnson, 2012), multimodality (Shipka, 2014), assessment (Faigley et al., 1985; Shipka, 2009), and collaborative learning (Bruffee, 1989; Trimbur, 1989). The game module is paired with multimodal assignments designed to meet the outcomes of a FYC course. The campaign module uses the affordances of TRPGs to teach students the rhetorical skills they will need to participate in discourse communities (Mathieu, 2014; Weisser, 2002; Yancey, 2004). The module is also written to support instructors whose experiences with TRPGs are limited, providing resources and guidance for implementing the campaign in their courses. Ultimately, this thesis offers instructors a foundation for incorporating TRPGs in the FYC classroom and empowers instructors to develop their own campaigns.

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