I will be beginning my fieldwork for this project over the next month and will be conducting interviews, focus groups, attending conventions and playing games until the end of February 2019. If you would like to find out more information about the project or get involved with the research, please see below.

About the project:

This research project will explore the continued growth and identity of the UK tabletop gaming community. By tabletop gaming, this project will be looking at the playing of board games (e.g. Pandemic & Lords of Waterdeep), pen and paper roleplaying games (e.g. Dungons & Dragons & FATE Core), and miniature war games (e.g. Warhammer 40,000 & Malifaux). It is the aim of this project to answer the following question: How does tabletop gaming build community?

To answer this question this project will engage in three research themes:

  • Bespoke production: focusing on the crowd-funded production of games, spaces and media about tabletop gamers.
  • Materiality & spatiality: which will look at the games themselves, spaces of play, collectors and the collecting of games.
  • Play & imagination: which will explore player immersion, both groups and solo, in games, the material and spatial influences of play and the organisation of gaming.

Why study tabletop gaming?

Sociologists have studied communities for years. Most of these studies have focused on communities which are created through their geographical location (i.e. the neighbourhood you live in), rather than national communities of likeminded people. Further, very few studies have given attention to how people spend their leisure time. Within Game Studies, the focus of research has tended to be on the mechanics of games themselves, rather than the impact that these games have on the relationships and communities of people who play them.

This study focuses on the effect that these games have on the building of a distinct community across the UK, focusing on how the shared passion of tabletop gaming brings people together.

Getting Involved

If you would like to take part in this project there are several ways you can be involved:

  • Crowd funding experiences – I am looking to interview people about their experiences of being involved in a crowd funding process: designers, producers, artists, distributors and backers. These interviews can take place either via telephone or skype and will last for approximately one hour.
  • Tabletop gaming media producers – I am looking to interview tabletop gaming media producers (bloggers, podcasters, writers and YouTubers), etc.) about their experiences in creating tabletop gaming media. These interviews can take place either via telephone or skype and will last for approximately one hour.
  • Play groups – If you’re part of a gaming group and you’d like to talk about your experiences playing together, I’d like to come and join in with a game (or two) and talk to you and your friends about why you play tabletop games and what it means to you to be part of a community of tabletop gamers. I’m hoping to do this in several settings including gaming shops, cafes, bars, conventions and home settings.
  • Interviews – If you like playing tabletop games and you want to talk about your experiences (either in person or over the phone) as part of the tabletop gaming community I would like to speak to you. I am looking to collect the widest possible range of tabletop gamer voices. If this is something that you’re interested in, I look forward to hearing from you.
  • Conventions – If you attend gaming conventions I would like to join you for a few hours to explore the convention, walk with you and discuss your interests and why you decided to get into tabletop gaming. I would also like to speak to people working at conventions about their experiences as part of the tabletop gaming community.

This research has been formally approved by the University of York ELMPS Ethics Comittee. To take part in this research project you need to be over 18 years old. If you are interested in being a participant in this research, please contact Matt Coward using the contact details below. All information gathered during this research will be anonymised prior to publication, meaning that any information you provide will not be traced back to you. As a participant in this study, you have the right to withdraw at any time until the date of the submission of the thesis.

Should you require any information about this project or would like an informal conversation about participation, please get in touch.

Get in touch:

Researcher: Matt Coward-Gibbs (matt.coward@york.ac.uk, +44(0)7800 502 500)

Supervisors: Dr Ruth Penfold-Mounce (ruth.penfold-mounce@york.ac.uk) and Dr David Beer (daivd.beer@york.ac.uk)

ELMPS Ethics Committee: Professor Tony Royle (elmps-ethics-group@york.ac.uk)

Address: Department of Sociology, Wentworth College, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD

Support lines: The Samaritians (116 123)


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