The following is an ever-growing selection of research sources of varying types (most academic, some popular media) relative in some way to Role Playing Games as a tool for social-emotional learning, adolescent identity, and group therapy. I will continue to update this page as I find and review more sources. 

I have linked everything as much as possible. I will endeavor to keep them updated as I can. If you find broken links, wrong links, or even better links, please let me know at I am always up for more sources as well. Send them my way and I’ll get them posted here.

Current Count: 119 Sources

Publically Available (Non-Paywalled) Online Sources

Some of these sources may require an account but are generally free.

  1. Adams, A. S. (2013). Needs met through role-playing games: A fantasy theme analysis of Dungeons & Dragons. Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Communication Research, 12, 1-19.
  2. An, Y., & Cao, L. (2017).The effects of game design experience on teachers’ attitudes and perceptions regarding the use of digital games in the classroom. TechTrends, 61(2),162-170.
  3. Bäcke, M., (2012). Make-believe and make-belief in Second Life role-playing communities. Convergence, 18, 85-92. doi:10.1177/1354856511419917
  4. Baker, I. S., Turner, I. J., & Kotera, Y. (2022). Role-play games (RPGs) for mental health (Why not?): Roll for initiative. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.
  5. Barnett, R. C. (1995). Fantasy role players: imagination, dissociation and suggestibility [Master’s thesis].
  6. Bettochi, E. et al. (2011). Incorporeal Project: the use of gamebooks and tabletop RPG for educational purposes – 2 Brazilian experiences. Proceedings of DiGRA 2011 Conference: Think Design Play.
  7. Blackmon, W. D. (1994). Dungeons and dragons: The use of a fantasy game in the psychotherapeutic treatment of a young adult. Journal of Psychotherapy, 48, 624-632. doi:10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1994.48.4.624
  8. Bowman, S. L. (2017). Connecting stage acting, role-playing, and improvisation. In E. Torner, E. L. Waldron, & A. Trammell (Eds.), Analog game studies: Volume II (pp. 143-154). Carnegie Mellon University, ETC Press.
  9. Bowman, S. L., & Standiford, A. (2015). Educational Larp in the Middle School Classroom: A mixed method case study. International Journal of Role-playing, 5(1).
  10. Boysen et al. (2022). Playful learning designs in teacher education and early childhood teacher education: A scoping review. Teaching and Teacher Education, 120(4).
  11. Boysen et al. (2023) The role of expertise in playful learning activities: A design-based self-study within teacher education aimed at the development of tabletop role-playing games. Teaching and Teacher Education, 128.
  12. Brodeur, N. (2018, May 4). Behind the scenes of the making of Dungeons & Dragons. The Seattle Times.
  13. Bruner, J. (1991). The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry, 18, 1-21. doi:10.1086/448619
  14. Campbell, H., Madsen, A. (2021) Nothing like a good fiasco! Exploring the potential of tabletop role-playing games (TRPGs) as literacy experiences. Canadian Journal of New Scholar in Education, 12(2)
  15. Carter, R., & Lester, D. (1998). Personalities of players of Dungeons and Dragons. Psychological Reports, 82, 182. doi:10.2466/PR0.82.1.182-182
  16. Chaplan-Hoang, A. V. (2021). Dungeons, dragons, and drama therapy: A digital approach for teenagers on the autism spectrum [Master’s thesis].
  17. Chen, C. H., & Hwang, G. J. (2017). Effects of the team competition-based ubiquitous gaming approach on students’ interactive patterns, collective efficacy and awareness of collaboration and communication. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 20(1), p. 87.
  18. Chiu, F., & Hsieh, M. (2017). Role-playing game based assessment to fractional concept in second grade mathematics. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 13(4).
  19. Consalvo, M. (2009). There is no magic circle. Games and Culture, 4, 408-417. doi:10.1177/1555412009343575
  20. Crocco, F. (2016). The RPG classroom: How role-playing games have influenced the gamification of education. In The role-playing society: Essays on the cultural influence of RPGs. McFarland & Company.
  21. Crookall, D. (2010). Serious Games, Debriefing, and Simulation/Gaming as a Discipline. Simulation & Gaming, 41(6), 898–920.
  22. Cullinan, M., & Genova, J. (2023). Gaming the systems: A component analysis framework for the classroom use of RPGs. International Journal of Role-Playing, (13), 7-17.
  23. Curtis, K. (2017). Using iterative cycles of discovery within a Glaserian grounded theory of socialization in compassion. The SAGE Research Methods Cases. doi:10.4135/9781526411471
  24. Deterding, S. (2018). Alibis for Adult Play: A Goffmanian Account of Escaping Embarrassment in Adult Play. Games and Culture, 13(3), 260–279.
  25. dos Santos Petry, A. (2013) The concept of magic circle: A critical reading. Digital Work, 5, 36-57. doi:10.25029/od.2013.30.5
  26. Douse, N. A. & McManus, C. (1993). The personality of fantasy game players. British Journal of Psychology, 84, 505-509. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.1993.tb02498
  27. Drachen, A., (2008). Welcome to the first issue of the ISRP. The International Journal of Role-Playing, 1, 2.
  28. Dubbels, B. (2016). Chapter four: Pedagogy & play: Creating a playful curriculum for academic and engaged learning. In book: Learning, education, and games. Vol 2: Curricular design considerations.
  29. Glazer, K. (2015). Imagining a constructionist game-based pedagogical model: Using tabletop role-playing game creation to enhance literature education in high school English classes. (Doctoral dissertation). ProQuest.
  30. Gordon, E., Haas, J., & Michelson, B. (2017). Civic creativity: Role-playing games in deliberative process. International Journal of Communication, 11,3789-3807. doi:1932–8036/20170005
  1. Grouling Cover, J. A. (2005). Tabletop role-playing games: Perspectives from narrative, game, and rhetorical theory [Master’s thesis].
  2. Haarman, S. (2022). Dungeons & Dragons & Dewey: The potential for dramatic rehearsal and civic outcomes in tabletop role-playing games. Philosophical Studies in Education, 53. p.56-70
  3. Hammer, J., To, A., Schrier, K., Bowman, S. L., & Kaufman, G. (2018). Learning and Role-Playing Games. In Zagal, José P. and Deterding, S. (eds.), Role-Playing Game studies: Transmedia foundations. New York: Routledge, 283-299.
  4. Han, T. (2011). Tabletop role-playing games in Singapore case studies for education and empowerment. [Masters Thesis]
  5. Henrich, S., & Worthington, R. (2021). Let your clients fight dragons: A rapid evidence assessment regarding the therapeutic utility of ‘Dungeons & Dragons’. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 1-19.
  6. Hughes, J. (1988). Therapy is fantasy: Roleplaying, healing and the construction of symbolic order [Master’s thesis].
  7. Jerslev, A. (2014). Celebrification, authenticity, gossip: The celebrity humanitarian. Nordicom Review, 35, 171-186. doi:10.2478/nor-2014-0111
  8. Kallam, M. (1984). The effects of simulation game play upon oral language development and internalization of locus of control among mildly handicapped adolescents [Doctoral dissertation].
  9. Kapitany, R., Hampejs, T., & Goldstein, T. R. (2022). Pretensive shared reality: From childhood pretense to adult imaginative play. Frontiers in Psychology, 13.
  10. Kaylor, S. L. B. (2017). Dungeons and Dragons and literacy: The role tabletop roleplaing games can play in developing teenagers’ literacy skills and reading interests. [Masters Thesis]
  11. Lancaster, K. (1994). Do role-playing games promote crime, Satanism and suicide among players as critics claim? Journal of Popular Culture, 28, 67-80. doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.1994.2802_67.x
  12. Moreno-Guerrero, A.J. et al. (2020) Educational innovation in higher education: Use of role playing and educational video in future teachers’ training. Sustainability, 12(6)
  13. Ntokos K. (2019). Swords and sorcery: a structural gamification framework for higher education using role-playing game elements. Research in Learning Technology, 27.
  14. Osborne, H. (2012). Performing self, performing character: Exploring gender performativity in online role-playing games. Transformative Works and Cultures, 11, 1-25. doi:10.3983/twc.2012.0411.
  15. Prager, H. P. Richard (2019). Exploring the use of role-playing games in education. The MT Review, 2.
  16. Raghuraman, R. (2000). Dungeons and Dragons: Dealing with emotional and behavioral issues of an adolescent with diabetes. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 27, 27-39. doi:10.1016/S0197-4556(99)00025-8
  17. Randi M. A. F., de Carvalho H. F. (2013). Learning through role-playing games: An approach for active learning and teaching. Revista Braileira de Educacao Medica, 37(1), p. 80-88.
  18. Sancho, P., Moreno-Ger, P., Fuentes-Fernández, R., & Fernández-Manjón, B. (2009). Adaptive role-playing games: An immersive approach for problem based learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4). p. 110.
  19. Schmit W. L., Martins J. B., Ferreira T. (2009). Role-playing games and education in Brazil: How we do it. In Holter M., Fatland E., Tomte E. (Eds.), Larp, the universe and everything. p. 75-96.
  20. Shank, N. (2015). Productive violence and postructural play in the Dungeons and Dragons narrative. Journal of Popular Culture, 48, 184-197. doi:10.1111/jpcu.12242
  21. Sidhu, P., & Carter, M. (2023). Benevolent Transgressive Play in Dungeons & Dragons [D&D]Simulation & Gaming0(0).
  22. Simón, A. (1987). Emotional stability pertaining to the game of Dungeons & Dragons. Psychology in Schools, 24, 329-332. doi:10.1002/1520-6807
  23. Stenros, J., & Sihvonen, T. (2017). Out of the dungeons: Representations of queer sexuality in RPG source books. In E. Torner, E. L. Waldron, & A. Trammell (Eds.), Analog game studies: Volume II (pp. 71-92). Carnegie Mellon University, ETC Press.
  24. Thumlert, K. et al. (2018). Learning through game design: A production pedagogy.  In book: Proceedings of the 12th European Conference on Game-Based Learning ECGBL. p 704-714.
  25. Topirceanu, A. (2017). Gamified learning: A role-playing approach to increase student in-class motivation. Procedia Computer Science, 112. p. 41-50.
  26. Tracy, S. J., & Trethewey, A. (2005). Fracturing the real-self↔fake-self dichotomy: Moving toward crystallized organizational discourses and identities. Communication Theory, 15, 168-195. doi:10.1093/ct/15.2.168
  27. Van Oostveen, J. (2020). Tabletop role-playing games and their possible use in education for sustainable development, an exploration of ethical learning and role-play. [Student Essay]
  28. Vu, R. (2017). Fantasy after representation: D&D, Game of Thrones, and postmodern world-building. Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy, 58, 273-301. doi:10.3828/extr.2017.1
  29. Winardy, G. C. B., Septiana, E. (2023). Role, play, and games: comparison between role-playing games and role-playing in educationJournal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 8(1).
  30. Wright, J. C., et al. (2020). Imaginative role-playing as a medium for moral development: Dungeons & Dragons provides moral trainingJournal of Humanistic Psychology, 60(1). p. 1-31
  31. Zalka C. V. (2012). Adventures in the classroom creating role-playing games based on traditional stories for the high school curriculum. [Masters Thesis]

Paywalled or Academic Journal Subscription Sources

These sources may be available through academic libraries.

  1. Abbott, M. S., Stauss, K. A., & Burnett, A. F. (2021). Table-top role-playing games as a therapeutic intervention with adults to increase social connectedness. Social Work with Groups, 45(1), 16-31.
  2. Abyeta, S., & Forest, J. (1991). Relationship of role-playing games to self-reported criminal behaviour. Psychological Reports, 69(3_suppl), 1187–1192.
  3. Arenas, D. L., Viduani, A., & Araujo, R. B. (2022). Therapeutic use of role-playing game (RPG) in mental health: A scoping review. Simulation & Gaming, 53(3), 285-311.
  4. Ascherman, L. I. (1993). The impact of unstructured games of fantasy and role playing on an inpatient unit for adolescents. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 43:3, 335-344. doi: 10.1080/00207284.1993.11732597
  5. Bages, C. et al. (2021). Play to reduce bullying! Role-playing games are a useful tool for therapists and teachers. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 35(4). p. 631-641.
  6. Bawa, A. (2022). The quest of motivation: Tabletop role playing games in the educational arena. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 12(1).
  7. Brignall III, T. (2008). Guild life in the World of Warcraft: Online gaming tribalism. In T. Adams & S. Smith (Ed.), Electronic Tribes: The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, Shamans, and Scammers. p. 110-123.
  8. Carroll, J. L., & Carolin, P. M. (1989). Relationship between game playing and personality. Psychological Reports, 64. p. 705-706. doi:10.2466/pr0.1989.64.3.705
  9. Chung, T. (2013). Table-top role playing game and creativity. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 8, 56-71.
  10. Cragoe, N. G. (2016). RPG mythos: Narrative gaming as modern mythmaking. Games and Culture, 11(6). p. 583-607.
  11. Cross, K. A. (2012). The new laboratory of dreams: Role-playing games as resistance. Women’s Studies Quarterly, 40. p. 72-90. doi:10.2307/23333474
  12. Daniels, J. (2009). Rethinking cyberfeminism(s): Race, gender, and embodiment. WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly37(1). p. 101-124. doi:10.1353/wsq.0.0158
  13. Daniau, S. (2016). The transformative potential of role-playing games—: From play skills to human skills. Simulation & Gaming, 47(4). p. 423–444.
  14. Derenard, L., & Kline, L. (1990). Alienation and the game Dungeons and Dragons. Psychological Reports, 66, 1219-1222. doi:10.2466/pr0.1990.66.3c.1219
  15. Fleischer, S. K. (2007). Playing with identity: Literacy, discourse, and identity in role -playing gaming (3286694) [Doctoral dissertation]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.
  16. Fujiki, M., Brinton, B., McCleave, C. P., Anderson, V. W., & Chamberlain, J. P. (2013). A social communication intervention to increase validating comments by children with language impairment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 44, 3-19. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2012/11-103)
  17. Garcia, A. (2017). Privilege, power, and Dungeons & Dragons: How systems shape racial and gender identities in tabletop role-playing games. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 24, 232-246. doi:10.1080/10749039.2017.1293691
  18. Goulding, C., & Shankar, A., (2011). Club culture, neotribalism and ritualised behaviour. Annals of Tourism Research, 38, 1435-1453. doi:10.1016/j.annals.2011.03.01
  1. Harter, L. M. (2009). Narratives as dialogic, contested, and aesthetic performances. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 37, 150-150. doi:10.1080/0090988090279225
  2. Ibarra, H., & Petriglieri, J. L.(2010). Identity work and play. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 23, 10–25. doi:10.1108/0953481101101718
  3. Kay, L. W. (1946). Role-playing as a teaching aid. Sociometry, 9(2/3). p. 263.
  4. Kirby, E. L., & Krone, K. J. (2002). “The policy exists but you can’t really use it”: Communication and the structuration of work-family policies. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 30, 50-77. doi:10.1080/00909880216577
  5. Milford, M., & Rowland, R. C. (2012). Situated ideological allegory and Battlestar Galactica. Western Journal of Communication, 76, 536-551. doi:10.1080/10570314.2011.651254
  6. Myers, D. (1992). Simulating the Self. Play & Culture, 5, 420-440.
  7. Pearce, C. (2009). Communities of play: Emergent cultures in multiplayer games and virtual worlds. MIT Press.
  8. Pound, C. (2002). Topologies of invention: An anthropological approach to the rhetoric of games [Doctoral dissertation].
  9. Punday, D. (2005) Creative accounting: Role-playing games, possible-world theory, and the agency of imagination. Poetics Today, 26, 113-139. doi:10.1215/03335372-26-1-113
  10. Rao, D., & Stupans, I. (2012). Exploring the potential of role play in higher education: Development of a typology and teacher guidelines. Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 49(4). p. 427-436.
  11. Rosselet, J. G., & Stauffer, S. D. (2013). Using group role-playing games with gifted children and adolescents: A psychosocial intervention model. International Journal of Play Therapy, 22(4), 173–192.
  12. Schrier, K. (Ed.), (2016). Learning, education and games, volume two: Bringing games into educational contexts. ETC Press. p. 87-115.
  13. Simkins, D. W., & Steinkuehler, C. (2008). Critical ethical reasoning and role-play. Games and Culture, 3(3-4), 333-355.
  14. Stevens, R. (2015). Role-play and student engagement: Reflections from the classroom. Teaching in Higher Education, 20 (5). p. 481-492.
  15. Tarng, W., & Tsai, W. (2010). The design and analysis of learning effects for a game-based learning system. Engineering and Technology, 61. p. 336-345.
  16. Thorhauge, A. M. (2013). The rules of the game—The rules of the player. Games and Culture, 8, 371-391. doi:10.1177/1555412013493497
  17. Waskul, D., & Lust, M. (2004). Role-playing and playing roles: The person, player, and persona in fantasy role-playing. Symbolic Interaction, 27, 333-356. doi:10.1525/si.2004.27.3.333
  18. Woods, T. (2017). Anything can be attempted: Tabletop role-playing games as learning and pedagogy. (1072793) [Doctoral dissertation].
  19. Wright, J., Weissglass, D., & Casey, V. (2017). Imaginative role-playing as a medium for moral development: Dungeons & Dragons provides moral training. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 1,1-31. doi:10.1177/0022167816686263
  20. Zalka, C. V. (2016). Adventures in the classroom: Creating traditional story-based role-playing games for the high school curriculum. Storytelling, Self, Society, 2, 173-206. doi:10.13110/storselfsoci.12.2.0173

Published Texts

  1. Bowman, S. L. (2010). Functions of role-playing games: How participants create community, solve problems, and explore identity. McFarland & Company.
  2. Bowman, S. L., & Lieberoth, A. (2018). Psychology and role-playing games. In J. P. Zagal & S. Deterding (Eds.) Role-playing game studies: Transmedia foundations (pp. 245-264). Routledge.
  3. Fine, G. A. (1983). Shared fantasy: Role-playing games as social worlds. University of Chicago Press.
  4. Frank, A. W. (2013). The wounded storyteller: Body, illness, and ethics (2nd ed.). The University of Chicago Press.
  5. Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Doubleday.
  6. Hook, N. (2012). Identities at play: An ethnographic study of the psychological experience of recreational role-players creating and being recreated by fictional identities. Open University.
  7. Huizinga, J. (2014). Homo ludens: A study of the play-element in culture. Martino Publishing. 
  8. Kilmer, E. D., Davis, A. D., Kilmer, J. N., & Johns A. R. (2023). Therapeutically Applied Role-Playing Games. Routledge.
  9. Kramarae, C. (2012). Muted group theory. In E. A. Griffin (Ed.), A first look at communication theory (8th Ed.) (pp. 460-471). McGraw-Hill.
  1. Lindemann, K. (2020). Performative ways of knowing. In B. H. Spitzberg, D. J. Canary, & H. E. Canary, The communication capstone: The Communication inquiry and theory experience (pp. 105-119). San Diego, CA: Cognella.
  2. Nephew, M. (2006). Playing with identity: Unconscious desire and role-playing games. In J. P. Williams, S. Q. Hendricks, & W. K. Winkler (Eds.), Gaming as culture, (pp. 120-139). McFarland & Company.
  3. Tynes, J. (2010). Prismatic play: Games as windows to the real world. In P. Harrington & N. W. Fruin (Eds.), Second person: Role playing and story in games and playable media (pp. 221-228). MIT Press.
  4. White, W. J.(2018). Communication research and role-playing games. In J. P. Zagal & S. Deterding (Eds.), Role-playing game studies: Transmedia foundations (pp. 337-345). Routledge.
  5. Williams, J. P., Kirschner, D., Mizer, N., & Deterding, S. (2018). Sociology and role-playing games. In J. P. Zagal & S. Deterding (Eds.) Role-playing game studies: Transmedia foundations (pp. 227-244). Routledge
  6. Zagal, J.P., & Deterding, S. (Eds.). (2018). Role-playing game studies: Transmedia foundations, Routledge.

Website Links

  1. Brodeur, N. (2018, May 4). Behind the scenes of the making of Dungeons & Dragons. The Seattle Times.
  2. Ciriaco, M. (2017, January 19). All-female Dungeons & Dragons campaign “Girls Guts Glory” creates a safe space for gamer girls. LA Weekly.
  3. D’Anastasio, C. (2014, August 27). Dungeons & Dragons has caught up with third-wave feminism.
  1. Haeck, J. (2019, August 14). Reimagining racial ability scores.
  2. Hassania, T. (2016, October 24). Why playing Dungeons & Dragons has left me feeling empowered in a way Beyoncé never has.

Updated: 09/2023