Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




In this dissertation, which uses philosophical inquiry, I posit that tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) can provide an educative experience for democratic civic life in the Deweyan tradition. Tabletop RPGs present an invaluable resource for ongoing civic formation by encouraging deliberation and consensus building across shared goals and circumstances. Philosopher John Dewey emphasized that democracy is defined by the civic habits and collective action, not formal governance structures. The experience of playing tabletop RPGs can cultivate habitus and space for future and current citizens to practice democratic skills and commitments. Therefore, these games are a means that align with the ends of a civic life that is rooted in an understanding of democracy beyond just a form of governance, and instead, as a process and interactions of a community. Understood this way, tabletop role-playing games can facilitate a ludic pedagogy of democratic civic life. This approach is not just focused on using novel tools to deliver information or a gamified approach to learning. Instead, it calls for an autotelic approach to citizenship formation that prioritizes committed collaboration with others, imaginative and emergent approaches to problem solving, and the ability to critically negotiate systems of power.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.