Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Laura Wood, Ph.D., RDT/BCT


Tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGS) and live-action role-playing (LARP) games have recently risen in popularity in the cultural zeitgeist with the advent of popular gaming shows like Critical Roll and The Adventure Zone, as well as popular media like Community and Stranger Things. While some literature exists linking the concepts of roleplaying to theater and psychotherapy in the pursuit of deeper game design, little exists that attempts to bridge the gap by examining the potential of role-playing games (RPGs) as therapeutic tools informed by drama therapy practices and theories. This literature review provides a brief overview of basic RPG terminology, styles, and similarities to psychodrama and theater. It also demonstrates a basic analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of four TTRPGs and LARPs as therapeutic tools through the lens of drama therapy. This literature review is in service of future research into the application of drama therapy practices to role-playing gaming, as well as into clinical game design based in therapeutic goals and structure.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.




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