Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Thomas Malaby

Committee Members

Stuart Moulthrop, Paul Brodwin


Ethnography, Games, Live-Action Role-Play, Play, Politics, Violence


The following thesis focuses on governance of institutionalized play in three World of Darkness live-action role-play (larp) games (ethnographic field work conducted between May and August of 2016), whose players have willingly allowed the international organization of One World by Night – an organization made up of their peers – to unify them in such a way as to create connection, community, and shared story across the world. I analyze four locii within these games (the book, the organization, the storyteller, and the player) using Michel de Certeau’s, The Practice of Everyday Life, translated by Steven Rendall, specifically focusing on the roles of the tactician and the strategist, to illustrate how the varying levels of power within these games work with, and pull against, each other. As the field work was originally conducted to investigate violence within these physical role-play games, the heart of this thesis, and one of the threads that connects each chapter, is a discussion of violence, used to confirm the serious attitude these games can sometimes engender. Though Michele de Certeau may not be a name generally associated with the discussion of gaming, it is my hope to show that gaming communities can be analyzed using the same theories anthropologists might use to examine any other community or society, as gaming communities are not separate from the rest of the world, but an integral part of the system.