DM Habitus

The Social Dispositions of Game Mastering in Dungeons & Dragons



Dungeons & Dragons, gaming, habitus, practice theory, sociology


This paper discusses the situatedness of the Game Master, specifically the Dungeon Master (DM), in terms of practice theory. I use Pierre Bourdieu’s (1984) theory of habitus to create the notion of what I call DM habitus, or “deeply engrained habits, skills, and bodily dispositions” that result from the gaming experience that individuals in the Dungeon Master role enact to cement their role. I discuss how, instead of affirmative lines between the idea of “collaborator,” “storyteller,” and “divinity,” the authority granted to Dungeon Masters by the space of social production of tabletop role-playing games (TRPGs) provides them the ability to appropriate these distinct roles for the sake of preserving the social structure of the gaming space.


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