This thesis is a critical examination of how players of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons use the concept of race, both in and out of the game. The study of race in role-playing games has been neglected, and this is a tragedy, because these games offer a unique space where the concept of race, often a difficult and uncomfortable topic of conversation, is questioned, criticized, and reshaped by the players. Role-playing games are spaces of encounter between the players and a cast of imaginary others, and this requires a degree of empathy on the part of the players that makes role-playing games a space of ideological change, as players are forced to consider the world from viewpoints both familiar and alien.
The theoretical framework within combines a phenomenological analysis of roleplaying games that allows non-gamers to understand the practice and importance of these games with critical race theorists such as bell hooks, Paul Gilroy, and Patricia Hill Collins that defines what race is and how it affects all of us on a day-to-day basis. This thesis is also based on interviews with geographically diverse set of gamers who demonstrate the highly personal nature of gaming, and how race takes on a multitude of meanings both within the fictional game settings and around the gaming table.