Reparative Play in Dungeons & Dragons


  • Giuseppe Femia



reparative play, emancipatory bleed, Dungeons & Dragons, asexuality, queer identities


This article examines the creation of queer rhetoric through role-play to find the reparative value that Dungeons & Dragons (1974-) can potentially provide the queer communities. My work focuses on the concept of reparative play, an adaptation of reparative reading which was first proposed by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick in 1995 (Sedgwick 2003). Reparative reading explores alternatives to heteronormative ideals through the act of reading. Instead of getting caught up in the problematic implications of a text, the alternatives are foregrounded (Sedgwick 2003, 137). Reparative play then expands reparative reading into the realm of play, where one explores the possibility for a sustainable queer livelihood through play (Vist 2018). I conclude with an observation of safety tools designed for tabletop RPGs, that enable reparative play.
This work will be posited alongside an autoethnographic reflection of my own role-play experience as a means of demonstrating reparative play in practice. My work is founded on Sedgwick’s (2003) Touching Feeling, Kara Stone’s (2018) “Time and Reparative Game Design,” and Sarah Lynne Bowman’s (2010) The Functions of Role-Playing Games. These scholars observe role-play as a method of queer performativity and identity exploration. I propose that through the embodiment of a D&D character, set in a more accepting world, the players can enact reparative play to give an accurate and positive representation of themselves while promoting alternatives to heteronormative culture.



2023-05-15 — Updated on 2023-05-16


How to Cite

Femia, G. (2023). Reparative Play in Dungeons & Dragons. International Journal of Role-Playing, (13), 79–88. (Original work published May 15, 2023)