The Monsters Among Us: Realism and Constructivism in Vampire: The Masquerade
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In the roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade, players assume supernatural character identities with distinct goals, further framed inside conflictual in-game power structures and societal expectations. In this chapter, the author combines narrative analysis and player interviews with live-action roleplaying observations to assess in-game power and norms through the lenses of Realism (power) and Constructivism (norms). Drawing on liminality, or that in-game performances become emotionally real to the players, the author finds that Vampire: The Masquerade becomes a liminal space inside which players practice alternate political behaviors that magnify Realism’s and Constructivism’s most disturbing theoretical expectations.
The author would like to thank Denis Abrate, “Amadia,” Victor Asal, Raymond Bruels III, Denver by Night, Sean Patrick Fannon, “Frances,” Front Range Sabbat, Alex Goldsmith (Simon St. John), “Josef,” Andrew Kempf, Adam Lake (Raphael), Juliet Meyer, Rob Purdy, “Hope Ranae,” “Sreda.” Jennifer Shinefeld, Michael Surbrook, Paul Wake, and Cory Williamsen for their suggestions, comments, and support for this project.