Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type


Terms of Use

© 2023 Arlowe E. Willingham. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. For all other uses, please contact the copyright holder.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Linguistics Department

First Advisor

Amanda Payne

Second Advisor

Kirby Conrod


The floor as a concept of conversational organization is investigated in the context of the tabletop gaming environment Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Building from Carole Edelsky’s 1981 article “Who’s Got the Floor”, I recorded and analyzed one online D&D session to explore collaborative characteristics of floor organization in a recreational, social, entertainment-focused game environment. Due to the unique power dynamic established by the role of Dungeon Master (DM) in a D&D game, a comparison is made to classroom environments to investigate similarities between the floor organization of teachers in academic settings. I observe how the environment of D&D promotes traits of collaborative creativity among participants and how these traits affect the conversational floor by developing longer, uncontested floor-holding segments of talk when a speaker’s contribution is narratively focused. The DM exhibits an ability to take control of the floor and regulate speaking order among participants but does not constantly sustain one end of the floor as teachers do (Philips 1983). As expected, players exhibit more agency in the recreational gaming environment than students do in the classroom, including an ability to call for game actions to be made that could fall under DM responsibility. Players also display a respectful organizational tendency to self-regulate off-topic talk back to game-relevant discussion. I conclude with a discussion of future work to be done in fields of educational and linguistic study within this language environment of tabletop roleplaying.

Included in

Linguistics Commons