Nothing Like a Good Fiasco! Exploring the Potential of Tabletop Role-Playing Games (TRPGs) As Literacy Experiences


  • Harrison Campbell Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary
  • Andrea Madsen Northern Alberta Institute of Technology


Within this position paper, we describe the use of Fiasco, a tabletop role-playing game (TRPG), as it relates to the creation of literacy experiences. Fiasco is a TRPG that utilizes prompts inspired by genre fiction to collaboratively generate, establish, and resolve scenes between a varied cast of characters in several rounds improvisational roleplay. To explore the range of literacy experience opportunities, present in its play, we present our experiences designing and playing a Fiasco session and reflect upon the transformative potential of tabletop games in creating literacy experiences. The position we undertake, in favor of the considered use of TRPGs for learning through serious gaming in classrooms, is reflective of the experiences within our local gaming and learning communities. Based upon this experience and relevant literature, we contend that table-top gaming fits well within literacy pedagogy and explore how they can be used in classrooms. Therefore, our discussion is centered upon the potential of tabletop games experiences to be considered inventive, specifically in relation to the teaching and learning of literacy skills within a serious gaming framework.

Author Biographies

Harrison Campbell, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary

Harrison Campbell, BE.d, MA: Harrison Campbell is a Doctor of Philosophy student at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. His area of scholarship explores the use of theatrical phenomenology in understanding secondary student experiences of literacy. His PhD research has been generously funded by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, through the Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS Doctoral), and The Killam Trusts through the Izaak Walton Killam Doctoral Memorial Scholarship.  

Andrea Madsen , Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Andrea Madsen, B.Sc., BE.d: Andrea Madsen is Bachelor of Education graduate currently working at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Their background includes mathematics and physics education, working with learners from kindergarten to adulthood. In the past year they have been developing workshops that leverage tabletop games to build essential social skills, adapting these games to online collaborative spaces, and exploring technologies to increase the accessibility of learning and playing together online.






Position Paper/Essai