Title

Bonds of Blood: Vampire the Masquerade as Urban Heterotopia

Presenter Information

Nicolas Crosby

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 271

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Heterotopia, Popular Culture, Urban

Abstract

This presentation explores the Live Action Role Playing game Vampire the Masquerade (VtM) through Foucault's concept of the heterotopia, with special attention to the complex symbolic politics of blood and the family in modern American culture. Although, at times, dismissed as a frivolous game, VtM is taken seriously by its participants. Masqueraders have transitioned, within a microcosm, from hegemonic American notions of family into a completely different sort of family unit, which emerges from in-game dynamics. Due to a desire to be a part of something larger in scope, with stronger bonds, they have joined a system which allows them to have two families. While they may maintain their nuclear, real family ties, they have also joined themselves to another family, which I show to take shape in the form of a lineage with a long, documented, and noble history. These double lives tend to express themselves most frequently within urban environments, where societal bonds tend to weaken or disappear, as opposed to smaller towns, and villages where bonds tend to last longer and be more defined. In order to create new bonds and status hierarchies within the metropolis, the game is conducted in the real world and in a mythic cityscape. While the players may project their own society onto the cityscape, the city’s physical geography is always present underneath, in multilayered inversions. Thus, the heterotopia of the Masquerade is simultaneously produced and transmuted each night.

Faculty Mentor(s)

J. Hope Amason, Mark Auslander

Department/Program

Resource Management

Additional Mentoring Department

Anthropology & Museum Studies

Additional Mentoring Department

Anthropology

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May 21st, 11:40 AM May 21st, 1:00 PM

Bonds of Blood: Vampire the Masquerade as Urban Heterotopia

SURC 271

This presentation explores the Live Action Role Playing game Vampire the Masquerade (VtM) through Foucault's concept of the heterotopia, with special attention to the complex symbolic politics of blood and the family in modern American culture. Although, at times, dismissed as a frivolous game, VtM is taken seriously by its participants. Masqueraders have transitioned, within a microcosm, from hegemonic American notions of family into a completely different sort of family unit, which emerges from in-game dynamics. Due to a desire to be a part of something larger in scope, with stronger bonds, they have joined a system which allows them to have two families. While they may maintain their nuclear, real family ties, they have also joined themselves to another family, which I show to take shape in the form of a lineage with a long, documented, and noble history. These double lives tend to express themselves most frequently within urban environments, where societal bonds tend to weaken or disappear, as opposed to smaller towns, and villages where bonds tend to last longer and be more defined. In order to create new bonds and status hierarchies within the metropolis, the game is conducted in the real world and in a mythic cityscape. While the players may project their own society onto the cityscape, the city’s physical geography is always present underneath, in multilayered inversions. Thus, the heterotopia of the Masquerade is simultaneously produced and transmuted each night.