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Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2046-6692
  • E-ISSN: 2046-6706



Many fans of Sherlock Holmes are now extending their interest in the famous sleuth into the world of social media. In particular, the BBC’s modern adaptation, Sherlock, seems to have grabbed the public’s attention with multiple character role plays on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. It remains unclear, however, whether to categorize these narratives as fan fiction or role play game. This article explores the genre differences between fan fiction and role play game and identifies specific genre characteristics that place social media fan narratives in the role play game category.

While adaptation studies and much of fan fiction center on issues of fidelity to the source text, role play scholarship emphasizes recreating the world of the sourcetext. Role playing both expands the boundaries of the original series in that it provides viewers with more—more stories, more character development, more adventure—but it is also limited by the constraints of the original show’s characterization and overall narrative arc. Online role play characters must speak like their source characters, they must interact with other characters from the show in textually appropriate ways, and they must respond to new situations in ways that are consistent with their televisual counterparts.

Looking specifically at BBC Sherlock role plays on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, this article explores the ways in which contemporary audiences are using social media to challenge traditional understandings of genre, world building and fandom in order to approach a greater verisimilitude of play.


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