Not a Hero (in the traditional sense)


Not a Hero (in the traditional sense) first made its debut in 2007 as part of a talk presented by Joel Slayton at the Visual Computation Conference, at the College of Charleston, in Charleston, South Carolina. In March of 2012 Not a Hero was exhibited as part of Big Reality, which showed at 319 Scholes Gallery in Brooklyn New York, curated by Brian Droitcour

About Dave

Not a Hero (in the traditional sense) is an experiment in roleplaying. Dave, is the character I become. For me, Dave embodies the fantasy of the banal. He lives in a world of paperwork and office politics not demon slaying and magic. I perceive Dave as the fantasy character's fantasy. He doesn't have to worry about warring factions or situations of life or death. Like many Americans, his life is simple and his big problems are trivial in the grand scheme of things. Dave isn't unaware of the violence and war going on in the world in which he lives, it simply doesn't directly affect him. To Dave the undead are mythical but deadlines are all to real.

When I play as Dave, I play strictly in character. I must treat the World of Warcraft as the only world I know. I must acknowledge conversation with all other characters, regardless of how they role. A common challenge when rolplaying in MMORPGS like Warcraft is reconciling those users playing out of character. Dave lives in Twisting Nethers, a detected role playing server, however, the amount of actual roleplay on the server is still collectively up to the users. Even playing on a dedicated server, those playing in character inevitably end up in the minority. Thus, in playing Dave, I not only have the challenge of reconciling those chatting out of character but I also have to reconcile those characters playing traditional fantasy roles. Dave must take in the world around him as any one of us would, and thus he assumes those around him share his context. If questioned, Dave does know a lot about dragons, because he wastes a lot of time at work on Wikipedia.

Photos and Dispatches from Dave


dave in bed

dave meeting


Day 1: Chatlog Transcript

big reality book cover

ali and dave

more peeps at the show

Big Reality

Big Reality proposes that contemporary everyday life seamlessly integrates elements of fantasy and play through consumer technology and networked media. The exhibition explores this proposition through artworks that draw imagery, themes, and devices from a relatively young and heavily stereotyped genre of play: the fantasy role-playing game.

Along with Not a Hero prints and audio, Big Reality also featured, Demand Player Sovereignty, the video documentary I did under 3rd Faction. The Not a Hero transcript as well as my essay on DPS were included in the comprehensive exhibition catalogue that acted as a written counterpart to the show. Big Reality, curated by Brian Droitcour, showed at 319 Scholes Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibition opened on March 15th of 2012 and ran through March 29th.

I found that what united a diverse group of artists working online was a rejection of the idea of ‘virtual reality’—that what happens online was just as ‘real’ as events that took place away from the keyboard.
– Brian Droitcour


Big Reality
The Backstory
Rhizome Editorial
Exhibition Catalogue


Art Forum
Art Info
Post Position
Guest of a Guest


Not a Hero (in the traditional sense) was initially conceived in the midst of Ars Virtua’s transition into World of Warcraft. It was part of early forays of the Ars Virtua Guild that later set the stage for what is now the The Faction Collective. The project was made possible by equipment and resources provided by the Cadre Laboratory for New Media.

John Bruneau 2023