What the hell is Roleplaying anyway?

Some who come to this space may wonder:

“What in hell is he talking about? Roleplaying game? Isn’t that kinda kinky?”

Well, yes, if you do it right.

Kidding, kidding. Mostly.

But more seriously, for the moms out there who have wondered what their offspring was wasting their time with for the last 30 years or so:

Roleplaying is creative, interactive, communal storytelling.

If you went out and did improv theater, parental units would get it, right? Oh, my son/daugher is an actor.


And everyone smiles and nods, and they knows whats goings on.

But they never say “my daughter, she creates a world vivid enough for six to eight other people to take up roles, and pretend to be part of that world. She then has to interpret all their actions, create a narrative, and play every other person in the universe. And it all has to be believable, internally consistent, and be part of an arc, without being too heavy handed.”

And everyone frowns, and thinks: “I wonder if that kid is going to go postal one day. After all, twice a year he dresses up in tights, puts on a weapon, and wanders around saying ‘thee’ and ‘yea, verily’ all day.” On the flip side, we usually get props for knowing Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Homer T. Greek, rather than Homer J. Simpson.

Why is that, do you think?

2 thoughts on “What the hell is Roleplaying anyway?

  1. As strange as role playing is… as difficult as it is to do well… as diverse as tastes even within the scene can be… I am amazed that games happen to the extent that they do.

    I certainly feel like something of a reenactor when I run a vintage game… but even running GURPS 4e I tend to feel like I'm involved in some sort of obscure folk art.

    I suppose I'd have more to talk about at the water-cooler if I drank more beer and watched more football… and I've never been one to do anything other than walk to the beat of a different drummer… but I just can't see anyone getting much in the way of praise for doing this stuff. It's just such a narrow niche of a hobby….

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