In defence of the RPG

My name is Jaine and I am a gamer.

I should probably qualify that statement. Firstly, by ‘gamer’ I mean old fashioned table-top role-playing games, not these new-fangled computer adventures (fun though they can be). Secondly, I don’t game that much these days. It’s not something I feel the need to do any more, largely because I now write my stories complete from beginning to end – world, plot, character –  rather than setting up a situation and then getting my friends help me find out how things turn out. But I’ve had a lot of pleasure from running and playing games.

The appeal of role-playing games for me has less to do with the games aspect than with the role-playing. A good RPG can give you the chance to be what you’re not, to explore situations you’ll never come across in your own life. The kill-the-beastie-and-take-its-treasure school of role-playing never held much appeal. I played and ran games for the same reasons I read (and now write) books. To let my imagination out to play.

There are differences. RPGs are less work than fiction as there is (or should be in my opinion) a strong element of consensus storytelling. On the other hand, if, as a writer, I find my characters behaving unpredictably (as they do), I can steer them back towards the path I intended them to take without the risk of annoying my friends. In some ways you have to consider more plot possibilities in a game, because of such player unpredictability. On the other hand, games are ephemeral. You can wing it when running a game in a way you can’t when writing a book. You players will probably cut you some slack. Your critics won’t.

I know that writers, even of SF, rarely admit to playing games, and I’ve sat through some duds in my time, but a good role-playing game can be as satisfying as a good book. If you can find an engaging and eye-opening game where story matters more than mechanics and it isn’t all about the size of your sword, I’d recommend this pastime to anyone.

 

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Designed by Martin Reed

@JaineFenn

  • RT : One of my previously published stories is slated to appear in the 'Sins and Other Worlds' anthology. The ToC looks wonderful and there are some nice bonuses on offer to backers on Kickstarter. Please click this link to support this exciting project: ,
  • 2 years time: UK: So Rest-of-world, we've cut ourselves off from our neighbours: doesn't that make trading with us a great proposition? *silence* 3 years time: UK: Come on, we've got great deals! Some-of-world: You desperate enough to take our shit deals yet? UK: Yes we are.,
  • Anyone for a review copy? ,
  • The prospect of rain around here is now so outlandish that the Met Office is giving us a yellow warning for a 30% chance of a light shower, presumably in case people panic at seeing water coming out of the sky.,
  • Thanks to all involved in organising the for a great evening. Sadly as I had to leave early I didn't get to take full advantage of the oversupply of wine.,