Role Playing

There’s an interview ( with Ken Rolston of Bethesda up at some random website I’ve never heard of. It’s always nice to find someone’s an RPG true believer.

“Rolston: I had once dreamed that roleplaying games would transform culture. I expected roleplaying games to take their place alongside literature, drama, and cinema. It didn’t happen that way, perhaps just because it is so much more work for users to produce a narrative than to consume one — or perhaps because crafting narratives as a hobbyist is of interest only to a limited number of people. I’m only a little disappointed, though. For a small number of people, roleplaying games have become a uniquely satisfying pastime, perhaps even occasionally a vehicle for exploring the human condition.”

I think people who play role playing games and take them seriously know what he’s talking about; there’s a feeling you sometimes get when you’re like, “whoa, there’s something powerful going on here.” It’s that feeling that keeps you coming back, that makes me hope I’m still playing when I’m three times my age.

I enjoy computer role-playing games well enough, but even my favorites don’t come close to a good session of PnP role playing. The older you get and the more experiences you have, it gets harder to enjoy a computer role-playing game– no matter how sandboxy its sandbox. Your experiences, who you are, what you believe– these things just make PnP playing richer and better. It’s amazing stuff. If you’re in the club, you know what I’m talking about.

Even so, I think Rolston is unrealistic in his expectations. Things that are popular are either crass and undemanding, or fads. People make meaning for themselves apart from the whirl of popular culture.


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