What is Role Playing?
There seems to be different ideas as to what “Role Playing” actually is, many people have differing opinions so I thought I’d share my views…
(Before you read on, this is NOT a criticism of anyone’s Style, just my thoughts on what Role Playing is…)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines role-playing as “the changing of one’s behavior to fulfill a social role”. That could be applied to so many different things, but I’ll ignore most, and just concentrate on “Role Playing Games” The point we are here for….
In a Role Playing game, you take on the role of someone else, doesn’t matter if its DnD or anything else (Monopoly is a Role Playing Game, if you think about it).
While simple forms of role-playing exist in traditional children’s games such as “cops and robbers” and “cowboys and Indians”, role-playing games add a level of sophistication and persistence to this basic idea with the addition of rules. Participants in a role-playing game will generate specific characters and an ongoing plot. A consistent system of rules and a more or less realistic campaign setting in games aids suspension of disbelief. The level of realism in games ranges from just enough internal consistency to set up a believable story or credible challenge up to full-blown simulations of real-world processes.
But the emergence of games like Neverwinter and Baldurs Gate, and of course Wow… It’s made some people think that all you need to do is:
- Pick your character looks.
- Give the character a selection of skills
- Roam a virtual world solving quests, exploring and killing monsters to gain experience and cool new weapons and armor.
Which of course we all know isn’t Role Playing, its Roll Playing, many people but not all get rather surprised when they are confronted with a Real Role Playing game, the interaction is a surprise. I know Role Players who play WoW that actually play in Role, acting of that person, the other players are rather shocked.
In a true roleplaying game, the player takes on a job that is equal parts writer and actor, a Role Playing game is also:
- Improvisational theater: Players interact in real-time, and bounce unrehearsed, impromptu actions and reactions off each other. I have done this so many times, many of the histories of my recent PC’s in PBMB are based on reactions of the other PCs.Creative writing: Players experiment with language, descriptive writing and dialogue.
- Cheap therapy: Players can use the roles they play to work through frustrations and real-life issues. Ok, hands up, I’m guilty of this, but haven’t you done it as well?
- Community: Players from around the world aren’t always “on stage.” Behind the scenes, friendships grow and communities are built.
I think that a Role Playing Game is all about interaction between people, puzzles, the surroundings and more importantly, themselves. This should be all clearly wrapped in a set of rules, not rules that define every action or movement, just enough to get that sort of thing out of the way.
So, what do you think? What Does Role Playing Mean to you?