If you've been spending any time at all at Gamegrene recently, you'd have to be blind not to notice the rather substantial discussion sparked by dwhoward's article "Roleplaying: Gig Or Game?" I have no desire to rehash the same old arguments yet again (nor do most of the participants have any desire to hear them again). What I really want to do here is use dwhoward's thought-provoking article as a jumping-off point to explore a related issue... the question of whether it is really possible to win a roleplaying game.
So, I made it to Games Day in Baltimore this year. I had a delightful time socializing with folks I'd met over the 'net, and with other people whom I only recognized from the pages of White Dwarf. That all kicked ass. What wasn't fine was the spotty enforcement of contest rules. With this in mind, I decided to whip up a list of suggestions for anyone putting together a mini contest, whether as a store event or at a con.
Read the rules, roam the boards, visit the games and it's all the same: Acting has replaced gaming in RPGs. Players are discouraged from studying the gamebooks; knowing about common monsters or enemies is disparaged under the derogatory term of "meta-gaming." Instead, characters should stare in wonder at the story and atmosphere that the Gamemaster creates, then blunder and stumble through the adventure. As long as they blunder and stumble using flowery language, Gamemasters reward them. I'm disgusted. I'm sick. How has it gotten this bad?
Recently I spent a great deal of time reading about the attacks on gaming that have come over the years. Role-playing has been vilified as both 'evil' and 'Satanic', and is supposedly the cause of many suicides. All of us know that gaming frequently garners a lot of negative attention, but it would seem that few of us know specifically who is instigating these attacks.
Why did I just buy that game? I sat up in bed one night, thinking: what is it that makes you squeal each time your character dies in a game? What is it that manages to make your heart pump like a Formula-1 turbocharger, and your palms sweat like cheese in the sun? What makes a game captivating? It sounds easy, but it certainly isn't an easy answer.
Lately, some of my fellow gamers and I have been discussing stereotypical characters - the kind you find yourself making over and over again whether you intend to or not. As I composed my post about "the typical Beth character"--female, stealthy and tricky, sarcastic, tragic, kind of like Janeane Garofalo with a broadsword and some unhealthy revenge fantasies--I noticed a rather interesting thing about my PCs' appearances. No matter the system, no matter the character class, I couldn't remember ever playing a character who was physically attractive in the traditional sense.
With games of all sorts finding their way into the public eye more and more often, it's interesting to question how the gamers, world media and general populace view them. Obviously, almost all games have a background as hobbies. Simple pastimes used to while away the hours between work/daily tasks. But gaming in some cases has grown far beyond this.
Wargaming, Card-Gaming, Roleplaying. These three words represent markets whose core audience demographics overlap to such an extent that it is often thought that the markets are in competition. Even gamers, who otherwise have a huge amount in common, often refer to the above terms as a form of segregation. Which I feel is total rubbish.
Any roleplayer will tell you that character development is at the core of most roleplaying games. However, not many roleplaying systems cater for the final development of any character: their death. So I am going to put this question out there: should the roleplaying of character death be an integral part of the roleplay experience, or is the death of a character just bad luck?
I hate TSR/WOTC. To enforce my points, allow me to spearhead my (low-fat) negativeness into two fronts, two of the major sources of the much-overvalued green paper with dead presidents that corporations can't seem to get enough of: Magic: the Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition.