R is for Roleplaying
Not in the Meta-theatrical, 'all the world's a stage' sense, I refer here to the geeky art of sitting around a table with your mates rolling dice pretending in your imagination to be, the Warrior Tharg, the Wizard Galavantrix, the Superhero MagiMan, and similar. Actually it's not ever quite that cheesy in practice.
It seemed that computer game consoles had killed 'tabletop roleplaying games' until the movie and videogame industry began plundering them for inspirational ideas. They haven't even scratched the surface. Once, and for thousands and thousands of years, before we even had such a thing s books and literacy, the biggest entertainment and education that most people got, was from Storytelling.
In the early 1990s a company called White Wolf founded by Mark Rein-Hagen rekindled the roleplaying industry by their innovative pentacle of Storytelling games of personal horror. No longer were the characters heroic and battling monsters; now, the characters are the monsters; dealing with introvertial and controvertial issues, coming to terms with the power of the beast lurking within, in tandem with their reaching puberty and discovering sexuality and psychology, tangled complex emotions and authority. The types drawn to these games largely imaginative, indigo children who felt safer indoors, not out on the sports field dealing with machismo. A faux-machismo from watching the dice roll a 6 which meant Tharg succeeds in whopping off the geriatric jabbawocky's head, has a more intellectual bias.
Roleplaying with dice taught me maths, the maths I use in life as opposed to the abstract maths I do for pleasure, ahem I mean that nobody except rocket scientists gives a crap about. Running versions of scenario's taught me that the stories we make reflect our inner issues that we are dealing with, personifying them as characters and situations. Roleplaying taught me to use the imagination. And as I am fond of quoting; "Imagination is not imaginary." (Matthers, OGD) Roleplaying develops these and many more abilities.
Storytelling is amongst our oldest traditions, through which we learn much. Roleplaying as well as being a lot of fun, is innate in human beings, those of us with imagination. Look at the aforementioned entertainment industries; movies and videogames rely upon somebody somewhere having thought up a storyline in the first place. In the last few years, I have heard the expression 'thinking outside of the box' as a preferred way of problem solving, for example it has introduced into businesses for developing strategies on strategic development courses the staff are periodically sent on. The often criticized nerdy people who make and play roleplaying games smile at this. A lot.
What I discovered by reading the core rulebooks of as many RPGs as I could lay my hands on, is the ones that contained magickal systems, very often based them upon real magickal systems, and therefore much of the content is workable in life. Roleplaying games have certainly affected my world-view and my attitude toward magickal practise. It was my education, a bookish child living in isolation with no social life right up until adulthood, avoiding the jocks and spending every possible moment with a tight crew of fellow geeks role-playing in school.
There are 3 main sorts of RPG; Fantasy, Sci-fi and Horror. In the reallygood games these genres intermingle. In the last few years Manga and Naruto has swamped the industry for the next generation. Twilight vampire chronicles from tv from books has swamped the online gothic horror roleplaying world. This is mostly pre-teens and young teens before they discover independence, money, music, sex and drugs. The adult roleplaying industry usually has one finger in the sex industry so far as most people are concerned.
As a gamesmaster and a storytelling roleplay game designer, finding adults (over 18) who accept sexuality yet prefer to play storylines based on the original themes and adventures, remembering the teenager-within, facing those sorcerously summoned tentacled demonic creatures mutating out of the bodies of people we know in the ruined stone of ancient temples, editing and comparing statistics on character sheets because the dice have told us how this part of the story should progress... using the internet for text based adventure games with other people. Where are those other people?
There are hundreds of such roleplay sites, tens of adult ones, and most of them were started a few years ago as fan projects and then abandoned, other than a few die-hard cliques who have done-it-to-death so many times over that although being the living experts in that particular game universe and rules system, they aren't running public games as drop-in centers because the drop-out rate of players is so high. People don't have the dedication, they are not willing to risk putting the time in. The ones that do run campaigns from start to end, generally tend to have abusive gamesmasters who treat players like supermarket commodities and it puts them off. It's a sad state of affairs.
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