I keep running into people who seem shocked that Sam and I game, as in playing roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, a fair number of people act as if I should be ashamed of that fact, and maybe I’m just not clueful enough to know it.
Note: I am only talking about “pen and paper” or “tabletop” RPGs, as opposed to LARPs (live-action roleplaying) or anything that happens online. I haven’t tried either of them, so I’m not qualified to talk about them.
I know that a lot of people who have played RPGs left them behind in high school or college at the latest. Some played ’til they had kids, then stopped due to childcare issues. The number of adults who have enjoyed RPGs at some time in the past is far greater than the number who still do so.
Why do we play? Why aren’t we ashamed?
RPGs are a lovely way to interact socially in a way that lets you play “let’s pretend” as adults. You can use your brain, stretch your imagination and social skills, explore acting in ways you simply cannot behave in your “real life,” and have a very active kind of fun. They are cooperative instead of competitive and require little to no financial investment.
Well, they are the way Sam runs them.
Gaming is an escapist pursuit. There aren’t many of those that work for me, because there just aren’t many things that wholly engage me. The one time I tried playing in a game run by someone other than Sam, I wasn’t engaged. It was boring and somewhat stupid. If that’s the norm, I can’t really blame people for not wanting to play.
I understand that many people play “hack ‘n slash” games, in which the objective seems to be killing as many things as possible and collecting as much loot as possible. That has no appeal to me. period. My early exposure to D&D involved a few friends who were doing dungeon crawls from modules they’d purchased. I wasn’t impressed.
I didn’t start playing until I met Sam six years ago. The first game wasn’t a big hit, but the next became more and more enthralling as I got more comfortable with the mechanics and began to spread my creative wings a bit.
Because we only game with adults right now, the plots are wide-ranging. Nothing is off-limits. We’ve dealt with racism, sexuality, religious schisms, and tricky political maneuvering. There are silly bits and bits that have made me cry. (For those that don’t know me in person, I *hate* to cry and will do damned near anything to keep anyone from seeing me do so.)
Sam runs games for teens, too, and those are age-appropriate while dealing with real issues, too. As the kids involved have grown, so have the themes.
One of the ongoing campaigns Sam is running, with just mique_mique and me as players, gets racy. Frequently. It’s simply in the nature of the two-player characters (PCs) to get that way. They tend to live very interesting lives (in the Chinese sense) because they can’t stand to be bored.
While my PC is actually something of a “goody-two-shoes” in that she cannot walk away from anyone who needs help. She’s pretty free-ranging in HOW she’ll help, but she seems to be immune to SEP fields. (From Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that force which causes people to walk past trouble because it’s “somebody else’s problem.”)
mique_mique’s PC is an impulsive thief who never saw a pretty she didn’t want. NOW.
As I said, they lead interesting lives.
Our “home game” is just between the two of us. It is a very high-level (powerful characters) game, and very personal. It gives the two of us a way to interact that has nothing at all to do with any of the “must-dos” of our lives. No money, relationship, kid, or house issues. Nothing like that. It’s a valuable escape and at the right price.
Are we losing touch with reality? I don’t think so. Do we spend too much time in our imaginations? I rather doubt it.
So that’s why we play. You’re welcome to ask about joining us if you want to experience gaming as an adult, rather than something like a collective “choose your ending” book.