You Play What?

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.

Cur­rent Mood: 🤔con­tem­pla­tive
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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