Introduction of “why” in roleplaying games
While often the conversation of the roleplaying hobby revolves around the question of “how,” I find I spend most of my time asking “why.” While discussion of effective Game Mastering, playing a compelling character, and the like can be useful tools, these are simply to treat the symptoms of the obstacles we face in this hobby. Understanding why we take on such an odd and complex undertaking and dare to call it fun gives us insight on what drives us and when we know why, we know when we fall short of why. This concept of why is what we’re here to explore: Why do we play, Why do you play, and why is this important for roleplaying gamers.
Why do we play roleplaying games?
We live in a day and age where even attempting to count the various hobbies in existence would be a hobby in itself. Television, automotives, film, geocaching, so-on and so-forth… The options are near limitless. With all these, we have been drawn to pen and paper roleplaying games. Not only a hobby dating beyond fifty years in age (depending on your interpretation), but comparatively to many others, requiring hours of dedicated effort and the near Herculean effort of getting five humans together in the same room.
Would not something more relaxed, simple, and solitary be an easier hobby and therefore from it, more enjoyment? What about a hobby leaving behind a physical legacy? Collectors and artists have something to look on after the years, but leaving aside any components built or purchased, the adventures we have merely reside in our collective memories, we cannot truly share the result of our hobby. We build it together but it immediately becomes ephemeral, never to be grasped again.
As you read, you’re likely repeating the same or similar sentiment, but it’s not the same, and it isn’t. We all, at one point or another, have decided to subject ourselves to hours of pouring over rule books, crafting intangible worlds, and sitting around the table with others who share this peculiar drive. We choose to learn, we choose to create and we choose to explore unseen worlds nestled in our collective minds. But why?
Why do you play?
Often there is no true ultimate answer for anything and this is no different. Some find pulling apart a machine and inspecting its base components a compelling drive, even taking it to its next logical step of putting it back together, better than how they discovered it. Others submerge themselves into the waters of creativity, immersing themselves in a world or maybe even losing themselves in another body. There are those who observe and enjoy the story unfolding around them, while a small group of us derive our joy by seeing the emotional responses in our friends. These outbursts of unchecked joy, rage, and sorrow are when we are brimming with pride and accomplishment.
Your “why” is personal and even subject to change. Sometimes even the most theatrical player wants to chuck some dice and the abacus-wielding min-maxer dips their toes in the experience of acting at the table. Understanding why is the path to understanding what makes you happy in this wonderful hobby and how you can stoke motivation for a most memorable experience.
Why is this important for the hobby?
Answering this question is your first step on the road to creating a better experience for yourself and those graced to share a table with you. If you can understand your motivations, you can foster them and get the most out of every session. Ideally, you become skilled at helping others discover their “why” and aid in fulfilling their drive.
For everyone at your table that is enlightened on their “why,” your experience becomes exponentially better and isn’t this why we all do this? We all put in the effort of writing characters and balance mathematics to have the best time we can. No one comes to the table wanting a bad time, but as with all things, failure happens. This is no guide to remove the occurrence of failed sessions, but it is a road to aid in your highs being higher and your lows less frequent.
If I haven’t sparked a fire in you yet, I want to charge you. Spend some time contemplating. Whether at your desk, in the shower or wherever your best thoughts strike you, find your why. If you’re having trouble nailing it down, try discussing it with others in the hobby. Comment below with your why and help others explore their minds. Thanks for reading and if you like a slightly existential spin on the hobby, shout it out if you want to see more @Kilo_Kilo on Twitter.[amazon_link asins=’1934859397,152320883X,193678162X’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’nerdarchy-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3b1ec03e-eceb-11e7-8db2-293e924eee09′]
Child of the Midwest, spending his adolescence dreaming of creating joy for gaming between sessions of cattle tending. He holds a fondness for the macabre, humorous and even a dash of grim dark. Aspiring designer spending most of his time writing and speculating on this beautiful hobby when he isn’t separating planes.