This page is meant to be a basic rundown of roleplaying, directed towards those who just don't know what roleplaying is.
What is roleplaying? ∞
Roleplay, simply put, is the action of playing out an imaginary role in an imaginary world. This is similar to being an actor in a play or to playing "cowboys and indians" as a child. It is a game -- Something done for enjoyment with a group of friends.
What kinds of roleplaying are there? ∞
Functionally, there are two modes of the roleplaying in this 'game' sense. The original is less physical and more intellectual, involving sitting static with the group. The second, also known as LARP, or Live Action RolePlaying, involves physically acting out the roles. I have had very little experience with LARP. As I understand it, it generally involves large-ish festivals of people -- somewhat similar to civil war reenactment or medieval festivals. I respect the field of acting, but even though I might be damned good at it if I were pushed, I don't approach LARP as serious roleplay. I don't feel that it offers the same benefits as "true" roleplaying, so I won't get into LARP at all.
Why roleplay? ∞
As with all things, opinions differ.
Allow me to set the scene for roleplaying to describe what an outsider would see: A group of friends making regular plans to get together, commonly involving strict recordkeeping and an understanding of a published set of rules and an unpublished set of 'house rules' (imagine special rules for poker night). Discussion, even argument (but between friends, remember), over very obscure topics is commonplace.
What would roleplaying do for me? ∞
On the surface, roleplaying is fair competition for many other pasttimes.
Roleplaying is a source of entertainment. It is an alternate to presently available media such as reading, television, music, sports, and various other pasttimes.
Roleplaying brings friends together, regularly, and also introduces people to new friends. Opportunities to enlarge one's social circle are generally unavailable outside of school, work and clubs. Roleplaying adds another resource.
Roleplaying directly promotes planning and teamwork: All involved have to schedule themselves to be at one place at one time.
Roleplaying stimulates language skills: The reading and understanding of the core rules for a game. This (for many games) introduces more advanced english to the reader.
Roleplaying requires communication skills: Explanation and description are extremely important to fully communicate one's intentions in an imaginary world.
Roleplaying encourages a vivid imagination: One puts on an imaginary persona and has a world described. Understanding and interacting with this world helps develop a mature mind.
Roleplaying teases curiosity: History and mythology are badly skewed in some games, but others games succeed in being very accurate, and could act as history and mythology texts themselves. Furthermore, science fiction comes alive in roleplaying.
Examples of roleplay ∞
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The deeper benefits of roleplaying ∞
For many, roleplaying encourages maturity and focus, logic and reason. For some it fulfills curiosities, alleviates depression or tempers anger. It is uplifting and empowering.
Another benefit may well be the safe exposure of a person to items which would normally generate anxiety. By roleplaying out one's responses to an imaginary, fear-causing, event.. a roleplayer can learn to dominate those fears in the real world.
Many people branch out from roleplaying to discover love for historical literature, philosophy, fantasy and science fiction.
Here is an example set of skills an advanced roleplayer has learned:
- Planning and Foresight
- Teamwork and Leadership skills
- Logic and Reason
- Dedication and Focus
- Imagination and Creativity
- Speaking skills
- Advanced literacy
These are the sorts of skills strived for by motivational speakers. These are the sorts of skills that look damned fine on a resume.
Creative problem solving is another big issue. Roleplayers are forced into wild situations where their creative thinking can greatly aid their chances for success. Long-time roleplayers tend to be extraordinarily broad thinkers, and are able to pull ideas from the stranger corners of their imagination.
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How do I get more information on roleplaying? ∞
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Where do I get roleplaying games? ∞
The most obvious place to get roleplaying games is your local hobby shop / game store. Alternatively major online booksellers will carry RPGs. Search Amazon or other retailers for the title of various roleplaying game systems.
Libraries may also have them, although they may either have old editions or incomplete sets.
For extensive information, do internet searches for keywords such as "RPG", "roleplay", "roleplaying", "roleplaying games", as well as for various RPG titles.
My version of roleplaying, like all things in my life, exists for multiple reasons. It has evolved into a vast resource, tapped for personal evolution.
Yes, I'm aware of the pro/con roleplaying arguments.. as well as the religious views. I'll get into that when I've got some time, please leave the issue alone for now.