The Nature of Role Play
LARP or Live Action Role Play
What is good role playing?
Good role playing is any game; be it on paper, with cards, on console, pc, mac, or online where people have the opportunity to be who they want to be rather than who they are. Why are role players so often the source of society’s venom and hatred? In the beginning people said Dungeon’s & Dragons was Satanic. Later on Magic: The Gathering was set squarely in Moral America’s sights. For the last several decades role playing has risen from the underground. It’s grown so fast that our media and moral leaders have scarcely had the time to aim.
Role Playing is exactly that, playing the role of someone else. It attracts those who are cast aside by mainstream society. The people who don’t have the same likes and dislikes as the masses, who think different thoughts and talk about issues most would rather not hear about. By being other and different, role players become scapegoats. Everyone knows the stereotype of the overweight, acne ridden nerd who spends all his time in his basement with his other loser friends playing Dungeons & Dragons or Vampire: The Masquerade. This is simply another form of prejudice and discrimination we face.
If someone decides to shoot up a school somewhere, what does society do? Do they take a long hard look at themselves, the parents of the children, and the situation they might’ve felt they’ve been put in? Do the parents or teachers look in the mirror and realize that major aspects of society need to be rethought if they’re to stop these violent and fatal protests? No. It’s so much easier to point the finger. Blame the people who don’t fit in, blame the pass-times that only weird or immoral people could possibly enjoy. By pointing the finger a person is able to continue their guilt-free existence in blissful and deliberate ignorance. It’s the American way.
This is not what it means to be a role player, but its important to put things into perspective by showing what environment many role players find themselves in. By being the ones that society as a whole points at, role players of all stripes are given a certain sense of unity. That unity in turns grants a certain comfortable atmosphere by which ideas may be voiced. From varying degrees of ostracism and latent hostility come creation, imagination, and ingenuity. It would explain why RPGs of all kinds have become more popular.
Unlike those violent individuals role players are mistaken for, role players do not lash out or externalize their feelings. By playing the role of another individual in another reality, role players seek an escape from the world around them. Many would say that attempting to escape is unhealthy, and deviant.
But isn’t that the point of all entertainment? To escape? To just forget who you are for a few minutes and be drawn in by a story, excited by the limitless possibilities before you? Role play is merely a purified form of that, where the story is yours to decide. These people who can do nothing but accept the world they must live in finally have the power to control all aspects of their lives in the confines of a role playing game. It is a comfort, a soothing panacea for those who live out lives of quiet desperation. Role playing is simply a way of coping with stresses in one’s life. Role Playing is acceptance. For good or worse, whenever people with imagination who feel repressed by society gather, role playing will continue to grow and evolve.
As a matter of fact there is yet hope for role-players. With the advent of MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) such as World of Warcraft and Lord of The Rings Online role-playing is now something viewed as “cool” by the mainstream. This is something neither we as individuals nor society as a whole has seen before. With an excess of one hundred million people (including moms, dads, children, and the elderly) logging on to play daily, who will we have to blame when the next ticking time bomb sitting at the far desk goes off? I leave that for moral America to ignore, though I have the distinct feeling that kevlar will soon become a fashion statement next season.
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