***Reverb Gamers is a month-long blogging project for RPG, MMORPG, and LARP players. Each day in January, there’s a prompt that explores our experiences in gaming. You can find more information, and links to the participants’ daily posts, on the Facebook page for Reverb Gamers. This project is the genius plan of Michelle Nephew and me, on behalf of Atlas Games. Join in the fun! ***
Reverb Gamers 2012, January 2: What is it about gaming that you enjoy the most? Why do you game? Is it the adrenaline rush, the social aspect, or something else?
I game as performance art. Not freaky David Blaine performance art, but when I’m roleplaying, I’m creating something new so that others can (hopefully) enjoy it.
It scratches three itches for me, each distinct, but all intertwined.
The first is social. I’m loud and extroverted and chatty and gregarious. Roleplaying is the perfect activity with both good friends and new acquaintances. With good friends, there’s history, and all the joys that brings: in-jokes, running gags, the accretion of collective memory. You’re loose and comfortable, so risks don’t feel as risky. But even with folks you’ve just sat down with at a con table, RPGs break down so many barriers. You know you share a hobby, and common tastes, and probably a lot of cultural references. And the act of picking up a character sheet gives you license to put yourself out there a little more than you usually would with strangers, knowing you can always take cover in the shadow of your character.
The second is performance. I’m a performer at heart. I’ve sung in choirs since I was five, acted in countless plays and musicals. I stood in the middle of a football field playing a solo in marching band. I read aloud to my kids’ classes. I give sermons in church. I taught university classes for 15 years, and my teaching style is as much showmanship as it is preparation. Roleplaying is improv, and I’m very good at “Yes And…” I love putting on voices and accents, the postures and gestures of strangers. It’s wonderful, intimate theater, with infinite possibilities.
The third is fiction. It’s taken me a long time to come to the conclusion that I’m probably not destined to write a novel; I can’t do plot very well. So many writers I know say they’re just scribes to the scenes playing in their heads. That’s not me. I feel more like a medium, when I’m roleplaying. My characters regularly shock and surprise me, and I’ve found myself saying or typing something for them that I didn’t see coming. If I have a gift for roleplaying, it’s a gift of reacting well. It’s not as admirable as being able to create story whole-cloth, but it’s given me a lot of good moments over the years.