After spending four days talking about my roleplaying days and taking another foray into it now, you might be asking, “Why? If you’re trying to be taken seriously as a writer and editor, why talk so much about nerdy games? Don’t you already spend a lot of time in make-believe land?”
Well, yeah, why do you think I like roleplaying so much?
But you’d be wrong to think that there isn’t a legit connection between RPGs and writing. Roleplaying exercises the same creative muscles a writer uses, but in different ways. Instead of just imagining the dialogue of characters you actually have to engage in it, and most of it is improv. This can often be trite, cliche, or hilarious, but sometimes surprising too.
Writers get to play a lot when they create, but they usually know how things are going to end up (Usually. I’ve surprised myself more than once while writing a story).
But when playing with a group of friends you aren’t dealing with just your own imagination. If you’re the game master, you’re dealing with two or more people who are trying to outwit you. Their job is to avoid the trap you’ve laid instead of fighting out of it, or finding a solution to a problem you never even considered. This kind of collaborative storytelling can go a long way to recharging your batteries as a writer and think differently.
Hell, I doubt I’d be a writer if it wasn’t for roleplaying games. Thinking about the characters and adventures even between sessions kept the creative fires hot. I might not have bicycled across Canada or any other country, either, because playing these games made me want to push the limits of what I could do and have adventures of my own. Some of my earliest published work was for an RPG magazine, as well as a long-running comic strip that helped prep me for going into novels, which in turn prepped me for going into editing.
I might have had a much more boring life if it wasn’t for roleplaying.
So I hope I never have to give it up. I hope I can always find at least a couple of people to play with me around the dinner table, or online as that technology improves. I hope I can keep playing and dreaming with my writer’s muscles.
I hope the game never dies.