Feb 19, 2009

A short question, but by no means easy...

So even now, several months into the lifecycle of the Dungeons and Dragons adventure game (4th edition) we still have a fundamental disconnect.

WE being the gaming community at large. I was originally going to RANT RANT RANT,
But that is unneccesary at this time.

Instead, I have a question. An open call, if you will. Can somebody PLEASE define role-playing? Somebody will be a wise-ass and link the wiki stub, so I'll just get it out of the way.


Specifically, I'd like to know how or why one game would have it in any more or less abundance than any other. You folks are incredibly bright, but you bicker over minor details WAAAAAAAAY too much.

Step up to the podium. I'd like to know what YOU define as role-playing. If you'd rather lurk, that's fine, but your opinion might just actually matter here, so I encourage you to comment. Otherwise you are either lazy or a pussy :-)

SOUND OFF or write a blog post of your own. I'll be watching.


Questing GM said...

Mad Brew Labs has put some thought into this as a post but I think I'll let him do the honors of posting a link, unless he fails to realize this post.

Wyatt said...

Roleplaying is Wyatt's special-time when he pretends to be a little girl.

Thasmodious said...

I like Wyatt's answer, nice. Me, I don't get bound up by definitions or labels. I love discussing the hobby, but questions like this or which one type of game is the One True Fun are pointless. It's something you are doing on your own time, with your friends, what it is, how it plays, and what you get out of it are entirely up to you and yours. Grab some dice and make a save vs small stuff.

Ravyn said...

I suppose now's the wrong time to tell you I answered this question last week?

Anonymous said...

role-playing is faustusnotes' special time when other people pretend to be little girls...

... I thought all the ranting was not about whether a system has more or less role-playing, but whether it acts a hindrance to role-playing? The argument being that 4e encourages not-really-role-playing. Saying "it has no role-playing" is a shorthand for this, right?

I have lost track of the number of times the following has happened to me:
1) meets greasy nerd, starts talking role-playing
2) greasy nerd says "I'm more into role-playing than hack-and-slash, you know - I'm in it for the deeper enjoyment!"
3) greasy nerd then plays a straight-out role-playing-free hack and slash game

In my experience it's pretty system independent...

Anonymous said...

There are at least two players.

They create a fictional world and fictional characters that inhabit it.

They interact with the fiction from the perspective of the fictional characters. They can also take other perspectives, but this is a major one.

Mark said...

Roleplaying is that thing that I do and enjoy that those other people don't. It makes me, and therefore my games, better than yours. Defining it would make it harder to feel superior to you, so I just dance around it a lot.

Seriously, that's about what it's come to mean. It's a signifier for "my gaming is better than your gaming."

Chgowiz said...

Roleplaying - the time when Chgowiz get to be the hero chasing the girls in his head, not the girls that the other guy is playing...

I speak passionately about what I like and what I believe and what I think - but in the end, I'll play just about anything and try just about anything for the experience and the enjoyment. I just have specific preferences.

Mike Lee said...

Role playing is when I pretend to be a normal person around people wonder how someone can play a "game" for twelve hours straight. Doesn't Monopoly and Scattergories get boring after a while? Oh, now I see, you're a gamer, so you must play WoW. This is the part where I try to explain tabletop RPGs like a dying grenade victim tries to stuff his entrails back into his exploded torso.

Donny said...

@Questing GM - Hope to see it :)

@Wyatt - As opposed to any other time? :) I had no idea schoolgirl uniforms came in your size!

@Thasmodius - Agreed. I wasnt trolling for nods, I really want to know what this whole role-playing thing is, so i can see which game it is missing from :)

@Rayvn - Excellent article. Not 100% what I was looking for, but it will do. I don't know how I missed it!

@Faustusnotes - Also agreed. Personally, I have never seen role-playing like what a lot of folks seem to thing is the norm. At the last con I played in, the voices and party intrigue guy was all over the story...played his character to a T, and couldn't hit the broadside of a large barn. When he died, and left the table, the other 5 players all looked at each other - and in unison, said "Fag". While I wasn't terribl happy about this, it simply was :/

@Thanuir - A simple and accurate answer. I wish everyone was as forgiving :)

@Mark - I like your answer the best. "Yer doin it wrong" has gotten deeply intertwined with geek culture in general. Added to a culture full of memes that enjoys mocking anything out of the ordinary...and you have edition wars and jackassery to spare.

@Chgowiz - Also agreed. Specific preferences are part of being a gamer. Not everyone WANTS to play star wars, not everyone wants to play Vampire.

@Mike Lee - I SOOOO hear you. Reminds me of trying to explain Farscape to someone who wasn't into sci-fi...took weeks to get the blood off of the walls...

Mad Brew said...

@Questing GM: I did write about Roleplaying Games, and proposed a definition for RPGs... but I didn't target roleplaying by itself.

1) I feel roleplaying is a broad topic that flows beyond the lens of a Roleplaying Game.

Off the top of my head, I would say roleplaying is anytime one purposely takes on the persona of another person in order to experience a situation as that persona.

As far as the question as to whether or not one game has has more Roleplaying than another is not applicable. You can have a lot of Roleplaying in any game.

I would say the amount of Roleplaying found in an instance of any game is dependent on the players engaged in that game.

Some elements of the game may have tendencies to reduce opportunities for roleplay, such as heavy mechanics for tactical combat (if you're busy weighin options, counting squares, measuring resources), but who says you need to utilize those elements?

Also, some games (or its players) may have nutured a specific atmosphere over time, but that doesn't really have much bearing on whether or not the game actually provides for roleplaying.

I wrote all of that pretty quick, so please excuse any ramblings...

Christopher B said...

Role-playing means never having to say you're sorry. Er, no, wait... that's not right. :P

I know: Role-playing means, quite simply, pretending you're someone else. It's a simple concept, really, and it doesn't really matter what rules you role-play by (if any).

But I still loathe 4E. /wink

Donny said...

@Christopher B - /wink right back atcha :)

Us hoomans have a really hard time seperating love and hate when the two become entwined like they do with 4E.

This is undoubtedly why so many people who dislike 4E arent content to sit out and enjoy the fuly developed game(s) they already have. They feel the need to make sure EVERYONE knows thqt they piss all over it, and by extension, everyone who likes it.

Annoying to the extreme, watching normally brilliant folks turn into 4-year olds over a game...much less over a concept that no two people are ever going to agree upon.

As much as it may seem so, this post wasn't specifically about 3E or 4E. I was curious as to how my definition compared to other people whom I respect.

Anonymous said...

I think also - and this may be a controversial view - that the RPG world is full of pretentious and stuck up people. It also has a lot of people scrabbling to be top of a very small pile, and like every "scene" it has in-crowds and outgroups, and a lot of people trying hard to establish their cool.

Remember when George Bush insulted role-players, and his spokesman apologised with a D&D reference? Right-wing RPG bloggers took that as an opportunity to call World of Shadows type players "fags". There's a lot of that goes on, I think.

Plus of course there's a lot of IT-types mixed all up in this, who are very good at forming until-death-do-we-part allegiances to particular products. I think all of that contributes to make for simultaneously nasty and trivial debates.

But at the core of it there is still, sometimes, a valid review of what is happening. And the 4e direction is very different, and I think deserves debate.

So nyaaaah.

Donny said...

Complete and total agreement. Really.

We have become such snobs about our little "underground" hobby, it's easy to see how we've taken the old stereotypes and turned them into cred.

I mean really, look at the arguments. Look at the people making them. None of it REALLY matters at all. All the flame-wars, and trolling in the world got the trolls exactly one thing. Shit on by a dragon in a 45 second 4E commercial.

I think that with WotC's borgish absorbtion into Hasbro, a number of walls to keep out the static have been erected. It REALLY pisses people off - geeks in particular - to be ignored and "abandoned".

And yes. 4E is far from perfect. Problem is, in the current climate, it is all but impossible to have a rational discussion about it. Too many hurt feelings on both sides of the argument, as well as a few people who have staked some of their reputation on their now corner-painted views.

Tim Jensen said...

To quote Vincent Baker:

"Roleplaying is negotiated imagination."