Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hope for the future

I seem to read many places premonitions of doom for the RPG hobby. How can this old-fasioned game, which requires a player to read heavy tomes of complicated rules, actually meet other people physically (mostly) and do a lot of work actually inventing a great part of the game as you play, compete with all the modern entertainment options presented to young people today? How can it compete with computer games, that gives you hours and hours of free (in terms of effort) entertainment, tells you stories and even lets you participate in them, accompanied by evocative music and visuals. How can it compete with 3D home cinema, internet pornography and all that's all over us like sacks of grain on a farmers truck at harvest?
I don't know if I can tell you excactly how, but I can tell you that it can. Working as a teacher at a school that's my country's rough equivalent of junior high school, I recently got the opportunity to see proof of this with my own eyes. Each year, the school I work at dissolves all regular schedules and dedicates two days to having fun and getting to know each other. Teachers that are interested in som form of activiy set up groups that students can apply to, an are then divided amongst. Some go fishing, some play football (soccer), some make homemade soaps and some set up carpentry workshops, whatever some teacher knows how to do and think students might be interested in.
As an experiment, I set up Dungeons & Dragons as one of the options, not really thinking anyone would be interested. In the explaining text, which had to be short, I decided on focusing on comparing D&D to a computer game, stressing the greater freedom of choice inherent in the latter. As it turned out this worked out really well! Now, I won't say I got scores of applicants to my group, but a fair amount of youngsters became enticed by what I had written. Actually, not only enticed - I would say enthused. Really curious and worked up over this STRANGE NEW GAME they were exposed to, and no less so after having actually tried it. At least two of those kids came out of there with plans of buying an RPG and starting a gaming group of their own.
I guess my point in all this is to say that what all of us oldies found fascinating about roleplaying games when we were kids is really equally fascinating to the kids of today, even with the computer games and 3D CGI movies and whatnot. Though those other things may be more inviting and tempting on the surface, they can't really compete with the totally free use of the imagination offered by RPGs. So, no matter how outdated we might feel, there's hope for the future, and you can in fact show your beloved hobby to your children or other youths you may know without the fear of being laughed in the face. And this fact, I think, also olbligates you to do so!

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