If you ever played cops and robbers as a kid, you were involved in role-playing.
Role-playing is when people get involved in an interactive story. You become
your character, so what you do affects the outcome of the game. These days,
role players from around the world meet online to play games and have fun.
Journeys to other worlds, relationships between good and bad characters,
and battles for territory take place all over North America. They happen in
living rooms, around kitchen tables and over the Internet. These games take
place in the imagination of the players. They can become as in depth and involved
as the players' imaginations will allow.
Role-playing games were invented in the 1970s, but became popular in the
1980s, say long-time players. Since then, the types and styles of games have
multiplied, offering war and tactical games, fantasy games, card games and
more. All of them fall under the umbrella term of role-playing games.
In an article in the Arlington Morning News, the reporter was talking to
Shawn Brown, manager of Lone Star Comics, about who he feels buys role-playing
supplies. "You would think it would be kids playing it, but we sell more to
adults who were kids playing in the '80s when role-playing games got
big," Brown says. "We all grew up, but we didn't let it go. This stayed
the genre of the '80s kids."
Jeff King, of Minnesota, says that there isn't one typical type of
role-playing gamer. "I honestly don't think you can categorize all role
players into a single group. They come from all walks of life. The closest
I think you'll come to a true category is the fact that it is a predominantly
male-based hobby -- which is actually kind of sad. I've met and played
with some very good female role players, but most of them I had to introduce
to the game myself, because no one else would," he explains.
"The hobby itself is universal, and I think the players should be as well.
The old stereotype of role players being antisocial misfits is more a myth
today than ever. I've played with players as young as 10 years old, to
a friend of mine and his father. You just can't pick us out in a crowd,
unless it's at a crowd in a gaming convention."
Adam Stein is a gamer from Georgia. He has been playing for about 20 years.
He got interested in it for the same reason as a lot of other people. "It
was the organized 'let's pretend' aspect of the game. It was
the ability to play the fierce barbarian, or crafty thief. To take part in
an epic battle. It was fun and occasionally educational." What he enjoys most
about this hobby is the ability to play a part in a fictional world that develops
right around you.
Benefits that come with role-playing games include the ability to stretch
your creative muscles and your imagination. Also, you become involved with
a group of people who may be friends already, and if they aren't, they
soon will be. Some story lines can continue for years, so liking the people
you play with is a good thing!
Besides creativity and friendship, it is also a great icebreaker. It helps
people who are sometimes shy in a group. It can also be a great stress release.
It's like taking a vacation without paying for any airfare.
Like a lot of other hobbies, the Internet has become a part of role-playing
games. You can log on to chat about games, take part in games online or get
advice. One site for Dungeons and Dragons offers dungeon masters help with
things like generating rooms, streets, monsters, characters and treasures.
"I think that the Internet has opened up a lot of possibilities," says
King. "It allows people that can't find local gaming groups a new place
to look for fellow gamers. I don't know if I'd go as far as saying
that the majority of it is done on the Internet, but there is definitely a
very strong and growing gaming community on the Internet.
"I do know that if you talk to most people that have played face to face
and now play on the Internet, most of them will tell you that it's a
bit different. Both have their ups and downs. Most of us miss playing face
to face but we're just glad to be playing."
If the battles and challenges taking place in role-playing games were taking
place in real life, physical ability and strength would make a difference
in who won. That's the beauty of role-playing: you can be anyone or anything.
Your character has skills and abilities that you as a person may or may not
have. Imagination, creativity and the ability to think strategically are the
most important things you need.
It is hard to say whether the number of people participating in role-playing
is going up or down. Many gamers say that the number remains steady, with
people coming and going all the time. There are conferences and trade shows
that people can go to. They range in size from small get-togethers on college
campuses to huge multi-hotel four-day affairs.
To become employed in a career related to role-playing games, think about
- Game Inventor-- Create a game for others to enjoy. And of course
- Advertising or Marketing-- Get other people interested in learning
about or buying a product.
- Hobby Store Owner or Manager-- Sell supplies to other game enthusiasts.
Role-playing games will teach you to think and communicate. You can go
on adventures that are only limited by your imagination, and that can go on
Stein says that the typical supplies required are as follows: "It depends
on the type of role-playing game. In general, you need one rulebook, paper,
pencil, a few dice, and an imagination. The first few you can buy at a hobby
or comic book store."
According to players, a beginner can start out by spending anywhere from
$20 to $60 for their supplies.
Of course, if you want to take part in online games, you're going
to need a computer with an Internet connection.
If you want more information on role-playing games, check out your local
comic book store for games. They will also likely know if there are any role-playing
clubs in your area.
Star Wars: the Role-Playing Game: Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition,
West End Games
Champions of Atlanta
Information and resources for role-playing gamers
A free club devoted to playing role-playing games online
Resources for traditional role-playing games