Role-Playing Games Information

Insider Info

dotIf 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.

dotIn 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!

dotBesides 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.

dotIt 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 these options:

  • Game Inventor-- Create a game for others to enjoy. And of course yourself too!
  • 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 forever!

Getting Started

dotStein 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,
Published by  West End Games


Champions of Atlanta
Information and resources for role-playing gamers

Role-Playing Games
A free club devoted to playing role-playing games online

Resources for traditional role-playing games