RPGs: Child’s Play We Writers Still Play
By Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.
Many of us speculative fiction writers have been playing RPGs (role playing games) since as far back as kindergarten. However, the RPGs we played at that early age weren’t necessarily card, board or video games. Many of them were live action RPGs (also known as LARPs). Like other RPGs, LARPs involve players assuming the roles of a game’s characters. Unlike other RPGs, they involve the players physically acting out the characters and their situations.
Many gaming groups go to parks and act out their favorite fantasy, sci fi or even horror characters (zombies have become popular for this type of gaming). This form of activity, LARP, contains structured plots and rules where players are rewarded points when meeting certain challenges. But, because these are role playing games, the plots are often not fixed but are continuously developing by the players and their characters’ actions and decisions. Well, perhaps minus the game point system, many of us have been playing RPGs of this sort since as early as age five.
Before we reached teenage-hood when we would get more freedoms, our world was that of books, TV, movies and video games. And so we mimicked the characters of those medias. It wasn’t enough to simply watch them on screen or even maneuver them on it by way of a gamepad. We wanted to participate in the adventures of our favorite characters of science fiction and fantasy because we got tired of the everyday world of school and home controlled by adults. So we played LARPs. This was common with all us kids. The only difference between us writers of speculative fiction and other grownups today is that we never stopped playing out these childhood fantasies. We never stopped playing RPGs.
All that said, my first experience with LARPs that I can remember was when I was around five or six back in the ‘70s. I, my brother and friends would engage in our active fantasies of super hero adventures, especially Batman which was one of our favorites. We did similar with Star Trek’s characters. Then when the first Star Wars movie came out we played our favorite characters from that, acting out our own stories and adventures. That was the great thing: unlike the comic books, TV shows and movies these characters came from, we didn’t have to stick to the storyline of a single episode or movie; we could develop our own stories, creating our own adventures and journeys into our imaginations.
As an adult, I play RPGs in the form of board, card, and video games. I don’t get as much time as I would like to play them and much less time for LARPs. Whenever I get a weekend void of any events or am just plain board with everyday routine, I’ll play electronic RPGs such as Facebook’s Vampire Wars, Spore, or Beast Quest, or deck-based ones such as Arkham Horror. Some people can never stop playing their childhood fantasies and so are die-hard players of these and live action games. But don’t get me wrong, I’m proudly far from immune from this Peter Pan syndrome of a type. That’s why I write science fiction and horror.
Fiction is, in many ways, RPG in writing. When I write science fiction or horror, I have to take up the role and so the mentality of not only my protagonists but also my antagonists and secondary or minor characters. In order to advance the story I need to know what my characters would do in given situations and when I make one character handle a situation differently than another would, doing so takes the story in a direction different than the one it started in.
So I’m a writer of fantastic fiction because I am one of those people who can’t stop playing RPGs of a sort. We writers and artists of speculative fiction are Lost Boys and Girls; we refuse to grow up.
Steven Arellano Rose Jr. is a freelance writer and artist. He published his first short fiction collection, The Fool’s Illusion, in 2013 and recently came out with a horror short story, “Circa Sixty Years Dead”, on Kindle. Besides horror and dark fantasy, Steven writes science fiction, movie reviews and computer technology articles.
The following are Steven’s many other interests: treasure hunting for ‘60s and ‘70s pop cultural artifacts; jazz, rock and disco; video games; diet colas; history; mythology; Eastern meditation. You can catch him at his blog www.FarOutFantastic.blogspot.com or tweet him at @Starosep2.
Links To Books
The Fool’s Illusion: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F785ZJQ
“Circa Sixty Years Dead”: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LHCFW5M