I suppose that one of the first questions that might follow “What is roleplaying?” is “Why should I roleplay?” All things considered, this is a fair question. After all, most people lead busy lives and so taking an evening out to partake in a shared story can be a pretty large time commitment, even more so if you’re the GM and each session requires a large amount of preparation (although this does change from GM to GM and from game to game).
So why should one choose roleplaying as a hobby? I’m going to be honest and admit that these are my reasons, and what works for me might not work for you, so it might be worth taking them with a pinch of salt.
My main reason is the narrative. I’m an unashamed bibliophile. I love stories, always have, always will and the idea that my own actions can determine the course of the story is quite an exciting one for me. Psychologically speaking, this is probably because I feel a lack of control in my own life, but who wants to read a psychological profile on a gaming blog? Not this guy. I like being able to influence the outcome of events through my clever (and not-so-clever) thinking as a player, as well as tell great stories as a GM. For me, the pinnacle of GM-ship is the feeling you get when you finish the session (either for the evening or a one-off) and your group announces they really enjoyed what happened during it. Roleplaying allows people to develop their sense of narrative, improving their skills if they write, act, direct etc. As a form of creativity, it’s surprisingly wide-ranging.
I also roleplay for the self-discovery it enables. I, and I know I’m not alone in this, use roleplaying as a way of exploring different facets of my psyche. I’ve used characters to help me understand my conflicting ideas about personal religion (a priest confronted with the Cthulhu mythos), my introversion and how it dictates my behaviour in public (a hunter/guide forced into Dragonblooded politics) and my struggles balancing both a responsible life and my love of outdoor pursuits (a medical student who runs the rooftops of Cardiff by night). There are many more characters I’ve played and many more aspects of myself I’ve analysed than I could go into here without boring you, but you get the picture. As well as this, sometimes I just take existing characters in popular culture and explore them through the lens of whatever system and campaign I’m playing in at the time. Some of my fondest memories come from doing that.
While I do have more than three reasons, the last one I’m going into here will be the ‘transferable skills’. Buzzwords ahoy! While it is a hobby, and a sometimes marginalised one at that, it can be useful in many respects. Inter-character dialogue? That promotes interpersonal skills as well as developing empathy. Skill checks? That can help with memory. Random/scripted encounters? That there promotes teamwork, strategic thinking, the ability to plan successfully and a few other things. Depending on how you approach the hobby, you can also develop IT skills, organisational skills and character references.
This isn’t to say that you don’t need work experience though. Your entire C.V. shouldn’t be based on your hobby, but it does allow you to practice certain, useful skills, in an out of the ordinary environment. While this might seem a bit odd for a gaming blog, what I’ve been trying to explain here is that roleplaying is in no small part one of the reasons I’m more confident in social situations now than I was a few years ago. It’s a way of meeting new people, making new friends, and creating new memories around a single, bonding interest.
I hope that’s given you some reasons as to why you should roleplay, but if not, don’t worry about it. I know that roleplaying isn’t for everyone. If you have any questions, or want to share some of your own reasons for starting, or continuing, the hobby, feel free to email me or leave a comment below. Also feel free to leave comments critiquing my writing style, as I’m quite new to this, I want to know what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong.
Thanks for reading.