Explore reality in your RPG instead of using it as a way to escape reality. Players will find they will get far more from the games they are playing. Plus they will become better people right along with becoming better players.
RPGs, or role playing games, are games that groups of people get together and play together. In these games they often imagine themselves and others as different characters in a different world or universe. It is often referred to as escaping reality but I don’t think that is what it actually is. Yes the players are “not themselves” anymore acting and behaving like their character. However, at the core, they are still themselves simply exploring reality in a different way. RPGs give players the safety and confidence to do this by making this the point in a non judgemental and safe place.
Just look at a few of the exploring reality examples that one can find in RPGs.
Racism in RPGs
Racism is rampant when we are exploring reality in our fantasy games. Look at the classic racism in Lord of the Rings. Where the elves hated the dwarves and visa versa. In the story Tolkien explores this and players of RPGs can explore it as well.
Why do they hate each other. Is it simple bigotry or is it linked to something else. By exploring these things through a RPG we find ourselves in a “safe” place where we can look at the reasons without being directly judged by it. That character gives us a bit of padding to let us say that it is my character, not me, that is this way. Which lessens the emotional response which in turn allows us to look at the situation with clearer vision and more logic. By doing this we can figure out if they elves hate a specific kind of dwarf because they have always cut down their tree friends. Or we learn that our character just doesn’t like them. That gives our characters a chance to see how that is unfair and how they can work to change their reactions to other races in the future.
We can then in turn do that ourselves as gamers. I think this can happen automatically. However, I think it can be a lot more effective if we push ourselves the extra it takes to use these same techniques to reduce and eliminate possible prejudices we might have ourselves.
Sexism in RPGs
Sexism in RPGs can be very overt where one sex is dominant while the other is little more than slaves. These can be illustrated easily in most everyone’s idea of a group of amazonian women or conclave of religious men. Again being separated through a character can give us the clarity to look at a situation much more objectively.
Even with dealing with not so sexist campaign settings, the art, ideas, and media of a “balanced” society still have overt issues of sexism. I present the practicality of armor for women in most any setting. Sexism is still there.
However now that we made a game of it we can explore the fairness, reasons, and eventual outcome of these sexist ways. It gives us a place to experiment where if something goes bad or wrong we don’t actually go to jail. We can explore rising up against sexism without fear of reprisal in our real lives.
This can then give us a perspective on how the real world is affected by sexism and how we can make it a better place. Gamers who truly utilize their time in game can apply what they have learned in game to their real lives.
Politics in RPGs
Ever notice how most RPGs have an emperor, king and queen, or dictator? Very rarely do you have an amalgam of many political parties vying for power? Why is that? I think it is because they can be so complicated and misleading. They can be terribly hard to create, follow, and manage. Most often there is a small group of people or a single one that is at the head of it all. These leaders fall on both sides of the good and evil spectrum but we can more easily follow it.
I’m not saying that we should change our world back to kings and dictators but it does have valuable lessons to be taught as to how we can and should govern both in our RPGs and in life. By expanding the politics and governing in our own games we can take a deeper look at the inner workings of how these systems function. We can experiment with how to influence them and what makes them take action. By doing this we can explore reality in a separate but parallel (ish) worlds and gain better insight into both.
This should tell us something about the reality we live in. It is often inexplicably complicated. Why can’t things be simplified? Why can’t we have leaders that truly represent us? What is really stopping us from making a difference in real life when we were able to make a difference in our RPG?
Religion in RPGs
Exploring reality about religion in fantasy RPG games can really span the gamut of what humanity is really about. From the very depths of human imagination religions of vileness and evil drive bad guys to do what they do. The most altruistic of ideals can become another religion idolizing everything that is good. Then there is the nearly infinite range in between. In a fantasy setting gods and religions are often overtly influencing the world that the players are gaming in. These help us truly define what is good or evil often simply by the symbol of the god that is worn by a npc.
However, religion can really be explored through the game by actions, philosophy, and by the results of certain kinds of worship may offer. These very same things can be applied to our own lives. By exploring why our characters feel the way they do we learn ways to explore ourselves and come to understandings about our own beliefs.
Explore Reality in a RPG Game
Many of these topics have become taboo subjects because we tend to get so upset so quickly at each other when ideas or thoughts regarding these influential social constructs are spoken about. In many social groups there are unspoken and sometimes not so unspoken rules about not discussing politics or religion. This is unfortunate as these are some of the main forces in our lives! If we can’t talk about them how are we supposed to improve them?
There are lots of ways we can both enjoy playing an RPG and truly become better people. By experimenting and exploring our own fantasies, we can forge more precise and healthy perceptions of our everyday lives. Get the most out of every game. Explore reality through your RPG and learn to grow both in and out of game.