Monday, October 11, 2010

Reasons for RPGing

I'm collaborating with a colleague in the UK on a piece of research that looks at gamers in their 30s and the reasons why they continue to play/return to old school tabletop RPGs, instead of 4E, MMOs, and/or other PC games.

From interviews these gamers suggested they continue to prefer RPGs for the following reasons (in no particular order):

1. Creativity
2. Escapism
3. Sociality

We are just at the stage of writing up the manuscript, but I thought it might be interesting and fun to hear from readers on this issue as well.

Now, I plan to ask a follow-up question and delve into more detail, but for the moment, do any of these reasons for playing RPGs resonate with you? Does one more than another, and most importantly, why?

ps. Happy Thanksgiving (Canadian Edition)


  1. Hurrah for academic treatments of gaming! Maybe I'll get a bright idea for something like that one day.

    Tabletop, because of the FTF sociality (I have really paid my dues typing into chat windows).

    Old school, because of the creativity, ease of play, familiarity, nostalgia, resonance, and finally, the rock bottom cost!

    I really don't resonate with "escapism." It's not like I would be solving the problems of the world that one night a week. I would be indulging in another form of "escapism" like reading, watching movies or browsing on the internet.

  2. I play older games because the rules (rulings not rules) in those games remain subservient to the imagination. They also suit the kind of campaigns I run, much better (wild & wooly exploration in a sandbox setting) and my "seat-of-the-pants" style of dming. The lite system(s) are very open to tweaking and even more extensive changes. I also prefer the kind of fast, dynamic combat featured in the older games. High level AD&D combat is fast and brutal. High level 3e combat can take hours. I've heard 4e is even worse. I also prefer the overall flavor. Most modern fantasy leaves me cold and I prefer the aesthetics which inform the "soul" of the older games.

  3. The reasons for playing old school games mentioned by Roger and James echo my own feelings as well. There are lots of ways to achieve escapism, including online games, reading, movies, etc., and I'm not sure that old school games are any more social than modern games.

    About the only one of the three reasons you listed that apply to me would be creativity. I found that when I was running 3E, most of my time was spent struggling with the game mechanics, spending hours making up NPCs with multi-page stat blocks. Returning to old-school gaming gave me more time to focus on the creative aspects of game mastering rather than the game mechanics.

  4. I'm not sure my post will be useful, since I'm pretty much an outlier for you... I'm a gamer in his mid thirties but I don't play old school games anymore, having moved on with each DnD edition that has come out... but you know, I wander around blogs so sometimes feel compelled to comment.

    I play for the creativity, escapism, and sociality in tabletop games... which are pretty much the reasons I've been playing for the past 25 years.

  5. Ask quick; my 30s are fleeing fast. ;D

    Mostly creativity and escapism, I'd have to say. That's a wonderfully fun combination for me, and I pick Old School games because they do the least damage to immersion and verisimilitude.

  6. I'm a bit past my 30's but what James said applies to me as well.

  7. I'm 35.

    I quit playing 4E and 3.x because my time is a premium now days and those systems just run too slow. I also had originally hoped to recapture the feeling I had playing at a younger age, but I have come to relized that it wasn't the edition changes that killed that feeling.

  8. Well, I'm not in your targeted age group (I'm 62), but I have always much preferred the "Original D&D" (or variants of it) to all of the "AD&D" versions (including those trying to usurp the OD&D name.

    The primary reason? Imagination and Creativity. AD&D started introducing charts and tables for everything. Story started taking second place to Bookkeeping.

    When I GM, I tell my players that everingthing they've read may or may not be correct . . . that they should consider everything in the rulebook to simply be rumors (which might be true or false). I also tell them that if they show imagination and creativity (and especially if they make me laugh) they will gain a lot more than if they simply try to maximize points.

    Back in the late seventies I was told the "Three Rules of D&D" . . . and I've never forgotten them:

    1 -- Never fight anything that you don't have to.

    2 -- Nothing is ever what it seems to be.

    3 -- If you see an elephant dancing in your pajamas, what you see is an elephant dancing in your pajamas . . . AND YOU'D BETTER FIGURE OUT WHY!

    Finally, a belated Canadian Thanksgiving to you too.

    -- Jeff on Vancouver Island, BC

  9. Playing those old games brings back good ol' memories. But I dont play those games anymore. But there are times that I search through forums with those games and feel like commenting on it to recall everything.