Vow of Chastity
These days, role-playing games of all kinds are organized and played for the most obscure reasons. Many people want to sacrifice the GM’s workload on the unholy altar of social relations, playing only when it coincides with meeting friends. In the same sense, some people write their games for just the same reasons, without ever asking themselves why they’re doing it.
Good reasons to express yourself are telling a story (or in the case of role-playing games, creating an interesting starting point and setting for possible stories), delivering a message and developing the medium you want to express yourself with. In this sense, RPGs are as good a way to express yourself as any other medium.
Telling stories has always been important for mankind. When you have an idea for a great story, you should think about which medium would best support it - e.g. a story of the development of an anthill from creation to destruction might not work as a LARP, but rather as a work of prose, a computer game or as an animated film (The above chapter was written before the movie Antz --ed.). If the story has a few obvious main characters, but you only know the beginning (if the middle and the end are, as of yet, open) then it might work as a table-top RPG. If the story’s middle and end are open, but you know it’s about a small society of people and the time-period it encompasses would be relatively short and twist-packed, then you might even use LARP as its medium. Notice, however, that the last two methods are not strictly about telling stories via RPG, but rather giving the world and the beginning of a story to the players and seeing what comes out. It is NOT POSSIBLE to tell pre-determined stories through RPG.
In delivering a message you should remember the same thing as with story-telling. The difference is, this time the starting point should be your message, not the idea for the story. Delivering messages through RPGs takes some skill, but when successful - thanks to the subjectivity of RPG’s - gives more empiric and precise insight than any other medium. There has been relatively few experiments in this field, but LARPs are extremely well suited at least for criticizing the society, and table-top games for commenting on the behavior and psychology of the individual.
Developing a medium is never unnecessary - often even the worst failed attempts can teach a lot about the inner structure of the medium. Often it’s not advisable to start by thinking what kind of a game you want to organize, but in these cases you must go there. When you have a wish to organize something weird - like a LARP where causality doesn’t work, or a table-top game where the players will try to communicate telepathically with each others - you should think about what type of a game this experiment would benefit most, and create the situation and the world around the experiment. (All the better, of course, if some particular situation or message requires this approach, but it is not condemnable to do it for honest curiosity, either.)