I’m a gamer. Well, a lapsed gamer as of late, actually. This new lack of gaming in my life has led me to consider just how role-playing affected my writing.
Have you role-played? Table-top, play-by-post, LARP?
The role-playing process starts with creating a character. In table-top gaming and LARP, there will be a set of rules, guidelines, and restrictions you create your character by so that s/he fits into the universe transcribed in the handbooks and players manuals. In play-by-post, it’s usually left to the player’s discretion, however, combat has it’s own set of guidelines depending upon the chat client, forum, or individual combatants.
My first role-playing experience was with play-by-post in Yahoo chat rooms back in 2000/2001. I wasn’t very good at it, mind you, not at the time. But within a few months, I began using role-playing as a way to test out characters and give them life before I plopped them into a storyline. My writing was just as awful as my role-playing posts back then, and I recently dug out the notebook that housed some of those ventures and… I have to say it made me cringe. It also reminded me how much fun writing used to be, using my characters in different mediums before I gave them life in a story.
I still do a little play-by-post RP now and then, though now it’s more for recreation than to test out my characters. If you’ve never done it, I advocate trying it out. Taking a character, giving it life in an alternate universe, giving it the option for romance, drama, anguish, and anger outside of your daily writing. It pits your character against the character created by someone else, it makes your character have to react to what that other character is saying and doing.
It keeps you thinking on your feet.
It gives your character a new sort of life and consciousness.
It makes you separate what you’d do, and makes you think what s/he’d do.
I’d like to get back into role-playing for that reason. My characters have new life that way, new quirks, and a much more 3D personality. Bring me back to my roots! Maybe make writing fun again and break through this awful barrier.
Table-top RP is fantastic too, but the structure is much more rigid and offers you the chance to act as your character in the situations the GM/DM throws at you. Still fun! But not as useful (to me, anyway) in working through my writing and character blocks.
Any spiffy gamers among my readers? What are your experiences with role-playing and your writing?