The Role of Gaming in My Writing

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?

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The Role of Gaming in My Writing

  1. I Love RP but you knew that already. . . I have long used RP for testing out my newest characters. It gives me a better understanding of their personality quirks and flaws. They seem move real that way. Also drop me a line and we’re RP. =) <3

  2. I’m a gamer :D. Mostly video-games and computer games, in which my favorite genre has always been RPGs.
    I’ve also dabbled in table-top, specifically Vampire: The Masquerade. I love it. I think that RPGs are really just stories that you play out with people, and that’s why I’ve always loved them. They’ve definitely contributed to my story-telling abilities!

  3. I’m so glad I’m not the only writer who test-drives characters in RP situations! :D

    Actually, I do even more than that. I play-by-post (paragraph style, in a Gdoc) with a close friend and over MSN (script-style) with my partner, and a lot of my RP stories with my partner make their way into my writing. Not my background-working novel-that-isn’t(-yet) — that’s separate — but many of the flash fictions I post over on my own blog feature her characters too. She knows I do it (heck, last NaNoWriMo she borrowed a few of mine and wrote a novel!) and doesn’t mind in the slightest. Of course, it means I have a built-in editor because I’ve always got the excuse of, “I really want you to read this before I post it, because you know better than me whether I’ve got [her character’s] voice right.”

    I don’t mean I write up logs into stories — I take our characters and explore them in different situations, usually tending to take one of mine as the POV character and digging into his or her life in more detail, or exploring something we know happened but didn’t play out. We run a very (very!) open-ended world — several worlds, actually — and that gives me a lot of scope to explore.

    For us, it works both ways. I recently wrote a short story (not posted anywhere, as I’m considering entering it in a competition) featuring brand-new characters, and after she read and edited it, one of her comments was, “…I’d love to play these guys!” So I definitely feel that writing and written-format RPing are intertwined.

    You’re dead right in your analysis: writing against someone else forces you to step outside of yourself and think about how the character would react. In some situations, like the fast-paced MSN stuff where you can’t always go and check up a detail, you also have to know your characters and their histories really well, which I think is valuable for a writer.

    As SlightlyIgnorant said, RP plots are ‘stories that you play out with people’, and since one of my goals as a writer is to engage the audience (not quite to the extent of writing the story with them, but certainly sparking their imagination), I love that. :D

    • That’s exactly how I’ve used roleplaying. Though, I have to admit, I’ve become much more lax in my writing style while RPing these days. Working the character is my priority, so I get a little lazy with my style. Lol. I went from 6 to 10 paragraphs per post about five years ago to under 3 now. It’s lazy, but it’s fun. =]

      • Quality over quantity. ;) I’ve been in games where you had to write ten paragraphs or ELSSSEE, and nothing turns me off more than that. Sometimes, especially in those kinds of games, it seems you end up writing flowery prose just to fill in the gaps, which… kind of voids the point of it being an exercise to improve your writing…

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