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Created by WJWalton4831 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Tue 04 of Aug., 2015 21:42 PDT
(376 Posts | 1775460 Visits | Activity=2.00)

"Are Role-Playing Gamers insane?" and more from Psychology Today

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Mon 22 of March, 2010 09:02 PDT
Two columns on the psychology of roleplaying appeared on Psychology Today's website recently.

The first has an attention-grabbing title that I just had to borrow: Are Role-Playing Gamers Insane? by anthropologist Peter Stromberg. Stromberg explores the tales of "roleplaying gone too far" that continue to pop up from time to time, and whether or not roleplayers have a looser grip on reality than everyone else.

Why tell these stories, then? My guess is that a role-player is likely to tell such a story to affirm that although there are people who confuse the fantasy of the game with the real world, he (or she) is not one of them. In other words, "I'm aware of this possibility, and because I'm aware of it, it can't describe me."

[article | archive]

The second is by Oberlin College Professor Nancy Darling:
When we last left our heroes... Psychology Meets D&D starts with Darling admitting her concerns about the game when her oldest son began to play in college - mostly about what type of social world it would bring her younger son into. But when she took the time to observe the game being played and saw the psychological benefits it bestows, her concerns were allayed.

One of those benefits, she explains, is supplying material for debate, to satisfy the need that young boys have to argue over options and details, such as which weapon is better, or which character choices are optimal:

As the campaign began, the arguments intensified. In fact, I think their favorite part of the whole game is arguing. What should we do best? Why is a long spear a good weapon to attack the goblins and why isn’t it good within 5’ and only for 10? Who is going to back me up? What language do I speak and can the goblins understand my cursing in Italian? Does Italy exist in this world? Do we want to be religious and worship the god, Winslow? Or should we give in to the adamant atheist in the group? And is our lack of piety why we got defeated?

[article | archive]

Good work, in all. I wish we could send these articles about 20 years back in time.

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Dr. Rotwang! and his daughter's first D&D game

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Mon 22 of March, 2010 07:25 PDT
On I Waste the Buddha With My Crossbow, Dr. Rotwang! tells the tale of his five-and-a-half year old daughter's first game of Dungeons & Dragons.

It's so great that I'm not going to quote any of it here. You have to read the whole thing for yourself. I'm just going to say that it's a perfect example of why it's good to share such a creative and imaginative hobby with your children.

Read it. Then get your kids together to play some D&D, or any other RPG that you think they would like. And if you don't have kids, go get someone else's. (With permission, of course!) If you need some advice and ideas, check out the Young Person's Adventure League. You'll find what you need there.

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"Undateable" book claims that roleplayers don't date or have sex

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sun 21 of March, 2010 06:42 PDT
A new book titled Undateable: 311 Things Men Do That Guarantee They Won't Be Dating or Having Sex compiles dating deal-breakers from hundreds of women, as a sort of "Don't" list for men who are interested in dating and/or having sex with them.

You've probably figured this out already, but I have to say it anyway - "Playing Dungeons & Dragons" is on the list.

Here's a shocker, ladies: I've dated. And I have two kids. And there are others just like me! (In fact, if you look long and hard enough, you'll find that some women play as well!)

I realize that this admission just ruined my chances with many of those hundreds of women. I'll guess I'll just have to do my best to move on.

The fact is, compiling a book about things that individual women don't like about men is equally as useless as compiling a book about bands that individual people don't like, and calling it Bands That Suck.* The answers won't mean anything to anyone, because everyone's tastes are different.

In other words - in life, there are no guarantees, and that includes the one you made up for the title of your book.


(* Look for Bands That Suck, in bookstores this summer!)

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CBN News: "Landmark" work on the dangers of D&D

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 19 of March, 2010 15:16 PDT
Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network is celebrating Pat's 80th birthday and over 30 years of reporting the news from Pat's perspective. To "pat" themselves on the back (sorry), they've put out an article about how great they are, and the many stories they've covered over the years, including one particular subject of which we are rather fond:
"The news department also did landmark work on such stories as the dangers of the artificial sweetener Aspartame and the game Dungeons and Dragons." [article]

Funny thing is, since CBN's reporting on this "danger" back in the 80s, Dungeons & Dragons has been going strong: it has seen three new editions, attracted millions of players, been translated into several languages, and made appearances in films, books, and television shows. Numerous celebrities, including Stephen Colbert, Wil Wheaton, Vin Diesel, and members of Weezer (to name a few) have told their stories of growing up playing this "dangerous" game. It has become firmly embedded in our popular culture, and inspired a whole new genre of entertainment.

Great "landmark" work on warning everyone to stay away from that Dungeons & Dragons, CBN. You should be proud.

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LARP coverage in Wicked Local Chelmsford

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 19 of March, 2010 08:43 PDT
Here's a positive piece from Wicked Local Chelmsford (Mass.) on LARP and the Intercon K LARP convention: A LARP of faith at Chelmsford Radisson
Con Chairman Tim Lasko, who hails from Connecticut, says role-playing is an accepted tool in society and it’s used for employee and military training. But this form of role-playing is strictly for fun.

“At LARP conventions, we play full immersion games. Players are allowed to improvise once they understand a set of goals, rules and exceptions to the rules,” Lasko said, “What guides each game is how interesting you can make it and what there is to do.”

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Replacing school grades with an XP system

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 18 of March, 2010 19:39 PDT
(Speaking of using RPGs in the classroom...)

Professor Lee Sheldon from Indiana University has given the grading concept a unique twist - he has replaced the standard grading system with an experience point system, in which students gain XP for completing assignments.
Borrowing from RPGs and MMORPGs, students begin the program with an avatar at level one. To gain experience, students must complete assignments camouflaged as RPG-based tasks such as quests, crafting, and more. In real life, they're making presentations, taking quizzes, and doing all that other boring school-related work.

According to Sheldon, students are grouped into guilds, and must complete "quests" as a solo adventurer or within "pick up groups" with other guild members. Is this working? Sheldon thinks so, saying the overall feedback is far more enthusiastic than previous grading methods. He's even revised elements of the class so that they're understandable and associated with fun.

[Full article at Tom's Guide]

No word on whether or not students with an Intelligence score above 17 will get an XP bonus, however.

(Thanks to one of my old gaming buddies, Tom Thompson, for the link!)

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RPGs in the school and library (and why they belong there)

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 18 of March, 2010 09:51 PDT
Two great articles came to me yesterday - one about a library gaming group in Keller, Texas, that includes RPGs like Risus, and mentions how tabletop games promote socialization:
The Tabletop Gaming Club has been going strong for six years, said Terrence Rideau, club founder.

"I originally started the club because of my 30-plus-year love of tabletop games and a desire to share them with people in this digital age," he said. "I am not much on computer or console games and I believe that tabletop games help with interpersonal skill as well as having other skill benefits."

[article | archive]

...and another about an after-school Dungeons & Dragons program in Maryland, and how the game encourages creativity and strengthens math skills:
"A lot of kids nowadays don't get an opportunity to express their creativity; they spend a lot of time on the console playing games with their thumbs, but the limits of those games are as created by the game creators," he said. "You can't argue or negotiate with a monster. Instead, you can pretty much just walk up to something and hit it and hope that it goes away. ... Dungeons & Dragons at its base is playing ‘let's pretend.'"

[article | archive]

...but we already knew all about that, didn't we?

Don't forget - if you are an educator or librarian and are interested in adding roleplaying games to your school or library, there are two projects on The Escapist that can help you with ideas and resources: Reading, Writing, & Roleplaying and Terra Libris.

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Cthulhu Reads RPGs in Public!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sat 13 of March, 2010 20:53 PST
I was doodling today, and this picture of ol' squid-face jumped out of my pen. I liked it so much that I posted it to the RaRPGBiPW Facebook page - and someone there liked it so much, that he printed it out and hung it up in his office!

I've got a hi-res (300dpi) scan for print magazines (if anyone out there is interested), and I've made a PDF version for printing out and hanging in your office (or on your fridge, bulletin board, front door, every telephone pole in your neighborhood, etc.)

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More positive D&D coverage from a college paper

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Fri 12 of March, 2010 04:42 PST
Here's another positive article on the roleplaying hobby from a college newspaper - this time it's the University of Oregon's Daily Emerald, publishing "A cool creative outlet" by Greg Dewar:
Any sort of activity that by its very nature forces participants to think, feel and create should be lauded, accepted and popular in our society. It is a triumph of humanity. It’s a game where people get together and think, both individually and communally, to create a detailed mindscape to exist within. It’s the perfect creative and social outlet, and it boggles my mind that it isn’t more popular. Our society is in a sad state indeed when a game that allows you to explore your own humanity and exercise your mind is a frowned-upon activity (also, reading books should be considered cooler than it is).

(Full article is here.)

The way I see it, what we really have to do is find out how and when these collegiate journalists are taught the standard practices of always referring to gamers as loners and being certain to mention some unsubstantiated rumors about murders and suicides associated with the game whenever writing a piece about roleplaying.

Then maybe we can nip the problem in the bud.

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The good news - D&D camp is back!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 11 of March, 2010 13:24 PST
The bad news - I'm too old to go, and it's too far away from me anyway. But if you're in Toronto, Canada and 16 years old or younger, check out March Break Camps at Harbourfront Centre.

Some of you may remember my previous post on the great story and photos, provided by Gaming Brouhaha, of a 1981 Dungeons & Dragons camp. It's good to see this sort of thing still happening. Who knows? Maybe it will catch on.

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LA Times review of Gamer Fantastic

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Thu 11 of March, 2010 09:03 PST
Here's a book (and a review of it) that both somehow missed my gaming radar - Ed Park's LA Times review of Gamer Fantastic, a collection of thirteen short stories about adventure gaming.

The cover seems to suggest that the contents are about electronic gaming, but as the review reveals, the majority of them are based around our low-tech, dice-and-paper variety:
The brisk opener, Chris Pierson's "Escapism," manages a clever twist on the character of the first-person-shooter-obsessed teen, but most of the other 12 stories here involve significantly lower technology. As with writing stories, the games in question are primarily built of words — albeit with oddly shaped dice thundering in the background.

Read the full review here, and buy Gamer Fantastic through the Escapist Store here.

(Thanks to JJ Lanza for the link!)

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Read an RPG Book in Public Week is over...

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Sun 07 of March, 2010 06:22 PST
...and I couldn't be happier with the response. Over 1400 fans on Facebook, a ton of Tweets on Twitter, some pictures on Flickr, translations of the page into French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish, and a fantastic response from all around the world (including but not limited to Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, Malaysia, and the UK).

We even seem to have gotten the attention of a certain geek celebrity - though we didn't get a public endorsement... yet.

Thanks to everyone for making it a great week! Keep sending your stories and pictures, and don't forget the NEXT Read an RPG Book in Public Week, July 25th-31st - it will be here sooner than you think!

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Happy GM's Day!

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Wed 03 of March, 2010 22:09 PST
It's March 4th, which since 2002 has been recognized by many roleplayers as GM's Day, a day to show appreciation to the folks who put so much time and effort into bringing us amazing adventures.

So to all dedicated GMs - Happy GM's Day! And to all of you players - do something nice for your GM today!

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The Steve Jackson Games raid, 20 years on

Posted by WJWalton4831 points  on Tue 02 of March, 2010 22:53 PST
Today's Steve Jackson Daily Illuminator reminds us that it's the 20 year anniversary of the day that an RPG rulebook was instrumental in protecting our freedom of speech on the internet.

On March 2nd, 1990, the United States Secret Service raided the offices of Steve Jackson Games and the home of one of their writers, looking for evidence of computer hacking, and seizing files for a roleplaying rulebook (GURPS Cyberpunk) that they would later describe as "a handbook for computer crime."

The raid nearly ruined SJGames as a business, but they persevered - GURPS Cyberpunk still saw print later that year, and they have continued to make great roleplaying, board, and card games ever since.

The incident did have one very positive result - the creation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the legal recognition of electronic speech as free speech, equally as protected by the First Amendment as any other form of speech.

You can find out more on the case at SJ Games Vs. the Secret Service, which includes a lot of links and supplemental material at the end, and The Top Ten Media Errors About the SJ Games Raid, which sets the record straight on some of the rumors and misconceptions that arose after the incident.

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Advice needed for a library LARP for teens

Posted by wjwalton4831 points  on Sun 28 of Feb., 2010 19:43 PST
Aaron posted the following request in the Terra Libris forum, and I'm reposting it here to give it some more exposure:

My wife & I are organizing a LARP event for teens at our public library. We are basing it on a general sci-fi setting which allows each participant to create character backgrounds, including planet & alien species, and attend in costume. The event is nominally a political meeting which will feature social conflict & interaction but nothing combat oriented.

I'm looking for resources to structure the event & provide guidelines and system mechanics for social interactions. Most of what I've looked into is along the lines of NERO fantasy & vampire LARP which is more combat oriented than what we need. And, of course, this is an event at a public library for teens, so we certainly don't want to promote any violent behavior.

Does anyone out there know of any LARP events already done in this environment or system which might work with this sort of event? Thanks for any feedback.

If anyone has any tips for Aaron, you can post them in the original thread or send them to me at Thanks!

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