The Escapist Blog is a journal on the positive promotion of tabletop, pen-and-paper roleplaying games: dispelling the myths and misconceptions, educating the public about their benefits, encouraging new generations of players, and more. For more information on roleplaying advocacy, visit the Basic Gaming FAQ.

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Created by WJWalton4709 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Sat 23 of Aug., 2014 19:50 PDT
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RPGs in the school and library (and why they belong there)

Posted by WJWalton4709 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 WJWalton4709 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 WJWalton4709 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 WJWalton4709 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 WJWalton4709 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 WJWalton4709 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 WJWalton4709 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 WJWalton4709 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 wjwalton4709 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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Read an RPG Book in Public Week is here!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Sun 28 of Feb., 2010 08:42 PST
Read an RPG Book in Public Week is here! Get "caught" reading your favorite rulebook or supplement in public this week!

While doing so, don't forget that there's a Facebook group that you can join, a Twitter hashtag to use with your tweets (#readrpgs), and you can help spread the word on StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit.

If you are so inclined, you can also purchase Read an RPG Book in Public t-shirts, mugs, stickers, and more at CafePress (proceeds go towards the maintenance of the website).

Most importantly - share your experiences whenever you can, on Twitter, Facebook, or in the forum or blog comments right here. Tell everyone what you're reading, and where you're reading it. Post pictures when possible. But most of all, have fun!

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D&D 101 at the Dice Dojo

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Fri 26 of Feb., 2010 19:59 PST
This one slipped past my radar until recently - the event itself is over, but the article is still a good positive piece on D&D:

Phil Kalata of the Chicago Nerds Social Club, talks with the Onion A.V. club about their "Dungeons & Dragons 101" event, and why now is the time to start roleplaying.




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CareerBuilder: Don't mention D&D at your next job interview

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Thu 25 of Feb., 2010 06:14 PST
CareerBuilder has recently released a list of "outrageous" mistakes that interviewees have made during job interviews.

While most of these are undeniable - wearing flip-flops with a business suit, filing fingernails or staring at the ceiling during the interview, and mooching food from the breakroom after the interview is over - there's one item on the "outrageous" list that I take issue with:
Candidate used Dungeons and Dragons as an example of teamwork.

Roleplaying is a powerful tool for teaching people to work as a team in a difficult situation, something that is common in sessions of Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs.

Not only that, but roleplaying is no stranger to the business world - many businesses use it in meetings, seminars, and other functions to help their employees hone skills, solve problems, and learn to work as a team.

There are even businesses who specialize in organizing role-playing sessions for other businesses. Consider HRDQ, a company that once made "training and development resources" that were essentially RPGs packaged with model kits:
In Jungle Escape, for example, you play in a group of unfortunates who have crash landed in a rainforest. Your goal is to build an escape helicopter using spare parts, your wits, and whatever teamwork you can scrape together. In Mars Surface Rover, you build and race a vehicle across the surface of the red planet, using differing levels of leadership and authority.

(Read more in the Escapist 1999 Archive - look for "Gaming in the Boardroom.")

It may seem silly on the surface, mentioning D&D as a potential example of teamwork building - but it's not something that could be considered outrageous, especially when compared to filing your nails or wearing flip-flops with a business suit.

CareerBuilder may do well to consider the positive benefits of the roleplaying hobby instead of dismissing it outright.

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Read an RPG Book in Public Week is taking off!

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Wed 24 of Feb., 2010 16:18 PST
Read an RPG Book in Public Week has been taking off, far better than I ever expected!

- The official page is now in three additional languages, Spanish, German, and Portuguese, thanks to volunteers who translated it for us.

- The Facebook group is nearing 700 members as I write this - which seems low compared to some of the groups on Facebook, but is really not bad at all for such a specialized topic. Right now it seems to be attracting nearly 200 members a day! (On top of that, there are some very familiar names in the membership list: Monte Cook, George Vaiskalos, and Sean Patrick Fannon, to name a few...)

- On Twitter, I've created a hashtag for tweets concerning the event - #readrpgs - and it caught on immediately! Tweets have now been spotted in Portuguese, French, German, and Russian.

- Links: The event has gotten mentions on Boing Boing, and Make, as well as a bunch of roleplaying blogs: I Waste the Buddha With My Crossbow, Troll and Flame, Worlds in a Handful of Dice. Jeff's Gameblog has been displaying one of the RARPGBIP buttons.

- And a Google search for "Read an RPG Book in Public Week" returns a bunch of comments on blogs and forums from all over.

I am more than pleased with the results... but naturally, I want more. I've submitted the page as a suggestion to the Steve Jackson Daily Illuminator (as did one of my fellow CAR-PGa members). I'd really like to see if I can get someone from Wizards of the Coast to mention it. I'm looking for other places that may help spread the word.

But most of all, I want Wil Wheaton to blog about it. This is going to happen.

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Read an RPG Book in Public Week

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Sun 21 of Feb., 2010 06:59 PST
It is my pleasure to announce the latest roleplaying advocacy project here at The Escapist: Read an RPG Book in Public Week!

This is a thrice-annual event that happens on the weeks surrounding March 4th, July 27th, and October 1st. During each of these weeks, gamers are encouraged to take their favorite RPG rulebooks to a public place and read them somewhere where they can be seen by others. The goal is to make the hobby more visible, accessible, understood, and maybe even encourage some new people to try it out (or bring back some of the old grognards who have been away for too long).

Want to know how you can get involved? Wondering why I chose those three dates? Looking for ways to promote this project on your site or blog? All of these requests and more are answered on the official page of Read an RPG Book in Public Week at www.theescapist.com/readrpgsinpublic

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Writers praise the benefits that D&D had on their creativity

Posted by WJWalton4709 points  on Sat 20 of Feb., 2010 07:12 PST
BoingBoing directs us to this column of comments from writers who extol the creative benefits that playing Dungeons & Dragons has on a young person (not the least of which is learning how to properly use words like 'extol'!).

This one is my personal favorite, but the column is chock full of others:
"I got into D&D about the same time I was becoming religious, when I was 13," said Roth. "I was in this Orthodox Jewish youth group with a bunch of my friends. We started playing on Saturday afternoons at the rabbi's house. We couldn't write anything down, of course, but we had our sheets, we could roll dice, and the DM, my friend Mike Seltzer, had all these charts and maps that he would try to keep hidden from us. Then the rabbi's six kids would run in, and all the tiny kids, the kids of anyone who was there visiting the rabbi, would come in and want to play. In a few months, there was this whole flock of tiny yeshiva boys who were schooled in D&D."

You can read the entire column here.

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