On RPGs, Art, and Me.

Starting this new (but old) blog (new-ish blog, new location, soon to be old location), I hope to find myself writing more and spending less time on "self-branding". I'm trying to figure out who I am still (even as I approach 40 and over a decade in the tabletop roleplaying game industry). I'm stripping away the internet from my life as much as I can (I'll never be able to be rid of it and frankly I won't want to be, but I'd like to be more my own man).

Below is a restatement of what I wrote in Siege Perilous, my Arthurian solo roleplaying game. It is currently the closest thing I have to a thesis on the particulars of what making games is to me. The why, how, and for whom are harder to answer. But I think I'll find them, one day.

The following is excerpted from Siege Perilous.

I find that roleplaying games fulfill an unusual element of storytelling canon, in that the author and the audience are the same individual. While I am the author of this text, the minute this book hits the table and begins to power your own story, you become the author and audience of what is unfolding. I can think of very few mediums (some forms of live entertainment) that enjoy the same integration of authorship and audience as a roleplaying game does.

That unique position gives roleplaying games a strong line directly back to the oral myths and legends that were passed down by storytellers. Each iteration likely evolved, adding to the canon based on audience responses and participation in the stories being told. For me, that makes this the perfect fit.

My desires and why I want to make games have not, though how I try to solve and approach the problems that face me therein has. I don’t approach game design in the same way many do, I suppose. At least, I draw that conclusion from the many colleagues and friends I've made in the industry, when we talk about games, why we do it, and how we do it.

The real, honest, and somewhat bitter truth is that I do not consider myself an artist. I am a writer, but not in the literary or artistic sense. The games I make, they most certainly qualify as art, but I would assign that status due to the work of the wonderful artists, editors, and others involved.

Art they might be, but an artist I am not, merely a facilitator who helped bring the art to life and to you.

I consider myself an academic who studies art.

Someone interested in the why, how, theory, means, and words that make up this great roleplaying game canon. Why can dice rolls make us cry? Why do some mechanics feel better than others? Why do designers and artists make specific (or varied) decisions? I am interested in the theory, the ideas, the concepts, the discussions. The art is a window into humanist interactions. One does not need to be an artist to make art, appreciate it, or study it. I put myself in that position.

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