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What's My Role?

Dream vs. Normal
Ideal vs. Reality
Fantasy vs. Banality
Character vs. Self
Intangible vs. Tangible

Connotations aside, many of us who have played role-playing games (online or offline) know of the conflict.

With the right ingredients, a world gets created that can enthrall and enrapture ... with people you can empathize with and events that can use your intervention. And of course, with a little more work, it can always get better.

That's the song of the siren right there. The lure.

Not every game is inspired: Some are brought down by low-caliber players, some are brought down by politicking, some are brought down by players' real lives taking away their time to game.
Not every character is inspired: Some don't have all those personal touches, some just can't get the emotional investment from a player, and some are doomed from the start.

But if you get a wonderful flight of fantasy, the result is greater than all of the pieces.

It's art. Literally. It's a creation serving no tangible rational work-achieving purpose. It's centered purely on emotional value and THAT is where the game or the art can become an addiction. And worse yet, because of that total emotional investment ... no two people will have the same view of it, and there's no guarantee anyone will understand.

How many people are driven to create art that they find release in, that they strive to perfect, and are willing to suffer for it?
How many people are driven to create characters and stories that they find release in, that they strive to perfect, and are willing to suffer for it?

Some think you can't create great art without suffering for it. That's just an old lie told to give art more value. It's the effort and detail and emotion that goes into it that makes it great. It's the same for a roleplayer, and some artists and roleplayers just can't abide mediocrity.

And so it gets more time, more effort, more money, more more more more more just to make it that little bit better. To brighten the color, to deepen the meaning, to get the proper mood.

Suddenly, the siren has her prey. The hook has been set.

For those susceptible to it, it's oh-so-easy to slip into. And when other things go wrong, it's way too easy to say "At least this is going right ..." and put more effort into it. That's where the suffering for the "work" enters in.

The tortured artist has gained some respect over the years, or at least those who create some tangible representation that they can pass on to other people.
The tortured gamer ... well, there's also not much respect for those without tangible representations.

Those with tangible representations they can pass on? Some are artists and plenty are storytellers and writers.

You, the roleplayer, the gamer, the dungeon master, want respect from "the unwashed masses"? You'll only get it like an artist does. SUCCESS. And that, for better or for worse, only comes to very few of those who look for it.

These wondeful creations "speak" to people. But when it does so with meaning, the voice comes from within.

So if someone is a starving gamer, or you are one yourself ... it's because of that imagination, that spark of an idea, that drive to do it that can be an addiction. And if it has to be indulged more than can be afforded, millions of artists have taken that path that roleplayers have begun to follow.

Anything that rules your life is going to do so at the expense of everything else. Gaming or roleplaying is nothing special in that department.

But it drives the gamer (and their friends) to the question of "Is that really worth it?" NO ONE but the artist, the musician, the sculptor, the writer, the storyteller, the gamer REALLY knows. Because only they know how well their creation matches what's in their head, how well the reality meets the ideal, and how willing they were to get it there.

That may not pay the bills, but that's the true value.

- Pookah


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2001 07:09 pm (UTC)
Non-gamer, I...
because I'm very susceptible to sirens' melodies.

I know that if I once start...

Apr. 4th, 2001 10:44 am (UTC)
Re: Non-gamer, I...
A lot of things are like that. Have to mind our own doses or we get really wrapped up. I think the Greeks had the right idea with the concept of moderation.

I try to channel my ability to focus, to zoom in and obsess and make something my world for a short time. I can fly through anything in that time. But it also means I hate leaving something half-done more than I hate leaving something undone. I have to wrench myself away, rather than see whatever it is through to a natural break point.

- Pookah
Apr. 4th, 2001 01:05 pm (UTC)
mehheh, I found it.
Siren Song
Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can't remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don't enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,
I don't enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.
Apr. 4th, 2001 01:33 pm (UTC)
Sneaky, that.

- Pookah
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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