I am a Roleplayer. When I play a tabletop RPG, I invest in my character & their relationships. When I GM a game, my NPCs have at least a thread of a backstory, or at least I’m ready and willing to invent one on the spot. Suffice it to say, I love to invest more time into characters and their drivers than I do the mechanics of the game itself. So when my good friend Tyler Beckett asked me to pass along the word of his research study into how people approach playing their PC’s and NPCs it got me thinking about the type of characters I’ve brought to the table as a player and a GM.
First and foremost I want to introduce Tyler’s research study, namely with the hope you will participate. I very rarely ask my readers to actually do something, basically I’m a “if you dig it, go for it” kind of guy, but this time I’m straight up asking you to take his surveys. Tyler’s research study is titled “The Effect of Gender & Sexuality on Character Attachment in Tabletop Role-Playing Games” and he is interested in how you approach playing RPGs. Whether you relish playing against your current standing in life (for reference I am a White, Heterosexual, Able Bodied, Male), or maybe you tend to adopt a similar character (or NPC) to who you are. Right below this paragraph I’m going to place two survey choices. I want you to answer one of them, if it isn’t too much of a bother. It will really help Tyler out!
Survey One: Have you ever played a Character with a different gender/sexuality? Take this Survey
Survey Two: Have you ever played characters who had the same gender and/or sexuality as you? Take this survey
With that out of the way, I want to talk a little bit about my own experiences.
I’m one of those people who will play the most interesting character (as I see it) for the game. If I encounter a game where the characters are pre-made I’m choosing who interests me the most, they don’t have to match my real life identifiers. I think this hearkens back to my days as an actor, as short lived as they were, I simply adore the improvisational storytelling that can lie at the heart of RPGs. I will say though, I’ve only once chosen to play against type when crafting a character of my own. More on that later.
When my core group and I play an RPG we typically play mostly along the lines of type. Our group is almost of the same sex that we identify with ourselves, and likely the same sexual orientation, if we ever really let that into the game. See, our RPG sessions have almost never allowed even the concept of having sex into the game. We are far more interested in the standard concepts of heroics to be our main drivers. I can’t point to a single gaming session where the love of a PC\NPC played any role in our gameplay. I haven’t even seem it in our casual side play. Keep in mind this is largely unrealistic but in core group’s RPGs we don’t always focus on realism, we focus on the parts that intrigue us as a whole, and a love life practically never figures into that.
As I have progressed as a player and GM, away from my core group, I’ve encountered a few situations where love\lust have been critical to the story. These situations were always really interesting to me, namely because they were a fresh perspective in tabletop gaming. Most notably was the game run by Mr. Hussman at Gen Con 2016. Love was at the center of the game and due to my relative inexperience with the concept “in game” it was wildly refreshing. Even when i had to take the mantle of a character against my real life “type”.
In the end I’d recommend anyone who plays an RPG to try and break the mold a little bit. It really refreshes the entire gameplay. Even if you find yourself more enthralled with mechanics than Roleplay, give it a try.
P.S. Please help Tyler by answering his surveys!