Role playing games are a classic way of having fun among friends. Getting together with people who love the same things you do and embarking in an adventure is priceless. Mostly, groups get together with people who share the same interests. This is my past and also my present. Long live RPG!
A Little History Lesson
RPG games are not at all a new phenomenon. For most researchers (with whom I agree), the term “Strategy Games” can be traced more than a thousand years to the past.
The origins of these strategy games are usually all the way back to the predecessor of Chess named Chaturanga. This ancient Indian game can be traced back all the way to the 5th Century AD. Our Western version underwent many transformations before adopting the shape with which we know it today. It is safe to say that from year 1500 to this day it has remained essentially the same.
After the first strategy games, the idea of wargames was born and the first that I could trace back was Kriegsspiel. This game was designed as a training tool for the Prussian and German army. The first rules book was crafted in 1812 by Georg Leopold von Reiswitz, a Lieutenant of the Prussian Army and his son. The game was more of a table than a table game because the furniture piece was the board. Also, the first version of the game involved what we would now call FX such as fog and smoke. Later reforms made it more like the tabletop games we see today adapting the table design to maps. The game can still be played today, since the English company TooFatLardies still manufactures authentic maps.
In the early 1970s, a hobby-store owner who was a little bored and obsessed with medieval stories joined forces with a friend and came up with the first RPG. Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren were heavily influenced (as we all are) by the stories in the Tolkien books. The rulebook was miniature and saw the light for the first time in 1971 and was very well received, selling 100 copies monthly. In 1972 the publishing of the second edition marked an even more critical acclaim. The second edition introduced wizards, magic and other medieval fantasy creatures.
Dungeons And Dragons
Welcome to the revolution. When D&D eventually came out in 1974, it required a copy of Chainmail to play it. Dave Arnerson, the game´s creator along with Gygax were the responsible couple for the worldwide revolution of RPG. For most researchers, D&D is the first game that can be named RPG as we know it today. This is where my story comes in because as most of us, D&D was the entrance door to a new universe in which I spent countless hours of fun.
The D&D Revolution
To put it into perspective, Chainmail sold about 100 rulebooks a month and it was huge by the time. D&D was selling 750,000 rulebooks a year by 1984 and made 1 Billion dollars in products sale by the year 2004. The game was translated to many languages and was reported to have 20 million active players. In the year 2007 alone over 6 million people played it around the world. The D&D fever hit us all really hard and we were fantasizing about our Wizards all day long. My generation (I’m 48 now) lived the raise to fame and experienced that sweet-sour taste of a very own secret going massive. I remember my school days and we were all very deep into it while the videogame industry was growing at a fast pace as well as the TV and film ones. Today I remain a strong fan but very aware that the reality changed and that videogames have won the battle by far.
How I Got In – And You Can Too
I discovered the game because of friendship. This is the main key for a sustainable practice of playing tabletop RPG games.
Friends Before Anything Else
My entrance door was Dungeons and Dragons as for most people. We used to get together and work on our characters and then play for hours with a handful of friends. This is exactly the message I would like to convey to all readers: Tabletop RPG are about friendship. The close relationship with other players is by far the most enjoyable thing you can get from the game.
Round Table Of Good Friends
My best friend at school was a die-hard fan and got a special space in his parents´ house with a round table to play D&D. This is my first piece of advice to all those who would like to have an enjoyable experience: get yourself a round table. The closeness that you can get with it plus looking at your partners in the eyes makes the whole situation more enjoyable. Other feature to have in mind is that there are no “heads” in a round table which is also a great symbolic way to state we are all equals.
Be there, show your face, shake hands and make friends.
Make Time To Make Friends
Playing any tabletop RPG game takes a lot of time of practicing, playing and also talking. I highly recommend conventions and also keeping in touch. See, there are no virtual words or worlds when it comes to RPG and that´s what we love about it.
Why I Keep On Doing It
I keep on doing it because it is fun. This is the main reason all games should be played, right? Because you can have fun with them. My definition of fun is very close to imagination, creation and embarking in otherworldly adventures. I like active tasks rather than passive, I want to have the fate of the game in my hands rather than being a passive spectator of what goes on. So, to answer the question, I might say that I still do it because it matches perfectly my definition of fun and because it was and still is the main reason why I met some of my greatest friends.