Firehose is an ongoing series of posts looking into the more difficult and controversial topics in the gaming world. I encourage you to treat the subject matter accordingly, Comment thoughtfully and be respectful in all things. Comments bans will be enforced. Read on….
It is often said that role-playing games are escapism, allowing us a few brief hours to get away from the stresses and worries of everyday life, where we can be larger than life heroes rather than mere workaday average Joes and Joannes, making our marks upon a fantastic world that we can – quite literally – only visit in our dreams.
It’s true of course. RPGs are escapism, but to say that is all they are would be wrong. Ask any gamer with depression, anxiety or any one of countless debilitating mental issues, and they’ll tell you that role-playing games are an essential part of getting them through daily life. A D&D session can be councelling, therapy, community, stress-relief and socialization all rolled into one, as well as being bloody good fun at the same time. But that’s a blogpost for another time, written by others with far more knowledge about that particular topic.
I believe that role-playing games and real life are a two way street. We bring our real world experiences to the table, but we can also bring the experiences we share in a role-playing game back with us too. A great gaming session can leave us feeling exhilerated, excited, positive and ready to take on anything, and likewise a poor one… well, best not talk about those.
Role-playing games instil values, or at the very least reinforce the values we should already possess. Good can (and does) triumph over evil. Monsters are there to be battled, justice prevails and freedom is a thing to be guarded, protected and nourished. We are all, to coin a phrase, points of light in our fantasy realms, seeking out and destroying evil wherever it lurks in the shadows. Our heroes live and die by their moral codes, and whether they are stalwart Paladins or shady (but honourable) Rogues, their first duty is to do good. Even in games where one (or all) of the PCs are villains, whether by design of the campaign or a player simply wanting to play an Evil PC, in my experience this often becomes a journey where the evil PC(s) turn from darkness to light and become heroes by the end of the campaign. Good always has a habit of winning in the end.
Which leads us to politics.
We find ourselves living in an age where it feels like Good and Evil are increasingly absolute concepts. The shades of grey (of which there are far more than 50) seem to be polarising. Right and Wrong have become Alt-Right and Completely Wrong, at least in the view of the media, social or otherwise. Divisions are forming, and it’s easy to fall into despair about where the world is heading. I know. I feel the same, truly I do.
This is where our role-playing experiences can help. We know this. It’s what we have trained for. This is our chance to be the heroes, to play a part in driving back injustices, fight for the freedoms denied to others and take a stand. I don’t care whether you’re Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Labour, SNP or whatever. I care that you’re a gamer. You know right from wrong. You’ve battled orc hordes, saved the villagers and lived to tell the tale. You know in your heart what your Fighter, Cleric or Wizard would do. Your sword is your voice, your shield is the ballot box and your next encounter is a call to your MP, Member of Congress or Council. Your adventuring party has thousands upon thousands of PCs, all marching with you. You’ve got this. You can do this. You’re born for it.
Be the hero in real life. Fight monsters. Win.