Sunday, June 14, 2009

Live Action

As most of you probably know, table-top roleplaying is just one way of gaming. There's also LARP. This comes in many forms. The two most common are fantasy roleplay, through societies such as IFGS, and Vampire. There's no real reason to limit it to those sorts of games; I don't see why a live-action Wild West game is out of the question.

Of course, if you want to get technical, "Cops and Robbers" is a form of LARP. So is "playing house" and all the other make-believe games that kids play. Which reminds me of an essay I read in one of my Changeling books...

Steve Herman writes in an article entitled "Oh Boy! A Cat's Eye Shooter!" from the Changeling Player's Guide about how the imagination, the firm belief in things wonderous and magical, is the most precious gift that people have, and the loss of that belief as we grow to adulthood is a terrible tragedy. The author describes how he and his fellow gamers got out their old toys, action figures and the like. They tried to play with them, as they had when they were younger. It wasn't fun for them. They couldn't "create jungles from houseplants or deserts from carpet."

So they returned to the table. They played Changeling; they found that wonder again. They tried to steal a Wayne Gretsky rookie card, and chased a purple Snozzwanger through the alleys.

Basically, that's what roleplaying is: adults participating in the old childhood games of make-believe. There are more rules, the stories told are more complex, and it often tends to be more violent (or, at least, the violence is greatly codified). But it's still make-believe.

So why not get up from the table and do it live-action?

Well, for one reason, there are many things that can't be done live-action. There was a Werewolf live-action game. But I can't help wondering: doesn't it hurt the suspension of disbelief when you're supposed to shift into your eight-foot tall death-machine wolf-man form? Or even into pure wolf form? What about fantasy games, where there are teleport spells and invisibility potions?

Some things are easy to overcome. IFGS uses foam-padded boffer weapons to simulate combat. Vampire disallows physical contact between players of any sort, at all, ever (which I personally think is a bad idea, but what do I know?). I've seen a live-action society that uses different coloured tennis balls (basically) to represent fireball spells, lightning bolt spells, and ice bolt spells. But how about that invisibility? One system has a rule in which a character crosses his arms over his chest to indicate that he is invisible. Awfully hard to separate player knowledge from character knowledge in that scenario, isn't it?

I don't know. I suppose there's something to be said for LARP, but I tried it once, and it didn't do much for me. I prefer not to have my imagination hampered by physical reality.

That was a really unfocussed and meandering post. I'm sorry. But there it is. So for now, until next week: Game on!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Film and Book

Hello, and welcome to another week of gaming essays. Sorry it's a day late; I was having all sorts of trouble thinking of a topic for this week. But I finally came up with one: gaming in the world of existing stories.

This has been done many times in the past; I'm sure some of us remember MERP (Middle Earth Role Playing) from I.C.E. Of course, there's since been the new system released around the time of the Lord of the Rings films. There's also the Star Wars and Star Trek games, and the Buffy game, and there's been an adaptation of Hellboy for GURPS, and so forth... and that's not even counting the countless unofficial fan adaptations floating around the internet (like the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere). But we all see movies and TV shows or read books or comics and think to ourselves, "I want to play in that world!"

I, for example, have wanted to play in the world of The Dark Crystal for a very long time now. As I read Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, I see potential for that as well. I'm sure that other people have other ideas.

So this week, I'd like to hear from you, my readers. What story/movie/tv series/book/comic/etc do you want to see made into a game? Or, perhaps, you've even played in that setting?

I'd love to hear it. But I think that's all I've got for the moment, so I will bid you farewell for the moment. Game on!