May 3rd, 2007

Writing About Playing

I’m trying to post regularly twice a week, instead of just once, so this is my First Official Thursday Post. I asked people to help me focus what I should post about, since I find I often stall out in the “What should I write” phase, not the actual writing. Several folks suggested I should write about role-playing, which you’d think would be a no-brainer for me, considering that it’s both one of my major research topics and an equally major hobby. What’s weird is that it, well, wasn’t quite the no-brainer it seems.

I’m oddly reluctant to write about role-playing, even when I’m quite happy to rant about my play experiences in general. (This post was almost about how awesome my students’ games have been this year; there’s probably a post or two coming on that topic at some point in the future in any case!) I suspect it has to do with how role-playing is situated in American culture - you know, the whole mouth-breather-in-basement stereotype. But for whatever reason, every time I start to talk about role-playing, part of me wants to leap up and justify why I care. “No, really! This matters! Here’s why!”

It’s also hard for me to know where to begin talking about it. I certainly have plenty of actual play (erm, participant observer?) experiences to write about, which are fun for me, but I’m not sure they’re interesting to other people. I could rant about theory, but lord, so many people are already doing that, and I have no interest in getting into some of the more wankery arguments that are out there. I’d really like to talk about my research, but the research I’m doing is fairly large-scale and slow to finish. So I’m never quite sure what to say.

Really, I think I do better in conversation than in this form, shouting into the void.

That said, I’ve got a couple of ideas for upcoming posts. My group’s just started a new short-term game in the wake of Gloria Mundi, so I’m going to write about some of the things we’re doing to make that happen, as well as some of my own experiences being a player after running a game for four years. Plus we’ve been doing neat world-building, so I can talk about that as well.

Beyond that, who knows? But I think that with practice I’ll get used to doing this, just like I’ve gotten into the habit of talking every week about what I read.