Ramblings of a Girl Gamer

Gaming Explained

So, this is an article I wrote for SCARAB, which is a gaming convention that I help run.  I got some pretty good feedback on it.  I figure since this is a blog about gaming, I should have something like this here explaining what its all about.  So here goes.

What is Gaming?

Many people have asked SCARAB what we mean when we say that we are a gaming convention. Hopefully this will set the record straight, and help to clarify just what it is we are all about.

Gaming is Entertainment

The term gaming covers a wider variety of activities than you may realize, including, but not limited to, board games, card games, miniatures games, and roleplaying games. First and foremost, the purpose behind gaming is to have fun with friends. Most gamers will tell you that it matters less to them what they are playing than who they are playing with. Whether its catching up with old friends or breaking the ice with new ones, gaming is meant to be social, and if you’re not having fun, you’re missing the point.

Gaming is a Challenge

Whether you are planning out your strategy on the chessboard, figuring out the longest word you can spell in Scrabble, collecting cards with powers that you can use to score points against your opponents, or pretending to be a thief who must figure out how to sneak into the wizard’s tower without getting caught, the element of challenge is always exciting. Games can be competitive, collaborative, or a combination of both. All games have a goal. Sometimes, that goal is to accomplish something before the other players, or to obtain the highest score. Some games have sides or teams that compete together. Sometimes, players work together to achieve a common goal before time runs out or something else happens in the game, such as in many of the story-based board games. Most roleplaying games do not have winners or loser. Instead, the goal is to work together to create an interesting story. No two games are alike, but all of them enjoy some element of strategy, cleverness, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking.

What is Role Playing?

In a roleplaying game (also called an RPG), the players imagine themselves into the roles of other people in situations that are very different from their real lives. For a lot of non-gamers, when they think of RPGs they think of fantasy-based games like Dungeons and Dragons. But in actuality, there are as many kinds of RPGs as there are kinds of stories. There are RPGs set in the cities of the future, in the Old West, in a range of historical to fantastic versions of Medieval Europe and Asia, and even in modern-day America. Characters in an RPG can be anything from knights and wizards, to vampires and werewolves, to secret agents, gunslingers, superheroes, spaceship captains, or anything else imaginable. There is usually a person (sometimes called a game master, narrator, or story-teller) who creates and controls the setting and the other people the player’s characters encounter. The characters portrayed by the players interact with each other and their imagined world to enact and create a story in which the characters may succeed or fail, but ultimately live through a series of events that affects and changes them and the world around them.

What’s Up With the Dice?

Most RPGs employ some mechanism to give an element of randomness to the game. Dice are most common, but cards are also common, and a few games use more exotic methods such as rock-paper-scissors or even a Jenga tower. However this is done, the purpose is to lend surprise and unpredictability to the story. Why? Just imagine how boring a superhero movie would be if you knew whether or not every single punch was going to connect before it was thrown, or if the hero always won (or never won), and if people could predict in advance whether or not the would be knocked out and tied up in the villain’s secret lair at the end of the fight. Chance and risk make stories more exciting, and make the victory at the end that much sweeter.

To Sum It Up

Gaming is about having fun and spending time with friends. It is about challenge and imagination and stories. It may seem kind of strange. (And it is! But in a good way!) But don’t knock it ‘til you try it. You just might enjoy yourself.

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