Had a long weekend of gaming at the EYE-CON RPG convention over the long weekend. It was a wonderful weekend of hilarious, exciting and some disappointing games leading ot a rollercoaster ride of an event. But first some qualifiers.
What is a role playing game? If I had a dollar for, “is it a computer game?” (nope that’s a …computer game) “Do you dress up and put on silly voices?” (nope that’s my day job). Well as described by wikipaedia – “A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative through a process of structured decision-making and character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines (and chance; ala dice). The original form (sometimes called a tabletop RPG) is conducted through discussion. An arranger called a game master (GM) usually decides on the rules and setting to be used and acts as referee, while each of the other players plays the role of a single character.
That being said it’s really interesting to me as an actor what drives other people to this hobby and how do they interact with it. Over the weekend I found a great amount of classy acting in the guise of escapism. People playing covert Nazi’s with their own agenda or insanely explosive Goblins, all with characterizations that I’d envy to have in an improv class, and that I found myself interacting with gleeful abandon.
At the low points like most games we were stuck haggling over rules, but the heights were when we were haggling over character motivations and thwarting schemes. In essence we were acting in complex improv dramady and loving it. eg: A George Peppard like ex-army boss played by me (professional actor) with the Nazi/student to my left, the Italian Resistance Fighter/Actuary on my right and the Allied paratrooper/IT tech at the end of the table, all looking at each other as suspiciously as the character list of Reservoir Dogs.
The acting was engaging and funny, all well motivated and for the most part with an idea of character. I think for that reason we were all on a level playing field regardless of acting experience. We were all solidly in our imaginations with respect to the setting and played our successes and failures at the whim of dice with convincing aplomb. All this without standing up from the table, wearing a crazy costume (outside of the Sheldon Cooper wardrobe we all seemed to have raided) or having met one another before. People had traveled interstate with pals and stayed at the YHA to be there. The commitment to having fun was equally as impressive.
It’s good to know that what I feel as the camaraderie of acting occurs outside of the biz, and that anyone with a solid character motivation can pull of some fine acting feats. That and it was a blast of a time. All in all I write off EYE-CON 2012 as a success. Bring on the next one.