You have a friend at school who tells you she can’t go out on Saturday because she’s “gaming”. You ask her if she means Monopoly or poker or something like that and she tells you that no, she’s “roleplaying — it’s sort of like Dungeons and Dragons”. You’ve heard stories about kids worshipping the devil or committing suicide because of games like that, so naturally you’re concerned.
Or maybe you’re a parent and your twelve-year-old son has just come home from a weekend at his friend’s house raving about a neat new game his friend’s older brother introduced him to in which there is no board, no cards and very few rules but lots of strange dice. All the action takes place in your imagination, he tells you, and he was playing a priest of the god Essun or something like that and he used spells to kill evil monsters. You’ve heard of something like this involved with psychopathic killers so you’re genuinely concerned about your child.
Or maybe you’ve been playing roleplaying games (RPGs) for a little while and your parents are asking a lot of questions that you’re not prepared to answer.
That is what this Uncle Figgy’s Guide is for: To allay your fears about your friend’s well-being or your child’s mental health, or to help you discuss the nature of RPGs with your family and friends.
A Note to Parents
It is easy to understand the concerns you have about new things your children are trying. Is it safe? Is it wholesome? Will it interfere with their education? Such questions are especially important when it comes to roleplaying – a hobby that has been the subject of much misinformation, slanderous attack and urban myth. It is equally essential that you be as well-informed as possible and that you continue honest, open communication with your children. By showing them that you are willing to get involved and learn about their interests, you let them know that you care for them and worry about them.
If your child has expressed an interest in roleplaying, offer to let a game be played at your house. Once the game begins, ask if you can watch (if you are told that you are not wanted there, you have every right to be concerned — mature players will agree and probably even offer to let you play!). If you are unhappy with what you have witnessed, talk with your child once the others have all gone home. Ask questions about things you did not understand. Let your child know what you liked and disliked about the game.
But accusing without proper knowledge or research into your child’s interests will only breed resentment, leading your child to hide his actions and become secretive and spiteful. Since most roleplayers begin when they are just becoming teenagers, proper communication and respect at this critical age are key to maintaining a healthy relationship — no matter what the interest in question may be.
A Note to Gamers
Few hobbies have been so maligned as roleplaying games. Roleplayers have been classified as geeks and nerds at best and devil-worshipping, murderous deviants at worst. It is all too easy, therefore, to become defensive and angry when people begin asking about the hobby of roleplaying.
This defensive stance, however, only lends proof to the accusations leveled against roleplaying. After all, the thinking goes, if you’re not doing anything wrong, why are you becoming so elusive? Why are you getting so hostile? What are you hiding? Instead, when asked about your hobby, do your best to be as polite as possible in answering those concerns. Sarcasm only results in more proof as to the perceived social problems of gamers in general.
Just remember that people have no other sources of information on roleplaying games except what they have seen in the media (which is almost always anti-gaming). When they ask you about gaming, they are seeking to know whether what they have heard is real. It is up to you to help them see the actual truth of roleplaying. Instead of showing them anger, secrecy and defensiveness, let them see all that is good and fun about roleplaying. Honest, informed communication is the key to dispelling myth and misinformation.
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