We’re Doing What?

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Existence


Lately I’ve run into people who keep insisting that when we play in an RPG we have to be telling a story. In case you hadn’t heard, I disagree.

Their Rationale

As far as I can tell in their way of thinking the fact events in play are imaginary—that is, fictional—it means that it has to be story. That is not how I understand story. How do I understand story?

As I understand it, a story is an account of events that have occurred. A narration is an accounting of those events. Whether those events are real or imaginary is irrelevant, what matters is that they have occurred. When they are occurring you don’t have a story, you have events.

And it doesn’t matter if they are real events or make believe, they are happening in one sense or another.

The Society

In the Society for Creative Anachronism—SCA—the members get together on occasion to pretend to be living in the Middle Ages as they should’ve been. They’re really not, they just pretend they are. And in that the events are happening at that moment, they’re not telling stories. For all that the lives are imaginary, they are still living lives.


And what are you doing in an RPG—Role Playing Game? You are living a life. For all that it is an imaginary life in an imaginary world, it is still a life.

Think of it as a sort of virtual reality. In all reality it has no reality, just the appearance of reality. You want to get right down to it, it’s a fraud. But it’s close enough to being real that we can pretend that it is. We can treat it as real, and in our treatment handle it as if we were actually living the life we pretend we are.

Closing Thoughts

I may have more to say on this, but first I have to think some more.



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