Friday, August 24, 2012

So Why Do I Do This? Part 3

Warning: I'm in a bit of a melodramatic mood. I mean, it's been a pretty melodramatic and philosophical summer, so you have been forewarned.

As I sit here at the local Micky D's, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi, my brain has turned to that question: why do people play RPGs? I mean, it's escapism, at best. I've gotten repeatedly warned of the bad mythology that shows up in Dungeons and Dragons all summer long, to the point to where it's pretty discouraging to even thinking about it. Why leave this world for another one, no matter how long?

Funny, that reminds me of a story... the late and great Jack "the King" Kirby did a lot of tours in his later years, visiting with people and talking to him about his art. One day he wound up at a library, where a bunch of people his age started looking at his exhibition. One of the older ladies walked up to him, and asked him why he always did fantasy, since it was obvious that none of this stuff had a basis in reality almost anywhere. Jack's response was essentially this: Trying to reflect on reality itself will get you a flipped image, and you won't actually see reality. It's only by trying to transcend what's real that we understand what reality is. 

OK, so that's not an exact quote, but it's pretty damn close to what he said. People look for experiences that help them hang on a little longer, that give them that oomph that they need to get through the rest of the day, hour, or minute. Hell, without those experiences life just doesn't move forward for me. You know the moments I'm talking about, right? Where nothing exists but that moment and what you're doing right then and there. Time stops, and you exist. For whatever reason time takes it's five minute break and you can enjoy not having it around for a little bit. I think it's called joy.

Well, that's what RPGs have always done for me. And considering that there's very few things in this world that this happens with, I figure that it's kinda imperative to keep doing it. Joy and timelessness are so rare in this world, and, as someone who doesn't just want to survive, I find that getting together with my friends, throwing dice, and making up a world between the bunch of us that, even though it's not real, is still impactful and meaningful. I mean, that's why we watch movies and plays and opera, right? Cause, even though it's not real, we all connect to it as if it is, and we're changed for the better. There's nothing better than the shared fiction of a group of friends.

1 comment:

  1. [to potentially redefine some of your terms:]

    And thus it IS REAL. The elves and the kingdoms and the quests aren't "real" in one sense. In that sense they "don't exist". But then, neither do our memories, and our pasts that they live in.

    The past only exists in our minds. You can't point to it and say "Look, that happened three years ago." And in the same way, our fictional worlds cannot be pointed to.

    But, since most people WOULD argue that their pasts did happen, that their fondest memories do exist, I issue my counterpoint: Both memories and fictional worlds exist in the mind. And because we subjectively (as with everything) experience them, they are real to us. They are fundamentally part of our realities - alongside cause-effect, pattern recognition, and (triad).

    That joyful savoring of the moment, what is worth more than that? Surely it lies in that upper plane of Quality, alongside our highest convictions and most precious relationships.