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23865Re: [mythsoc] RPG fiction

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  • David Emerson
    Dec 18, 2012
      I've been following this thread without much to add, but now I can jump in.  Although I haven't played role-playing games, I have heard enough accounts from friends who have, to appreciate that there is at least the possibility of a communal creative activity inherent in them.  I'm not primarily a writer, but I am a musician, and I see a direct correlation.  A single author writing a story is like a performer playing a piece of music; a group of people collaborating on a story (e.g. a group of RPGers at their best) is like a band, especially an improvisational group such as a jazz combo or a jam band.  When I'm playing with such a band, it is possible to create music that no single one of us could have come up with.  More than the sum of our parts, the resulting music is made up of not just our individual contributions but also the interactions between us. 

      Now, I readily admit that my basement band, even when our playing is transcendent, is never going to create something like Beethoven's Ninth, which was the product of a single mind with a particular vision, worked and reworked over time until it became the polished diamond that it is.  The Ninth can be performed over and over and is always great.  But improvisational music, created and perceived in the moment and then released into the aether, can be just as impressive.

      I don't know of any written accounts of RPG campaigns that successfully reproduce the spontaneous joy that the players must have experienced while mutually creating their story.  But perhaps this may be the effect of the gaming structure rather than a definitive limitation on the concept of group story-telling.

      David Emerson

      [...] RPGs .... I've likened them in the past to some types of community rituals I've read about where participants reenact stories of importance [...] to become a part of the story. I certainly don't think that the games hold that sort of religious significance, but I think they tap into the same emotional center of taking part in living myth/religion while also being creatively driven rather than performing from rote. [...]

      I suspect that the need for that community-oriented storytelling is stronger in some folks than others, and that people find all sorts of ways to evoke that sense beyond RPGs. I think the way that fan communities have gained momentum shows another outlet for that same need. There are probably lots of other examples, too.
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