Wednesday, August 12, 2020
RPGaDay Challenge 2020 - MESSAGE
Should RPGs send a message? Should your campaign have one?
'Should' is a word one must treat with the upmost of care, or to put it another way...don't say 'should'. 'Could' is much preferred and considerably more interesting.
Could an RPG game or campaign have a message? Absolutely, though that needn't always be the case.
Like films, television shows, and numerous other forms of entertainment, sometimes a fun and exciting tale is just that and needs no deeper meaning of any kind. Most forms of entertainment are, on average, just an escape from the everyday and not designed to explore the big intellectual, moral, or philosophical questions that challenge Humanity's understanding of itself and it's place in the universe.
On the other hand, if you are so inclined, why not 'elevate the medium' as it were and try to put a message into your game from time to time. Here's the only caveat...
Unless you know your group really well, your message runs the risk of being ignored, challenged, disagreed with, or people just not getting it. If everyone is on the same page (or at least philosophically compatible ones) and shares a similar viewpoint, your sending your message to people who already know it. If you have varying viewpoints on a subject, is your message going to go over well or, as I stated before, is it going to cause turmoil in the group?
Generally speaking, I don't have a particular message in mind when I run my 'high brow', more thought provoking campaigns. My goal is to provoke thought, so I will pose a question rather than send a message. I like presenting ideas, usually several, and seeing how the players and their PCs react to the ideas. What do they think the right answer is and why? I love hearing the discussions as differences of opinion on what is happening and why are offered up, questioned, and reasoned out.
In the end, perhaps a message forms when the questions are answered. If we confront each other, and ourselves, with social and moral quandaries, we will be forced to come to terms with those quandaries at some point (or points) in the narrative of the game.
In fact, if there is any one message I would want to send all my players it is this; don't hesitate to wonder and ask questions. Don't be afraid to be wrong, right, or a little of the two. Use any and all opportunities to think wisely and embrace the infinite possibilities in seeing a different point of view.