One of my passions is to use games for self-improvement and understanding. In the process, and in conjunction with various folks on twitter, I put together a list of RPGs that explore the human condition and teach important lessons. I update this list on a periodic basis to include new examples as they arrive.
The Romance Trilogy – About relationships
Monsterhearts – On queer youth
Dream Askew – On queer communties
Durance – On prison culture
Dog Eat Dog – On colonialism
Kagematsu – On gender roles
Steal Away Jordan – On strength under slavery
Mars Colony – On governance
A Flower for Mara – On death and returning to your life afterwards
Dogs in the Vineyard – On faith and overwhelming responsibility
Misspent Youth – On rebellion and revolution
Grey Ranks – On personal sacrifice
carry, a game about war – On war and it’s costs
Shock: Social Science Fiction – Critical thinking on societal issues
Microscope – On the flow of history and importance of the individual
Heads of State: Nine short games about Tyrants is pretty self-explanatory.
What games would you add to this list?
Art is a way to communicate experiences. Every art form tries to convey different kinds of experiences, with a variety of different tools.
Paintings convey human perception of the world and of our own imaginations. When I saw a local Van Gogh exhibit, I was struck by his focus on the smallest gems of nature in a larger context. The individual paint strokes were used to convey a sense of motion, which is impressive in such a fixed media. This art form shares where we come from, and how we view the world.
Dance tells a story with the subtle movements of the human forms. Expressing ideas and concepts through their posture and movements is an impressive accomplishment that still boggles my mind.
Music shares emotion, from a melodious piano solo to an exciting and breathtaking full symphony. The interplay between instruments is a way to make emotions clear to the audience.
Roleplaying games hold a very special niche within the arts, in that our hobby forces the audience (players) to make choices. We create situations that are emotionally powerful and ethically challenging. We place ourselves in other people’s shoes and we make decisions that we could not or would not make in real life. Through roleplaying games, we can experience the agony of a small business owner who has to lay off his hard working staff. We can live the joy of a mother who reunites with her estranged daughter. We can destroy kingdoms, embrace a new faith, lose it all, or crawl up from the gutters. Each of these experiences helps us grow as people, and ensure that we can make better choices in the future in our own lives. That is the power of our art.
Am I wrong? Is there some aspect of RPG’s as an art for that I am missing? Let me know in the comments.