Medium: 1) the intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses or a force acts or an effect is produced. 2) an agency or means of doing something. 3) the substance in which an organism lives or is cultured or the element that is the natural habitat of an organism. 4) surrounding objects, conditions, or influences; environment.
The RPG experience can be said to involve several mediums that help bring it about and that give it a place to exist. In the not so distant past, the various “live meeting on the internet” platforms have given in a medium to play with people from around the world while in the comfort of their own homes. This has had a dramatically positive impact on my gaming life, however, it has changed the medium of the environment of play.
And what of that medium? The environment that we set up for our sessions can have a profound effect upon the games. What I have found particularly interesting is even though my game group is from around the world, the ritual of setting up the session, seeing the individuals in their familiar spots in their homes, and even the background noises of dogs & coqui, all help to signal my mind that it is time to engage in the game state.
The rules, procedures, system, mechanics, genre expectations, in/out of character stance, and our culture of play all contribute to the overall medium by which the emergent fiction, individual experience, and events of play take place. Without these, we would simply be engaging in some sort of improvisational story creation. Instead, all of those methods and intervening force carriers combine to produce a tangible method by which the game is played. Like incantations and components of some esoteric spell or ritual, this mixture enables us to produce the closest thing to real magic that we will ever see.
That’s pretty darned cool.