When I was younger I fell in love with reading. My parents introduced me to the Lord of the rings and the chronicles of Narnia at a very young age. I also discovered other fantasy and lots of science fiction. Stories like Robinson Crusoe and the Swiss family Robinson also captured my imagination as well as the Greek myths. besides reading there was no shortage of interesting fiction on television and in movies for me to gravitate towards.
Very often when a story was over I would wish that it continued. I wanted to see what happened next. It seemed like there should be more.
Just as often I wondered about the decisions that the characters made in the stories. Why did they do that? Would I have done something different? Why didn’t they do it this way? It was not uncommon for me to imagine myself in those same situations, or imagined myself as some other person with different qualities in those imagined situations. I thought about the decisions I might make and what might have happened as a result.
Like all children I did not have a lot of power or autonomy in my own life. My own childhood was not spectacular, and this only magnified the feeling of powerlessness. It was nice to be able to imagine some ability to make decisions and affect the world around me.
Role-playing games were instantly appealing because in essence they allowed me to do just that. Together my friends and I could share imagined situations and take on the role of characters within them who were able to make their own decisions. No longer would it be a passive experience, we would be able to be active participants in these scenarios.
I don’t believe I had the experience or language to really express why they were so appealing back in the day, but an honest look through time reinforces my belief that this is what made the role-playing experience so appealing to my younger self.