RPG Gaming: a different way to live

By: Samantha Hubble

Fun is fun, but for a group of gamers, it’s much more than that. For RPG gamers, gaming might as well be a lifestyle choice.

RPG is an acronym for Role Playing Game, and for some who dare to play, it can be like living a double life.

The way these games are played has evolved. Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), a RPG played with dice and tokens, was first published in 1974 and remains to this day one of the most popular table-top RPG games. It also paved the way for modern online RPGs like World of Warcraft and Starcraft.

D&D is based on traditional war gaming, with one difference being that players create their own character instead of controlling a military formation. The game is in a fantasy setting where the storylines and encounters are created and mediated by a Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master’s job is to control the game.

“The [Dungeon Master] is basically the moderator, or if you compare it to a video game, I am the computer that you play against,” Dungeon Master Evan Pickard said. “As for how many people can play, in all honesty, there is no limit, but for a safe number of people, I would say between three and six people, not including the DM.”

Though it is Pickard’s second year of game play, this is his first year as Dungeon Master (DM). He leads a group of four every Thursday night.

Game characters are controlled by their chosen race and class. These can range anywhere from elves to half-orcs, gnomes to minotaurs. A character’s class and alignment largely determine how a player will play the game.

While in most board games one would use a die to determine how many spaces to move, the dice in D&D serve a different purpose. With the number of sides on a die ranging from four to 20, their purpose is to determine if the player’s attack hit and how much damage it did to the enemy.

Together, a group of individuals works to achieve a common goal. Their characters gain experience points (XP) with every battle they encounter. There are milestones the players have to reach to gain level with their XP to become stronger and gain more abilities.

D&D offers something that online gaming doesn’t: the ability to play with “real” people. Starcraft, though it doesn’t offer face time with individuals who share similar interests, does offer an opportunity to play online with people from all over the world.

Starcraft is a military strategy real-time game released in 1998 and is played online. The science-fiction game is set in the 26th century where three races war for dominance in a distant part of the Milky Way Galaxy.

One race is the Terrans, which are humans with the ability to adapt in any situation, exiled from Earth. Another is the Zerg, a race of insectoids who are in the pursuit of genetic perfection. The last is the Protoss, a humanoid species with advanced technology and psionic abilities.

“Starcraft offers a lot of networking opportunities with people around the world,  Starcraft player Nick Bordo said, who also plays D&D. “But it doesn’t offer the intimate connections that D&D does.”

World of Warcraft offers the same networking rewards as Starcraft, with a larger gaming audience.  Though the original goal of the game used to be to level-up your character to the highest limit, it is now more about leveling up your group, or “guild,” of people for raiding parties.

D&D set the stage for gaming today and even though gaming has evolved, there remain fans of every stage of evolution.