Does gaming (RPGs) make one a good writer?

Discussion in 'Games' started by Weaver, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. Weaver

    Weaver Mystagogue

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    I'm doing some informal research on how people view this topic. So...

    "Gamers are good writers, and writers are good gamers." Discuss.
     
  2. Weaver

    Weaver Mystagogue

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    (Necessary disclaimer: I am asking this only because I want to see what the prevailing views on the topic are. In the distant past - say, the early 1990s - I heard many gamers say that playing traditional tabletop RPGs automatically gave a person a better feel for storytelling and character creation, thus making them a good writer. I want to find out if that view has changed.)
     
  3. soulless

    soulless Lore Master

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    Playing storytelling games, such as D&D and other RPGs, can help with imagination, but I don't think it's remotely a necessity in order to write good stories.
     
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    It depends on what you play and how you play it. I played D&D online in chatrooms and it helped my writing immensely. But something like WoW? Maybe it helped, marginally, to get a feel for the breadth of what fantasy can do - but I could see it hurting as much as helping.

    Final Fantasy deserves a lot of credit for plotting. The very nature and source of magic in the world becomes a turning point in the plot, tying plot and character and setting together beautifully.
     
  5. Weaver

    Weaver Mystagogue

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    Already I see that I asked the original question unclearly.

    For purposes of this discussion, games = traditional tabletop RPGs.

    (Although I can certainly see how the change from "gamer" meaning "one who plays D&D or other tabletop RPGs" to it meaning "one who plays computer games that may or may not be fantasy/sci-fi" could affect how it relates to the question of whether gaming influences a person's storytelling ability. I didn't even think of that, because I don't play computer games. Yeah, I know - bad science if the possible variables aren't even taken into consideration. Sorry. I'll try not to do it again.)
     
  6. Weaver

    Weaver Mystagogue

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    Could you expand on this? What do you mean by "help with imagination"?
     
  7. Weaver

    Weaver Mystagogue

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    How did playing D&D online help you with your writing? And in what ways do you think World of Warcraft could hurt someone's writing ability - or helping, for that matter? (Aside from spending every waking moment playing WoW instead of writing, I mean, which would be bad for a writer anyway.)
     
  8. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Dark Lord

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    I would think it would really depend on a few factors whether it could be useful of not.

    1) If the DM was an abysmal storyteller; likely it wouldn't help you as much as one that was very skilled and highly imaginative. I have played with several DMs and almost all of them were at the least decent story tellers. Ones who could; given a twist by one of the characters reactions to a situation, adapt that into the plot and keep it interesting for the players. I also ran games myself and never had any complaints about the campaigns we played.

    2) How much you as a player experimented with the different archetypes within the gaming world. I had known players that preferred one or two classes to play with and rarely diverged from them. Limiting themselves could only hinder the likelihood of them being a good writer. If like I did, you experimented with all of the characters classes, you have a better understanding of the different ways skills can be used in different situations. How a thief escapes from the prison he finds himself in would likely vary from how a warrior or priest would.

    3) Was a player a "rules lawyer" or not. I think even this can affect whether a person would make a good writer or not. Following the rules and tenets of the game and the framework for the given world is one thing, but taking it to the extreme of using the games/world rules to a ridiculous proportion is something else, bashing people on the head with it as it were. I always hated the players that given a situation would say... "You can't do that... the rule book says so!" instead of simply rolling with the punches and resolving the situation. I always found the rule books as "guides" rather than the end-all-be-all of the game. When I made my world I literally broke at least a dozen "rules" to make things interesting.

    Rules lawyers tend to think too rigidly and perhaps it could have that effect on their world-building and writing skills; occluding options that perhaps would be otherwise available if such a strict adherence to the "rules" wasn't used.
     
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    No.

    It can be helpful, but it isn't going to make one a good writer. For confirmation, merely look at all of the really bad fiction written by gamers (e.g. many D&D novels and so on).
     
    Sparkie likes this.
  10. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Twenty-Sided Troubadours: Why Writers Should Play Roleplaying Games

    Chuck Wendig discussed this at his website terribleminds. It's worth a look.

    My opinion is that playing RPGs can't really hurt your writing, but it can make you believe you're a good storyteller when you may not actually be. "Oh, but my friends loved my 5 year spanning campaign to smash the orc pirates of Drannala."

    I think trying to write a novel based off a D&D game you did is not usually a good idea. Unless your D&D game was really weird (like Erikson and Esselmont's). However, if you want to do that, go for it. It may be bad or good, but you don't know until you write it. You're the final judge of whether a story is worth writing or not. I think playing RPGs definitely can help you learn how to develop charactes if you really delve deep into it.
     
  11. WyrdMystic

    WyrdMystic Grandmaster

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    I would say that it certainly gives you a lot of ideas to draw from, however, it doesn't neccessarily make you a good story teller. The best experience you can gain from RPGs, if you want to write, is to be the story teller, rather than a player character. This will essentially give you practice similar to writing short stories, though it will not help with technique at all. You would also have to be careful that you are not simply writing out whatever happened in last nights round of WoD, or worse, you are writing down what other player characters did and said and not your own ideas.

    In short, I think running an RPG would help the most. Playing an RPG would be like 'Brain Training' and would help excersise the imagination. The only thing that will help someone be a better writer.....writing and learning and writing.
     
  12. Weaver

    Weaver Mystagogue

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    Thanks for the link, Phil. I will definitely take a look at that website.
     
  13. Weaver

    Weaver Mystagogue

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    Do people actually do that? Write a story that is basically a game log, I mean. *shakes head*
     
  14. Weaver

    Weaver Mystagogue

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    (Another disclaimer, since again there seems to be something I didn't realize needed explaining: I am NOT writing a novel or other work of fiction based on any game or game-related whatever. I see nothing wrong with someone choosing to do so, but that's not why I'm asking for others' opinions here.)
     
  15. Ankari

    Ankari Staff Moderator

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    Just an FYI: Steven Erikson's Malazan universe is the product of a home brewed campaign setting for an RPG. I would never have known this if ThinkerX didn't bring it to my attention. I don't mind one bit, either. I'm a huge Erikson fan.
     
  16. Weaver

    Weaver Mystagogue

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    ...And Steven Brust's Dragaera novels have their genesis in an RPG campaign, as does the setting for the Liavek series of short stories by various authors, and Patricia Wrede's novels set in a world called Lyra. (My library is still in boxes, so I cannot look it up to be absolutely certain, but I'm fairly sure this information came from an afterword titled "Liavek: A creation myth" that appeared in one of those anthologies.)
     
  17. robertbevan

    robertbevan Lore Master

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    as someone whose stories are specifically about gamers getting trapped in the fantasy world of the game, i'll only credit my gaming time with giving me the idea for the stories and the technical knowledge of how the game works. i wouldn't say it improved the quality of my writing at all, and if i were to write about something that didn't involve RPG's, i don't think my gaming time would be very helpful to me at all.

    my friends ask me why i don't like to run the game. 'you write these great stories, bob. it should be second nature for you to run the game.'

    i don't find it's like that at all. when i'm writing a story, i know the characters and i have a general idea of what they're going to do. when i'm running a game, the players are deciding what happens, and i have to react to their actions on the fly. i'm not good at that.
     
  18. soulless

    soulless Lore Master

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    Well, playing RPGs "forces" the players to imaginatively come up with problems and solutions pretty much on the fly, which I believe can encourage a more active imagination. Though as I said its by no means necessary as many people have an amazingly strong imagination anyway.
     
  19. thedarknessrising

    thedarknessrising Mystagogue

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    I really do think that gaming can influence writing and vice versa. I play D&D quite extensively, and those games have helped me out of many a writer's block. For example, we were playing a session, and my players were attacked by a group of thugs looking to steal their weapons. Later that night, I incorporated a similar scene into my WIP.

    My WIP also helps fuel my imagination for my campaigns. Now, I don't literally play my story, because no one would really want that (but I am considering it), but there are always cities from my stories I can throw in to the game, or characters, or minor plot points.

    So yes, every gamer is a good writer, and every writer would be a good gamer, or however you phrased that. :)
     
  20. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Dark Lord

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    I wrote an article published here at Mythic Scribes on this topic:

    The RPG Experience to Writing a Novel

    But in short, I think that playing RPGs can set a solid foundation for imagination and storytelling that can be translated into writing novels.
     
    Zireael likes this.
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