I have a confession for everyone. I was such an outcast in high school, I had to beg other outcasts to teach me Dungeons & Dragons. Their geekiness had advanced to such a state of cool that the circle was pretty exclusive, and they’d been playing for a long time anyway, and besides, the last girl they’d taught to play had wound up scalping her first kill and stitching a hat out of the skin.
Roleplaying is good for writers.
Hah, say you. Yes, I’m sure that many fantasy writers had their start in role-playing. Adorable. You’re supposed to be a businesswoman, dude. (Side note: Businesswoman Dude is the title I want on my business cards.) Why are we screwing around with barbarian dwarves and psionic magicians?
And I say unto you: HOW CAN WE RESIST?
Also, it’s useful to copywriting. Really it is. Roleplaying hones a huge number of skills that are useful to copywriters, and to PROVE TO YOU THAT MY GEEKINESS HAS PURPOSE, I shall cite some of those reasons for you.
Finding a voice.
We talked about finding your client’s voice some while ago, and I’m not going to recap, because I have learned to hate the recap since TV shows started to come out on DVD. You would think that a logical place to allow your ‘skip to the next scene’ button to do its thing would be RIGHT AFTER the recap. But NO. They skip right to the middle of the next scene, when the new story begins, and then you either have to watch the recap of the story you JUST SAW, or miss part of the scene, or learn to fast forward on your DVD player, and there is only so much time in the day. Recaps, therefore, are evil. Finding your client’s voice is a good idea. If you’ve forgotten just why, you should go check out that episode again. It was a good one. Trust me.
Finding a voice is what roleplaying is all about. You have a character, and your character needs to think and talk and swear, and you need to know what all of that sounds like. You can’t give your character a voice until you know who your character is. Male or female? Large or small? Confident or shy? Quiet or brash? You need to know who this person is, or his voice won’t match. Try giving a woman’s voice to a male character sometime. It won’t work. Or it will, but not the way you wanted it to. Your male character will be ordering the pink frilly drinks in the bar, and that is going to get awkward right quick.
Likewise, you need to know who your client is in copywriting in order to find their voice. You need to know who they are and what they’re about, or the voice in which you’re writing will come out wrong. If the atmosphere your client projects is fun, young, and enthusiastic, giving them the voice of a forty-year-old accountant simply will not fly. No one will believe you, and the client will feel a little humiliated and betrayed, which is never the reaction you’re going for, but seriously, imagine how you’d feel if someone gave you the voice of your Aunt Esther. You’d be pissed. That’s how it works.
Getting rid of cliches.
Cliches in fantasy games are no fun. Cliched characters are boring. They make everyone else playing want to stab your character while he sleeps. Actually, if everyone else in your party attempts to murder your character for no apparent reason, there’s pretty good odds your character is Legolas with, oh, different colored eyes, or something. Ditto for creating a situation that’s so common as to be annoying.
Really? I’m going to go and avenge my dead parents by killing an overlord who is the epitome of all that is evil? I personally cannot think of at least five major films/books/plays/interpretive dances that follow that storyline. This may have something to do with the fact that I live in a cave. Tra-la!
It’s annoying, and no one wants to play it, because they know how this one ends already. THIS, by the way, is why guys hate chick flicks. It’s not that they’re about love. It’s that they’re all identical. He’s seen this one before. He’d rather go roll a half-orc with hydrophobia.
Cliches in copywriting are equally annoying. Actually, cliches in copywriting are more annoying, because they don’t come with dragons and treasure. There is no upside to the writing cliche. It is pure scribbled annoyance. On a stick.
“Ever wish you had a solution to that problem we all have? Then have I got a product for you!”
Shoot me now. Make me play Harry Potter through all seven books. I can bear that, but I cannot bear “the best just got better” one more time. I need some magic tricks to make it worth my while. Even that stupid light-trick.
Thinking on your feet.
In a good roleplaying game, your character will constantly encounter new situations. You won’t be certain how you ought to deal with the situation. You’ve never seen this situation before. (This is because we took all the cliches out back and had them shot. You’re welcome.) Instead, you have to put yourself in your character’s shoes and think quickly to determine how best to react. If you do it well, your character both survives and is believable. If you do it badly, your character is mauled and everyone hates him. Totally up to you, but I know which side of the cat my bacon is taped to.
Copywriters are constantly asked to write about products, people, or philosophies that they’ve never before encountered. I throw myself into other people’s shoes all the time in order to keep up in meetings. Thinking on my feet is rarely useful in terms of pretending I know something I don’t, but it is extremely useful in projecting an aura of capability. Being able to hear a lot of new information and apply it sensibly to a situation in a way that makes sense to your client is a valuable skill, and I swear, the time that you set off a spell trap and you didn’t know what it was and you had twelve minutes to identify and disable it will in fact serve you well. If nothing else, you’ll remember not to hyperventilate.
I’ve been playing for a day now, and I missed it so much I nearly broke my cheeks grinning. All of the above is completely and utterly true, but I mostly wrote this post because role-playing makes me happy, and I want everyone to get involved.
So now that I’ve already secured my slot in the limited roster for Escaping Reality, I think all of you should go over and try to get in. Or at least enter the contest on their creative writing and online gaming blog, Capturing Fantasy, because I haven’t won that yet, and you can ruin my statistical likelihood of winning if you skedaddle on over there. That’s math working for you and against me, which is the way I am most comfortable with my math. The day I have a comfortable relationship with math, you will know the Apocalypse is short a horseman.
Subscribe. I may never post again, for I shall be role-playing.