Why I Play Roleplaying Games


[This post is The Triangular Room’s very first guest post, written by Mike New. A special thanks to Mike for sharing this great post. Many of the reasons I play roleplaying games are covered here. – Abigail]

Why do I like to play roleplaying games? It comes down to several reasons, a few of which are specific to either real-life games or online (play-by-post or play-by-email) games, but most of which are common to both styles of play.

  • Problem Solving. This is probably the main reason I like these games, and yes, I do like puzzles and math too. So this is something important for me, but maybe it isn’t the same for everyone.
  • Role Playing. Getting into character of my character can be a lot of fun. Whether playing a pious religious zealot, a sneaky backstabbing rogue, a brave but unconventional warrior, or a power-hungry wizard, it is a fun challenge to get into these roles, and sometimes act in a way that may surprise others.
  • Combat. Yes, bashing evil orcs with my sword is a lot of fun, even if it’s done with dice and paper. For some players this is the main motivation for playing, but for most it is only one aspect of the game that’s a lot of fun.
  • Character Creation. As strange as it sounds, I really enjoy making up new characters. I think it ties into the role playing and problem solving aspects mentioned earlier (and the combat aspect too). Coming up with a unique concept for a character, his or her name, some special background that will tie into the role-playing, and some unique abilities that will help me let the character solve some problems (or perhaps “solve” some evil orcs), is a challenge in itself. But while creating the character in a vacuum, i.e. with no game to play in, can be interesting, the motivation is not there; so running off and just creating a hundred characters is not fun, while creating just one for an upcoming game is a blast!

For real life games, the other aspect which is just as important as those already mentioned, is:

  • Social Interaction. As with a game of cards, bowling, Settlers of Catan or whatever, getting together with some friends for a game is a lot of fun, and I always look forward to the social aspect of it.

Conversely, for online games, the social aspect is present but not nearly as strong, as the relationships are via text, and sometimes the other players are unknown to me. Of course, you can play this way with your good friends too, but it’s not the same as real life. In practice, most of the online games I play are with players around the world who I have gotten to know through the games, but whom I have never met in real life. So the social aspect is there, but the reality is I would generally not be contacting them if I were not playing a game with them.

However, online games have yet another positive aspect, which real life games do not share:

  • Writing. Playing online in a forum or email setting means the game is asynchronous. You post what your character does, and wait an hour, a day, or a week (hopefully not a week, though I have waited a month!) for posts from the other players of the game. As such, you have time to craft your posts as if you’re writing a bit of fiction. Some people consistently do this, creating long, descriptive responses on just about every post; while others just post the facts. I tend to be among the latter group, but once in a while, when I have the time and inclination, I will attempt a longer post that tries to resemble the art of writing fiction. And though I do not always do that, I do enjoy it when it does happen.

I hope I have educated someone who doesn’t play, or at least someone who doesn’t realize why I and others like me play roleplaying games. Some or all these benefits provide hours of enjoyment to millions of gamers everywhere.

MikeNewAbout the author:

Mike New lives in Ottawa, Canada, and started playing roleplaying games in 1979 with AD&D.

6 thoughts on “Why I Play Roleplaying Games

  • November 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Excellent article. The writing aspect of PbP gaming is spot on. I like Mike’s enthusiasm regarding play by post, and he is right also about the downside of PbP, such as games that take a loooong time between turns (days, weeks, even months). Another big problem is players and DMs flaking out and falling off the Web, so that games end before they are done. I’m so glad I’ve found an online Pathfinder gaming community that solved those problems.

    I wrote a 3-part article on my own blog about how to keep your online PbP game healthy. Check it out here: http://www.cayzle.com/screeds/click053.html

    And I want to invite anyone who is interested to check out the 60-player Pathfinder community I’m in, called the Wold, at http://www.woldiangames.com

    I hope it is okay to add these links here. It is great to find a new D&D blog.

    • November 21, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Thanks for sharing those links – The Wolds sounds pretty cool, and your article gives some great insight into PbP.

    • December 13, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      Good article, Cayzle. Sorry for the late reply – I just happened to look in on this page and found it. I agree about the posting requirements. You could add that the player doesn’t have to post something long. She might be waiting on the GM or another player, or she might be out of the action temporarily. But she can still post. I like to post even when my character is unconscious; usually I write something about what they are dreaming. It adds color and spreads knowledge about my character, what they’re thinking or dreaming.

  • November 23, 2015 at 12:11 am

    Nice article! It’s a good summary why a lot of us play RPGs I think. I’ve played all kinds of RPGs. They all offer a good amount of interaction and brain exercise. The creative experience of creating an interactive story and game with others just can’t be beat.

    • November 23, 2015 at 8:14 am

      Thanks! I agree there’s just some things that RPGs offer that nothing else does 🙂

  • December 13, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    I’ve played in PbP games in which, if a PC dies, the PC gets to play the dead soul floating invisibly around the battlefield, even interacting in minor ways (like a ghostly Mage Hand) to give friends a +1 here or there or enemies a -1. That gives the player something to do until he or she can be raised.


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