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June 18th, 2009, 15:01
IMO it's not what we usually think of as intelligence -- more what D&D calls "charisma." It's the ability to empathize -- to really put yourself in the skin of someone else; think like them; feel like them… act like them.
There is the small matter of memorizing lines, of course, but that's pretty easy; anyone with average intelligence can learn that. It's the empathy, imagination, and ability to communicate emotional affect that counts.
Re tabletop games, that depends entirely on the style of the game. There are games that are heavily based on mechanics, where you do need to carefully consider your character development choices and your tactical choices in situations you encounter. Then there are games that are based on storytelling, intuition, experience, and make-believe. And games based on social interaction. And combinations of all of the above.
IMO they're all "real" role-playing games. You can even alternate between, or combine, all of these within one game system.
The ones I've been gamemastering for the past quarter-century or so have been more towards the storytelling, imagination, empathy, and social-interaction end of the scale, even though they've thrown in occasional strategic gaming as well.
We do use figurines occasionally as well, and in my experience they do nothing to *detract* from the role-playing aspects of the game. In cRPG's, I certainly don't see any correlation at all between the choice of perspective and the degree of my involvement with the protagonist; I don't think I've ever identified with the protagonist as much as with The Nameless One in Planescape: Torment (2d iso), nor as little as with Gordon Freeman in the Half-Lifes. All of which are fantastic games IMO.
IOW, my experience is pretty different from yours, and therefore I feel that you oughtn't generalize it so far.
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