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June 29th, 2012, 20:37
Hey there, fellow brothers.
I couldn't resist registering after reading through this intriguing debate (which has nothing whatsoever to do with topic of this thread, heh).

What I think some of you are missing, especially DArtagnan, is a very semantic and logical thing: that 'playing a role' and 'roleplaying' are completely different things.

'Playing a role', or 'acting out a role' is the one you were referring to, whereby you have the (you say relatively simple) task of imagining you are someone else, and with that certain background in mind you need to react to other people playing roles and/or react to scripted situations. In theatre and cinema it gets a little more specific. But no matter how free-spirited and revolutionary a director you have (be it in theatre or film), you have little to no freedom of action in the given situation. You cannot decide to act or not, or choose your approach, only adjust the way the action is taken. Here, the role of an audience is also very important, that is, you are being observed by people on a different level, non-participants.

'Roleplaying' is a term that was coined after the rise of PnP and tabletop games in the 70s and 80s, and it involves an activity where you are put in a context (just as above), given some level of background (just as above), and are presented a range of choices that include various types of actions and non-action. You can do much more than to adjust the way the action is taken. Also, observers and interpretation as in 'playing a role' is not necessary. You are only grouped with participants.

(You could argue that a certain experimental kind of theatre/film, where actors are given vague instructions in the beginning and then left to improvise are 'roleplaying', but that's not the point.)

What I think the Count and others are tying to promote, is that for an RPG, 'roleplaying' is required, and not 'playing a role'. With the latter, almost every game that has a minimal background and a hint of narrative would qualify as an RPG. The degree of 'roleplaying' then, of course, varies from RPG to RPG, but like someone explained, it requires a context, situations with options for different actions and non-action, and a feedback system of sorts.

That's how I look at it, anyway. I am lucky enought to have been a PnP roleplayer, game master, and an actor in theatre for over 15 years now, so I have given it considerable thought. I might be completely wrong, too. Anyways, sorry for being off topic in my very first post here…
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