Clayton Christensen, the celebrated author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, talks often about how marketers long ago became convinced that we make decisions about which products and services to buy on the basis of who we are and how we self-identify. He posits that much of this line of thinking is inaccurate, and that what we’re really doing when we make purchasing decisions (which can be extended to choosing political leaders, for example) is hiring. We are selecting something (a product, a service, a candidate, a way to spend our time) to do a job for us.
Tabletop roleplaying is almost always fun. Looking back on the years I’ve spent at the table, I can only think of a few instances when I would have rather been doing something else. And most of those incidents were in my teens, when I didn’t realize that the rules and the whim of the gamemaster are less important than everyone enjoying themselves.
Late one November night in 2007, a tall man in his early 40s hunched over his laptop, hesitantly tapping at the keyboard. He filled in a profile that described himself and his interests. Twice he grabbed the screen as if to close the laptop. He typed several sentences, then erased them, then started anew. Finally he sat back, sighed, and hit the enter button.
As I devoured Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks last weekend, I wondered what had kept me from reading the book much earlier. It had been well reviewed by geeks and non-geeks of all stripes. The author, Ethan Gilsdorf, was born a year before me. Like me, he had spent the bulk of his teenage years playing Dungeons & Dragons. The stars, as they say, were aligned. So why had I waited so long to read the book?
On A Roll: Level Up Your RPG conveys a wealth of hard-won knowledge about how the social interaction of roleplaying can make or break the games we play, and about how to be a better player and gamemaster (storyteller in the book’s parlance). If roleplaying games are an important part of your life and you wish you were having more fun playing them, you owe it to yourself to read this book.