RPGs As Language: Long Form Language Creation

November 22, 2013

Long form play, the sort of RPG that continues with roughly the same group of people for many months or even years, has a special kind of allure. Some of that is the historical importance of the dedicated campaigners in setting assumptions and tone for RPGs as a hobby. But there is something deeper to explore.

If RPGs are languages and those languages evolve during play, then long form play is the opportunity to cultivate a unique, personal language shared among the players. This novel language cuts across the facets of the long form game. It includes the idiosyncrasies of fictional events, the context of fictional worlds, and the habits and other accumulated ways the players have learned to play.

Designing the basis for this endeavour often takes the tact of seeding many potentially fruitful ideas and subsystems and leaving enough freedom for a long form language to arise. On the other hand, laying a strong foundation for building long form play has potential, but remains rife with difficulties and pitfalls. In either case the evolving language of play needs open spaces to grow into, perhaps related to Vincent Baker’s fruitful void.

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