Paste Games editor Gita Jackson spent the past couple days guest editing over at Kotaku, giving us all a weekend of top-notch content. While she was there, she took the time to share the story of how tabletop games make her life better, focusing on how they provide not only companionship, but also unique storytelling opportunities.
I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and this winter was maybe the worst I’ve ever had. It’s not fun to wake up crying, it’s not fun to constantly be bargaining with yourself about whether you’ll commit suicide. Playing The Sprawl allowed me a chance to make my best self. My spin on Rihanna, Kirby Mattix, was everything I like about myself, and a few things I don’t like. She was stubborn, she was selfish, she was too honest, but she was also a woman who had been burned by a system of capitalism that wasn’t going to let her succeed. The GM, my fellow players, and I were making a world where she was finally going to be allowed to get what she deserved, a world where perseverance pays off. A world where, hilariously, she’d be able to pay off her college loans.
At a certain point in the game I’d noticed that we’d all made people who live on the fringes. Riley’s character was a charismatic sort-of cult leader, mine was a disillusioned killer for hire, Robert’s was trapped in a dead end job and under a pile of debt, and while Sara’s was cheerful enough she was still hardened and unbothered by her skill at murder. There is no way to get around the fact that the narrative we were making would center us. We were telling a story about how the people who live on the fringes still matter.
And yes, this winter, that was the story I needed to tell.
One of the best things about tabletop roleplaying games is that they allow us to play out lives that are a little different than ours, while still carrying parts of ourselves into the stories and the roles. The stories we tell can be fantastical, but they can also be intensely personal, and those two goals don’t have to war against each other.
Make sure to check out the rest of the story at Kotaku — it’s an excellent read.