Continuing from my earlier posts on this subject, McKay mentions that simply substituting “activity” for “game” can help put into perspective the artistic element of RPGs. In fact, he goes so far as to describe players as artists.
The point I’ve been trying to formulate in attempting to frame the nature of art and RPGs centers around our shared play space. To use McKay's term, in most forms of entertainment, there is an entertainment environment. A circus is an example, and so is a theatre. In the case of role playing games however, the entertainment environment is imaginary. Yes there are rules, and there is even a director of sorts (the GM), but the imaginary entertainment environment is where the game play itself happens. It is a cooperatively constructed meta-space, consisting of the player characters, NPCs, mythology, place descriptions, etc. of a game’s campaign world. It has both static and dynamic aspects, changing spontaneously with the players' (ie. artists') actions and at the director’s discretion and with his or her guidance. In many ways, the construction of this meta-space is the game.
If you still think that role playing games should not be considered an artistic endeavor, as a new type of performance art, consider again that there is no way to win or lose them. Like art, their enjoyment lies in the act of creation - in the case of role playing games, that enjoyment is made greater by the process being explicitly collaborative.
Adventure-Building and The Ecology of Murder
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