Roleplaying Has A Lot In Common With Sex....
(and Sex offers a lot of Answers to common problems in Roleplaying!)
A few Insights Copyright © 2003 By Joseph Teller & Kiralee McCauley
Good or Great Sex usually depends on trust between the participants, and understanding what is exciting to the other participant(s). It is not enough just to know how go thru the mechanics, without caressing the ego and imagination correctly. The same is true in roleplaying games.
The quality of sex depends on all those involved putting effort into the activity, and this is also true with roleplaying - if you don't give 100% then you don't get back anywhere near as much satisfaction.
One can have quick, rushed sex without preparation, forethought, or scheduling and make it work; but to do so every time will become frustrating for one or more of the people involved. The same is true with roleplaying.
Good Sex, like Good Roleplaying, should happen regularly. If the intervals between getting together are too far apart, one or more of the participants may stray away or become disinterested.
If one or more participants in sex goes away unsatisfied, or feeling that they need more from the activity, then there is a problem that needs to be discussed. The same goes for roleplaying.
Some people believe that continually having sex with the same partner(s) eventually makes one jaded, or bored; simply going thru the motions as creativity and variation ends. This can also happen in roleplaying, and this means that introducing a new player to the game can create a new spark of excitement or breathe new life into a gaming group; but there is always the risk that one or more of the participants will not like the new member, or will feel threatened by their presence and leave the group.
Good or Great Roleplaying, like Good or Great Sex, cannot be learned purely from a book. Hands on experience is vital, as is continued experimentation.
It's best to learn roleplaying in the hands of a caring, understanding and patient GM, one who wants to form a lasting relationship, to share the gaming experience and enjoy it with a new player. It's unfortunate to learn in a rushed one-shot encounter with a stranger who has no interest other than momentary gratification.
One shot games at conventions can give an experienced gamer a bit of a thrill, but a steady diet of them can become empty and meaningless. So too can a steady collection of one night stands with anonymous sexual partners.
Another cure for sexual boredom is to reverse roles: to play submissive instead of dominant; or to play as equals instead of playing power games; or to take on the roll of various people (french maid, evil tentacle monster, nun, school girl, etc.) This also correlates to roleplaying games - if you've become bored with playing the same character doing the same sort of things from the same viewpoint, then change some aspect of the character you play, or even play a completely different character.
Different locales are often suggested to 'spice up' one's sex life, and this can be applied to gaming too. One can play in a different venue, or in a different setting, genre, or style. Tired of Middle Earth? Why not Try Modern Urban Chicago Occult Police? Or perhaps Alien Space Rangers crash landing in Oct 1938 in Princeton New Jersey?
Sometimes people are not sexually compatible, even when they are compatible outside of the bedroom. This can be true of roleplaying as well. Not everyone will want the same things out of a roleplaying game as you do; and its possible that some people just won't want to roleplay with you just like some just wouldn't be interested in having sex with you.
There will always be some folks who only want to play with members of the opposite sex; and some who want to wear funny costumes for their roles; some who only want to play with members of the same sex, and some who want to dress as the opposite sex; some who like to show off or flaunt themselves dramatically; some who are domineering, some who are passive, and some who want to be tied up; some who want complex ground rules, and some who want the freedom to do whatever comes to mind; some who want to use toys or props; some who like to play mind games; some who like to spend lots of time between activities, and some who like a steady diet; some who like to plan their every move; some who want pain or violence as part of the experience; and others who simply come to watch. This is true for both sex and gaming. People roleplay with as much variety as they have sex.
Orgies can be fun once in a while for some people, but almost no one wants to have them all the time. It can feel too crowded, and one may not get the attention or personal care that can make sex a joy. Really big roleplaying groups have exactly the same problems.
Jealousy can destroy a sexual relationship, and it can do the same to a roleplaying group. When multiple people are involved you either need to approach all of them equally as important (and their needs and emotions) or you need to let folks know from the beginning who is primary and who is secondary in importance and be sure they are willing to accept the position and all it involves. Unexpected favoritism can break apart a group.
Good sex is consensual, and every participant has the right to say no and walk away if they aren't enjoying themselves or if things just don't feel right. So is a good role-playing.
Joseph Teller & Kiralee McCauley are Gms, Players, and Game Designers. They are two of the three founding members of Naughty Faerie Productions and its various creative projects. These include the fantasylibrary.com website (for authors, artists & gamers involved in promoting creative fiction, art and roleplaying games) and the Western Ave Irregulars gaming group in Cambridge MA. Their writing can be found on the website, as can additional contact information.