With the constant expansion of technology and the ease with which people communicate over long distance, it should come as no surprise that the phenomenon of the Long Distance Relationship is actually a thing. We see them cropping up more and more, despite the potential inherent difficulties in maintaining the relationship. Surely the point of being in a relationship is to be part of something bigger than yourself? To be able to share stuff with someone you care about, someone you love. And you can’t do the standard stuff of watching TV together, going for a walk together or any of the other good stuff. So, when distance is a factor, you need to find something that can help you keep that relationship going. I humbly suggest that you may find the answer in the roleplaying game.
A roleplaying game is a game where one person takes the role of Games Master and one or more take on the roles of characters in a co-created story. Traditionally these are fantasy or science fiction based adventures with some horror thrown into the mix, and are often overlooked as the domain of nerds and geeks. But take a step back.
One of the things couples do is share their entertainment. And much of that entertainment, be it TV, movie or reading a book, is the consumption of stories. And, some of the entertainment comes from the discussion of these shared stories. People talk, at great length, about their favorite TV Shows or Movies. A roleplaying game, of any genre, is simply another story or piece of entertainment to share and to talk about later. And despite what you might have heard, it works equally well with two players. And this is important. Because a roleplaying game that you and your partner share is just for you. Let that sink in. At a basic level, leaving aside any content that wouldn’t make it onto a PG13 website, the game is something that belongs to you as a couple, and no one else gets to be a part of that.
Hopefully, by this point, I have aroused your interest. Let us delve deeper, and play around with the idea a bit. You have both decided this is something you want to try. As a couple, you have decided what genre of game you will play. You have decided who will run the game, the Games Master, and who will play the main character. Let us say you have decided you want to play around in the world you create for a bit before going straight to the finale. You can do this to explore various scenarios. Scenarios where you are the hero, or looking for one. Scenarios where you encounter that mysterious stranger in that setting that you really like. You know each other better than I do. Fill in the blanks yourself. Anyway, you can do all that. There are various websites that facilitate online roleplay. Normally these are used to share maps to keep track of where your hero is, but can just as easily be used to share images of what you are seeing right now. Be that location or people. One such website is https://roll20.net/
So, you are playing your game and the Games Master is describing what is going on, sharing some imagery of location and people. Of course, this means precisely nothing if you cannot talk to one another. Fortunately, Roll20 has inbuilt means by which people can talk to one another and of course there are other options such as Google Hangouts or Skype. I have to say I find Hangouts to be a bit user-unfriendly, but it does work at least.
And of course, any good story needs a big finish. And it doesn’t need to be a fight with elves and dragons. It could just as easily be the final scene in your noir, or thriller where your protagonist and one of the mysterious other characters are compelled by the universe to become intimate. You can see on the screen a picture of the bedchamber, or wherever your encounter is fated to be. But of course I am neglecting a piece of technology that I perhaps could have mentioned earlier, but I wanted to save for now. To aid in this sort of thing, you also have the WebCam. Many computers have them supplied as standard and they are certainly easy enough to come by. So you have built your world, shared some stories that you can talk about together, and now it is time for the conclusion. Roleplay is a form of story co-creation. I am going to fall back on a lesson my writing tutors have beat into me regarding your finale.
Anthony van Hamond
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