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What Is Gaming?

What Is Gaming? Print
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Oct 02, 2008 at 12:17 PM
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What is Gaming? What's involved? Here at IrishGaming.Com we're not so interested in gambling, or in video games. Rather we refer to a grouping of pastimes which share some links in common. Broadly speaking we're interested in role-playing games in various different flavours.

Below are listed some of the main types of gaming. To explain each and every type of game would require a vast amount of space, so we have been selective in our focus. This is not meant to imply that any one type of game is more important than any other.


While all children roleplay (Cops and Robbers, Cowboys and Indians), the first formalised roleplaying game was released over thirty years ago under the name of Dungeons & Dragons. Since then, the roleplaying hobby has flourished to the extent that there are now hundreds of different breed of roleplaying game commercially available.

At its core, roleplaying is the practice of pretending to be some one else for a while. Each player creates a character which they guide through events and (mis)adventures which are thrown in their path. The players try to put themselves in the position of the character.

This often sounds very odd to people unfamiliar with the hobby, but isn’t really so unusual. Everybody tries to put themselves in someone else’s position from time to time. Ever watched a movie and in your head come up with what the lead male *should* have said at the crucial moment? In a way, that’s roleplaying. Ever noticed how supporters of a football team will say how ‘we’ are doing well in a particular season? Any pastime is more enjoyable if you can feel somehow personally involved, and at heart the aim of a roleplaying game is to allow you to become personally involved with a story.

There are two main types of roleplaying game. The first of these is the "tabletop" roleplaying game. In this type of game, the players all sit around a table (or sitting room, or field - it doesn’t really matter). One player, commonly referred to as Games Master (although variously referred to as Storyteller, Keeper, Judge or Referee) relates the current surroundings and events. Each other player then reacts to those events as their character would, except that they convey their actions through words and expression.

There are a number of different genres of roleplaying game and endless different types of story to be interacted with. In Dungeons & Dragons, players typically guide heroic characters as they combat monsters and earn renown.

Other games may focus on relatively unimportant people who through mishap or misadventure stumble upon some significant events or even on anti-heroes plotting dubious schemes. Anything you can imagine been written as a book or film can be the subject of a roleplaying game.

Live Action Roleplaying Games

LARPs are a more recent development, though still decades old. In games of this type, players leave the table and interact with their environment directly. In games of this type, the role of the Games Master (GM) is not as prominent as there are less gaps in the surroundings to fill in. There tends to be more players involved in LARPS as characters which would usually be portrayed by the GM are now taken by other players.

Within the grouping of LARPs there is a further division between those which focus on combat and those which don’t. LARPs which focus on combat typically make use of latex weapons with which the players simulate fights. Although comparatively rare in Ireland there are a number of events in the UK which cater to this kind of game, such as "the Gathering" organised by the Lorien Trust in August or the "Maelstrom" game, organised by Profound Decisions. Over the course of these weekend long events, players take the part of members of different Clans, who meet to socialise, talk politics and occasionally take to the filed of battle and butcher each other.

By far more common in Ireland, are political LARPs. These games focus on social interaction and, very often, a problem which must be solved. An example of a LARP of this type might be that the leader of a small republic has been found dead. The players are all members of the cabinet and must decide what to do. Over the course of the discussions, each character’s personal agenda will influence the course of the game as they try to manipulate others to their way of thinking. A Murder Mystery Weekend is also a good example of a LARP.

Alternate Reality Gaming

The newest of the main genres of gaming, Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG) is a variant of gaming played by a large group of players, linked through the Internet. Puzzles are presented to the players by the game organisers - the answers to these clues are typically scattered through the Internet and presented as real-life entities, for example the web page of a university which doesn't exist, but which might have as much information as a university's web page in the real world.

Although ARG players may not be able to solve a particular puzzle themselves, it is the linkage through the Internet with other players that defines the genre. I may get the solution to a particular puzzle from a colleague, and may in turn realise its part in the greater story where my colleague didn't.

ARGs are frequently used to advertise products and events because of their appeal to large connected groups.


In Ireland we have a tradition of gaming conventions. A gaming convention is an event (usually a weekend long) where gamers come together to play a number of organised games. They serve a number of functions. For one they allow people to play games without having to organise and write them themselves.

They also allow gamers the opportunity to meet and socialise with other gamers. There are a number of games conventions which run all throughout the year, with each being organised by a different group. Attendance cost varies based on what resources the organisers have to hand and how large an event they are running. If you are looking for more information on gaming conventions you could drop a message into our forums here. We've a friendly community who'd be happy to assist you.

Many of the larger colleges in the county have a gaming society, as do a number of schools. While they may be technically limited to membership based on attendance to that institution, they are very often happy to introduce other new people to the hobby.

What Gaming is Not

Gaming is a social pastime which teaches teamwork, improves math skills (through rules) and problem-solving skills.

Gaming does not involve gambling, though we use dice.

Gaming is not dangerous. Though some LARPs can have a combat focus we use more safety rules than the average paintballing club.

Gaming is not subversive. Gamers have no agenda - we're doing this for fun.

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Last Updated ( Oct 05, 2008 at 04:54 AM )
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