At the recent Cornerstone Festival I had the opportunity to facilitate a film discussion in the Flickerings area surrounding a documentary Darkon that is based upon the fantasy role playing (FRP) game of the same name. It wasn’t until I viewed this film that I realized that FRP gaming goes beyond board games and the creation of fantasy characters of the imagination into the playing of the games to such an extent that it involves creating costumes, weapons, castles, and characters that at times engage in battle involving the old and the young.
The film looks at the lives of gamers involved with the Darkon Wargaming Club, self-described as a “full-contact medieval wargaming group, active in the Baltimore-Washington area.” The documentary alternates between scenes which show the game as it is played, and those showing the personal lives of game players who often talk about how the game impacts their lives. Several important issues and questions came to mind as I watched the film and listened to the game players. These included discussion about how the use of the imagination in FRP games is qualitatively no different than that necessary to enjoy a good film or book, how participation in the game helps build the character and confidence of players, and how the gaming community provides a sense of social identity and community for many of its players.