I think it is safe to say if you are visiting this site, you have probably felt the thrill of making the critical saving throw and following it up with a death dealing natural 20. What if I told you that you could have that feeling and save the world all at the same time! Well, a newly appointed Norwegian minister by the name of Heikki Holmas feels that role playing, both table top and live-action, can be a force for social change.
Holmas has just been appointed the minister of international development for Norway and is a sell confessed lifelong RPG’er, evening helping found the nations gamer convention RegnCon. So how does calculating THAC0 help the planet? It was an experience he had LARPing a WWII scenario that gave him the idea.
“It was an incredible staging of 1942. We had people dressed like German soldiers, driving around in amphibious vehicles. It was totally … it was an amazing LARP. I’ve never before or since felt such a total feeling of isolation in society. Isolation, and the despair that grabs you when you realized that your German masters didn’t give a s–t.”
What soon developed afterwards is his theory that role playing can be used to help people wrap their heads around complex social and political issues.
“RPGs can be extremely relevant in putting people in situations they’re unfamiliar with, Save the Children have their refugee games. I have friends in Bergen who’ve run human-rights RPGs. But you have to be professional. You create real emotions when you play role-playing games, real emotions that stick.”
“That’s kind of the slightly scary aspect of role-playing games, which has to be considered. At the same time, it’s what makes it possible for RPGs to change the world. LARP can change the world, because it lets people understand that humans under pressure may act differently than in the normal life, when you’re safe.”
You have to admit, he does make a good point. Running through a fictitious scenario backed up with some real emotion could act as a huge learning experience for politicians and policy makers. Hell, the military has war games and isn’t that just role playing?
So, maybe one day all the diplomats and dignitaries of the world with gather at the United Nations on a Friday night to roll a few dice, but I swear if anyone them touches the Mountain Dew in the fridge I will cut them. It’s mine. I put my name on it.