In 1980-eth in Soviet Union we had a lot of informal societies. This term is not good for such kind of activities. In Russia we call it "movements".
Some movings are important for content of this article, because they were sources for role-playing movements.
1. Science fiction clubs.
Science fiction literature in Soviet Union time was not published very often. You can't go to book store or library and find something to read. Science fiction was published by small circulations. Funs of SF literature found good way around. They organize a lot of clubs to share books, print and collect self-made translations. They start to meet with writers and create SF-community - Fandom. It was a network of clubs over the country. Few times per year they had global meetings - convents - to exchange news and meet with popular writers and editors. In Gorbachev times borders of USSR comes to be transparent. Fandom made international communications and takes part in World community.
Now we can buy any book in usual book store. So, role of SF club goes down. Fandom still continue to have country-wide convents, but club network is dead.
2. Clubs of amateur songers.
This movement was informal society around self-made songs. They prepare their own songs and organise festivals in the forest. For few nights they sing. It was very popular moving, largest festivals collects up to 10000 participants.
3. New-generation teachers
This movement was pedagogical stream around non-traditional methodology. They start to use roleplays in the middle of 80-th and collect some experience before start of RPG moving.
Start and growing till today
In 1990 some SF fans from different parts of USSR met on Aelita convent in Ekaterinburg. It was an idea to organize life-action roleplaying game based on Tolkien's book "The Lord of the ring". They published open invitation to the game in newspaper "Komsomolskaya pravda". First game happens near Krasnoyarsk with 120 participants.
This event gives start of RPG movement in our country. From that time we have traditional game "Hobbit play" at the beginning of August every year. It always based on Tolkien world - usually Silmarillion or "Unfinished tales". Number of participants usually around 1000.
In the same 1990 year we had first roleplaying convent in Kazan.
We had a long way from the beginning. Currently RPG movement is represented in 60 of 86 regions in Russia. We believe, that few hundred thousand people plays in life-action RPG in our country. Every year we have approximately 200 games with 100 - 3000 participants. In winter time RPG society has 20 convents from Kamchatka (Far east) to Ukraine and Belorussia (Far west).
There is no state support of this movement. And there is no conflict. We have reliable relations with local authorities.
Also there is no central administration in RPG sphere. Coordination between different groups is available via Internet and on convents.
Main and largest form of organization in RPG is a master group - temporal collective created especially for project like game or convent. It can be large depending on project size : 150 or 400 people. Usually all of them are volunteers, working for idea without salary. It allows RPG to be cheap and available to everybody. Largest games or convents collects up to 3500 participants.
Streams and branches of RPG moving
For the first years usual style for games was medieval war. Usual sources were Tolkien, Robin Hood and others with strong dual-side conflict. Normal final of that game - last battle or Armageddon. In that time all battle systems were developed and tested. Usual armor was approximately reconstructed in medieval style (chain mails, plates etc...). Weapon is a wooden sword or spike.
This style of game had limitation, because it's very difficult to play diplomacy between orks and elves. From 1994 RPG community starts to play religion conflcts. "Siege of Monsegure 1242" was historical turn of roleplay technology. Priority of game was transferred from winning in the battle to catharsys - deep emotional experience of player. From team actions rpg-community comes to level of individuals. This period of RPG actively utilizes religion ideas and historical subjects.
From 1995 new main stream is modelling. Community plays with complex economical modelling, trading balances and optimal management still in medieval or ancient environment. In this period games are not very emotional. They much more mechanical. But this kind of games stimulates players to do something. So, if you involve new players, this style is the best. They actions like function and much easier to involve them into play.
From entourage and subject point of view this period is very rich and filled by world history from ancient Egypt and China to 18-th century.
At the end of 1990-th reconstructors goes to their separate wings. They are seriously concentrated on historical reality of their armor. They have their own tournaments across country with really hard battle rules. It's one of the most successful branches of RPG moving.
Next visible change is around 2000. Chip pneumatic guns and strikeball equipment are available. Mobile phones allows to play future technologies. New branches were raised at this time. Cyberpank, post-nuclear war, local conflicts of XX century. One branch is very active now - Star Wars.
This branching does not mean, that medieval or ancient style is forgotten. History of roleplaying is not linear. It's a tree with which grows to different directions together with roleplay theory and technologies.
In late 90-th model theory was dominated. In 2000-th main research power comes to subjects and subject-technics. Also first years of 2000-th were spent to methods of organization and management of large games. Games jump from 150-300 players to 500-1000. It requires some management technology which is specific especially in game driving.
2004 was year of turn to culture play. In 1990-1993 we had war plays. In 2004-2007 RPG moving start to play cultural life. In fashion 19 and early 20 century. Rpg society presents to global world some theatres and musicals. New stream is assotiation of historical dance. In addition to convents we have series of бал across country.
RPG and society
For last 4-5 years RPG movement starts to discuss relations with global world. In eyes of standard citizen game is not a serious deal. It's just a hobby. But some enthusiasts developing ideas for applied RPG. Main directions are
- team building вЂ" itвЂ™s interesting for business
- social researches
- new model of collective work - another way to think together.
Practical results raises interest on state level. So in nearest future we estimates some practical results from RPG activities for global society.