Role playing games have ruined traditional stories for me. I can’t enjoy fiction anymore because the Author is the only one who gets to say what happens in the story. I’m not allowed to participate, unless I write my own fan fiction, and that’s no solution. I don’t enjoy television shows anymore unless they’re brainless fun because if there is a storyline, I want to be a part of the creation of the story. But I can’t. The story is fixed. The writers are completely in charge.
In role playing games (and by this I mean traditional, table-top RPG’s, not those sorry excuse video game versions), complete storyline changes can happen moment by moment. No one, not even the Gamemaster, knows exactly how things are going to work out. One bad die roll can topple an entire campaign. A GM could spend hours days or even weeks preparing an adventure, and the players could then take that unexpected left turn, and it all goes out the window.
To me, that’s an interesting story. It’s so frustrating watching tv shows because the characters very often do things that most people just wouldn’t do in those situations because their script calls for it to continue the storyline… and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. I used to read a LOT of fantasy and sci-fi paperback novels, but they just don’t interest me anymore because I am not part of the story, just an outside observer. If a character makes a mistake, there’s no backsies… you can’t argue with the GM about how you think things should go. Where’s the fun in that? Who doesn’t like badgering your GM until you get your way, right? LOL.
Nowadays I read almost exclusively RPG rule books, source books, and settings. A description of a new playable race for an old favorite game can throw my mind into a swirl of possible stories behind those characters. Short fiction in the rulebook can spark my imagination into creating a whole new adventure or setting. I don’t have to idly sit by and watch things unfold. I’m right there with the characters as they explore.
That’s what real storytelling should be.