While many students express their creativity by splashing bright colors onto mundane pieces of canvas or by detailing figments of their imagination in written works, sophomore Spencer Bronk does so via role playing games or RPGs.
Bronk said RPGs are exciting and adventurous especially because of his role in game development which “uses a lot of dice, a surprising bit of math and quite a lot of wit.”
Currently, Bronk plays Age of Wonder and said he enjoys it because “it’s the RPG with the least constrictions on character building.”
Bronk’s friends first got him to play the game. He said he has come to know the game’s developer, Merlin Carey. This relationship between him and the developer has allowed him to change it for the better.
Bronk openly discusses and criticizes rules as well as changes them around in the game whenever necessary, he said.
Although Carey, who is Bronk’s friend from elementary school, used to organize and lead games, Bronk and his two friends, sophomores Molly Dalzell and Samantha Taylor now create each game themselves, according to Dalzell.
According to Bronk, In the game, a Game Master, or GM, makes a campaign idea for the players to each follow. The players, then each make characters with different skills, races, ages and personalities.
The gamers are each required to think inquisitively and often have to make decisions in the moment. The GM is also “often forced to think on his or her feet,” Bronk said.
Bronk said, unlike most other RPGs he plays, including Dungeons and Dragons and Talisman, Age of Wonder does not need a board and has fewer constrictions, which “allows for more creativity.”
Bronk typically creates twisted and sneaky characters who do not trust other people and are apathetic. Often times, Bronk will develop characters that are orphaned at an early age.
“It’s fun to play with the characters’ emotions and to bring them alive,” he said.
One character that Bronk created was orphaned at birth because his mother gave him to an old, greedy merchant. He farmed the land by day and worked with his adoptive father to make clothing to sell by night. He was beaten if he did anything wrong and often went without supper. This turned him into a cold-hearted man who grew up to steal and pick-pockets for a living.
Eventually, he killed his fake father. “I made him until this point, and allowed him to grow kinder. Later on, this character of mine even gained a few friends,” Bronk added.
Taylor referred to GMs as people who need to “learn how to describe things in intriguing manners” and who will determine how characters within the game will each react to different scenarios.
She noted the difficulty in the GMs having to do all of the above while providing an entertaining storyline.
Bronk said gaming has positively affected his educational experience and that “it became something to look forward to every week while at boring old school.”
He accredits gaming to helping him think outside the box. “Life shouldn’t be boring and monotonous. It should be as exciting and adventurous as the virtual world,” he said.
Dalzell referred to gaming as “something that he really loves and that highlights his creative, imaginative side.” She also said she believed that gaming seems “really valuable, especially to him.”
Although Bronk enjoys gaming, because each complete game can span anywhere from two to four months, campaigns are often left unfinished.
Bronk and his friends have never completed a full game campaign successfully. “The games we play have been broken up into sessions, which each last from three to five hours, depending on how ‘in the zone’ we are,” Bronk said.
Ultimately, Bronk’s sense of imagination, reflected in his gaming, has been the motivating catalyst for his decision to pursue the other creativity-fostering activities that he’s involved in.
In addition to playing RPGs, Bronk also writes copiously and draws. He is part of creative writing and poetry clubs and recently finished a novel during National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, in November 2012.
Bronk also makes use of his time by reading, tree-climbing, playing lyrics and writing music with his friends.
He even plays both the lute and the flute and his musical interests have led him to start a band that he’s thinking about naming “Jumped by Pixies.”
Taylor, who met Bronk through gaming, tied Bronk’s passion for gaming to other interests the two share.
“As someone who loves creative writing, gaming is the ultimate exercise in building a character and a personality to match that character,” she said.