Love in the Role-Play: Sociological Observations 2 (Part 2)

I previously mentioned that I would cover “death” in this next installment of Sociological Observations 2 until I became enmeshed in an IC (In-Character) storyline that has forced me to think more deeply about what it means to “love” another person.

It’s an age-old question that has been addressed by many, many others in the past, and for good reason.  Because Love, after all, is the only real treasure in this entire world, and we all know it.

Soren Kiergarde, in his famous book Works of Love, pointed us to the Christian conception of agape love, a notion that gives us a potential benchmark to understand the varieties of “love” that can and does exist in human relationships, real or IC.

In the case of what the bible calls “agape love” it has been understood as the love that God shows to all of creation, i.e. a perfectly unbiased and unconditional love that knows no boundary.  Now we can debate whether or not the god envisioned in the bible is in fact as loving as his followers claim him to be, but that is beside the point here.

The point is to give the reader a conceptual reference point for thinking about the varieties of love on a scale, or as types.  Putting scaling aside for the moment, I want to describe types.  Well known among types of love are of agape, but also eros and phileo.  Eros is erotic love and phileo is a loving friendship.

I have long been familiar with these conceptions of love but my own in-character relationship has tested my understanding of the later two.  But how?

One observation that readily comes to mind is that through this kind of play the PC must come to terms with the tactics of love.  When I first thought of this idea of tactics as a matter related to creating romantic IC relationships and storylines in-game, the first next thought that came to mind was a passage from the bible.

Now before we get to the bible passage, let me be clear that I am not suggesting that any religion is sufficient to understand the concept of love; and much less does religion seem to have answers concerning the phenomenology of love

That said, the passage that came to mind is 1st Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

For me, these seem rational, true, and the embodiment of what I have called here “the tactics of love”.  Nevertheless, I do not assume that these high and noble-sounding ideas are the embodiment of “love” for every player and there may be other points of reference for role-playing.

Another observation that comes to mind is that playing a loving character who loves is much more difficult than playing a hateful character who hates.

And finally, I am struck by the fact that there has been social pressure in my RP group to abandon “love”.  

And I promise next time will be death. 


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