About Hawke Robinson and Role-Playing Gaming

Brief introduction about Hawke Robinson from various interviews.

Q. Introduce yourself, and what is your relationship with the role-playing game industry?

Hi my name is Hawke Robinson, I’m founder and president of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit RPG Research.

We study the effects of all role-playing game formats for their potential to help improve lives around the world. We are 100% unpaid volunteers; we have more than 200 volunteers across six continents.

I started role-playing gaming around 1977, researching optimizing the RPG experience since 1979 (as well as software development and online), then researching the effects of role-playing games since 1983, running programs in educational settings with role playing games since 1985, with incarcerated population since 1989, and with therapeutic population since 2004

I'm also President and Founder of RPG Therapeutics and RPG.LLC, a for-profit company using role-playing games and cooperative music with a recreation therapy background to help people improve their lives with autism spectrum, brain injury, and many others.

I am a Washington State Department of Health registered Recreational Therapist, with a background in Nursing, Education, Neuroscience, and Research Psychology, and Music Therapy and Play Therapy, and Compassion-focused Therapy.

Q. What Does Hawke Robinson Like About Games?

Alright! Well, I don’t necessarily like all games, I generally migrate towards cooperative games

Personally I find the cooperative games much more enjoyable.

It’s not that I don’t do solo games, competitive games other types.

I’ve played a lot of sports and outdoor recreational activities, and most of the sports are pretty much all competitive.

Activities I enjoyed include martial arts, basketball, rugby, football, archery, golf, swimming, the list goes on and on.

Those are all fun in their own way, but the cooperative games, what’s great about them, from my experience, is just being able to go so much more beyond my single unit self’s capabilities. It’s that group capability we’ve discussed before about how 97% of the time the group can out-perform the individual.

There are times the individual is the best approach, but then there are times, we can do so much more as a cooperative group than was possible for even the most talented person alone (with the 3% of exceptions discussed elsewhere).

I really, really enjoy that, having that shared experience, and, you know, later on being able to reminisce about the shared group narrative experience.

We had a range of activities, they weren’t always role-playing games, just other game activities that we did over the years, with friends.

But with the cooperative tabletop (and live-action) role-playing games, we had collective experiences that years later we all just remember so vividly, “Oh, remember that game when that happened and this happened and oh, that was so amazing I couldn’t believe that happened!”

Sometimes that will happen in the competitive sphere, certainly, but I’ve found a lot more of those experiences, those truly memorable experiences, with the cooperative games.

These also add a higher level of unpredictability, and I like that less predictable challenge where when you add more people to it. The social dynamics there, really add a complexity to it that makes it a lot less predictable.

A lot of other games I just find very, very, very, very, very predictable, and as I got older, less engaging, unfortunately.

So again, I’m gonna to migrate towards the cooperative games, which of course then, makes sense to go into role-playing gaming and cooperative music, right?

I facilitate drum circles, and cooperative music jams as well that are also very rewarding. In a way that’s a game for me; I love doing music jams with people. Just showing up at an Irish gig at a pub, and everybody just kind of layers in at whatever their ability is at.

I studied Aikido for lot of years, in Aikido, everybody studies  from all levels studying together. It’s that whole circular thing, and it raises everybody up. We all do better through that process, even the more experienced people, every now and then a novice will bring in something new. That gives them a new perspective, etc.

I’m not somebody that needs a ton of structure, to enjoy an activity, which some people really need and like the structure, the rules of the game that RPGs provide.

I do tend to prefer games that are less restrictive and restrictive in choices.  I get very annoyed with assessments that are forced choice. Where you only have two answers that you can answer, and that’s it. Very unlike the real world, from my perspective of the world, that people often put themselves into, these dichotomies that they can only do either/or; only these binary choices. Yes I see the world as have many more and varied ranges of opportunities than just this or that. Alas so many games tend to be more dichotomous like that, and I really don’t enjoy those. The ones that have a lot more variability, and opportunities for creative solutions, attract me.

So that is what about games that appeals to me, for those games that do appeal.

There’s a lot of other recreational activities I do that aren’t "games" per se, but when I do games, those are the ones I prefer, and generally, I think for the social aspect. Generally I went through my phases of playing solo video games and all. Solo games,  they’re fine, they’re alright, they’re enjoyable for a little while, but I get pretty bored with the solo games before too long.

I definitely enjoy the more social aspects of the social games. I do a lot of other things solo just fine, such as music, outdoorsmanship, etc. I sometimes often enjoy those to recharge, I am more of an introvert than an extrovert, but I am able to easily stretch, and I do enjoy the social aspect of cooperative games, and find role-playing games the pinnacle of such experiences.

Q. Describe for us please, what do you see as your better self?

Patience and love.

That’s my mantra, that’s what I’m always striving for in my life.

That’s what got me through being a full time single father of 3 boys, especially when they were teenagers.

I would say quietly to myself again and again, “Patience and love. Patience and love.”

I sometimes struggle with the patience thing.

I don’t generally struggle with the love part. I think, I consider myself a pretty loving individual.

I’ve always had a lot of love to give, even when I went through times where I had to bottle that up during some very bad years when I was younger, during some periods of my life decades ago, and, you know, had to protect myself because of the environments I was in.

But when I’m being my best self, it’s being patient, loving, listening, supportive, and I just try to strive for that every day. I try to remind myself when I’m noticing myself getting a little tense and frustrated with something or somebody.

Take that deep breath and try to bring that mantra into myself, and when I get in touch with that, I think I do okay, and good things happen, every time that I do get in touch with that, not just for me, but for everybody.

That is why I like this, role-playing gaming, RPG therapy, etc.

I’ve done the computer trade for decades, first starting programming in 1979, and I’ve been, you know, doing the therapeutic trade since 2004, give or take.

The computer trade I’m very, very good at, but I turn into a machine rather than an empathetic loving person. The therapeutic industry makes me a better person, more in touch with my core self. It encourages empathy rather than discourages it like the tech industry usually does.

So, that’s why it is important I do more of the RPG and therapeutic programs, so I can keep that balance.