Michael Knaus

Role Playing Games In Prison

Four months after my 18th birthday, 9 years ago, I got locked up. I could deal with the people and the noise. I could deal with the guards and the strict rules. What my biggest problem was, and still is, was not having video games.

My first game console was the Super Nintendo. My first game, l can’t quite remember, but I know it was some kind of RPG (Role Playing Game). I also owned various Gameboys. Thats it. We don’t have any video games in the Washington State prison system.

This happened at a time in which Nintendo 64 and Playstation were in the lives of kids everywhere. Well, everywhere but mine. I didn’t start watching tv untill I was 12. The only show I remember watching before then was “Sliders”. I did see a lot of Disney movies in the theaters, plus “Wild Wild West”, however.

As a kid, I needed more diversity in the style of games I could play. I resorted to out-sourcing my friendship to use the systems I craved. Today, this is called “social networking” and is all done electronically, so I’m told. The marvels of technology.

When I first got to jail, I was in dorm-style housing (or “pod”) and we had no working tv. We would occupy our time with card games and Chess. Eventually I moved to a pod with a tv but It was always on news channels. It was like this for a year before leaving to prison.

All that time all I could think about, besides what had happened to get me here, was “Man I wish I had a PS2 right now”. One day, while in the dayroom (A place where we can hang out) I saw some people playing a table top RPG. Just standing there you could see the time and effort these people had put into what they were doing.

You have to understand that RPG games in prison have a bad reputation. Most inmates associate it with the people who ruin it by playing out there sick, twisted fantasies. This has put an almost instant dislike of people seen playing unless you are known to be “solid” (Have an acceptible non-sex crime and are not a rat{You tell on people}). I knew these guys were solid and went to see what was going on.

The table was covered with hand drawn, colored maps with lots of detail. They were drawn in 5-foot grid. On the maps were various hand made pieces, along with a few sets of hand made paper dice. Before then I had never seen a table top RPG game.

At first it was strange listening to the banter between the four people at the table. After awhile I became engrossed in the story that the GM (Game Master, the person who runs the game) was weaving. I left the dayroom intrigued. A few months later I got a new cellmate who owned a few RPG books.


Stay tuned for the action-packed part 2!!!

Michael Knaus
DOC #305268

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s