RPG’s are a particular medium… but wait. Are they? Are RPG’s a distinct medium? What is a medium?
The definition pertinent to communication studies, my bailiwick, is “a means of communication”. Not the content, but the vehicle that delivers the content. Broadcast/Electronic media: television, film, CD’s. Print media: Newspapers, books, comics. Then the spoken media: storytelling, singing, and speaking (the most basic medium).
Are RPG’s their own medium? Well, are they exactly identical to any other? To newspapers, novels, television, radio, storytelling? No, of course not.
RPG’s, like every other medium in existence, share elements with other media but are fundamentally their own thing.
You speak in RPG’s, but RPG’s are more than just talking.
You use rulebooks, but RPG’s are more than just reading the rulebooks.
You speak about fictional events, but RPG’s are not storytelling or writing fiction.
RPG’s are their own media form, as distinct from newspapers as newspapers are from news magazines, are from radio news broadcasts, are from television newscasts. They have their own tools (rules, randomizers), their own conventions (player characters, non-player characters), their own methods. Here’s one method utterly peculiar to RPG’s:
The GM reads a rulebook and learns of a particular character, described in terms of numbers and personality. In play, he interprets the personality and numbers, deciding how to depict that character (descriptively or dramatically), and extemporaneously portrays him, deciding in the moment how that character will react to other characters, themselves being depicted by players. If this character takes an action, some randomizer is used to determine how successful he is (dice, typically), and the same gamemaster depicting the character uses intricate rules (explicit or tacit) to adjudicate what happens.
Utterly bizarre. Never happens in any other medium, even those dealing with fictional events. Not novels, not film, not storytelling. Unique to RPG’s, and only RPG’s.
RPG’s are their own thing, their own form of media. They share similarities with other forms of media, but are not identical.