In response to the accusation that Dungeons & Dragons was only about dragons and dungeons, Fantasy Games Unlimited released Chivalry & Sorcery in 1976. Created by Ed Simbalist and Wilf Backhaus, Chivalry & Sorcery embraced a realistic approach to medieval France in the 12th century, complete with feudalism and the Catholic Church. Chivalry & Sorcery was most note-worthy for creating the term "game master." It was one of the first games to place the setting at utmost importance over the mechanics of the game.
The ability to adopt a persona is central to gaming. Ed Simbalist, the codesigner of Chivalry and Sorcery, is particularly articulate about role-playing in role-playing games:
"It is a means of personal expression on a highly creative and imaginative level. It is the spontaneous creation of a "living novel" or a "psychodrama," interaction amongst players on many different levels as they create alter egos in the persons of their characters and so enter into imaginative and excited realms of existence denied to them in their everyday lives. The more fully they themselves capture the spirit of their characters and imbue them with rounded personalities, backgrounds, and motivations separate from their own, the more the players become "actors" on a stage of their own making... If one is going to create a world that is "alive" and charged with real adventure, role playing is essential. One must get inside his character, see what motivates him and makes him unlike any other, breathe life into him as an individual, and above all surrender one's twentieth century self to the illusion and be that character—see, feel, think, and act as he would. Only then will the activity be more than counting gold or bodies or experience points... We are all playwrights and actors and audience rolled into one. If it is a good performance, we are highly gratified and, though limp with repeated adrenalin surges, we make plans to meet for the next foray into "Our World."
Ed's rhetoric, however, should not disguise the fact that role-playing is difficult, and players do not always role-play well.