Role Playing Games are games of the imagination. Like freeform drama. One participant acts like the director/producer, and creates a world, as real or fantastic as desired, in which the games is set. They are responsible for working out all of the background events, and playing the bit characters that come up. The rest of the players each create a character for themselves. They then act out the lives, the hopes, the fears and the ambitions of these characters in the made up world. There is no winner, there is no loser. The entertainment is in the experience of the game.
I have been involved in playing, running, and designing Role Playing Games, as well as being active in the industry at large since the Early 80s. I was on the committee for running GaelCon, Ireland's national Games convention for the first 5 years of its existence. TSR, the leading rpg company, hired me to do a industry survey during EuroGenCon, the premier gaming convention in Europe.
Recently I've worked with Imperium Games on the 4th edition of Marc Miller's Traveller. I contributed business plans to their enterprise, collaborated with others on officially published supplements, and produced a number of other supplements on an amateur basis. I've had a short story published in The Traveller Chronicle.
DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS
Despite the number of successful Traveller publications I have had, I have spent much more time playing D&D. I had, what I believe, was the longest continuously run D&D campaign in Ireland (11 years, once a week, same campaign), From '83 to '95. I have currently started a new campaign in Boston with a new group of people. It is Renaissance Fantasy, rather than the more usual Medieval Fantasy, with more of a focus on Archaeology, History, and hidden conspiracies.
Bughunters was a universe released for TSR's Amazing Engine role playing system. It was written by Lester Smith and basically involves super-powerful cloned PCs fighting a variety of really nasty aliens that want to rip their heads off. Sort of an "Aliens meets Blade Runner".
In the campaign I ran things were not been quite what the players expected. More like the X-files. It was a long time before they actually met any aliens. They aren't even sure that they weren't man-made. The evidence they gathered looks more like some great conspiracy between factions of the military and a star spanning corporation to build up their arms and control space...
As the quoted opening shows, it is more than just a shoot-em-up game. It is one where your very identity is continually in question as well as society's treatment of you.