On 2005-05-03, Matt Snyder wrote:
Jason, are you suggesting, therefore, that it’s ok to have a game that’s more unfocused in terms fo tension and conflict so long as we have spandex (or something else to grab onto)? That’s what I’m reading, and I find that problematic. ALL games, spandex or otherwise, should be as focused as you suggest for just the “regular folks” games. Am I reading too much there?
Tim, I hear what you’re saying. Yes, Spiderman was a mega-hit. Yes, I loved it. Yes, Return of the King won the Oscar for best film. That’s great! Totally mainstream, certainly. I love both movies more than I can say!
But, consider, have you ever met a person who just wasn’t interested in those movies? I have met dozens, if not hundreds of people in that vein, people for whom Spiderman’s love for Mary Jane does less than nothing. My co-workers. My parents. Many, if not all of them, are adults, often baby boomers. These people (no, not all baby boomers) just don’t care about all that geek stuff. They aren’t interested.
These are the same people who take the following view: Role-playing ... er, excuse me ... D&D is a for ridiculously nerdy, socially offensive goons who still live with their parents. (They have no idea other games exist, and if they do realize it, they are similarly LAME games played by LAME people.) They are the people you (may) try to avoid discussing role-playing with altogether. Why? Not least of all because there ARE ridiculously nerdy, socially offensive goons playing the game. But not you, you claim, while hiding the books in the backpack!
Meanwhile, these are the same people UP TO THEIR NECKS in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or Tom Clancy or Danielle Steele or the lateset Julia Roberts flick. They are the people who tape The West Wing and watch Survivor live every week.
They’re not interested in role-playing because they associate it with anti-social morons. Ergo, the game must also be anti-social and moronic.
Clearly, I disagree that the games and the process of role-playing are anti-social or moronic. I find them to be precisely the opposite of that. It is an entirely healthy social hobby and an intelligent hobby. (Or, at least it has considerable potential to be.)
So, in part, I’m interested in doing my small work to break down that barrier of ignorance to get just a few more people to see that the process is really, really cool. It can do some amazing things. The games, the characters and their situations, will knock your socks off better than ol’ Dan Brown any day!
It ain’t for everyone, sure. But, as a hobby, we’re proceeding with complete and total acceptance of geek culture as divided from the rest of America (and beyond). We retreat into that geek-identity because it makes us feel good. We’re embracing it, in part as a big Fuck You to the other people who look down their noses at us. We laugh at all the in jokes, and giggle a bit (and feel uncomfortable a bit) when NBC’s new show, The Office, makes fun of us, just as dozens of show did before that.
That’s ridiculous, anti-social behavior. We’re fulfilling their prophecy about our “STUPID hobby” all in the name of finding like-minded souls.
I get it, I understand that desire. I want to find like-minded souls, too. But, my hobby and my interests are rapidly diverging. It’s so high school!
And, I really, really think this happens. All the time, all over the place. Generally speaking, we, as gamers, retreat in our safe basements and safe living rooms with our safe group of like-minded, geeked-out pals. And, we’re comfortable.
But, we’re also close-minded, defensive hobbyists who lash out when, oh, someone points out that it’s absurd we must geek-out all our stories with superpowers and Lovecraft and the Force.
WE are doing this. Not YOU. I’m as guilty as the next guy or gal. Absolutely.
Like I said, I’m both fascinated and frustrated by these observations. I realize I’m slinging mud all over the place now, but I’m covered in my own mud here, too. I have no easy solutions, but I hope to work in my very small way to produce some ideas that break down this great divide as humbly as I can.
Wonderfully, I’m not forced by money to stay on “this side” of that great divide. I can’t imagine White Wolf risking a game like Americana for fear of its revenue loss. Small indies like me can avoid all that mess and take a risk with some ideas like that. That’s exciting to me! I can be wrong, and not lose my shirt. Cool. It’s a risk I can accept gladly. If I even move the needle, fantastic. If I don’t accomplish much, but inspire other designers, fantastic.
What happens if I’m completely wrong, and fail entirely? I still have the basement and the living room, and I keep on doing what I enjoy as often as I can enjoy it. In case it wasn’t clear, I love America for that reason. I love the hobby for that reason. I’m sure Eero over in Finland gets it, too. It’s why I’m making the game I’m making.