Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Purity of Action

I'm not sure why...maybe it's always been like this and I never noticed, or maybe the new edition of D&D has just brought all of this on, like roaches scattering when the lights go on...but there is a lot of extremely acerbic thought going on around the ol' Interwebs about RPGs lately. As I write this, the latest "hotness" (no pun intended) is revolving around a Herd of Assholes who had a D&D 4th edition book burning ice cream social. Or something. The outcry is predicatably emphatic.

My feelings on this, as are most people's I think, are complicated. RPGs, whether anyone realizes it or not, are a very powerful and important little sub-culture/hobby. RPGs provide an escape from reality that technology is only just starting to catch up to. The blend of socialization that necessitates an RPG, combined with the escapism that is present is most RPGs, is a phenomenon unique and potent compared to just about any other activity out there. So from that perspective, it is not at all surprising that social issues, group-think, and other Sociology 101 issues come up all the time in RPG forums, G+ posts, or whatever.

On the other hand, I deeply believe in the purity of action. The "G" in RPG is game. A game is meant to be played. Discussion and emotion and all that happy horseshit is of course going to happen, but at the end of the day, the only thing that should matter is if the game is being played. Not what I think, or you think, or what the game's designers think...but what is actually being done at the table. So from that perspective, all of these social issues and group-think and Sociology 101 topics are just distracting noise from what's really important here...the slaying of monsters in a fantasy world, and the looting of their eviserated, burnt, or otherwise mangled corpses.

So while I understand where all the outrage and emotion and discussion is coming from, I ask myself "Does any of this shit help me play a role-playing game better?" The answer, invariably, is no. Does that make it completely worthless trash talk? Not entirely. But pretty damn close.

Going back to that purity of action, I believe in what you do, not what you say. If you spend your days on the internet saying such-and-such is a rascist fascist weightist neo-nazi asshole, I don't see the person you're talking about. I just see you, yelling and screaming. That's what I judge. If you're better than such-and-such, the most convincing argument you can make is in acting better than such-and-such, not in the yelling and screaming.

Of course, acting is really, really hard to make a good meme out of. Being a good person can't be shared on social media as easily as blind accusations and calling out nonsense. I get that. It's just unfortunate that positive action isn't as sexy as counter-negative action.

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