Thursday, July 31, 2014

Train Wreck Syndrome

I have a confession to make. I'm finding this entire D&D controversy fascinating. In the most morbid, guilty-pleasure type way. I think I've read nearly every blog post and G+ post on the topic (I'm sure there's a treasure trove on the forums, but my No Going to Forums Ever Policy prevents me from looking).

I get it now. This is why all those horrible "desperate housewives" TV shows are so popular. It's amazing to watch (supposedly) full-grown adults throw temper tantrums on the internet. It's extremely amusing to see accusations fly fast and loose, like a shootout in a Western film; to watch those accusations fall apart in the face of direct questioning, to see the arguments degenerate from Barely Having a Point to Fuck it, Let's Just Call Each Other Names.

Seriously...some of these posts literally come down to this classic exchange:

"You're a <insert preferred prejudicial term here>."

"No I'm not!"

"Yes you are!"

"Prove it!"

"I don't have to!"

I think the last time I heard this kind of heated debate was third grade recess.

I know there is real shit beneath the surface. I get that. I understand this is a battle (let's drop the PC-ness here and not dignify it by calling it a "discussion" or "debate") with real stakes. Like, inclusiveness, and stuff. And not hating people. Or something.

So it's not supposed to be funny. It's supposed to be real. And dangerous. Right?

Maybe. But I find it all absolutely delicious. 

There are two things that strike me as absolutely fascinating about the whole thing. One is the veiled attacks. It reminds me of Dune, and how in that world, personal energy shields were kinetically charged, so high-impact stuff like bullets were useless. So in combat, fighters had to actually get right up to the edge of that shield, then slow themselves down so that their blade could get through the shield (axes and swords were apparently too high-impact, too, resorting to good ol' fashioned knife fights in SPAAAAAACE!), then commence the stabbing.

Here in this fracas, the opposing sides make their accusations, but they base the accusations on stuff that's so ambigous or convoluted that it basically can't be proven. Because if it could be proven, then it becomes, like, legal and stuff. Both the attacks and the defenses are like this. It's not slander to be an asshole. It's not a crime to be a jerk. So both sides are as assholish and jerky to each other as possible, hoping to make the other side cry without having to resort to something that could actually lead to real-life consequences.

Once again, I'm transported back to elementary school:

"Don't touch me!"

"I'm not touching you!" (waves hand inches away from other kid's face)

And, again, it's delicious. 

The other is the total commitment to offense on both sides. So many times, as I read these posts, I ask myself "WHY DO THESE PEOPLE KEEP RESPONDING TO EACH OTHER?!?!" If and/or when I start getting targeted (I have not ever once weighed in on one side or another, I'm having WAY too much fun to do that), I'll hit that "block" button so fast it'll make their head spin. It's painfully obvious to anyone without a dog in the fight that there can't possibly be a winner here. At this point, I don't think anyone even knows what a winner would look like, in this thing. So why keep doing it? Why keep making accusations and defenses and attacks? Why not just hit the "ignore" button and be on their way?

I guess I shouldn't advertise that idea too much. I wouldn't want people to start actively ignoring each other. Where else, then, would I get my mid-afternoon entertainment from?


  1. "Why not just hit the "ignore" button and be on their way?"

    That's a question all of us are asking. Honestly, I feel for the guys. In their place, I'd probably get dragged in as well. When people spread falsehoods with the intent of damaging a reputation, it would be pretty hard to take the high road.

    But they would have been better off posting a note saying "People are saying a bunch of things about me that aren't remotely true" and then leaving it at that instead of throwing gas on the flames.

    1. Very good point. I definitely admit that disengaging is harder to do than it sounds...but you're right: acknowledging it, denying it, and moving on is probably far better for one's sanity than constantly engaging on every front.

  2. I don't get the whole debate around 5e. Love it and play it, hate it and don't play it, play 1st, 2nd or what ever your preferred version is. Hell play a completely different game (easy for me to say, I never stick at anything for long).

    Wizards will not be able to please everyone. We as players and games masters need to accept this. Or enjoy watching the mud slinging.


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