Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nerd vs. Nerd: the battle rages

You'd think that a small, insulated group of individuals who share an unpopular (and at times downright lame as hell) hobby would be a bit more supportive of each other and advocate the free exchange of ideas, but, alas, that is not the case within the rpg "community". I write community in the sarcastic sense as there is no unified, central gathering area for roleplayers, especially not on the internet. I'm not naïve enough to think that a large group of people could never become segmented or polarized, but the obsession with certain mindsets amongst roleplayers is taken to a ludicrous level. Take, for instance, the notion that WotC has somehow damaged D&D by turning it into a World of Warcraft boardgame. Yes, I agree that 4th edition D&D pretty much sucks (and I cannot for the life of me even figure out how to make a character), but honestly who cares? My 1st edition AD&D books didn't suddenly vanish when 4th edition was released, nor did they vanish when 3rd edition or 3.5 were released, either. The roleplaying police won't confiscate my books nor keep me from playing my game as I see fit. Why, then, should I give one crap about how a company treats their intellectual property? WotC bought TSR and owns D&D; they should be able to do with it what they will. Granted, I took major exception with a similar case when Indy 4 was abomination to be sure, but movie sequels are a little different in that they are accepted as canon and thus must be integrated into the whole. Not one person would ever think that you MUST accept D&D 4th edition in order to play 1st, or even acknowledge the new game as remotely relevant. Hence, I don't care about 4th edition. I even own the books because I'm always up for something new, but I feel like I seriously wasted my money. I didn't feel that way when I bought 3rd edition, however. For whatever reason, I felt like the new game breathed life into the hobby, even if I still prefered the older game. But, again, 4th edition doesn't matter to me and it shouldn't matter to anyone else, either. You can think it sucks and think the mechanics are terrible and that it's not TRUE ROLEPLAYING but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is introducing a whole new crowd into rpgs, and I'm really happy about that.

Why then do all the grumpy rpg grognards on their blogs and message boards rant endlessly about these fancy pants newcomers and their idiotic notions about how to play rpgs? Why do the 4th edition zealots refuse to acknowledge any shortcomings of the new game, going so far as to say the old games were essentially "nice tries" but no one was really having fun, they were simply delusional. I really don't get it at all, ESPECIALLY considering that both camps are nothing but a bunch of humorless nerds with way too much time to bitch about the dumbest crap. Why don't they focus their energies on making this hobby more appealing to the masses? WotC, for all their Evil Deeds, is attempting to do just that via the juggernaut that is Hasbro. If Hasbro wants D&D in all the major bookstores and toy stores, well, it's going to happen. And there's not a goddamn thing wrong with that whatsoever. If Walmart starts selling D&D, that would be the best fucking thing to happen to this hobby in 20 years. The paucity of rpg books "in public" is so alarming that I find it hard to believe the hobby exists at all. Word of mouth works great for a lot of things, but when half the population of roleplayers are spending all their time telling each other to fuck off and die, not to mention lacking any social skills, no one is going to know about this game.

Pretty much everyone you'll meet on the street knows what D&D is, and I do mean everyone. Ask a random stranger if they've ever heard of the game and I can bet they'll say something like, "Oh yeah, that nerd game." D&D, and by extension rpgs in general, are known but dismissed. All the effort arguing over the dumbest crap (ascending AC vs. descending for example) is wasted breath. Stop battling the nerds and start bringing rpgs back into popular culture. There is certainly a major market for gaming: just look at professional poker. While rpgs cannot be judged in a manner that would lend itself to tournaments akin to pro poker, wargames certainly could be. What about a D&D minatures tournament on tv? They're paying kids to play fucking Guitar Hero, I'm sure there is a group of people who wouldn't mind watching fantasy battles for money.

This is nothing more than a pipe dream, I am sure, but whatever. The point remains that nerd vs. nerd battles have got to stop. Engaging in polite discussions about rules is good. Hammering out reasons why one rule is better than another is fine. Outright hatred and personal attacks make this hobby even more inaccessible to the casual gamer than it already is. Open disgust for the only company that can possibly market rpgs to a wider audience is idiotic.

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