I don’t often do editorials. I initially thought of presenting what I wanted to say in some kind of manifesto but the last thing this hobby needs is another crusade, or a so called leader that ends up doing more damage than good.
So editorial it is… for now. 🙂
A few weeks ago, I posted this on Twitter:
Old/New/OSR… I’m sick of this. Full-Spectrum Gaming for me please. Sword & Wizardry, D&D4e AND Burning Wheel. You DM it, I’ll play it.
To say that I’m sick and tired of online geek debates about one true way-ism is an understatement. Not the arguing and debate mind you, this is necessary and healthy for all creative fields. I mean that while my good friend Graham occasionally gets on my nerves with his long-winded defences of D&D 4e, I find that he does it with respect and arguments born out of what I perceive as good faith, enthusiasm and, usually, the data to support his claims.
You know, what the Greeks used to call the logos, the rational discourse.
What I can’t stand anymore is the rampant geek rants, easy inflammatory blog posts, short-sighted comment baits and, above all, the hate-filled insults spewed by those hidden behind the comfort of Internet anonymity on RPG blogs and forums. Hell, it’s not surprising that the 2 online trash RPG talkers I know the most, RPG Pundit and that guy that keeps telling us that our dungeon sucks, are still anonymous. It’s much easier to hate behind the safe wall of anonymity than show your face and take your lumps as much as you dish them out. Hell it’s classic trash radio behaviour where we’re told “Hey! I’m just telling it how it is as the man of the street” and get insulted when we try to challenge it.
(What kills me is that both are pretty decent writers with opinions about RPGs I’d otherwise would love to know about)
Furthermore, the drama that we as a niche of a niche can generate over things as asinine as the word “porn-star”, ‘roleplaying” or “democracy” is absolutely insane. Especially when mobs mentality sets in and you can see in various discussion threads how people turn into sharks or worse, scavengers.
I understand that as geek, we are very passionate about the things we love. That’s a core definition of what defines us as a tribe. So much so that we can get very emotional about the weirdest stuff and devote energies to them that others devote to national sports or even patriotism. Yet many seems to find it so much easier to let the inner beast go during debates and unleash whatever poison has welled up inside to destroy all chances of harmonious, if lively discourse.
I mean, Wil Wheaton has written that he had to flee convention floors in tears back in the early 90’s because he was jeered, booed and insulted off stage. What the hell? Seriously? The more I read his blog and books the more incredulous I get. Is this an American thing or are Trekkies that hardcore?
The thing that slays me here is that as geeks, we were far likelier as a demographic to have been among the nerds that the jocks and misfits at school preyed upon. I know that many of us were insulted, laughed at, ostracized and made fun of by “more popular kids” (how I hate this expression) or by the bullies that climbed our schools Darwinian pyramids by shoves and stolen Walkmans. Many of us know what being bullied was like and it left scars that some still mend decades later.
I have been blessed by genetics, luck and strong-minded parents to become one of those rare charismatic, cocky, socially skilled nerds. Thus, I have been spared a lot of that above anguish (being 5’11” and weighing 180 lbs at 13 helped too). Yet I tried to stand up to my share of bullies at school, on my behalf or those of friends. I got into more school fights (or was ready for them) than I care to remember. I’ve actually had to use my judo training in junior high a few times and I’ve gotten my face punched and kicked so I could show the bullies that they had nothing on me. They left me alone if I didn’t flinch after the first hit (dodging to spare the nose was important, he he he).
It was important to me back then to make a stand for those that couldn’t or wouldn’t. It still is, today.
I can’t understand why geeks feel the urge to hurt each other. Is it just to try to register above the increasingly high noise-to-content ratio of the net, lost in a sea of vacuous spiteful arguments and flavours of the month? Is it because they’re bored and this is more fun than playing the games themselves? I just don’t get it.
Above all, I decry with all my heart the trolls and jerks that hide behind anonymous accounts, or behind so called community leaders just so they can take pot shots at those that take the time to publish an opinion, a thought or a concept on gaming forums and blogs that may go somewhere that is slightly uncomfortable, conceptually different or heaven forbid, flawed.
I find it tragically ironic that from the group that often was a victim to those bigger, stronger and/or meaner bullies back in school, some decided to secede from our tribe and join the opposition. Instead of physical and verbal bullies, they became digital trolls and ogres. Dishing it out from their forum tree-forts and blog dungeons.
These are the traitors among us. These I have no respect for.
We as tabletop gamer geeks should use our energies to create, not destroy. I’ve been doing my part, building communities, creating lasting friendships, getting stuff done and motivating people to fight their inner demons and start scary projects. You should do so too. In your own way.
If you take a any pleasure in telling people how wrong they are or how they should be doing it, why don’t you just shut the hell up and propose a new path instead of denouncing it.
When darkness surrounds us, some choose to decry it. Others choose to light a torch.
There is so much less competition in that second group. I’d like there to be more as there are many kinds of light and mine isn’t better than anyone’s.
Peace. Now let’s play something different! I hear Dread is cool…