Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Dark Side-The Industry-The Hobby

Where to begin.

I have been reading the on going battle for what seems like forever now about 'social contracts' and 'industry standards'.
I have really tried to stay out of it. This is the kind of pitched battles that made me quit forums. Somebody says something, doesn't maybe understand the gravity of the statement and then all hell breaks loose. It all started with this:

"It is that LOTFP: Grindhouse Edition violates the social contract of the RPG community."

And ends up the biggest fist fight I have seen in some time. People are arguing with people that they have always been civil to. This one post has caused more damage to this hobby we call home than anything I can imagine.

What was so powerful about this to cause so many to react so aggressively? A simple mistake we have all made from time to time. When we speak we think we are speaking for the masses. And that offends a lot of people.

This could have been stopped by taking a step back and saying that it was a personal opinion but that didn't happen. The fuel was increased by somehow associating our group with a group we have nothing to do with and that is 'the industry'. If this were 'the industry' I wouldn't be here typing this. I would be filling out apps and trying to figure out whose ass to kiss next after Mearls over at Wizards. THAT'S the industry. This is 'the hobby' or 'hobby business' if you will.

This is the story of how our favorite hobby fell the 1st time and how we are now at the crossroads. again Will 1989 repeat itself? Or will we ignore the naysayers and forge our own path? The decision is ours.

In the past it started with Satanic panic, Mazes and Monsters and a lot of propaganda that would lead a company to make decisions that would change the course of gaming history.

TSR caved into pressure from religious groups and changed what had been an adult game into something acceptable to people who were not even customers, let alone gamers.

Now our own are quoting items out of context. The 'social contract' has nothing to do with the community as a whole. It is the agreement between players at a table and what they decide to play and how to play it. It is not a moral ruler to measure the acceptability of a game or anything else within the context of this community.

And here the added fuel:

The problem with LOTFP Grindhouse Edition is that it violates the boundaries set by the community. It goes over the line that people are willing to comfortably tolerate, it is beyond the acceptable standard of behavior, and people have reacted to that in a variety of ways."

What community set which boundaries? Not my community nor the community of others that I have seen. This product seems to be doing quite well.

There is a difference between having an opinion and expressing it and presuming that you speak for an entire group of people. No one speaks for me. I think for myself and choose for myself. I am not cattle or sheep, moving in fear away from the edge that exists to challenge us.

I could quote the entire post I have excerpted above, but it comes down to 1989:

"People don't want their beloved games on the same shelf with this stuff, they don't like to see it included in the mix. They don't want someone looking at LOTFP Grindhouse Edition as being a part of RPGs, lest the negativity flow back onto other RPGs. Our hobby went through a very long and painful doldrum period where we struggled with negative reputational effects. We are just now getting to the point where it is not a big issue anymore. The last thing people want is for something like this to trigger even more negative associations. I try very hard not to describe RPGs as being "like D&D" because of this negative history. I would truly hate to have to disavow even more material."

Is this being serious or supposed to be funny? Who are these people buying games they don't want and setting them on any shelf? Negative associations? Let me tell you, they still hate us and think we are doing Satan's work and corrupting people. Those people have always existed and always will regardless of what a publisher decides to print.

Has someone been sneaking into homes and putting games on game shelves under cover of darkness? Is this some covert operation? Where's my damn copy then? Cause I would certainly love to have a nice boxed set proudly sitting on my shelf.

I am not ashamed of the roots of this hobby or the culture it grew out of. Are there things I disagree with? Of course. But it's me disagreeing. Not me telling you what you should find disagreeable. There is a big difference.

We have no reason to tip toe around and try to go unnoticed. We can stamp our feet if we damn well please and if someone is not 'comfortable' with that then they don't have to be part of it. I'm certain there is a big pile of Monopoly game boxes sitting somewhere nearby that is nice and safe. Go play that.

The last time was a different world, where people forced their opinions on the lives of others and caused a ripple effect that made me, for one, leave the hobby. But things are different now. No more boycotts or threats to a business owners livelihood if they carry those 'awful' Dungeons and Dragons games.

We're in charge this time. We are not part of 'the industry' and I wish to never be again. I look forward to the absolute collapse of 'the industry' and good riddance. And if those 'rules' are truly for GenCon then what is left? A table to play Jenga on? No violence, no gore, no nudity, no religion, no cosplay...what the hell do you do? Drink coffee and check your watch constantly to see when your flight leaves?

It's our show and the more of this fascist group think crap that I read the more I want to Spinal Tap this mother and take it up to 11...How about we start with a module, say The Rape of Village Thiyus...the whole module is seeing how many things you can rape in a given amount of time. Men, women, kids, dogs, goats...if it's breathing then we're hittin' it...and do it fired up on drugs and alcohol...maybe betting contests between PCs to see who gets the higher count...see how this crap makes me react?

You see, I ran a game store back in the 80's and I was treated like a leper. They burnt shit in my yard and told me I was selling the work of the devil. My customers were scared by these fanatics.


So you will have to pardon me that all that 'golden age' dust doesn't get in my eyes and blind me from the crap we have always taken. Go be a mouse if you want to. Just don't expect everyone to be a mouse. Some are lions and they eat mice.

And as I said the other day, we really need to be careful about stepping over the most heinous of all lines-hypocrisy. When you take it down to the basics the largest group of gamers play a game that is a perpetual race war where you kill other creatures and steal their stuff. And don't say that's not what fantasy rpgs are about. Since day one that was the basic game. If you have 'moral issues' with gaming you might want to start right there.

I think too many folks are in this thinking it is a stepping stone into that big ticket job in 'the industry' and for some it may well be.

But the majority of people I talk with know this is a small thing and always will be. This is the only reason this is worth doing. These are labors of love, homages to those who came before 'political correctness'. Look at the our collective past and the influences on the hobby. This is 'Old School'. Frank Frazetta. Boris Vallejo. H.P. Lovecraft, R.E. Howard, E.R. Burroughs.

When H.G. Wells codified miniature war gaming he made a statement that perhaps if we fought more of these small wars we would fight less big ones.

And RPGs are the same. Remember that the concept of role-playing was developed by Jacob Moreno, a Viennese psychologist who contended that people could gain more from acting out their problems than from talking about them. That it would evolve into a gaming hobby is quite remarkable.

But man is a rough beast and for all of our laws and social structures we remain animals at heart, part of a greater nature than we may ever understand. This is the place for where the beast can be released and we can learn something about ourselves in the process.

Too heavy? Maybe you wanna go play that Monopoly now...