17 February 2018

RANT: 'It's just a game'

I wrote this last night and wasn’t going to post it, but . . . here's my angry gibberish rant anyway.

reading this post from Alexis and listening to the first episode of the there and back again podcast has focused my attention this week. dnd and rpgs and other creative work is often labeled as a waste of time, trivial, simply 'fun'. well I’ve had it I’m sick of it. dnd is not just a game for me. and it shouldn't be for anyone who cares to put just a little bit of effort in. is basketball trivial. is it played just because it is fun? right now the winter Olympics are on, what makes the things done there important or trivial? is it important because it isn't fun? or because it is? do the performers enjoy skiing, skating, playing hockey? are they in the Olympics because it is fun are they celebrated because they had a fun time, no that is ridiculous. they compete to be the best at what they do, yes, they may take some joy from it and have fun along the way, but if you tell a hockey player to loosen up and just have some fun because its only a game you might be knocked on your butt. 

or to compare another popular game, what about Magic: the gathering of all your money. do people play only because it is fun, is that their only object in playing? don’t people play games for other reasons to have fun, what about competition? that doesn't apply to dnd because it’s a cooperative game? bull shit. do you think dnd is combat oriented just because all nerds have violent tendencies. yeah. right. just like video game encourage violence in among young people. no, don’t be stupid. combat=competition. the players are constantly in competition with the dm, the setting as presented by the dm, trying not to have a character die in the dangerous situations presented by the dm. so yes dnd is just a game. basketball is just a game, risk is just a game, magic is just a game. guess what life is just a game. I can't think of any games where the object is to have fun, is there a game out there where the goal of the game is to have fun? fun is common byproduct of games, and pretty much a lot of other experiences in life. fun is not limited to games. just because you expect a game to be fun doesn't mean that is the reason you are playing the game.

so, in the there and back again episode, Tolkien’s essays on fairy stories is discussed along with the poem mythopoeia. he wrote in response to cs Lewis saying that fantasy/myth was just lies breathed though silver. basically, Tolkien’s premise is that god created us in his image. god is a creator, though we are separated from god we still do as he does. he creates worlds in physical form, we create them though stories and myth. creation is human nature. dnd is one the best vehicle for human creation of our fantasies. we work to together to create a mutual myth. the dm gets to see his creation come to life for other people. his creation can be changed by the actions of others. it's not like a film or book or play or painting where it is done and remains the same, it is not just presented to an audience to say look at what I did isn't it pretty. dnd allows for a creation to morph and change based on how it is perceived by others. a dnd game can be a mutual creation shared and shaped by everyone involved. why do you think it is so hard to watch or listen to a dnd game? you’re not part of it so you can't understand the actual experience.

p.s. I don't feel like taking the time to find the quotes from mythopoeia or the podcast, you can listen to it here.