It strikes me that much of what I dislike about the changes in the world...whether you're talking gaming, pop music, or whatever...has to do with my perceived "softness" of these developments. As in people going soft. I'll provide a couple examples:
In D&D: Character death being removed from the table. Character's becoming more "superheroic" (fighters getting spell-like special abilities, wizards throwing unlimited magic missiles, etc.). Complaints about X.P. calculation or adventure design being "too hard." Etc.
In music: Over-produced music. Sampling former song-writers music and turning it into their own "hit songs" (Aloe Blacc's "The Man," Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You," etc.). Virtuoso instrument playing being replaced by computers. Vocal talent being auto-tuned. Etc.
Heck, I can even apply it to daily family life: fast food culture, too much television, participation awards for kids, grade inflation, video games that do all your imagining for you, lack of book reading, smart phone culture, social media replacing human interaction, etc. Hell, we probably all live too long these days what with the pills and prescriptions one can take to relieve problems that are probably caused by our (generally) sedentary, overindulgent lifestyles.
I recognize this is just me being a cranky geezer of the "when-I-was-a-kid-we-walked-ten-miles-to-school-in-the-snow-uphill-both-ways!" variety. When I was a youngster, my elders complained about my generation and how "easy" we had it. Now I do the same thing. This is a recognized cycle in our part of the world.
But why? Simple discomfort with new ideas? An inability to change with the times (and a willingness to complain)? Just plain old inertia? Fear of being "left behind?"
Maybe...but I don't think so. After some thoughtful pondering, here's what I do think:
Growing up, there was a certain amount of hardness I had to acquire. I don't mean discipline (I'm fairly undisciplined, much to my detriment), but a certain resilience and strength. If you cared about something, there was a certain amount of work that was a part of doing it. Nothing of lasting value is easy, you know? Suffering for one's art; adversity builds character...or something like that.
And now that I've paid my dues (at least, in the things that I cared about and that mattered to me) I look at those coming after me, after my time, and I worry for them. I worry that they aren't developing the necessary hardness, the necessary strength. I worry that they're "soft" and that this will end up...I don't know..."bad," somehow.
And I would guess my elders felt and thought the same when I was younger. And their elders felt and thought the same when they were younger.
Doesn't matter what profession you're in. A soldier in today's army is tough, but is far more advantaged than those of twenty years earlier...who were more advantaged than those who fought in WWII, who were more advantaged than those who fought in The Great War, etc. all the way back to the damn bronze age. "Kid, back when we fought battles, you were lucky to have a solid club and a few rocks to throw! You guys are so soft with your "helmets" and "spears." Punks!"
|Less sass than you'd get|
from Rosie the Robot.
Likewise, we don't want to go backwards, do we? It's nice that I'm able to self-publish my own print books with nothing more than a laptop and a word processor. Do I really want to go back to the elaborate publishing process of the 1970s? Hell no! No more than I'd want to go back to a time before indoor plumbing.
Even so, I worry. I worry that there's such a thing as "too much" softness. Is non-stop texting any worse than the way my friends and I used to spend hours kabitzing over a landline? No, probably not. Is sitting on your ass in front of a computer eating junk food and forgoing the simple pleasures of a brisk walk, a thought-provoking book, or an engaging conversation an improvement to our quality of life? Probably not...but then television has been around since the 1950s and that, more than anything, has contributed to the general "softening" of society.
In the end, I suppose it (mostly) comes down to this: with regard to Dungeons & Dragons, I prefer a "harder" version of the game. Harder to run, harder to manage, harder to survive (talking about survival of the characters, not the players). It's a preference. I dislike late editions of the games for a number of reasons. But (and I realize I'm writing this not for the first time) I recognize MY version isn't a "better" version of the game. It is simply better for me. Hopefully, there are some likeminded folks out there.