Monday, July 13, 2009

OSR -- F**k...

I am scrunched into a comfy chair, trying to type on my Mac without disturbing the beagle in my lap. This is challenging to say the least. My older beagle (she is two years old) thinks she's a lap dog...or perhaps a cat. Anyway, it's a tricky balancing act, that is clear.

Similar to what the F I am doing blogging away about D&D and RPGs.

Perhaps if I hadn't been spending so much time raising beagles, I would have started this retrospective (that's how I think of much of my posts) a lot sooner. Or perhaps not. It wasn't the death of Gary Gygax that got me into the blogging realms, it was the need to write about a shared experience...and maybe get some direction about where I want to go with my interest/hobby.

( is shifting position again...and so must I, apparently)

The way I see it, I can play the damn games, I can write the damn games, or I can sit on the sidelines and twiddle my thumbs. The blog thing...shit, it's just instant gratification. Come up with a few ideas (or opinions) hit a button and *poof* they're on the air. Or the net...or the web...whatever.

I'm not trying to make connections with folks, not really (maybe just trying to show signs of solidarity). I'm not trying to start fights for the sake of fighting (just using this particular forum to express myself). to put this....

I'm not worried I'm wasting my time blogging...this is entertaining. This is FUN for me. I can be crazy prolific (I've been trying to pace myself, trying to stay off-line for at least a few hours between posts, though sometimes I can't help myself). I don't care (much) if no one cares what the fuck I have to say...that's the way of the blog-o-sphere.

But I am worried...a bit...that I may not be helping. Not enough anyway. People are having fun with their blogs, with their nostalgia, with their rants and reminisces and their ideas for new monsters and house rules and whatever, and that's totally cool. But am I adding anything that is helpful? Am I helping the OS movement? Am I helping gaming?

My old humanities teacher taught me never to write a rhetorical question, because the reader will always answer it (in their mind) with "no" and a small chuckle. But like my attempts at being less "bloggy" and more thoughtful, sometimes I simply can't help myself.

Here's the thing, here's the point. I believe in gaming. I believe in it as an art form, as a type of creative expression, as a social experience, as a community building exercise. Where I see video games isolate individuals (even and especially on-line games), table top RPGs encourage face-to-face contact with our fellow humans and shared cooperation in having fun.

It is more intellectual than simple board games.

It is less competitive than war games.

It is more cooperative than creative writing.

It is more imaginative and active than flipping on the TV or plugging in the IPod.

Anyway, I believe in the idea of their potential I guess you could say. And I want to be of service to the RPG movement because I believe in it.

Old School D&D fosters this "good stuff" in players (and I include the DM as one of the players at the table). Players have to cooperate to enjoy themselves and have a good time. They have to create a social contract. They have to learn to interact with others. Old school play requires players to be imaginative. To think outside the box...whether in designing challenges or in overcoming challenges.

I have a lot of trash to talk about 4E gaming. I think it makes the game within the game (the creation of a cool "stat block") a 1-player exercise. I see it as isolating. I see an emphasis on ego stroking and mental masturbation. I see a rule system that will drive players to video games because it attempts to emulate video game structure but fails to do it in real time as video games can. I see a gam company that has actively been trying to monopolize an industry with their "One System To Rule Them All" since 2000. That's how I see it, and I think it sucks.

I believe in gaming. I really, really do. I think Arneson and Gygax hit it out of the park and I think other excellent designers have taken their ideas and run with it. I think it's an art form that deserves to live on in our society, not be a passing fad. I think it's an art that deserves to be shared and explored by all, not a paltry few escapists.

And so I hope the things I write are encouraging or inspiring or helps point people towards things that will grow the hobby and gets them to think about why the hobby is cool and maybe worth their time. Because if I'm not doing this, if I'm not helping, then I'm doing a disservice to gaming. I'm wasting the time of people that could be playing or designing or sharing RPGs...or reading blogs that actually DID encourage them to play and design and share RPGs.

I want to drive people to gaming. I want to help folks keep an open mind so that little independent game systems with coherent design but different engines can be developed, played, and shared, hopefully appealing to those folks who aren't interested in slaying dragons and looting treasure hordes. I want gaming...the act, the flourish.

Ridiculous perhaps (my beagles would certainly think so) when soldiers of my own country invade and overthrow the governments of sovereign nations with the blessing of a nation living in fear...fear of others, fear of what is different, fear of the unknown. Ridiculous when my nation's leaders fight and bicker and fear economic fallout in the face of environmental catastrophe. Ridiculous to worry about this shit when people in my own nation are falling through the cracks, when the mentally ill become homeless and the lack of medical care forces families into poverty and the lack of education dooms people to repeat past failures in cycle that often appears never-ending.

But fuck...shouldn't we be coming together over SOMETHING? Isn't a fun game that requires imagination and cooperation and getting to know your neighbor in a social setting...their flaws and foibles as well as their merits and humor...isn't it possible that taking a few small steps in the direction of community will help us do at least a little REAL world building?

[I can hear my professor saying "no" and giving a small chuckle; damn rhetorical questions!]

Anyway, it's a balancing act. Too much reading and writing, not enough doing and the whole thing becomes counter-productive. My poor beagle has left me by this point to go sleep with her brother on the much roomier couch while I finish up what should be (I hope!) my last post of the day. Sorry if it seems like a bit of a downer (hey, no one commented on my earlier post, and I thought it was pretty damn funny!), but it's night time and I'm prone to dark reflection at times. I did mention I was a Scorpio right? We tend to be "drama queens."

Later, Gators...


  1. I don't blog to advance the cause of gaming... I'm not sure many of us do. What I do know is that it is rewarding to share ideas and thoughts with people who share the same interests. I've enjoyed reading posts, swapping ideas, and asking for feedback. I've enjoyed your blog. If you enjoy blogging, then the time isn't really wasted, says I.

  2. Thanks for reasing, I said, I enjoy the writing. I'd just like to be constructive, too!

  3. No.
    > heh-heh-heh <

    I'm sorry, what was the question again?
    --Oh, yeah. Togetherness via gaming.

    Yeah, rock-on! :D