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In My Understanding

An old school gamer discusses the challenges facing the MMORPG community and it's leaders.

Author: jesad

Geeks - Still at war on their own turf

Posted by jesad Tuesday July 23 2013 at 4:49AM
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Everyone up to at least 50 years old can remember that one group of kids from Junior High (Middle School to you kids born in the 70's) who used to stay after school to play D&D.

D&D, or Dungeons and Dragons, was a game system invented by Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax that had been played by mostly college kids since 1974.  By the mid to late 80's however, many of these college kids had gone on to become teachers, and Dungeons and Dragons had come along with them to the middle schools and senior highs where they would teach.

It all started out so quietly.

Four or five kids who either couldn't wrestle or didn't feel comfortable with the whole "getting in the doggy style position, wrestling around on the floor, and then taking a shower together thing" would meet after school with their books in hand, and sit around a classroom table playing a very intricate form of make-believe.  There were rules and dice and sometimes even miniatures and maps.  All one really needed though was the books, a set of dice, and one guy with a firm understanding of the rules to administer the story.

This was the geeks version of fun.  And although it didn't win them any trophies, and it didn't help them score with the opposite sex (although a gamer girl as always been a gamer girl), it was something that allowed them to socialize and to act out on certain child-like fantasies that involved their imaginations.

Many an artist, writer, and even business manager can claim a D&D background, because D&D was a thinking persons game.  There were prerequisites to being able to play it.  For one you had to know how to read.  You also needed to know how to add, subtract, multiply, and even do a little algebra here and there (although you probably didn't know it was algebra back then). 

You also had to learn to act.  To open the part of yourself up that allowed you to be potentially goofy in front of another person.  You had to learn how to think on your feet, possibly make mistakes, and learn the value of things like teamwork, and the completion of a lengthy campaign.

So it was of not small circumstance probably, the first time you heard that one of your favorite forms of play was going to be made into a video game.

"Why not?" you may have thought.  "I like video games, and I like D&D! How could this go wrong?!?"

But you didn't know.

You didn't know that buy turning one of your favorite pastimes, something you did among only your closest friends, into a publicly accessible massively multiplayer online role playing game, that you would end up sacrificing the very things that made that game the most fun, namely, the ability to geek out.

Now there is a war being fought.  A war between the people who always wanted to be like you and the people who really are like you.  Your small faction of previously reclusive after school role-players, weekend live action role-players (LARP'ers), and comic book readers was not enough to properly maintain the massive monetary needs of the companies that created the games for you, and so they opened the door to the kids who had only "heard" about what kind of fun you all were having, and instantly things like "role-playing", "teamwork", "grouping", and "partying" went out the window.

Your little after school session of make-believe was mutated into a wrestling match using computer animated cartoon characters.  This was complete with all the bells and whistles of constantly having to remain competitive, alpha male syndrome, jocks, and etc...

And what's worse is that you can't even fix it.  Any attempt to try or even mention returning to the old days of hanging with friends, going on adventures, exploring things just for the sake of exploring, or finishing a lengthy campaign is now met with comment after comment of disdain from the voices of people who never even cared about the game before you made it cool.

Geeks are still at war on their own turf.  And pretty soon the only thing left to do will be to return to the old ways of "game by invite only'.  I'm building a room in the basement as we speak.

Did you know that Gygax ran a weekly game until the day he died?

Never give up on your version of fun.

Jesad

 

Tchilde writes:

We still play old school PnP games, currently I am running a Decipher LOTR campaign, 2 years now, and a Mongoose Traveler campaign, 3rd iteration in my variant universe. I play in a couple GURPS games. My LOTR replaced the CyberPunk 2020 campaign I ran for 5 years. Ben playing RPG's since summer camp of 78 when I was eaten by a black pudding playing by lamplight behind the mess hall. Had the Traveller little black box by fall. I have lost track of all the systems I've run and played in.

I game online when I home alone, with nothing better to do, or as more often, lack of funds to go out and be more socal. I have my online friends. A shout out for the Awesome community that was City of Heroes.

I'll get down off the soap box so someone else can rant.

Tue Jul 23 2013 10:29PM Report
jesad writes:

Glad to hear it! It was a good rant.  I've been able to do some things off and on over the years but finding the right people, the right place, and enough time has been a constant struggle.  You are lucky to have that.

I also second that shout out to the COH people.  Those were some of the most fun and creative days I've had in any game.

Wed Jul 24 2013 1:31AM Report

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