Funny. I write a post about incorporating some sort of cards into the game and WOTC announces that they've done it. In a really ... stupid ... way.
And gamers are upset. Because if a corporation brings forth a different way of playing, it brings pressure against every DM in the universe to play the new way. Ooooh, so much pressure. Plus there's that whole blasphemy/heretic thing: oh no, it will further subdivide the hobby!
But really, mostly what I've seen is a whole lot of apathy. This isn't quite the vitriolic outrage that accompanied the release of 4e, is it? But then, perhaps its not as big as 4e. Perhaps this is just a silly launch of a silly product that will almost certainly be taken up by mostly silly people. And the hardened gamers know it.
Sometimes I wonder how much power corporations have over us ... or how much we allow them to have. If the NFL decided to change the shape of footballs, making the official football six millimeters shorter, wouldn't every football in America change? Are there still people, anywhere, making their own footballs? There used to be. But with the invention of the "official" product of whatever sports franchise you care to mention, there comes an enslavement of a people to the crap that franchise chooses to put out. Even a kind of prejudice against those who aren't enslaved, as masses of schoolchildren jeer and scoff at the child who still has the ridiculous, enlongated football of last year rather than the new, zippy football of the right now.
But of course, what a cash grab for the NFL, when the coffers get a little roomy. Which is all the WOTC has done here. Everyone knows it. Even those who will buy the cards.
It was mentioned a couple of days ago on this blog that cards would be a terrific fetishistic article to add to a player's character. That there is the appeal. For thousands of players who don't know what they're doing, who aren't sure what the game is about, who are looking for a greater tactile connection, the cards are great. They're simple to understand. They shift the game from deciphering incomprehensible books to stacking comprehensible status symbols. Children will embrace them, as they have always embraced such things. A real, official football for Christmas? Thanks Grandma!
And as the children grow into adults with their loved D&D cards in their pockets, they will glare with mockish disapproval at the old farts that didn't buy in, decrying them as stodgy dullards who still play the game "like it was the dark ages."
This worries the community. At least, those parts of the community who used to be the golden boys when 3e was on the rise and THEY were the smarty-pants players better than their OD&D peers. But of course the OD&D faction has fought back, stamping out their approval of old virtues and values, claiming dogma left and right as 'proof' that the old way was always the right way. Granted, old has always had its particular brand of cachet, the tradition that tradition is somehow special because it is old. If it wasn't special, would it still be around?
Such is the way with factions. Gotta belong to this group or that group to prop up the old ego, you know; to feel reassurred that we're not alone, that there are others just like us who approve of the same things and - without question - hate the same things.
Really early this morning, Mike Vavosa on the previous post asked why role-playing games would need a universal IMECH ... and the answer to that is, why bother trying to create one? I'm certainly not. I'm not very concerned with making anything universal. WOTC really doesn't give a rat's ass if cards become a universal part of the game or not. They're counting how many cards they can sell. What's more, it's no nevermind to them if the cards even get used for D&D. If someone figures out a way to making a drinking game out of the cards, played in public taverns, which results in more sales, WOTC will be really fine with that.
The gamer out there should realize that people and factions and corporations don't have any power to make things 'universal.' They have only the power to browbeat, cajole, deceive or otherwise tempt people into pursuing actions beneficial for the source. There's no one in existence that can make you play in any way other than the way you wish to play. No power exists as a standard that all must follow.
But some will tell you different.