Between people wondering if I've gone off my nut, and those running around on other blogs claiming the solution to creating a better game is to have people list off three great things they do as a DM, today has been one great festival. Yes, that's what I said. Write three great DM things and you'll get a gold star.
The defining thing about rhetoric is that it tends to be rhetorical. That means, to use language to persuasive effect, you've got to get a little crazy. You've got to stand on a car's roof and wave your arms about and scream, or people won't listen. I mean, they won't listen anyway, but if you still have to risk sounding like an idiot, even if they can't digest what you're saying.
I am on my own path here, so we needn't worry about the parade going past on the next street over. We can get serious.
I don't like to embed videos on the blog, since they soak up memory, but this is special. Some of the brighter among you may have seen this before (it's quite old):
I have to explain that I began working with statistics like the ones Hans Rosling describes going back to the 1970s, so over the years I have intensely studied these. I mention this because I remember the first time I saw this video. It was shown to me by my partner - she stumbled across it and knew I'd like it. She was right.
Funny story. When we got to four minutes into the video - as he is discussing those changes happening to family size - I paused the video. "Wouldn't it be great," I said, "If instead of showing a bunch of slides clicking the shift from one year to another, we saw the thing move like a video?"
Then I started the video again, and it happened.
Now, that's not a huge prediction story. What is important is that for me, studying statistics all this time, what you see in the video is the way statistics always play in my mind. Just as my first wife Michelle, a trained musician, could look at a page of notes and hear the music, I have always been able to look at a page of statistics and inherently see the pattern. It is a talent that has served me wonderfully in D&D.
But here is an example of not needing the talent, at all. The computer graphic has been created so that Hans Rosling, whose talent must exceed virtually everyone we shall ever hope to know, can paint the world of statistics in a fashion that people who have no comprehension of them can grasp them immediately.
In no way does Rosling's demonstration change the numbers; the facts haven't changed. But the demonstration makes the numbers real for those who can't see them in the way of a statistician. Can you see how this demonstrative process, appropriately adopted, could revolutionize the game of D&D?
I beg the gentle reader (far more gentle than I) to recognize that numbers are not in themselves meaningful. Numbers are representative labels which we hang upon things which are meaningful. But any label, provided it is consistent, will do. Numbers have that wonderful quality of consistency. But computer graphics composed of numbers carry that consistency forward, making it possible not only to know the measure of a 17 strength, but to see it as well.
When we speak of the generation of a character in these terms, along with the generation of world, of the monsters in that world and of the combats and interactions taking place between that world and those characters, THEN we are speaking about D&D, my friends.
The only thing is - and this being the point of the previous post - it has to be thoroughly understood that this interaction CANNOT be automated. Automation destroys variety, because Automation cannot be innovated beyond its point of programming. However, if you put the power in a DM's hands, to change the perameters of what is a 17 strength, and what defines a 'hit' in combat, and what effects a spell has - just as the DM defines these things in the DM's game - then the computer program is a tool, and not a straightjacket.
The weakness of video games to this point is the insistence of programmers that they themselves must be the DM. They want to build a machine that will come and build your house for you. That is their thinking process. What you want, what every DM wants, is a hammer. We will build our own house thank you very much. Give us a cyber universe that lets up stop the motion, change the shape, weight, range and effect of a thrown hammer however we wish - along with every other condition of the D&D universe, as the rules allow.
Every bit technological know-how needed to do this exists. At the moment, the only people able to do it are brain-trained to think they know what is best for everyone. But it could be done - and when it is done, and players can really envision what a DM wants them to envision, the long-crippling weaknesses of pen, paper and poor writing will be dealt a death blow.
This is my point. This is what I've been saying. Ramp up the visual presentation to the modern age, and we are cooking with gas, people.
Hey. Am I serious?