Monday, January 23, 2012

God Rot DDO

In 1984, when I was 20 years old, I went to watch the movie Revenge of the Nerds with my friends.  We knew nothing about the film except the commercials that went before it, and as it was the first weekend, and there was no internet, we had not even heard word about the film from anyone who had seen it.

But my crowd was a definitely odd-looking bunch, punk and pre-goth and dylanesque, channelling everything from Elvis Costello through the Marquis de Sade.  As it happened, waiting for the movie to start in the era before theatre advertising, we found ourselves sitting in front of a line of four Paris Hilton-wannabes ... though of course Mme. Hilton was then only three years old.  The Paris type has been around a lot longer than Paris.

They did not know anything about the film, either.  They knew less than we did.  This we found out because as my crowd was loud and obnoxious in the way that only hardcore nerds can be, and because the film was about us (we were sure), these girls eventually came around to asking us what a 'nerd' was.

You see, they didn't know.

Putting aside that they were obviously stupid, and that they were obviously NOT going to like the film, I turned about, leaned on the back of the seat behind me, and explained nerds to these four girls.  I was a lecturing bastard even then.

They called me a few rude things, I said I didn't care, and then I turned around and spread my arms wide as though to embrace the movie screen, and cried out loud enough for the whole theatre to hear, "THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!"

How very, very right I was.  The film remains one of my favorites.

But we know now how the term 'nerd' has been co-opted to death and how it has come to replace the word 'expert' where it comes to ordinary, white collar work.  Every Disney movie (and most other studios besides) contains a nerd who is in no way like any nerd I ever knew once upon a time, and every said depicted nerd appears, at worst, to be Hollywood ugly.

These are definitely, very definitely, NOT my people.  Not, not even those guys.

This is all working its way towards the title in this post - DDO players do not play D&D.  Oh, my gawd, do they ever NOT play D&D.

Not that this will come as a surprise to the more hardcore of my gentle readers.  So you may rest easy, I'm not going to write a point-by-point comparison.  I'm sure others have done so already ... and in any case, I think I would have had to play DDO at some point in my life to do a credible job.  I haven't, so I won't.

People who have played DDO and not D&D drift into my campaign and I don't mind that.  They find out soon enough that the games are different, and then a strange thing happens.  They like D&D better.  Imagine that.  They would rather spend a Saturday night fumbling with archaic ideals like dice and such, and who can blame them?  Computer games suck.  We all know computer games suck.  Their one redeeming feature is that they don't require social graces, they can be played a long time and they don't suck nearly as much as television.  Or most everything else.

Someday, computer games won't suck.  But as long as they depend on cut scenes and side quests and monthly payments and bullshit filler and player-player competition, they are going to suck.

Here's the thing, however.  Computer games were around when everyone who played them wasn't a nerd.  In fact, in strictest definition, nerds are so rare that a computer game company would die brutally trying to survive on that base.  In my 1,850 student high school, there were exactly six of us.  I don't mean there were six nerds in my particular crowd ... I mean in the entire school, there were six nerds who could legitimately be classed as social lepers - which is what nerds are.  Sometimes they are social lepers because they are really smart; and sometimes because they are mean; and sometimes because they are a-political or amoral or just not all there.  And all of them have a long, long history of having their social leprosy proven to them.  These are not people sitting around waiting for the diagnosis.  They know what they are.

We played computer games because they sucked less than everything else.  And we built computers and radio telescopes and guitars and wrote books and sang on street corners because we had gobs of time not spent being involved in ordinary social conventions.  Through our long, lonesome years, we read and read and read and lived with society like Jane Goodall lived with the chimps, watching them, worried about being killed by them, and learning all about them.  And we took that learning, most often than not, and applied it to ART.

Yes, some of us were about computers and electronics, but not because computers and electronics meant jack shit in themselves - we were into them because of what those things could CREATE.  If you fuck around taking computers apart and rebuilding them in your basement, you're not a nerd.  If you fuck around rebuilding computers with the idea of modifying a river-spanning bridge into a moog upon which you can play something by the Clash, then you are a nerd.  See the difference?

What's my point?  Oh, there's no point.  I'm just fucking around with this blog, finding out what it can do.


Oddbit said...

There are nerds in MMOs, people who have gone to seeing what they can do with them. Pulling them apart, picking out the numbers and seeing what they can do with them. But that is definitely not the entire user base. They're there, just not a huge part of the population, your 6 in a few thousand as it were.

Alexis said...

There are nerds seeded into every human experience ... but there are so few of them, only they themselves know they're there.

For example, no one at my place of work knows I'm a nerd. What you learn with experience is how to hide it.

While I'm thinking about it, and not in reference to your point Oddbit ... if you see a nerd over 30, he or she is probably not actually a nerd.

rainswept said...

I liked this post above all. No need to approve this comment.

Doug Wall said...

I play DDO and D&D. I'd rather be playing D&D, but of the MMOs out there, I'll say DDO does more of what I like.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about this one: