Monday, April 22, 2013

Relevance

A quick observation, or better a question.  There are those out there, never mind who exactly, that believe somehow that the argument, "You don't need to be a genius to play D&D," has merit.  I presume the people making the argument recognize they are not geniuses ... or perhaps they are simply standing up for people they consider to be stupider than they are.  Either way ... in case the gentle reader doesn't know ... the argument is advanced to explain to people like myself, redesigning D&D, that we should stop viewing the game as something complicated.  By 'complicated,' I'm guessing they mean doing work that is far too much trouble to duplicate.

For the record, I agree.  You don't have to be a genius to play D&D.  You don't have to be a genius to do a lot of things.

If, however, by chance, you happen to BE a genius ... or, perhaps, you happen to be intensively motivated ... then how does the ignorance-slash-incomprehensibility of other persons have any relevance whatsoever regarding what happens to be presented on blogs for the pleasure of the presenters?

12 comments:

ravencrowking said...

The relevance of these comments is neither more, nor less, than what you give them.

In the end, whatever we do can be said to be "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". That doesn't mean that it signifies nothing to the person doing it, and the time in which it is being done.

Dave said...

The strength of the Stupidity Meme in 21st Century Western Societies is too damned strong and too damned self-destructive to be natural. It was likely constructed and refined intentionally over the past century in order to create good proles. Look at the public school system in the United States. Even today is still prizes attendance and conformity over actual knowledge and critical thinking. It is exactly what we would expect were it to have been designed 100 years ago to ensure a supply of line-workers for factories. Oh wait... history shows that's exactly what it was designed for...
So don't take it personally.

Ozzie Pippenger said...

This isn't about what I said yesterday, is it? Because I never said your system was too complicated, or that you should change it. It's just more complicated than I'm willing to personally do at this time. There's a difference. I'm sure your method is better than mine, or just about any other method out there, and I absolutely think you should keep working in the direction you are, and keep posting about it. I'm sorry if what I said offended you, or if you're talking about someone else. I just want to clarify what I actually meant.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ozzie, I hate linking this bastard and giving him any readership, but since this is extremely relevant, go to the page, read the extensive comments about me (and my lack of importance) ...

And then I want you to think, really, seriously think, why you leapt to the conclusion that I was talking about you. Because that is some real Freudian shit there ... and you need to evaluate what you really believe about your method. For your own good.

Ozzie Pippenger said...

Oops, sorry about that. That guy seems like a real idiot, kind of reminds me of Brad from Skull Crushing. Sorry for being paranoid, but to be fair to me, it's not like you haven't done that before. Again, sorry.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I like you Ozzie. You have a knee that jerks just like mine.

Maximillian said...

I hope you didn't actually read that...

On the question at hand:
The statement "You don't need to be a genius to play D&D" is not an argument, it is part of a larger argument, which can be paraphrased "You could enjoy D&D." Regardless of why someone other than a salesman might attempt to make that argument, or even whether the statement is true for a particular person or category of people, there is some merit to the argument in general.

For an observer who does not know anyone personally who plays D&D, it's not unreasonable that they might conclude that they are not the sort who would enjoy the game, in the same way that people conclude--with no evidence--that they wouldn't like sushi, contract bridge, or nascar races.

You have written a number of essays on this site that mull on the subject of the nature of the nerd during our formative years, and one key attribute that you have described is the prevalence of unpleasant or even misanthropic tendencies, and that these tendencies, are what truly isolates the community. Further, you have identified the fact that there has been an overlayment of other attributes (e.g. collecting action figures, or, more relevant, playing D&D) onto this category, one that without the underlying nerdyness would not remain an identifying part of that community.

so the argument that people are really making is "You don't have to be a nerd to enjoy D&D." The specific parts of the argument are just refuting as reasons commonly perceived attributes of the only community that people see playing the game.

Now the second part of your question, where you really struggle (by which I mean where you cause other people to struggle) is in the complexity and effort that you bring to your game. That has been an ongoing mechanics argument, (remember diceless rpgs?) and is one that no one can ever end, at best you can split the community, and come up with a name for the sort of game you like to play. Please note that by community I'm talking about people like you and Ozzie, people serious about playing, and serious about improving the game for themselves and their players, and with a talent for achieving that. The arguments against complexity from within the community of people you can respect deserve thought. The insults lobbed without discernable reason, do not. (I think there are some of the former, but I will not attempt to make them here)

Several days ago, on the ennui post, I think, I commented promising that I would ask how you are doing. I get the feeling, possibly without reason, that your ennui level as a DM has gotten a bit high, and it begs a question that I have been meaning to ask you for quite some time: Why do you DM? I know that you couldn't possibly not, but what is the kernel of enjoyment that excites you?

Alexis Smolensk said...

A fair deconstruction, Maximillian, except that is it very clear from the context of such statements that what is meant is not "you could enjoy D&D" but that "MY D&D doesn't require so many words to describe it" and "MY D&D is threatened by anyone who makes me feel like a stupid person for not thinking more."

There are those who would look at the very funny commercial on the post in question and resent bitterly that anyone, anywhere, dares to raise their intelligence to the point where a joke becomes incomprehensible. I think it is more than evident - from the context of that which you hoped I did not read - that we are dealing with those very people, who in turn consider themselves brilliant moralists who condemn from on high, as do all priests who contribute nothing but demand absolute obedience.

You don't have to be a nerd to play D&D; and not all of us who were despised by "the cool kids" were nerds. But the association has been bred viciously by television that only a complete fucking moron would remotely consider being within a hundred yards of anyone who played this game ... and I addressed the need to eradicate that association. I addressed it with the use of several hundred words, and met with proof positive evidence - even proudly stated - that we SHOULD be hated as players of the game.

Let me address your other point in another comment.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Maximillian, to continue,

I think it's ridiculous to urge me not to "split the community" of this blog. There is nothing I treasure more where it comes to intellectual creation than the dialectic. The very last, sincerely the very LAST thing I want is a consensus, on anything, that requires it be respected because it IS a consensus and the reverse would be undesireable. A consensus that exists only from a desire to maintain the consensus isn't a consensus at all, it's a dogma, and as worthless as a shit garnish in a Waldorf salad. The consensus of thought on this blog, or in the D&D community, cannot be so wishy-washy that it will not endure squabbling or outright abuse. Consensus be damned! Let's instead concentrate on the job at hand, which is to raise the game, raise ourselves and smash the childish limitations on thought, word and action!

Maximillian said...

Heh, I didn't mean that splitting the community was a bad thing. In fact to mix metaphors, the fault is already there, all that you can do is remove the dirt and discover who is on either side. This excavation is clearly a good thing though.

Liliet said...

You really don`t need to be genius to play D&D. Seriously. I`m not a genius, especially in this field, and I play it, which is a positive proof.
Having said that, I don`t understand people who use this obvious statement to... to justify their lazyness? You don`t need to be a genius to dedicate some more time and efforts to your hobby, seriously.

I believe I`ve seen YagamiFire comment on this in several places - here, in his own blog, on WotC forum. People say "Oh, you`re a genius" or "Oh, you must be lucky to be born with such a talent" and invalidate the efforts of the person they "compliment".

Alexis, you probably don`t have problems with people declaring you "genius" for what you do and share here. I do. Usually not in D&D field, but it`s basically the same thing.
"You can do it better than me - you must be a genius, you must have some unfair advantage granted at birth, it`s not like I could reach your level if I just worked harder, so I`m justified at not doing it, and I can critisize you for making me jealous and uneasy"

That`s ridiculous.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Nevertheless, Liliet. Very, very common.