Friday, August 30, 2013

Enthused & Deluded

This page is, to me, one of the most interesting on all of Wikipedia.

At first glance, it seems to explain EVERYTHING about the internet. Better than that, it provides the best ready and most convenient answer, ever, to anything that you, the gentle reader, don't personally want to believe, or that you might not ever want to admit.

All it requires is to dispense with certainty that you could never be someone suffering from it.

True manifestation of the deviation, in fact, is very rare ... and can be controlled by the possessor most often with simple therapy, increasing one's sense of self-conception. Nevertheless, for many, the immediate belief is almost certain to be that everyone, at least on the internet, is clearly suffering from the condition.

As I said, this is as convenient as it gets.

Of course, I myself am by no means immune.

So let's say, for the sake of argument, that I have completely succumbed. This would seem to be the best possible outlook. We'll just agree that I am truly 'out there.' The mechanism is befuddled. The harbour lights are off and the ship is sailing full on for the shore. Let's just look at things from that perspective.

I recently wrote on this thread,

"Whatever your world is. I am more clever than you. I am smarter than you. I am more imaginative than you. And most of all, I am more invested in what happens to me than you are. No matter how clever you think you are, no matter how smart, no matter how imaginative, your world is never going to be as interesting to me as making up my own game INSIDE YOUR WORLD will be."

Let's talk about that from my perspective, which is, after all, the only perspective I have.

Let us suppose that I am sitting in a coffee shop with a view of the street on a sunny day. As I am looking outside, a large flat bed truck pulls up with a small, funky looking vehicle parked on top that says, "Offroad Emergency Rescue." A team of men come out and start unpacking the vehicle, while another group of people start setting up a table with the intention of 'spreading the word' about this nifty new technology.

Do I get up and look at it? Am I interested? Certainly, some people are interested, but then, they don't know everything about the world like I do. They're stopping and asking questions and getting a little tour inside the truck and it all seems very interesting ... but I'm just sitting here drinking my coffee.

Am I denying myself some really interesting tidbit of knowledge? Perhaps someday I'd like to write a story that takes place in the outback, and it might be useful to have a look at this thing. On the other hand, if I was writing such a story, I could just as easily call up the company, perhaps arrange a personal tour at my convenience, along with far less time constraint and less competition for the presenter's attention.

Yes, in fact, there's no reason for me not to stand up and get another cup of coffee.

The point I'm making is that, so far as I am concerned, whatever the particular event that happens to be going on around me, I will make up my own mind as to whether I care. Recently, Calgary experienced some flooding. Part of downtown was submerged, considerable parts of the city were evacuated, and as it happens I was downtown in my office, going to work like usual, because in my addled state I had long since stopped listening to the radio because I had found everyone on it so annoying. That is, it was so obvious the news was selling me on what they believed, they had stopped actually informing me.

So I was not informed when I went to work that particular Friday. And because the bus delivered me into downtown just as it always does, I had no reason to believe there was a reason to be informed, until I actually found myself walking around empty streets, where it proved impossible to get my morning coffee.

By sheerest chance I ran into someone I knew just before entering my office and learned what was happening. We were all of four blocks from the edge of the flood just then. And with all the concern of someone who has no concern at all, I went into my office, took the elevator up, emailed the people I work with in far flung cities and snagged my work computer from its nest.

Re-emerging onto the street, it very quickly became evident I wasn't going to get a cab. Sometime between getting off the bus and deciding I should go home, the hotels had begun to empty, and cabs were now unavailable. I was not particularly worried. I did not see any reason to hurry. Nor did I see any particular reason to walk the necessary four blocks to see the City Hall under water. I thought about it. But I've seen tons of footage of floods on line, and I didn't think that any actual sight of a lot of water around the foundation of a building was going to radically alter my perception of what that looked like. I have, after all, seen a building partly emerged in water before.

Now, the gentle reader must understand that I have lived here almost all my life. And I am very geographically and geologically minded, so I have a very good idea of where the rivers are in Calgary, where their flow rates are fastest, where the carry weight of said rivers is going to make a mess of the city and so on. I've walked every inch of shore and I've always been interested in such matters. My own mapmaking on line is a manifestation of something that has fascinated me since literally infancy.

So, when I planned to simply walk out of downtown, there was no need to rush. While admittedly downtown appears flat to many people, it really isn't. I simply kept to the highest ground and made good time. I did not listen to the radio or the news. Why would I?

If buildings were going to start falling downtown due to soft ground, I'd have ample warning. Or I wouldn't need warning, since I'd be under the first one that fell. The radio wasn't going to change that.

So here we have an example of an actual crisis, a real world event, something that shattered the city for weeks afterwards and continues to have reprecussions - which I did look into once I got home and comfortable in my ridge situated home, 400 feet above the river valley - and yet I wasn't bothered enough to walk a few blocks and SEE.

If some fellow is running a world, therefore, it's going to be very difficult for them if they take the perpective that they're going to create "presentations" that are remotely interesting to me. Back in university, I had a professor who used to answer every question I asked with a book I should read. At this point in my life, I find myself doing to others what he did to me. Read this. Read that. Educate yourself. The fellow who is going to entertain me has one hell of a tough row to hoe. He's going to have to be as educated as I am, at least; in fact, he better be better educated than me. He has to be as steeped in the habits of human psychology, as morally deficient, as unpredictable and so on, as I am ... or he is going to BORE the ever-living snot right out of me.

He is almost certain to pick and play on things that are interesting for HIM. Which is nice for him. Only thing is, I'm not interested in the shit he's interest in. I am virtually never interested in the things that interest other people. Other people seem to be willing to swallow the most profound crap imaginable and get knotted up about it.  (As an aside, does anyone want to talk about how the spelling in the letter is almost flawless, or how the format of the letter is structured like a high school english essay?  For anyone who has read the sort of abusive letters this one proports to be - i.e., the sort a newspaper receives - is it really possible that the press has bought into this, or is it just that advertising sales were guaranteed to jump?)

Part of the reason I don't play in other people's worlds is because I'm not interested in other people's idea of a 'good adventure.'  I'd like to investigate my idea of a good adventure.  The same way I investigate my idea of a good Saturday afternoon.  Or the way I decide what I'm going to do when I go out for the evening.  Things that I don't have to explain to God or Mammon (well, Mammon has a lot more to do with it than God, but I'm making good money these days).

Why shouldn't it be that if I am a player in a persons world, that I can decide what *I* would like to do there?  Why can't we as a party decide?  There are roads.  Why can't we pick which one to walk down, and why shouldn't we expect a certain 'hands off' idealism on the part of the world's creator?  The so-called creator of this world seems to have it down pretty well.  He doesn't give a shit what we do AT ALL.  Quite a lot of DMs could learn from that.

But then, I know, there are just so many people sitting in that coffee shop thinking, I'm bored ... I wish something would happen.  I wish someone would just give me something to do.  Sigh.  It sure is boring.

But, you know, I'm all screwed up in the head. That may be one of the reasons I think I'm so damn smart. Maybe I'm really not. Perhaps I'm very deluded about that. Perhaps I'm really no smarter than you, gentle reader, and that saying I am is just proof of my delusion.

Sure enough, that's reasonable. Can you tell me, though ... why is it I'm not bored right now?


James said...

It doesn't sound any more complicated than you have your own idea of what is fun, and it so often differs from other people's ideas that you are better off finding the fun on your own.

As for the intelligence issue, I firmly believe that getting wrapped up in how smart you are compared to others is an exercise in futility. Even if you meet someone just as intelligent as yourself, since you are in your own head and they (obviously) are not in your head, you will still seem more intelligent to yourself. It is among the reasons why everyone is convinced they are smarter than everyone else.

Dave Cesarano said...

You actually isolate some of the things I like about gaming right here:

Why shouldn't it be that if I am a player in a persons world, that I can decide what *I* would like to do there? Why can't we as a party decide? There are roads. Why can't we pick which one to walk down, and why shouldn't we expect a certain 'hands off' idealism on the part of the world's creator?

There's two reasons I love to run established settings--one, because it's less work (in one respect) and more work (in another) for me as a GM and two, a player well-versed in that setting realizes that there ARE all of these roads they can follow... AND JUST PICK ONE AND GO!

When I was running my Forgotten Realms campaign, I used a module just to get things started. After that, I only used modules to detail the locations and that's about it. The players started in Daggerdale and then just decided to go back to Shadowdale later. They were never strongarmed into any decisions. I just threw hooks out there and if they took them, awesome. If they didn't, they didn't. I hate railroads and see the idea of free will and choice to be incredibly valuable to the players.

When I GM, I don't do it for myself, I do it in order to try and provide a good time for my players. That means giving them options and when they pick one that I didn't think of offering, hell with it, let them go! My dream campaign is one that is, quite literally, entirely designed by the players' decisions and I'm just the referee, rationally trying to predict how the world would realistically react to their behaviors.

Want to found your own religion? Give it a shot! Want to become the mafioso Don Corleone of all Westgate? Knock yourself out! Want to carve out your own kingdom along the Sword Coast? Roll the dice, my friend!

But it ain't gonna be easy. Be prepared to suffer, bleed, and maybe even die trying to achieve your dreams. The thing is, dreams that are achieved with great struggle and sacrifice are the sweetest achievements of all.