Yarivandel wrote an excellent comment on this post, with regards to the poor display of 'roleplaying' I had posted (the video can be seen by following the link). I'm going to cut Yarivandel's comment, just to get to the meat of it. Please go see the full comment, posted today, on the other post:
"... this video should never see the light of day. If I was to point out every single thing that is wrong with it I would probably write a novel. But they surely managed to achieve one thing, show rpg with no role playing whatsoever. Just one long coarse joke ... It's as honest and natural as an official expression of personal thanks on a corporate meeting."
It's a good excuse to talk about the influence of corporatism, and the pattern that has gripped the role-playing world since D&D broke out of its underground prison around 1980.
Some would disagree, but I feel that break-out did not begin in a good way. The first media content I can recall, the first mention of D&D that did not begin with the small, word-of-mouth group I knew, would be the news stories that started poking up here and there about teenagers killing themselves because their characters died. There was a fellow in Ontario that was supposed to have done it, and I think another in California. There have been such stories intermittently throughout the years.
Too, there was a story going around that three fellows stole a lion from the Boston Zoo and released it in the catacombs under Boston University. Gawd only knows if there are such catacombs, or if it happened in Boston, or even at all, but the story was told. Supposedly, they let the lion go, then girded themselves with swords and make-shift armor with the intent on killing the thing. Who knows, it might have inspired LARPing. The story also said that two were injured seriously, that one was killed, and that the lion was ultimately fine and returned to the zoo. If memory serves me, the first time I heard that story, it was told to the class by my Grade 12 Social Studies teacher.
By the time that horrorshow Mazes and Monsters came out, the stories about people going crazy and kids whacking off each other and themselves were thick and detailed, MUCH more so in 1982 than they are now. It may be hard to believe, but the world actually WAS more ignorant and sympathetic to media stupidity than it is now. Today, it's the media that's ignorant; back then, impossible as it may seem, it was the audience. The internet has made an impact.
This has been a long trip around the barn, but my point is that the 'message' about the game was screwed blue and tattooed right from the beginning. That's what happens when the people who actually know anything (and I have argued against ANYONE in 1980 actually knowing anything) are short any sort of budget for promotion, or blessed with any charisma or talent with regards to PR. People tell me Gygax had charisma. Here's a small bit of Gygax displaying the elocution and energetic skills role-playing could rely upon at its outset:
That is, perhaps, unfair. We were all SO impressed by his showing on 60 Minutes, weren't we?
'Corporate' D&D is the only sort of voice the game has ever had. The Media Corporation first, that sought to burn the game to the ground in favor of getting ratings from soccer moms and bacon-bringing Dads who were confused that their 17-year-old children wanted to use the kitchen on Friday nights for rolling dice, rather than scrounging the outside world for booze and drugs, like NORMAL children - and then the Gaming Corporation, that had to spend the first five years of its public relations convincing the world that RPG's are NOT about worshipping Satan, they're NOT dangerous, and that they're absolutely safe for children. These days, I wonder if anyone remembers that there used to be a significant effort to prove that roleplaying was not a dangerous teenager-fueled death-seeking activity.
The fall-out from that effort has been, of course, that RPGs have definitely become games for children. Large, flatulent, hygiene-deficient children who nevertheless occasionally have some talent doing something for a living that can be done in filthy clothes while smarmily bitching loudly on the internet about how hard it is for them to have any fun.
I rush to shout, however, that this child-adult group is a very TINY proportion of the RPG-gaming community. Which, however, doesn't keep this fetish-driven minority from pouring money into the coffers of WOTC, then using their habit to demonstrate that they are infinitely more serious about the game than you ever can be.
To get all this crap, that they can collect in plastic wrappers and office crates in massive, meaningless piles, this same minority flocks to the conventions where the crap is available. This process proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the success of any company comes from selling as many 32-page mash ups of previously created materials that can possibly be manufactured by a small, dedicated number of vaguely informed corporate employees. Since the uniqueness of the content can be dismissed, what is important is that each fetish item look as kewl and magical as can be rendered with all the resources of modern publishing.
But hey, heck, I'd be happy to sell my book at these conventions too, wouldn't I? An asshole's money will support my lifestyle as well as anyone else's. Thankfully, for both me and WOTC, assholes ALWAYS have money. That is mostly because they are either taking it from someone else, or not spending it on the sort of thing everyone else does, like friends for instance.
Chris Perkins is, therefore, merely servicing WOTC's porn audience, the same sort of fuckwits that will fill your table if you're stupid enough to go down to a convention with the expectation of running something. Unless, of course, you're reading this and you ARE one of the fuckwits. Then you think everything I've written to this point is grossly unfair and unreasonable. You're not an asshole. You just want to have fun, that's all. What's wrong with having fun?
Well, as I've written before, 'fun' is a child's concern. Fun parks are built for children. Whining about not having fun is a child's complaint. One thing we can pretty much be certain of when speaking to people we don't know, is that the talking head in the room that uses the word 'fun' to describe what they want to do next weekend is probably the guy who still gets blasted Saturday Night, spills their drink all over a girl in an effort to produce an excuse that will let him drag her to his apartment and half-rape her, only to drop her in a cab, go to bed and wake up the next morning without any memory of it. In the REAL world, the world where filthy clothes are viewed with considerable distaste, the word 'fun' is only used by office managers who are clearly bent on making you work some shit charity detail this weekend instead of being free to rebuild your kitchen cabinets.
There is something evil and sick and endlessly perverse in this overweening infantilistic squalling about fun - that I think we can safely rest at the corporate doorstep. I believe that one of the things we must do, if we are EVER going to free ourselves and develop the game, is admit that we'd rather be engaged than amused, and do so without feeling shame. It is, after all, children who don't 'get it' ... just as my daughter did not understand at the age of four why I had to go to work every day. At four, she called it 'stupid.' Well of course. She was goddamned FOUR.
When someone refers to your serious, meaningful, difficult, hard-driving game as 'stupid,' just look at them and think, "Four."
It will help enormously.