Friday, June 6, 2014

No One is Helping You

So there are people who think about quitting role-playing, and there are people who are frustrated with their game.  There are people who know something is wrong, but don't know what to do about it.  A part of me thinks I should write this post to softly pat the reader on the hand, say sympathetic things, only to lead the reader right out the door.  "Yes, that's right.  You probably aren't suited to run this game.  It's not easy, and you have things to do with your life that will probably be more wholesome and helpful to society at large. Don't feel bad.  Just put your books in your closet, and remember that from time to time you can glance through them and remember how silly you were when you were young.  That's fine.  Now go find a box big enough for everything.  No, don't sell them on eBay.  Don't purge.  Purging never works.  If you sell it all, you'll just feel compelled to buy it again.  Better that you should keep it, so you know where it is, and it can remind you how truly deluded you were to waste so much time with it.  Good.  Now seal the box.  Put it somewhere dry.  Someday, maybe your kids will play it.  When they're really young.  Before they grow up and make the smart choice, like you have.  That's it.  Don't you feel better?"

There.  Will that do?  Does that help heal the pain?

You know, there are people who are destroying their brain cells playing a game where they chase a little leather-and-rubber bladder back and forth over the grass.  It's true, some are paid a lot of money, a very small number, who end up putting that money towards hookers and ex-wives, or businesses that fail, because CTE catches up, until the participants are homeless, or in jail, or dead from overdose.  Thankfully, no one thinks the game that causes this is silly - even though there are hundreds of thousands of participants of the game suffering from CTE who never got paid to play.  That little bladder, and keeping it away from the other team, and getting it across a little line, matters.  Don't you question that.  The whole education system is founded upon little balls being pushed across little lines, hit with sticks, poked through a hole and so on - and without those things, all education and learning everywhere would collapse and chaos would ensue.

So when you're wondering about being the one that plays those silly role-playing games, remember that you're not as important as people who bear up the entire educational framework in the country on the fundamentals of sacrificing the health and welfare of young boys.  If you're a lucky parent, and your boy is 5'11" by grade 10, and weighs almost 200 pounds, then know that your boy's later stupidity in life is worth what he's doing for nerds like us who play this silly role-play.  CTE: Keeping America in Books.

No?  That doesn't help with your perspective?  Hm.

Does it help to know that while your role-playing game isn't working, and while it is really very boring, and you don't know how to fix it, that there are others who are in the same boat as you - except that instead of role-playing, they've chosen to endlessly debate sexual politics?  Yes!  They sit around in rooms, they repeat the same words over and over again, they look at each other with this complete incomprehension that says, "Why don't people who are not like us get this?"  Then they say the same words all over again, knowing that IF we sit around in rooms, in groups, and say these words again, to people who agree with us completely, we'll be ready for the next time the other side comes out to meet us at University-funded events, where we will both stand up and repeat the exact same arguments everyone made the last time this event was funded.  No one will change their minds, no one will have anything new to say, both sides will be very mean and petty and cruel and dismissive, until ultimately three hours will have gone by without anything valuable having been accomplished.  Then both camps will retreat to their lairs, to practice for the next event.

Does role-playing seem less silly now?  No?  Still want to quit because you can't figure out what to do?

Don't be shocked.  No one is helping you.  Here you have a game that is keeping hundreds of thousands of kids off drugs and safe from gang violence, that inspires learning, that builds relationships and creativity, that influences the game industry making $80 billion annually, not to mention the publishing industry, that teaches management skills, negotiating skills, teaching and learning skills and computer skills . . . and no one anywhere cares, except that it's a little weird, it's a little goofy, and most people aren't sure exactly what goes on.  But don't worry about the total lack of interest by anyone with a post-graduate degree; we ourselves choose to make our number one priority in self-made media the satirization of the hobby.  If we ARE going to write something, or depict something, then by gawd, we're going to make it funny.  Because it just is.

No one is helping you.  No one thinks, despite the influence, design or value of the game, or even the psychological proofs that role-playing our troubles is healthy and demonstrative of our will to improve ourselves, that it is worth discussing.  Or examining.  Or writing about academically.  There's only one group in the world that wants to 'officially' write anything about it, and that seems to be a group of dweebs whose whole education seems to rest upon writing code and taking 1st and 2nd year business courses.

No one is helping you.  You're forced to do this shit on your own because you're alone in this.  You're in the cold.  You're not important enough.  You're not worth the time.  You're weird.  You're misguided.  You should be doing more important things.

No one is helping you.

So yes, quit.  Why not?


JDJarvis said...

Why draw a picture?
Why write a poem?
Why would you bother to sing a song?

Let's face it the first time you do any of the above you are probably really going to suck at it.
But if you keep doing it, pay attention to criticism (pay attention don't be limited), look and learn about what others have done well you just might do something pretty darned well yourself, after a lot of effort and a mountain of crap.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Be honest, JD. There are art degrees, poetry & literary degrees, music degrees, and funding available for those activities, along with thousands of books about criticism, design, technique and so on. So while what you are saying is true for those things, there's no ESTABLISHED formula for the management of a role-playing game, nor any effort being taken at all to create one.

So you 'might' do something pretty darned well, but how the hell would you ever be certain? How would you ever spread that wellness so that others could be inspired by your effort?

Most activities with hundreds of thousands of participants benefit from the spread of ideas, but this particular activity is filled with pettiness, one-upmanship, deliberate, improvised ignorance and a flat-out unwillingness to even discuss the quality of their efforts.

No one is helping.

Anonymous said...

What's missing is a method. So, you know, like get that book published already. ;)

Vlad Malkav said...

"No one is helping" ?

My, I for one know of someone doing a darn good job of it, and soon to release a book on the subject.

Maybe there aren't many people who are helping. But you're in the best place I can think of to find help.

Or to find the way to helping yourself.


Oh, by the way : stunning articles, those last ones. And i'm excited to see more of your trade system ...

And onward to the weekend ! If i could get myself this little book of yours too, I'll be a happy man ...

JDJarvis said...

"Most activities with hundreds of thousands of participants benefit from the spread of ideas, but this particular activity is filled with pettiness, one-upmanship, deliberate, improvised ignorance and a flat-out unwillingness to even discuss the quality of their efforts.

No one is helping."

Clearly, I disagree. All fields are saturated with pettiness, one-upsmanship, improvised ignorance, and flat-out unwillingness to even discuss the quality of their efforts when the participants willfully remain mired in their ignorance.

No one is helping? What are you doing, what am I doing?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Didn't you read yesterday's post, JD? I'm the villain. I'm not helping, I'm DESTROYING the hobby.

But yes, thank you Vlad.

JDJarvis said...

Well Alexis, as an outright destroyer you are a failure.

You have encouraged people to look at their game and hobby differently. You have encouraged people to think the how and the why.

As a voice of transition and transformation maybe you will be a destroyer but of what... a lesser hobby, an incomplete shadow of the promise people surely feel but have difficulty expressing let alone hope of achieving by chance and passion.

The gentleman who inspires the inventor of a better plow isn't destroying fields.

Jeremiah Scott said...

This. This! This post (minus the opening and closing remarks) should be the introduction of every RPG published instead of those idiotic "What is a role-playing game?" essays. Days like this make me happy to be a sycophant.

Barrow said...

Maybe its the spreadsheets that have been searing my brain today, but I don't quite understand why, as of late, you have been pressuring readers to give up their RPG groups and stop playing. It can't be that you are trying to talk them out of the hobby to show them that they like the hobby and don't want to quit? Or is it that you are the "DESTROYER" of a hobby that has been broken beyond repair and that you will bring forth a new era of RPG from the gulch of destruction? Or is it that I missed the point entirely and I should continue my life unaffected with my glazed RPG hobby?

Who is Alexis Smolensk?

Jeremiah Scott said...

I don't know how it is people aren't getting this.

I think it is high time for us to emerge from the shadows and take back the public perception of our hobby. We are so afraid of not fitting in that we have to poke fun at ourselves and make apologies for the game. No more. This game has the power to change lives and we should say so with vigor. Fools be damned.

And we need to stop taking the game for granted. Every time before I DM, I take 5 minutes or so to think about all the other things my players could be doing that night. Then I keep that in the back of my head throughout the rest of the game. Regardless of what brings them and keeps them at the table, they are entrusting me with their time and I take that seriously. Just as I expect them to take my time seriously.

I know not everyone will be as zealous as we few about the game, but damn it, that should inspire us to attack the game and all its facets with all the more enthusiasm. We are the heralds of this wonderful thing and it is up to us--nobody else--to make it what we all know it should be. If we don't do it, no one else will.