Friday, September 15, 2017

Shot in the Head

Some who are connected with me on Facebook know that it's my birthday today.

I'm not going to stop blogging, not going to stop working on D&D and not going to give up the agenda.  But I definitely needed a break.

A lot of people have told me lately that every field has its morons and jerks, and that's right.  I never thought otherwise.  My chief problem isn't that the community is filled with morons and jerks; it is that other fields also include academics, experts and people of influence, who could conceivably find me worthy of inclusion ~ as has happened when I had taken time to be in theater, film, music and journalism.  Hell, I've met people like Colm Meaney, Rick Mercer and B.B. King (seriously) in a professional, laid-back, everyday manner. But there's no one like this that's meetable in role-playing games.  It's a wasteland.

Every once in awhile I get a cold slap in the face that reminds me that I picked a field that is intellectually shot in the head.  That was not a good decision; but I made it when I was young and stupid and thought this game could change the world.

Stuck now.  Not going to go out and do theatre now (though I could, I did a little acting in 2014 to pump up money for taking How to Run to Toronto).  Journalism, as it happened, was also shot in the head in 2009. I know only one film maker and, though he's great, a wonderful, talented guy, going places, he's not going to find work for me.

So here I am.

I've always really liked my birthday.  I guess that's because I'm a narcissist.


Baron Opal said...

Happy Birthday!

Tim said...

It might not count for much in terms of hope, but I resolutely believe that your continued presence in the community still does a lot of good, and that in time we will see more people engage in the community on a similar level (you've inspired me to commit way more than I would ever have otherwise). Your time in these other fields has given you some background to straddle those worlds of entertainment and your work in researching psychology, game design and all the elements of history, geography, religion and anthropology mean that you bring something very unique to the field that's worthy of being embraced.

Unfortunately, it might take a while to irrigate the wasteland.

Justin Kennedy said...

Quite a while back, I asked you for advice on a problem I was having with my players and related that it centered around a lack of culture (not sure if that's the right word, but I can't think of something as accurate but less pretentious).

That group disbanded, but a change of job led me into a large number of interested RPG virgins. Now, I've never slept with a virgin but I would assume that it is an experience that would share some commonalities with the first sessions running these newbs. You know: confusion, embarrassment, and shame strongly and chaotically mixed with excitement, joy, and the thrill of long standing mysteries denuded.

These groups (there were enough players to make multiple) also disbanded.

The unifying thread (besides myself, which of course I understand may be the true source of my problems) of these disbandings? I believe you described it quite well by saying the general tone of those interested in RPG's is "intellectually shot in the head." My god, man, I'm an optimist by nature and conscious intent but seeing what players seek to do with their time in a sandbox environment (though at a graininess far below your world; see earlier statement that this could definitely be my failing) is downright sickening. I've heard the phrase "masturbatory power fantasy" (maybe even here) used somewhere before and it definitely describes what I've found in my runnings.

Anyway, I wish for your birthday that you might encounter the unicorn that is the intellectual, socialized, and hygienic tabletop RPG enthusiast. Surely your insights into meeting such a strange creature would provide material for a number of blog posts.

P.S. My monetary situation has also been in terrible, terrible shape lately, but is due to turn around soon, and there is even a potential very large positive adjustment a little beyond that. Once I am stable again, I absolutely will sign up to you on Patreon and you will be the first that I have done that for. Keep fighting the good fight, Don Quixote. Them windmills ain't gonna recognize they're monsters on their own.

Ozymandias said...

Justin, I've encountered the very same in gaming experience. My latest group are virgins to the game. We've only just begun but I can see how they might go either way when deciding their actions. For what it's worth - and I recognize that I may be missing the mark here - I think the DM has a lot of influence in these situations. Yes, players bring their own experiences and baggage to the game, but so long as they're willing to stick around and work with us, we have a wide range of options when it comes to affecting how they think and play.

For example, my plan is to downplay silliness or insincerity at the table. Jokes are okay, in moderation, but too many will reduce the game to a juvenile endeavor. I hope that, once they see that, they'll come to agree and will want to keep the game serious (in order to keep the momentum going).

Justin Kennedy said...

Howdy, Ozymandias.

You've commented here many times and, while it's hard to remember any specific comments or ideas of yours, I have no recollection of ever strongly recoiling from your posts (that has to count for something, right?) and frequent recollections of feeling that you are a valuable member of the community here.

Your plan of slow, steady nudges towards taking the game seriously is almost certainly the right idea. Of course, I'm sure you'll agree, strong interventions of the type Alexis has championed for especially disruptive or uninterested players also has a place. My problem is that the level of joking/uninterested (man, fuck a smart phone at the table) behavior from players at my table increase in proportion to the level of tension/drama present in the current scene. This creates a situation where I am nearly always the most invested and cognizant person at the table and I find marking a clear delineation between acceptable joking in the lax points of the game and expected respect during moments that find themselves with real consequences. It also doesn't help that those who most strongly invest themselves into the scene are introverts who seem to feel uncomfortable backing anyone who hints, or even outright expects, that the games tense moments be allowed to be tense. It's quite a pickle.

I'll take into account your advice and attempt to gird myself against pointless silliness with a stoic adherence to story and procedure. As they say, the night is always darkest before dawn. Perhaps I am just not staying the course and projecting the confidence the players need to settle in.

Thanks for the reply.