This is an answer to Silberman's question, too long for a comment. It also addresses Joey Bennett's comment on another post.
Some are not going to like this post ~ but that is, in many ways, the point. As participants, we're often blinded by the things we enjoy. And if someone comes along and challenges that enjoyment, we're inclined to get mad.
Now, patiently, consider a noob's first encounter with an RPG. I don't mean this as a disparagement. I was a noob, the readers here were all noobs, there's nothing wrong with being a noob. We have to be noobs before we can be anything else. But think about your first encounter with the game; or your first few encounters, if it took more than one to make your head buzz just before messing with your mind.
Different, right? A really different and positive experience, one that hit out of the blue, that you weren't expecting, that rewrote the scale on things you thought you could enjoy. Bang, it blew your head off and since then you've still been reeling.
Yes, we've gotten more experience, we're deeper in the game now, we're a bit jaded and we're thinking about some bigger things than those first few experiences ... but the real point I want to make is this: how many people out there are really willing to believe that this game could be a LOT better than the terrific, tremendous game they've already encountered?
I'm thinking not many. I think people automatically jump to the conclusion that this terrific game ~ played at the rather simplistic standard of your average Reddit bulletin board ~ CAN'T possibly be any better than it is. That would be ... unimaginable. And so they leap to the conclusion that a change in the game, any change, must be a change that will ruin this fantastic, incomprehensible thing.
This is what blinds them. This is what makes them dig their heels into the dirt and scream bloody-blue murder against change of every kind. The stubborn, foolish, myopic resistance built from too much love for the game. I don't believe it's disinterest. I think it is fear. The response against "improvement" is too earnest, too political and personal, too universal to be anything but fear. Any close examination of the discussion sites (and after my melt-down last week I spent many hours forcing myself to look more closely at all that toxic shit) reveals answers to questions that graphically deviate from the subject, that rapidly break down into flame wars and threats, that reveal individual malevolence and righteousness over relatively mild issues, all in a way that reflects the way terrified people react when something they love is threatened.
We here, we casually talking about playing the game outside the comforting acronym RAW [rules as written], we're not a threat to their campaigns or their player's interest, we're a threat to the whole system ... no matter how small and impotent we are. If we keep talking like this, we're going to ruin role-playing.
Point in fact, however, I've been describing the noobs that never move on from being noobs, as Joey Bennett put it. There's another group: noobs who really don't like this game that much. They play for a while, mostly with the unchanging noobs, see that the game is fairly repetitive and they quit. By the thousands. We know it is so because bookstores and the net are full of people trying to sell the shit they purchased, that they know they're never going to use again. We know it is so because we can all personally list a long string of names of people we know quit the game. We don't like to talk about it. We like to call those people dumb or lost or just misguided. In fact, they are the anti-thesis of us. They're people who did not think the game changed the scale for entertainment.
They wanted more and the game wasn't good enough.
Okay. Let that sink in. We've grown comfortable dismissing those people but let's try to embrace their thinking for a moment. They were able to quit, wash their hands of the game and move on. Why?
Because, I think, they were able to clearly see the problems with the game, such as the interminable dullness of repeated role-playing conversations that appeal to a base need for personal importance and grandiosity, but in fact serve no real purpose. The blatant and obvious fudging of dice and circumstances by DMs who were clearly yanking a party's chain from personal glee. The fucked up and confusing nature of point-buying systems that require a sickening kind of munchkinism to care about. The endless bugs in rules that don't make sense or can't be changed, which are myopically exploited by players and DMs alike to create a sludge of "simulative" dreck.
I think those players who quit see all the same troubles and brokenness in the system that WE see, except that they don't in turn see any way - or motivation - to fix them. What the quitters do see, however, is that in many, many, many ways, play by the rules is a total waste of time.
Their eyesight is clear.
So is ours. But we have hope. We think the game could be better; we're not satisfied with what it is now and we're willing to struggle, however much we can, to find improvements. To choose systems that definitely seem better than other systems. To drop rules. To reconsider the importance of role-playing and rules surrounding role-playing. And in my case, to massively draft rule after to rule to fill holes in the old, rotten ice where people want to skate.
Want perspective? Stop looking at why people love the game and start seeing why people quit. I think this comes with time, IF you're the sort who doesn't embrace the game like a faith, but like a game. The time spent playing isn't enough in itself; you've got to push yourself. Cooks don't become better cooks by finding one restaurant and working at the same menu all their lives. They quit and go work somewhere else, where they learn new things, experience new kinds of management and tools, find different co-workers and push themselves to be different now that they're in a different place.