Thursday, March 14, 2019

That Guy

I wonder what it is that makes role-players so earnestly proud of their contempt about everything.

Apart from Slick S.'s completely accurate statement, and my steadfast concurrence with the "want" stated, I wonder if he remotely grasps the shit that is presently being taught as a course in university.

Temple University is offering, "UFOs in American Society," analyzing reactions of American society to aliens and UFOs.

Columbia College in Chicago is offering, "Zombies in Popular Media," the undead creatures from books, movies and television.

John Hopkins University is offering, "Mail Order Brides: Understanding the Philippines," discussing the stereotyping and misconceptions about Filipino women.

The University of Wisconsin is offering, "Elvish," the complete language from the Lord of the Rings.

The University of California at Berkeley is offering, "The Strategy of StarCraft," providing an understanding of the online game, the world of eSports and transferring StarCraft skills to the world of business.

These are taken from this list, which includes 15 more.

So, yeah.  Having an aspiration for D&D to be taught as a university course is somewhat parallel to hoping one day I'll order a hamburger from MacDonalds and be asked if I want fries with it.

So what is it?  What is it that makes table-top role-players so damn anxious to be so damn purposefully ignorant about everything in the world?

I've been puzzling over this a few days now, every since my youtube feed decided out of the blue that I absolutely had to see every "worldbuilding" video ever made by an RPG dude.  Like this one from PhD20.  Or this one from Drop Dice.  Or this one from Captain Gothnog.  Or this one from Stoneworks World Building.  Or this one from Sherlock Hulmes.  There are others.

Occasionally, I'm working on something fairly repetitive that requires a certain level of attention, one where I have to be accurate, but I don't have to be invested.  During these times, there is a certain kind of media I can have running in the background, like music.  Or a movie I've seen often enough that I don't have to look at the screen, at all.  Or something that just doesn't matter.  Occasionally, I'll just run shit about D&D because, well, I like D&D.

These videos, however, aren't just bad.  Most self-created D&D videos on youtube are bad.  These videos take it a step farther, however, in that they seem to be deliberately bad.  They all blather on about making a "world," but it is overwhelmingly clear that none of them have done a moment's research in all of their existence on the topic.  It is painfully clear that they have thought, "Hey, my channel needs another video this week ... why don't I pull a video about how to create a believable milieu for human beings right ... out ... of ... my ... ass?"

I find it hard to believe there are really human beings in the world that are actually trying to apply any of this content to this Friday's D&D running.

But getting back to this theory about deliberate stupidity.  Do any of these people understand that there are subjects in human knowledge that apply here?  Um, sociology, anyone?  Anthropology?  Geography?  Geopolitics?  Anybody?

Honestly, I can't figure it out.  There are hundreds of hours of people talking on vlogs about how to "present" as a DM, who never mention research material related to drama, business, developing confidence or communications.  The same applies to, "How to create a story" vlogs.  Not a word about narrative theory, writing theory, drama again, psychology, etc., etc.  Why would there be?  We're talking about D&D, yes?  That thing that exists utterly divorced from every other thought ever presented by a human being about this subject.

I have to assume that people who actually want to understand something about worldbuilding, storytelling and presenting a game never think to search anything other than specifically D&D sites.  Otherwise, surely, they'd be talking about all this amazingly practical, directly accessible and easily implementable material, instead of this marching parade of truly ... truly bad ...


Words just fail me.

So what is it?  What is it that makes every DM creating a video of their game group believe that the best way to present is to bellow?  What the fuck is it with all the bellowing?  Is this really what your DM does?  If so, hell ... we ought to have a university course for that.  Yale must be sucking around for a good, solid bellowing course.

I don't get it.  I've heard the, "Well, they're all nerds who were hated at school, so they dropped out of society argument."  But I read through the gushing comments on these videos and I just think, fuck.  Just ... fuck.

I'm looking at this one comment on the Hulmes page where the reader says, "Hey mark can you link to any of us newbies a way to build a map."

This is the internet.  The internet, man.  For fuck's sake, use fucking google.  What the fuck?  I assume this reader is at least old enough to reach the keyboard of his daddy's computer.  He found Hulmes' site.  How did he find Hulmes' site if he doesn't know how fucking google works?


Don't give me this shit.  This guy is one of the smarter commenters.  Yeah, yeah.  Yeah.  Okay, I just don't fucking care.  I just don't.  Maybe contempt is not the best look for me just now but holy jesus masturbating shit on a fucking cracker.  What in the crap is it with this shit?



You know, fuck making D&D a university course.  I'd just like to see a few more people using actual material knowledge from the considerable store of thought that human beings have acquired over the last 12 millenium to explaining more properly how role-playing games work.  The game is fucking doomed if we can consider the whole goddamn internet and it is possible to know who I am by calling me "that guy who wants dungeon mastering to be taught as a course."

That guy.  That one fucking guy.  On the whole fucking internet.

Jeez. We are fucking doomed.


Pandred said...

The more time I spend on the internet the more I have come to realise that it's essentially juggling a live bomb made of human misery.

It's a question of how long I can go before encountering some do-nothing idiot who has nothing productive to add to anything, but sure feels entitled to put down any input from others.

Sometimes it's not very long at all, and I question why I bother to participate in the community even to the limited degree that I do.

Kudos to you man, for fighting on the frontlines for 11+ years, because I can't stand these fucking ingrates even by proxy.

JB said...

Yeah, you’re “that guy,” AKA “The Man.”
: )

Perhaps it’s just the English speaking part of the internet, Alexis. Perhaps if we spoke Mandarin or Arabic or Russian we’d be treated to more delightful, intelligent on-line discourses. Or perhaps we wouldn’t be talking about D&D at all.

First World problems, man. I mean, you’s not like we live in Venezuela or Syria or something.

(And, of course, I’m not writing that to mock...there’s plenty of mock-worthy stuff in our culture without bashing something that’s provided decades of entertainment and intellectual stimulation to countless folks, myself included. I’ve written before and I’ll say it again: you elevate the level of discourse on the subject with your blog. We need more of that, not less. Hopefully, it will filter over to other aspects of your readers’ lives)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Hah. It's funny that you say that after I wrote this post like a pit bull with rabies ... and foam actually dripping from my mouth.

Thank you both. Much appreciated.

James said...

What was that comment even a response to?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Comments section on noisms' post related to this:

Alexis Smolensk said...

Oops ... this one:

Ozymandias said...

Because of course Wisconsin would have a university course dedicated to a purely fictional fantasy language . . .

Lance Duncan said...

If people would give advice about something they are experts in, that would be nice. Instead everyone is giving advice about things they know nothing about. Everyone says to 'follow the 3 act structure' as if there is no other way to stucture narrative, and they have never studied narrative structure. Tutorials on mapmaking focus on using fancy software to make it pretty, and these guys probably can't even read a USGS quad map, let alone replicate one. Maps of earth look a certain way because centuries of trial and error have shown what is most useful. Everyone thinks because they are a DM they are an authority on every subject. Maybe think about helping others to understand a complex subject that you've spent years studying. Or is it that all these DMs aren't experts in any academic field? For a hobby that is supposed to be populated by 'nerds' aka smart people, most everyone sure seems to be pretty ignorant.

ViP said...

Dungeon Mastering shouldn't be a class, it should be a degree. I should aggregate classes on comparative history, economy, creative writing, architecture and urbanism, anatomy, negociation and conflict resolution, visual communication, acting and more. Of course all of these would be introduced and tied by some kind of DMing 101, but that course should never be envisioned separately. Such a degree could very well serve as a basis for the rejunevation of humanities. I am mostly serious.

Glenn Robinson said...

Have you missed a meal Alexis? Tears of laughter here. Thank you.

Ozymandias said...

And it should be subsidized by the government.

Tyler said...

I argue that signal trumps content for the ambitious and the lazy, which causes these problems in many fields. Gaining celebrity status gives immediate gratification, feedback, and the illusion of expertise (both to the celebrity and the audience). However, the skills required to become a celebrity rarely align with true expertise.

This may be obvious, but it's easy to forget when browsing through loud signals. It can be depressing.

Slick S. said...

Recently I've tried to join the blogging world with more thoughtful, constructive participation, but at my core it seems I am a destined to be a shitposter.

(Also I have very strong feelings about the bloated mess that higher education has become, that fact that shit like UFO classes already exist isn't a point in D&D 101's favor)

Alexis Smolensk said...


It certainly doesn't help that a great deal of the celebrity signal comes from lazy people saying deliberately wrong things in order to gain notariety as they anger a particular sort of elite, who DID do the research and DO care about the subject. They've learned that the bigger the anger, the louder the signal ... and their fans love them because they're: a) funny; b) fabulous; c) contrarian.

All of these are substanceless characteristics that, coincidentally, was the formula developed by the class clown decades and decades ago. You know, the fellow who today comes round to clean out your septic tank once a year.

Alexis Smolensk said...


My issue is that you have very strong FEELINGS. These "feelings" lack any sort of substance or value, encouraging you to present yourself as a smug douchebag, whose opinion about "higher education" not meeting your standards is NOT, in fact, based on your having any actual knowledge of it.

Your comment clearly tried to use "university course" as a dismissal of D&D, as in, "Wow, that Tao guy really is stupid to think that something as silly as D&D could be a university course," but now here you are saying that university isn't good enough for you and that you have strong feelings about it.

It's not too late for you to become a person of substance, Slick. Change your nick, use your real gawddamn name, attach an avatar that might possibly cause people to treat your comments with respect, go out and get an education or at least read some books written by people who acquired hard knowledge and spend your life fruitfully and well.

Slick S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexis Smolensk said...

Actually, my comment speaks volumes for the disdain I have for class clowns.

My, you got political very quickly.

Slick, your entire argument is exploded by your choice of avatar. Consider the volumes spoken by that.

Rodrigo GarcĂ­a Carmona said...

For what is worth, I actually teach how to DM at university. Not a whole course, but I spend two weeks of a game and experience design course on the topic, make the students DM and ask them to write a report and analyze the experience.

Slick S. said...

Forgive my uncharacteristically humorless reply, that was a bad-faith reading of your comment, in retrospecth. However I think taking me as an uneducated dunce based on my criticism of certain aspects of higher education is equally in bad-faith, honestly.

I just think the belief that college courses are the ideal path towards getting better at moderating a *game* is incorrect, not to mention restricting to those without the means to attend such coarses.

Alexis Smolensk said...


Well, don't hold back. Tell me what you think of my RPG 201 "classes" that I've been writing.

Alexis Smolensk said...


Until you identified yourself as "college educated" [comment now deleted], what exactly am I to go on? Upon what do you wish me to "take you"?

It is YOUR responsibility to present yourself in a manner that others will see as worthy of their respect, not MINE. We are all in this world perfectly aware there are dunces and there are paeans. If you will present yourself as a dunce, choose the nick of a dunce, put up the avatar of a dunce and speak like a dunce, how is it you're so surprised that you're treated as a dunce?

Or is it that you're one of those who are ... let me see, quoting myself from above ... "saying deliberately wrong things in order to gain notariety as they anger a particular sort of elite, who DID do the research and DO care about the subject"?

Don't you think its a little on the nose that you should turn up now, crying in your beer that I'm being unfair to you, playing the victim card over the assumptions made about you, when YOU picked the nick and YOU picked the avatar?

I just believe that EDUCATION, whether in the form of college courses or not, should follow demonstrated truths and evidence, whether objective or subjective, so that we may better UNDERSTAND the restrictions that some would impose by seeking to keep us DELIBERATELY IGNORANT by claiming there are no right answers and that there is no truth and no demonstrated facts or evidence.

Which I think is the game you're playing, and the game that noisms was playing that gave you a platform in the first place.

Alexis Smolensk said...

For those who are interested, who may have noticed that Slick S.'s comments are phrased in such a way as to be short, pithy and wrong, I recommend this video from Innuendo Studios:

It will help you understand what's going on when speaking with trolls who, with every statement, feel the need to move the goal posts again and again in their position, while never answering or addressing a direct question, statement or proposal.

I love this primer; ever since watching it, I have felt so much better disagreeing with people on the internet, I can't tell you.

Ozymandias said...

Serendipity, I tell you. A similar conversation going on Twitter, with people repeating the mantra, "it's just a game."

Just a game.

For some, sure, but not for others. And if we left it at that, fine. They can play their game and we can improve ourselves.

But trolls will be trolls . . .

Vlad Malkav said...

Well, you're Da Guy, that's for sure. You stand out above all others, and by a damn high margin to boot.

I've quite a rooster of fzme blogs I follow, more than 50. Most don't bring much, some have certain points of interest, but none can approach yours in term of raw quantity and quality of material, insightful contents (and I use the term in the meaning you described), and pure life betterment.

Yours is a library of doors to growth and comprehension, for who has the will to work. Can't ask for more.