I continue to be baffled that some of the blogs I read associated with D&D care a whit who might be the president of a gaming company, or about their marketing policies. I realize that this reflects the hard-core video gamer mindset, but I can’t think of another example in any other fetish market.
For example, does anyone give a shit who is running Penthouse or Oui this year? Are porn-fanatics sitting about debating the number of times that twat-shots are being incorporated in late-produced magazines as opposed to good old-fashioned boob spreads? Does anyone interested in porn really care?
Or how about music? Yes, there are a small group of fanatics who probably care about the future strategies of record companies, and who might be directing those strategies, but when I hear interviews with musicians I don’t hear a lot of questions like, “Do you think the head of your record company is taking your band in a good direction?” We all know, of course, that the band is totally being controlled that way…but its not interesting so we ignore it.
I don’t think there’s ever been a time that the inner workings of TSR or its sold intellectual property meant anything to me. I’m sure that the present company that retains the rights to D&D feels very strongly about its ownership, but I can’t be bothered to care. The game, in my opinion, is MY game…at least as far as my world goes or the rules by which I play. I view D&D the same way I’d view chess or baseball or solitaire. It’s a game I play. I play it with other people and we have mutually accepted perceptions about what the game’s about. That there is an organization that produces chessboards and pieces and booklets is a given; do I give a crap what the name of that organization is when I’m reaching for my knight?
Yet apparently I’m supposed to know the company’s name of the halfling thief miniature I’m pushing towards the orc’s back, along with the name of the artist that designed it and the name of the paint company providing the yellow for the thief’s back pack. And I’m apparently supposed to have long debates about the quality of my thief miniature versus other thief miniatures available on the market.
I’m just not enough of a geek. Oh, I’m nerdy enough to spend untold hours crunching numbers to give you the price of a wooden candlestick in Prague, but when it comes to the money someone else is making selling me shit, I’m not there. I’m just not.
I long ago memorized every picture in the monster manual without ever once looking at the signature of a single artist. I don’t think I’ve glanced for more than a tenth of a second at the credits of the DMG, though I’ve owned three copies of the book that have been read to tatters (I need a fourth right now). I realized very early on that I didn’t have the patience, interest or talent for painting miniatures, but I still have pieces I bought in 1981 that are now individually recognizable lead lumps that continue to find use during sessions. I don’t use dungeon master screens, I have no pre-made dungeon maps, I don’t buy modules, I don’t attend conventions and I haven’t the slightest idea what are the legal policies regarding this game. I’m pretty sure if I don’t copy material and sell it, what powers that be don’t have the money or the time to sue me for copyright infringement…whatever illegalities might be involved.
The community, perchance, has lost its way, involved as it is with cheesy details about product lines and the identification with second-string commercial artists struggling to make a buck (first string artists are busy working on beer ads). I don’t think the game is so simple and so obvious that we have run out of more useful matters that might be discussed—such as a treasure table or encounter table that works.
But perhaps there are too many players who sit and wait all alone, for whom the trivial details are all that remain.
It’s a little sad.