There was a small back and forth in the comment thread yesterday about role-playing losing its appeal and relevance. I've heard this of and on in the seven years since re-entering the community (I was self-isolated between '88 and '08, and I must admit I am puzzled every time.
There are three gaming clubs here in the city that offer play and space on a weekly basis. I'm having an event in town in July that is advertising as a gaming burlesque and we expect there to be about 150 in attendance. There are, right now, three different game stores (only one runs a gaming club that I know of), whereas I remember there only ever being one. And I know of at least two coffee shops that, if I took along my DMG, and left it on the table, I'd be in a conversation about D&D within ten or twenty minutes. Of course, that would be with a dweeb, but there we are. I could always give it a shot and maybe get lucky.
That is offline. When I quit the community, we only had offline, and there was damn little of that. In my day, we had to walk uphill to get it.
With the internet, there is nothing to worry about. Yet there remains an attitude, expressed yesterday, that if it hadn't been for some 'guy,' or some 'group,' that was truly 'visionary,' no one would be talking about D&D online today.
Thus is the legacy of information that spreads from a single source. There are still those out there who believe, somehow, that knowledge or 'community' springs from a central source, and that we here in the world wait for that central source to speak. That kind of network has been dead twelve years now, but there we are, mythologizing people I've never heard of ("Ryan Darcy") as though they are the founder of the internet role-playing community.
|This is a pretty simple concept, but we're still denying its existence|
I don't doubt that Mr. Darcy was there early. I confess I wasn't that interested in online RPG discussions. In 1999 I had discovered that all the porn I could ever need or want was available free, and that there were sex partners who were willing to explore that porn with me through ICQ. So, really, between 1999 and 2002, when I found a quite demented permanent partner, I was quite busy.
Then, as I remember, between 2002 and 2007, I was discovering how the internet could get me all the freelance writing gigs I could reasonably keep up with, as well as a great job with a business magazine, not to mention the hard mapmaking data that I had been looking for all my life and wikipedia to back that mapmaking data up. So, during those years, when I searched the net for the purpose of role-playing, it was for design information. Yes, yes, I appreciate that Mr. Darcy - whoever the hell he is - was inventing the social network we have today, with something call "Open Gaming Lisc" (again, something I've never heard of), I was mostly still working hard on my own game, resourcing the hell out of the net to make it happen.
I came across my first blog in 2004, political of course, so there were a lot of flame wars in those days. I didn't see a D&D blog until December 2007 . . . but somehow, I think, that once blogs had been invented, it didn't matter a pig in a poke what the hell Mr. Darcy had done. People would have started blogs about the game without being told to do so. And they would have started selling their stuff through those blogs without needing the WOTC to circumvent. Because, frankly, we love this game, and we don't need other people to suggest we should write about it.
We do not do this thing because it is permitted.
Oh, I can only find two google results for "Open Gaming Lisc," and one of them includes this comment from a John Prescott, "This is the same song and dance that the gaming industry heads spat about when WOTC (Wizards of the Coast) did the open gaming lisc for their d20 gaming system rule set. The fodder will eventually sink down to the dregs. Nothing to see here, except maybe someone who is upset that his publisher is getting a way bigger cut on his ebook sales than he is, and that blame lies with the author, not the industry or the business model."
I love it when someone makes a completely off-the-wall reference to me and when I go look for it, I find disparagement. Ah, legacy.
Some of you, no doubt, will rush to tell me that the open game lisc was that effort by the WOTC to make pdfs available to gamers. I vaguely remember something about that, and about the WOTC clawing it back. I'm only guessing here, because there are literally only two references to the three words and the other one is a vague argument about LOTR and Greyhawk. I could probably do more research, but frankly I just don't give a shit. Where it comes to free materials about role-playing, I never went to the WOTC, I went to frostwire, which cured me of wanting to see WOTC materials even for free. Because, seriously, its all just a lot of unmitigated crap. The idea that role-playing relies on such crap for its 'relevance' is once more the old myth that the existing network is centrally processed.
That central processor died a long, long time ago. It serves one purpose on the internet, and that purpose is spam. This is the legacy the WOTC has for me . . . I'm just enough of a presence that they send me spam every couple of weeks. They obviously don't read my blog, or have any idea what I stand for, but the spam keeps coming. Yay, legacy.
I can guess at the reason why people are worried, however, despite the evidence and that amount of material available for piracy, comes from a certainty that children are all about the video game. The video game will kill role-playing, so they say. How can pencil and paper compete with rendering on that level.
Well, it can't. But role-playing, thankfully, isn't limited to pen-and-paper. Nor is it limited to hygeine-challenged manboys clutching their miniatures in their big, mountain-dew-derived fist fat. Role-playing is as adaptable as any other social framework one might name, which is evident by the number of skype games going on, the use of distributed networks to create game clubs, the practicality of my writing this blog and so on. The tools are - slowly - being created to advance the game's rendering, too. Because that's the way it goes.
Not by WOTC, of course. At a time when the owner of the game should be creating a 3-D advanced app for digitally representing your character, with additional features to show the damage they're taking, based fully on your stats list - at a visual level that would put Sims 3 to shame - they're reinventing pencil-and-paper D&D. Now. In this decade.
One of the worst habits that an artist can acquire is the certainty that something needs to be done again, and again, to get it 'right.' I feel there's a certain rationale in this, but the process can utterly stagnate an artist's work. They can find themselves going back to the same thing and doing it over and over, ultimately losing their perspective entirely. It is a habit that will ensure a good artist never receives any recognition. Because it cripples.
The WOTC is crippled. It has been crippled since it gave up on 2nd Edition. I can personally see the rationale for 2nd Edition, but they did such a crappy job at it that since the WOTC has been caught up its own loop. It has lost it's perpective.
Though it may have dragged down tens of thousands of players, er, tools, suckers and non-smart people, however, it hasn't dragged down this game. This game is being shared like wildfire. This game is proving the central processor is dead. The only people who are still turning back to the central processor, hoping there's still life there, are those for whom there never was a game. Not really. These are the people who were just looking for a fetish god to worship.
Well, god is dead. Deal with that legacy.