[MUD-Dev] "sweeping change"?

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Wed Nov 21 20:28:01 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


On Sat, 17 Nov 2001, Michael Tresca wrote:
> Mike Sellers posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 9:36 PM
 
>> Not this time.  I really enjoy table-top gaming too, from
>> Settlers of Catan to D&Dv3 these days.  But paper RPG games are
>> today's buggy whips: no one but deeply insular aficionados know
>> or care about them.  GAMA conventions are sad, lonely halls of
>> people barely hanging on to their dreams and trying not to think
>> about their second mortgages and print runs of 5000 that may not
>> sell.
 
> This is such a revealing, ignorant statement that I find myself
> paralyzed trying to comprehend the implications of it all.  It's
> bad enough it started with Raph, but to arrogantly pronounce
> pen-and-paper RPGs as dead is to deny the hundreds, if not
> thousands, of attendees at Gen Con.  Young attendees, I might add.
 
I have to say, I don't see that as an ignorant pronouncement at
all. Pen and paper RPGs ARE dead as a cultural force. Whether they
still have some adherents or not isn't really the point that Raph
was making, I think. And pointing to a few hundred or few thousand
people at Gen Con is hardly convincing. (If you even have to wonder
if it exceeds 1000, it's extremely unconvincing.)

Look, when was the last time you heard anyone in the media mention
Dungeons and Dragons except in reference to computer games or in
reference to that movie that came out a year ago (which must have
been a joke. I didn't see it, but come on.) I recall when it got
talked about a lot, and when certain religious groups made a big
deal about how D&D was corrupting kids and serving Satan or some
nonsense. I recall when popular kids cartoons were based on P&P
games. Although I never really got into playing P&P games, I owned a
lot of the rule books, and enjoyed reading them, and I remember when
it wasn't considered an activity for the completely socially inept
(I'm not making any statement about the actual social abilities of
P&P players, just the perception of it.) Sure, it was never exactly
what the cheerleaders were spending their time doing, but I had
'jock' friends who were into it, for instance, including the
proverbial quarterback of the football team. (that was late 80s).


> As we may all recall from the archives, someone good-naturedly
> assumed that we'd all be going to Gen Con.  Because we're GAMERS
> right?  I mean, surely, any guy (or gal) who is going to try to
> create a massive, in-depth, fantasy gaming universe is going to
> stay in touch with his gaming roots.  Right?

Personally, I have 0 interest in Gen Con, and I play games of all
sorts constantly. If I want to stay in touch with my roots, I pick
up a nice history book, or read Tolkien.
 
> This was deeply disturbing to me, disturbing in a way that I
> intentionally forgot it.  But this new thread has really revealed
> those statements to be quite accurate -- it's not just "We're not
> role-players," it's "We're not role-players and you stupid
> role-players know nothing about gaming!"
 
> Egads!  What madness is this?
 
> I will gladly submit that not everyone who has a vested interest
> in making a fantasy MMORPG (please note the R-P-G) should be a
> role-player.  But to act as if this is a bad thing to be, as if it
> is somehow a less perfect form of game creation is just outright
> snobbery.

That's just semantics. RPG doesn't necessarily mean much roleplaying
these days. There was, in fact, a discussion on mud-dev about this a
few months ago. You can make the argument that anything calling
itself an RPG MUST be about roleplaying, but it's a pointless
argument, as it isn't so.

MUDs, and this list in general, are not inherently about
roleplaying. That's just one way of enjoying them, just as PK is one
way of enjoying them. Yes, you almost always 'take on a role' but
most of the time, for most people, it's such a shallow one that it
can hardly even be called a role. Is this a bad thing? *shrug*
Everquest's players don't seem to mind the shallowness of their
roles. (Me warrior. Me kill things. Me healer. Me heal things.)

 
> RPGs are not dead.  But then, I suppose it depends on your
> definition of "dead.": 1) RPGs are still fun to play.  I enjoy
> them.  I encounter thousands of people at RPG.net who agree with
> me.  In that sense, they are not dead.

Sure, no doubt.
 
>   3) RPGs, as games, were the inspiration for so many Rogue,
>   Ultima, Everquest, games.  How do we know this?  Because you can
>   see it in the unintentional biases: colored-dragons, awkward
>   terms like "fighter", "cleric", and "monk". To deny tabletop
>   RPGs and not see them as valuable inspiration is to deny the
>   games we're already playing.

Being an inspiration doesn't require being alive. Voltaire is quite
dead, and yet I find myself inspired by his life.

 
>   5) Online gaming has to regularly compete with role-players.
>   When I say that, I mean that I've seen players on Asheron's
>   Call, Everquest, and RetroMUD, say "Gotta go, going to go
>   role-play tonight."  Know what?  They see in person role-playing
>   as the pinnacle of gaming.  To them, MMORPGs are an interim fix
>   for someone who doesn't have enough friends to play.  In some
>   sense, just as the computer gamers are sneering at the
>   role-players, the role-players are sneering at the computer
>   gamers.

I'm not sure where this bad attitude you have comes in? I don't
recall anyone saying anything deragatory about RPGs or the people
playing them. I can say Greek philosophy is quite dead (except
insofar as being nice to study in terms of the development of human
knowledge), but that doesn't lessen my respect for the Greeks one
bit.

 
>   6) Is it commercially viable?  Thanks to the open gaming license
>   (OGL) of Wizards of the Coast, you're damned straight it is.  I
>   counted no less than 30 new gaming companies that were at Gen
>   Con, all around the OGL.

Starting a company is like having an opinion: Any jackass can do
it. Go look how many of them are around in 5 years and how many of
those are making money.

--matt

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