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Sass & Sorcery

Roll-Playing, Rule-Playing

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Normally in these blog posts, I try to get cute and dance around the point with humorous language. I'm not going to do that here.

These terms - derogatory descriptions of other peoples' fun - aren't helping. They aren't speaking to truth, they aren't adding to the quality of discourse. They're divisive language, whose sole purpose is to draw lines in the sand as to who belongs and who doesn't. Play style differences are absolutely *not* justification for disrespect, and treating another's game / style / rules preferences as inferior paints a better picture of the one making the claim than the target of the claim.

Elitism, in any form, shouldn't have a place in a hobby based on a subjective quality ('fun')*. When there's a play style difference, someone who doesn't fit your groove, it's not because they are something less than worthy; it's because their goals and/or methods for achieving those goals are different than yours. And no less deserving of respect for what they are: avenues of expression, of escapism, of entertainment.

If you find yourself about to use these, or similar terms/ideas, please take a minute and think about the intent of your statement. It's probably a good bet that the point you're trying to make can be said without putting down a group of people who just happen to do things differently than you. If it can't be said, it's a better bet that it probably shouldn't be said in the first place.

*Acknowledging play style and play goal variances means that, yeah, there are going to be times where "fun" is not the goal, and there's something more specific at work. The nuances really, really not are important for these purposes.

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  1. Malruhn's Avatar
    But Sascha, RPG's are the same as everything else on the planet.

    I have these political beliefs - you have those beliefs - I think you are wrong - you think I am wrong.

    I have these religious beliefs - you have those beliefs - I think you are wrong - you think I am wrong.

    I think sorcerers rule, you think wizards are the schizznit - and East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.

    It's all differences of opinion. Granted, you will find that those that are more erudite and wise can argue their point without calling you a poopyhead for holding your beliefs... but some haven't hit that level of intellectual sophistication... thus, you end up being called a poopyhead.

    It is particularly bad when these beliefs - or to use another term - VALUES - are strongly held. Abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, steak-v-lobster, we all have out topics that are OMG important to us. Some may find absolutely no value in even attempting to role play a wizard/druid/warrior/rouge - or even a rogue!! If you say you LIKE it, you are saying something that they have problems comprehending. "What?!?! You LIKE to eat BABIES?!?!?!?!" and you are treated according to the amount you make their brain hurt. If I can't fathom the idea of playing X versus Y, and you say you like the other way, how can you hold my values against me if I tell you just how silly you are for playing the other way?

    By your very blog in which you blast people for "elitism", you are practicing a form of elitism in that you expect everyone to be as accepting as you.

    In effect, you have called those that don't agree with you, poopyheads.

    So... in response. You are a double-poopyhead. So there!

    (sorry, in a debating mood... thank you for letting me poke holes in your blog entry!)
  2. Sascha's Avatar
    There's a difference between attacking an argument, and attacking the person making the argument. There are folks here with whom I've had some good conversations, that would not have been possible if we were just blasting each others' play styles. We don't agree, but I respect the difference of opinion (and, frankly, that's what makes the exercise worth the effort, to me).

    Denigrating another's play style for not being yours is, in essence, claiming that there's one goal to the hobby (which there isn't), and one method of reaching that goal (which there isn't). It's a bad argument to continue the claim unchanged after it's been challenged, which is what's happened several times recently. (I'd dig up the links, but I'm in a hurry today. Maybe after class.)

    Also, it absolutely matters in what spirit a comment is made: A Friar's Club roast is funny, because the roasters *do* have respect for their target, and this is one method for them to show it. Your "poopyhead" comment is clearly intended in jest, and isn't a "real" insult. Other comments I've seen are either unclear, or clearly *not* in good spirit. (Ex. How long do edition war threads last here?)

    Slurring a play style for being different doesn't show respect for that style; it's defining the hobby in such a manner that anyone who plays in a manner not yours isn't really a part of it, and that's a ridiculous claim. Mostly a self-interested defense, as I'm almost certain my preference for a strong "game" element goes against quite a few styles.

    (Also, as someone who was picked on a lot in school, for lots of reasons - including, but not limited to my stature, my parents' decisions - it's a bit personal. As you might guess, I absolutely do not subscribe to the 'suck it up' philosophy. There's a flip side to "turn the other cheek," and it's "don't put someone in that position to start.")
  3. Malruhn's Avatar
    Actually, there is only one goal to the hobby... having fun.

    And that is where the problem lies.

    My definition of "fun" may be different than yours... and most probably is. It's when poopyheads don't realize that it is meant to be fun for ALL - and that play styles may differ - that they get upset and denigrate styles. When minds close up and people think that there is only ONE way to enjoy this stuff, THEN people get upset.

    Personally, I think that a 100% combat game is tantamount to playing Risk... and not worth the time it takes to roll up a character (or set up the board). HOWEVER, I realize that there are people out there that love it... so I don't bother. It's just like sex... different strokes for different folks... and as long as you stay out of my bedroom, I feel that you can do whatever you like. No - really - stay out of my bedroom, cuz my wife would get REALLY ticked at me... ;-)

    Why do I have to have "respect" for combat gamers? I don't like it, so I ignore it. Someone wants to talk about it on here, I just avoid the thread. I don't feel that the battle needed to show them that they are "wrong" is worth the effort. This is also one of the reasons I talk to players before rolling up characters... if they don't like my style of play, they are welcome to leave. We aren't going to agree on everything, but one thing we NEED to agree upon is that EVERYONE around the table has a good time.

    And in closing, I DO believe in turning the other cheek... to get better leverage to punch them back.... but I tend to agree with your ideal as well.
  4. Sascha's Avatar
    You're wrong about fun being the only goal; its just far and away the most common. Other goals include minor forms of therapy, using a published game as the medium; and exploration of a very specific theme, which doesn't preclude fun, but isn't the purpose. It's like any other medium, really - "entertainment" in the "keeping a thought in mind" sense, rather than strictly "amusement." Spot on 'bout 'fun' being wildly variant, though.

    Also, I didn't say "have respect," I said "show respect." Semantic, but important difference. To use your example, you have the right of non-interference in your games; showing respect would be acknowledging others also have that right, regardless of how they play. (Also, not using labels in manners to wedge folks outside the 'in-group.')

    The bedroom analogy is pretty apt, but maybe not in the manner you intended: There's more than one reason to engage in the activity, and there are vocal groups who wish to enshrine a very narrow belief on the whole, excluding anyone does things differently. In both cases, you're most likely not going to conflict with the exclusionary definitions, so you might not see the issue for those who fall outside the 'traditional.'