Wrong bad fun: Why We Play and What Keeps Us Coming Back for More

I’m going to take a break from my regularly scheduled overview of the Dungeon Crawl Classics roleplaying game to discuss something near and dear to my heart as a gamer:

We are all doing it wrong.

Splendid

Suppose you are a tried and true fan of one particular game or a particular genre of game. Maybe you prefer “official adventures,” set in official worlds with official settings. Perhaps you prefer one particular setting over all others. Do most (if not all) of your games take place in Middle Earth, Azeroth, Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms? Or do you prefer to create homebrew worlds, either by yourself or in collaboration with your players?

I’ve spent years reading and posting to various groups, boards and social media accounts for a variety of tabletop games. With few exceptions, most players have a definite idea of what (and how) they like to play.

I’m not sure what I expected, to be perfectly honest. If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the past 20 years, you know that conflict is key to most digital social interactions. If you join a punk rock group on Facebook, for example, it’s a safe bet that most of the posts are going to be about the definition of “punk,” or whether or not so-and-so is “punk enough,” and so on.

If you go into a punk rock group expecting to find discussions about local scenes in 2017 and the people that live (and do music) there, you will probably be disappointed. I know I was. Yet, conversations about someone else’s commitment to a particular musical touchstone are fairly rare in meatspace. Why?

The same thing happens in groups dedicated to tabletop roleplaying games. A two-way dialog between fellow players of good intention is relatively rare. The default operator is persuasion through superior firepower, or memes. The winner doesn’t care if you agree with them or not as long as they look “good” telling you how wrong you are. All sides stake out their respective positions and argue them into a black hole, ad-infinitum.

“You can’t seriously think eliminating a playable race from the list of choices available to your players is smart, can you?”

“I prefer my fantasy without “guns” because firearms and D&D don’t mix.”

“Tabaxi Ninjas are even more annoying than Rogue Kinders!”

WRONG BAD FUN!

It doesn’t have to be this way, but it is what sells. It’s important to try and remember which side of the transaction we are actually on, and proceed accordingly.

The truth is: I have more in common with the player who likes to roll all their dice behind a referee’s screen than I do with people who choose not to play at all, even if I do prefer to roll everything in the open.

I have more in common with the player who prefers 3.5 to Basic D&D and refuses to even “try” 5e than I do with the person who’d rather watch TV than play a game.

This is as it should be. Our differences are what keeps the argument lively, not the reason to forgo discussion altogether.

Let players of good faith remember that it is our passion for gaming that joins us in debate long enough to have a disagreement in the first place.

And then let us find common ground enough to play anyway.

We can sort out the punk rock thing later.

 

Have an opinion of your own, nerd? Sound off, below.

About Triality Lens

Writer, Infonaut, Gamer.

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