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[personal profile] aloremaster
I love Slate magazine. Here is their tribute to Gygax. I am particularly fond of their description of D&D. Check it out.

Date: 2008-03-11 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is SO. TRUE.

I'm so glad someone else noticed. Who knows? There may be even more "Zombies of Love" adventures out there based on this premise. ;)

Date: 2008-03-12 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He he he! Yeah...

It's easy to crap on someone's head...

Date: 2008-03-13 02:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
...when you stand on their shoulders.

R.I.P., Gary.

Re: It's easy to crap on someone's head...

Date: 2008-03-13 03:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Speaking from personal experience?

Were you on top? Or the bottom?

Re: It's easy to crap on someone's head...

Date: 2008-03-13 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hmmmm...very mature. Almost as mature as launching an attack on someone during their wake. (The author, not you. In fact, I'm not sure why you reacted with an insult, as I was merely pointing out that it's easy to take a potshot at the people who innovate, and the product they produced when their was nothing to improve on, after you have had the benefit of year's of experience and watching their product grow, thrive and/or fail.)

Their's room for everyone in the Inn of dorkdom. I'm not sure why the author feels a need to exclude some. ("The real geeks - my homies...") By what right does the author say he is "the real geek"? Later he says this, "A good role-playing game provides the framework for a unique kind of narrative, a collaborative thought experiment crossed with improvisational theater." Well...ok, maybe that's what floats his boat, but does that mean EVERYONE has to like that type of game, and any game that is not like that is crap? Just because some of us want to play a beer and pretzels game where you kick in the door, fight evil monsters (who really are evil and bent on destruction) and loot ancient treasures, doesn't mean that high-drama roleplaying is crap, it's just different. (And I would say the author has it backwards - D&D does not play like a video game, video games play like D&D. Ideally, they both will feel like classic adventures.)

To me this is highly pretensious elitism. I'm not saying that the type of game he describes is bad, I'm just saying that it's rude to piss on the games that other people enjoy, especially during the mourning period of the games founder. There's nothing wrong with not liking D&D, or even saying it's a bad game, but to use the author's death and wake as an opportunity to grab the limelight and shout insults ("unrepentant hack" indeed) is pretty lame.

There's lots of room in the geek Inn without having to get into petty arguments about who's a "hack" and a "real geek". It just sucks that someone is taking an opportunity for general reminiscence about what is good in dorkdom with an insulting article. The author could have just said, "It's not to my taste", or better yet, let the mourning period pass with nothing more than a grudging tip of the hat to the person who invented the genre, and continued with his own gaming. After all, if it's so superior, that's bound to become evident to everyone.

So Andre, I hope you didn't take offense at my comment, it was not directed at you. In fact, it's not even an insult or jibe at the author, just a comment about gratitude.

See you in the Inn, where there will be tables full of D&Ders, and folks playing Eternum, and Hackmaster, Star Wars and GURPs, COC and maybe even whatever this guy prefers, if he can just stop hatin'. :D

Re: It's easy to crap on someone's head...

Date: 2008-03-14 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I actually really appreciated the article. I think I agreed with pretty much every word of it. When someone dies, it's a perfect time to take a look back at their life and accomplishments and, if they have any sort of fame, even their mistakes or shortcomings. The author was timely in his article, as Gygax was suddenly in the news. If he waited, or just said "not my style/taste", the story wouldn't have any newsworthiness to it, because it wouldn't be relevant to the current days'/weeks' news topics. It's an article for Slate, not Gygax's obituary or funeral. I'm sure there is more than enough praise and "we'll miss you forever- thanks for starting us on the road to dorkdom!" articles out there to counter-balance the one quirky, snarky article in Slate.

I personally thought the article was very intelligent and well-stated.

Re: It's easy to crap on someone's head...

Date: 2008-03-14 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm sure there is more than enough praise and "we'll miss you forever- thanks for starting us on the road to dorkdom!" articles out there to counter-balance the one quirky, snarky article in Slate.

For example, also in Slate:

Re: It's easy to crap on someone's head...

Date: 2008-03-14 07:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Besides, it wasn't really an attack on Gygax as much as it was an examination of the game he created.

Re: It's easy to crap on someone's head...

Date: 2008-03-14 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm sorry. I didn't realize that we were having a "mature" debate. Especially due to the subject matter. As for "insult", I thought that was just about as insulting as a "your Momma" joke. If it hurt your delicate sensibilities, you have my apologies. As for the article, though it calls Gygax a hack, it is more a commentary on D&D. A quite apt commentary at that. I understand that you didn't like it because you still like D&D, no problem. I didn't post it specifically for you.

I value your input, but I must say I valued the second reply far more than the first, as it had more substance and less self-righteous indignation. Again, my reasoning for responding the way I did; as I would have, had you said the same across a warhammer battlefield. I hope you understand.

Re: It's easy to crap on someone's head...

Date: 2008-03-14 06:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
D00d. Gary didn't invent roleplaying, just D&D..

My two copper pieces

Date: 2008-03-21 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's hard to see now, what with all the RPGs and RPG-inspired computer games out there, but--moral considerations concerning violence and diabolism aside--Gygax really was a tremendous innovator. There were strategic war games before Gary, but the whole idea of setting around a table and taking up a strategic game from a first-person view, adding drama and storyline, was new.

In an interview with PBS a few years back, Gary admitted that he had no idea how popular this innovation would be; he expected maybe 100,000 hard-core wargamers and sf/fantasy-fans to be potentially interested.

I just purchased the newest addition of the Cyberpunk game, written by a former Microsoft employee who keeps trying to make roleplaying comprehensible by referring to computer games; it really WAS the other way around--there would have been no such computer games without D&D. If this is a dubious legacy, so be it; in any case, there would be no gaming industry in anything even remotely like its current form without Gary, and every game designer today--whether he admits it or not--is in his debt. The Cyberpunk writer also keeps disparaging D&D--suggesting that Cyberpunk is more realistic, dangerous, or somehow more "mature" than D&D.

All this is basic psychology, familiar from literary theory--it's called the "anxiety of influence." Creative artists, in order to create the space necessary to be "great" in their own right, often misread and minimize their progenitors.

So the shitting on Gygax's shoulders, while somewhat callow, is to be expected. It's natural. But one shouldn't pretend that one's shit doesn't stink. What's most outrageous in the article, I think, is the self-righteous tone of moral condemnation of Gygax's creation, and by implication, of the creator. Gygax was by all accounts a kindly, enthusiastic, perfect gentleman. Much like Tolkien--whose creation, by any honest account, could also be described as violent, ethnocentric, xenophobic, hero-worshipping escapism. (Gygax's Greyhawk in many ways represents an inversion of the enthocentrism of Middle Earth--the "West" becomes the "East," the whities are more to distrusted than the darkies, etc.) Combat and violence has always been a central feature of RPGs--as of the "storytelling" that snobbish, dork-dignifying White Wolf types prefer to call their hobby. If we want to sanitize ourselves from violence and the connection between heroism and bloodshed, we'll have to give up quite a few classic stories and story-tellers--Homer, Beowulf, The Fairie Queen, and Shakespeare, to name a few. I'm sure that there are less bloodthirsty RGPs out there (even fun ones), just as there is less violent literature than Homer. But that doesn't mean that they are somehow more moral or mature. (If anything they may be more immature and morally pernicious, insofar as they lend themselves to confusing life and fantasy, reality with "realism"; a schoolchild responding to religious fundamentalists' objections to D&D said it best when he declared that gamers empathically do not believe in devils and magic, implying that it was their Christian critics who seemed to be taking such things seriously.) And it certainly doesn't mean that such games are more fun.


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