I’ve just been reading a post on one of the online Facebook roleplaying groups that I’m a part of, where someone asked what seems like a fairly simple question: “What are the reasons that so many people are unwilling to play anything but D&D?”
Now, I’m not the worlds biggest fan of D&D–although I’ve played all but the earliest editions and have been looking with interest at some OSR stuff recently–but even as I was preparing a reply along the lines of “well there could be numerous reasons, visibility of the game line, it’s what their friends play, etc etc” a number of responses popped up that gave me serious pause for thought. I’m not saying that all of the responses were in this vein, but there were certainly a number of posts that suggested people who stuck with D&D were afraid to play other stuff, or were too self-conscious or were subterranean Morlocks crouching in basements fearing to step into the warming light of the cool new systems in town. Okay, I’m exaggerating on that last one, but you get the idea?
Initially this made me fairly angry and my gut response was to post something along the lines of “let people play what they want, what the f*ck has it got to with you?”, however, I’ve learnt over long experience on the internet to step away from the keyboard for a short while when a post or series of posts makes me really annoyed. It’s a philosophy I wish some other people on the net would adopt, but hey, we can’t have everything can we?
Thinking about it a bit more calmly though, I found the responses quite saddening because–I’m no psychology major, nor do I have any qualifications in that area but–I’d be surprised if attitudes like these contributed to people wanting to try something else outside D&D. I certainly think that if I’d only played D&D and I read something like this, i’d be thinking ‘hey those people playing those “cool” other games sound like pr*cks, I’ll stick with the D&D thanks.”
It then occurred to me to take this as an opportunity to look at my own attitudes towards games and I realised that perhaps I’d been one of those smug people, sitting behind his stack of newer storytelling games, looking down the end at his nose of people who’d dared to have the temerity to enjoy older systems or ones that weren’t all the cool new thing. It’s odd how that sort of thing can creep up on you–and not just about D&D either–I take great pains whenever I do a video review to point out the sort of person I feel would enjoy a game, even if it’s not necessarily to my taste, rather than just trashing a game, because I don’t think that helps anyone. I’m not above giving–what I hope is–constructive criticism, but I generally try to adopt a balanced view.
However, as I was thinking about this I realised there are a few games–over the years–that I’ve probably not given a fair crack of the whip, including:
- Shadowrun: Never got into it because I don’t like games where the character generation is long.
- Traveller: I’m not big into the hard sci-fi and that whole dying at character gen thing put me off initially.
- Lamentations of the Flame Princess: I’m always wary whenever I game describes itself as having adult themes because–in my experience–it normally just means there’s sex references in it and/or the art is risqué.
These are just a few of the games I’ve shied away from over the years, but reading the response to people sniffing at those who want to play D&D it occurred to me that I’d probably done the same thing to those games that I’d not even given a fair chance to.
There are some people in the online roleplaying community who do a great job of crusading to teach the next generation about the hobby, I’m not one of these people, I’m not generally very fond of children and it’s been a while since I’ve bought anyone into the hobby, but just because I’m not flying the flag for the hobby in that way, it occurs to me that we are all ambassadors for the hobby in our own way, by the way we game and the way that we talk about the hobby with others. I’m planning to make a concerted effort to try out some of the games I’ve previously spurned without forming opinions based on just a surface glance and I’m also going to continue trying not to judge other people for the games they enjoy and play, even if they’re not my cup of tea.
After all, I’d rather when people thought of me, they thought of a guy who runs some cool games and will try pretty much any game rather than they think of me as an ar*ehole who thinks his type of made-up game is better than everyone else’s made up game.