The Gassy Gnoll: Taking Sides – A Ramble

Once upon a time there was a yawning abyss and monsters crawled out to plague the worlds. Brave and valiant warriors drove them back to the nine hells they came from (after they did a wee bit of damage of course) and sealed them away for all eternity. Unfortunately valiant warriors can’t see the future and the monsters will once again plague the good and pure with their evil ways…

How many game worlds have we played in with some variation of this theme at its core? It’s Mad Libs all over again:” _____________ from the distant past _________ to cause ____________ to the ___________________. Who will save us from ultimate ___________?” Maybe it’s not monsters. Maybe it’s not demons or devils. Perhaps it’s just a group of individuals with a different view on life who wish to liberate the rest of the world from their old, backward ways.

Usually however it’s one side vs. another regardless of whether the difference ideological or political; whether the two sides are using traditional military might or magic; and whether one side is more right than the other.

Are you with me so far?

So let’s look at some of these differences of opinion in the gaming world for a second. Not in-game, but out-of-game.

  • “My edition of ______ is better than your edition because of x, y, and z.”
  • “My game is better than yours because of this, that, and the other thing.”
  • “This game is more wholesome and pure than yours because it doesn’t discuss any of the things you included that I disapprove of in real life.”

If you compare the two types of conflict, you might notice they’re pretty much the same. So I ask this… Why does everything come down to an “us vs. them” philosophy?

Not to sound like a child of the ’60s for the moment, but why can’t we all just get along? Agree to disagree. Respect someone else’s creative process, right to choose, or simply the right to share their opinion without being attacked for having one.

It’s the same issue I have with people who try to ban books. All that banning books does is increase the controversy and ratchet up the interest. If you don’t agree with something, don’t purchase the product. I’m even ok with people encouraging others not to purchase particular products. But ultimately the choice comes down to the individual with the money in hand.

Where am I going with this? I don’t honestly know. I’ve written the piece twice and neither ended up where I thought I was headed.

Take another look at some of the reasons you dislike a gaming product and write about them. If a book includes some ultraviolent aspects that you disagree with, write about it and share your impressions with others. But don’t go off half-cocked with a knee-jerk reaction. Sometimes things are worth another look. And things that aren’t are often not worth fretting over.

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3 comments to The Gassy Gnoll: Taking Sides – A Ramble

  • forged

    You wrote relating to gaming products: “Sometimes things are worth another look.”

    Based on previous conversations with you and other blog posts you have written, 4th edition D&D falls in this category for you. What are other examples you have of looking at a system again and thinking it is worthwhile?

    Apart from reading other reviews on a game system, why would I spend additional money on any game system if my initial impression isn’t positive? Money is after all a finite resource, and there are plenty of other fish out there as far as things to spend it on.

    • Fitz

      @Forged – You raise good points. On your first question, yes – 4E is definitely in that category. But Carcosa and the controversy surrounding it is the one that really spawned the post.

      I’m of the opinion that if you don’t like something, you can respectfully say no and move on without calling for a crusade against the thing you dislike. Some of the responses to Carcosa have gone over that line. If they don’t want to deal with it, then they don’t have to. It’s like any other product you purchase and decide you don’t like. Donate it. Throw it away. Whatever. But don’t start a book burning brigade to destroy every last copy because you disagree with the content.

      As for the money issue, that’s very true. I’m largely talking about after you have purchased the product, not before. That’s why sharing opinions as reviews is so valuable. If it doesn’t sound like something you’ll like, why buy it in the first place? But if you bought it… and didn’t just toss it or give it away… sometimes those can benefit from a second look. If it’s already in your arsenal of tools, why not dust it off and try to use it now and then?

  • forged

    One other comment, based on your last paragraph, you clearly have one or more incidents in mind of people being very vocal with a reaction that you feel was knee-jerk and inappropriate. So what is driving this post?

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