Reader Michael Anderson sent me a link yesterday to an interview with James M. Ward, creator of Gamma World. Since it's at the WotC site, I'd never have seen it otherwise, but it's well worth a read. In it, Ward briefly touches on the "wackiness" of Gamma World and how, in retrospect, he wishes he'd applied "editorial breaks" to certain contributions of others that have led gamers to see Gamma World as a "humorous" RPG, when that was never his intention.
I really feel for Ward on this point, because, while it's true that Gamma World does have the capacity to be quite humorous at times, I never saw it as inherently any more humorous than, say, Dungeons & Dragons, where low humor is often an unexpected counterpart to high adventure. Yet, for a lot of gamers, Gamma World is synonymous with "goofy," making it impossible to experience the game as I did back in the early 80s. Gamma World certainly isn't what I'd call "hard science fiction" by any means, but neither is a joke RPG and I think viewing it in that mistaken light robs it of its potential for the strangely transcendent moments I had while playing it in my youth.
Of course, Gamma World's not the only RPG that suffers such a misperception, even among game designers, who ought to know better. So here's today's question: what game(s) do you think are unfairly caricatured within the hobby, by which I mean that the common stereotype of what the game is like is very far removed from the way it is written? I'm sure all RPGs suffer from this to an extent, but I'm equally sure that there are some games that suffer from it far more often than others. I'd like to hear about those.
I'll be spending a good part of today wading through the Petty Gods entries and contacting artists about illustrations. If you've submitted something or offered assistance with artwork and haven't heard from me by Sunday, please drop me another note to check in. I'm pretty well organized on this project, but, given the phenomenal response to it, I'm sure something has slipped through the cracks at some point.