Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Walk the Line

One of the greatest difficulties I've found in writing this blog has been that, no matter what position I take on a given topic, I wind up getting it from both sides. Take note: I am not complaining about this -- far from it! I actually see even misguided passion for the hobby as a good thing; it's evidence that, despite it all, people actually care about this stuff and I appreciate that. After all, I am similarly passionate (and probably even occasionally misguided) about it; I would not have started this blog if I weren't. So, you'll rarely hear me criticize anyone for voicing their disagreement with me, provided they do so in a respectful way and explain why it is that they disagree. To be honest, I like discussions that engender disagreement and if people have taken the time to disagree with me, that means I must have written something worth disagreeing with and I take that as a compliment of sorts.

I'm eccentric and so are my views. I'm of the opinion that the hobby needs more eccentricity and that eccentricity should be promoted and celebrated. Consequently, my stated opinions are a mishmash colored both by my generally rationalist/intellectualist bent, my (too many) years as a student of philosophy and history, my experiences playing for almost 30 years, and the ring of contrariness I've worn on my right hand since 1979. All of these things govern my tastes and interests and are powerfully at work in the posts I write here.

Still, it's always fascinating to see what people choose to criticize me for. No matter what position I take on any topic, it's pretty much guaranteed to set someone off.
  • Talk too much about the history of the hobby in the 1970s and I'm denigrating the experiences of gamers who started playing later
  • Suggest Brian Blume wasn't the Antichrist and I'm betraying the memory of Gary Gygax
  • Praise Gary Gygax at all and I'm making an idol of him
  • State that not every lacuna or ambiguity in OD&D is a philosophical statement about game design and I'm a new schooler in disguise
  • Speak well of Paizo or their products and I'm a shill
  • Criticize 4e and I'm a bitter old man who doesn't get it
And on and on. As I said, I don't actually mind all that much. That anyone thinks enough of my opinion to send me an email telling me how foolish I am is proof that I've struck a nerve somewhere and what writer doesn't want to do that? It's just funny, in an odd sort of way, to see that, for all my self-avowed old schoolishness, there are gamers out there who view me as a wolf in sheep's clothing who's not really "one of us" -- just as there are younger gamers out there who seem to think I hate everything that has been published since 1983 and believe anyone who plays them is a mental defective. It's a funny old world.

I forge on nonetheless. I'm having too much fun to be discouraged. My weird little take on things has mostly engendered a lot of good and positive thoughts in others, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I'll continue to refine my style and presentation, of course, in order to alleviate future misunderstandings. Mind you, on the Internet, nuance rarely wins you points, so I expect my somewhat "academic" style will always have its detractors. So be it.


  1. Sounds like an interesting situation to be in. I suppose it is to be expected as a consequence of giving everyone the opportunity to privately reply to public discourse.

  2. I think the discourse plays a part in this blog being one a few blogs that I must read daily, whether I agree or disagree. I find most of the folks here are really well informed, and I always come away learning something about our roots, and I really like that.

    Cheers to your blog, sir!

  3. Stay true to yourself, and everything takes care of itself. :)

    You know where my thinking lies, and we do not agree on everything, but, and I mean this truly, I enjoy reading yours thoughts on this topic. It is refreshing to see historical analysis and debate over games, instead of the same old tired GNS meme.

  4. We gamers are probably the epitome of the unpleasable fanbase (witness the hurricanes of nerdrage on Gleemax or ENWorld over the least little thing).

    Please just keep on doing what you're doing for so long as you enjoy it James.

  5. Fifth'd. I really enjoy what you write here, even if I sometimes come off as contrarian.

  6. Fear not, James, by those criteria, I too am a new schooler (though in less canny disguise), a shill, and a bitter young lady who doesn't get it. You are among friends.