28 September 2013
GGF #4: My Game Is Great, Your Game Sucks
This turns into a battleground, and there’s no end to our ability to pick fights. Be it D&D versus other games, GURPS vs Pathfinder vs Hero, OD&D vs AD&D vs new D&D, 3.0 vs 3.5 vs 4.0, tabletop vs LARP vs MMORPG, prep vs. no-prep, dungeon fantasy vs story game, sandbox vs. railroad, indie vs. “mainstream,” it isn’t so much that our choices are to be virulently defended: it’s that anyone choosing otherwise is seen as a referendum on our common sense and good taste, tantamount to an insult.
For instance, I remember a thread a few years back where GURPS and D&D were being compared, and some people went into a hissy fit over the assertion that GURPS is more flexible than D&D. Well, it is -- GURPS is a much more free-form, skill-based, point-buy system that furthermore is generic, where D&D is a game that limits the available types of character one can play and which seeks to emulate one genre, and one genre alone. No kidding GURPS is more flexible. It was designed to be. But you know? A computer does a heck of a lot more than a hammer does, and is a heck of a lot more versatile. That doesn’t mean that if I’m doing some carpentry, what I want is anything but a hammer, and using my desktop PC to bang in nails isn’t going to work as well. A honking lot of people feel that D&D is the game to play for the dungeon fantasy genre they want, and have felt that way for decades.
But that’s tribalism talking: for those fanboys, to ascribe a virtue to some other game that their own game allegedly lacked by comparison -- even if that game didn’t seek that virtue, and even if they wouldn’t want it to have that virtue? It was a personal attack, to be opposed with all their might. To call GURPS more flexible than D&D -- for it to be seen as more "anything" than D&D -- carried to those fanboys the implication that there was something at which D&D was inferior. That was plainly intolerable.
After all, why else in the wide green earth would we possibly care that some stranger over the Internet not only plays Some Other Game, but resolutely rejects playing Our Game? Because, of course, we Have To Get Everyone To Agree. It’s vitally important that gaming groups stay in lockstep over system, genre, milieu and playing style, well ... because it just is, that’s why. Otherwise the tribe fractures, and we can’t have that.