05 October 2013
GGF #5: “X” Is The Opposite Of Fun
A closely related tenet to #4 is this one. It’s come out in many variations, but the gist of things is what you see in many Internet debates: arguments which boil down to “Realism isn’t fun,” “artistic expression isn’t fun,” “immersion isn’t fun,” “narrativism isn’t fun,” “ backgrounds aren’t fun,” “originality isn't fun,” and so on and so forth.
Now while I take the whining with a great deal of salt -- you will never, ever convince me, for instance, that someone who’s mastered the character creation and combat rules of a multi-hundred page corebook is grotesquely inconvenienced to the point of insult by the GM asking him to read five pages of background material -- that much isn’t a fallacy, per se. What is fun for you is what is fun for you, and that’s a true thing no one ought to gainsay.
What is the fallacy is the premise that Only The Type Of Gaming I Do Is Fun, which leads inexorably to “... and every other kind is Not Fun,” which leads inexorably to “... and no one with a lick of sense could possibly like them.” It’s also married to a curious anti-intellectualism. Curious, even though anti-intellectualism is a profound element of American culture, because one would think that the average gamer, who fancies himself smarter than the mundanes -- and indeed openly prides himself on being smarter than the mundanes -- wouldn’t himself disparage scholarship, excellence, artistry or taking pains.
Yet he does so. Often. (That is, when he’s not riding absurd, tunnel vision hobby horses, such as that of a certain celebrated game designer who wrote his system to include about a half dozen types of sword, and a dozen types of polearm. Many of you know whereof I speak.)
Seriously, how often do you see people pull this sort of garbage outside of gaming? "Football isn't fun" just because you prefer hockey or NASCAR? "Rock isn't fun" only because you prefer jazz or folk? How would you react if you heard someone assert that people who liked Italian food were dopes, because he liked Greek food? You'd think he was a moron, wouldn't you, and not because of any deficiency of Greek cuisine?
C'mon, folks, is it that hard to wrap your heads around the concept that certain people want to play certain styles? That a whole lot of people have found the games they want to play, they neither feel a need to, or have any desire to, experiment with others, and they resent the hell out of the implication that there's something wrong with them for it? Heck, there's even some other basic issues: for example, my wife -- having been exposed to too many loudmouthed ubergeeks in her formative years -- has a violent dislike of Doctor Who. Period, end of statement. (I watch downloads to my computer while she's off watching her own shows.) Would some of you catcall her nonetheless for refusing to buy into a Doctor Who game?
(My wife's comment to a forum thread about the theme: "Everyone has a couple I-like-what-I-likes. I'm sure some of those posters have the one brand of breakfast cereal they always eat or the one brand of jeans they always wear, and they'd be mad if they were told something was wrong with them because of that. So let me get this straight. Some people are mad at their friends for not wanting to try new things. Really? Or is it that they're mad because their friends don't want to play what they want to play? Why are their friends in the wrong for not wanting to conform when they don't want to conform themselves?")
And there you have them; the Gaming Geek Fallacies.