Greetings, fellow roleplayers.
Over the last few months, there has been a series of discussions about how “geeky” roleplaying is and how roleplaying is ostracized from the respectable adult world. Folks have been trying to identify what exactly is geeky about sword-and-sorcery or space opera or pulps, what parts can be used in roleplaying, and what parts will drive away “non-gamers” like garlic waved in a vampire’s face. The relative merits of roleplaying’s geeky core have been debated: is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Is it interfering with spreading the Good Word of roleplaying across the globe and making every human being a roleplayer just like us?
Many times over, I’ve debated wading into these discussions, but I have abstained. You all seem to have been having so much fun. The discussions seem to be diverting little bits of self-identity, cotton candy for the geeky soul, as harmless as a cute furry creature. However, the discussions are reproducing like tribbles. If this goes on, we’ll be up to our eyeballs in them, and they’ll suck up all the air. I’d like to talk about something that isn’t how geeky you think our hobby is. Therefore, I’d like to take this opportunity to make the one contribution to these discussions that I’ve long refrained from making.
Roleplayers, please: get over yourselves.
You think roleplaying is considered geeky by outsiders? The adult world does not waste its time contemplating the geekiness of roleplaying. In fact, it does not waste its time contemplating roleplaying at all. The adult world has far more pressing matters to concern itself with, chief among them being who will be voted off of American Idol this week. Why would anyone spend half a moment’s thought on an activity whose existence they’re probably only dimly aware of when they could be figuring out how to afford a giant flatscreen television on which to watch sports, impress their friends, and keep track of their fantasy football team? The outside world does not care how geeky roleplaying is.
The only people who care about the geek-factor of roleplaying are roleplayers. I’m not even sure why. It certainly isn’t a valid concern over the hobby’s image: the hobby doesn’t have an image, any more than quilting has an image. Instead, it really must be something within roleplayers themselves that makes them obsess over their own geekiness. Is it the lingering effects from being snubbed at school for playing D&D? I think it’s about time to get over that. Is it because your parents don’t understand your hobby? Join the club called the Rest of Humanity. Seriously: are you not getting laid enough? Is that the problem? I assure you roleplaying has absolutely nothing to do with you not getting any.
What is all this sound and fury about? Why are we spending this much time talking about our own geekiness? Are any of these discussions improving the quality of your gaming? Designers: has your current game design developed because you discussed how nobody outside of gaming understands pulp? Indulging in a little self-centered identification is nice now and then; making an entire hobby out of it seems a little, well, narcissistic. In fact, for all the talk deploring how unfortunate the geeky label is, discussing that label ad nauseum is one of the best ways to make sure it sticks. Which is, quite frankly, the most probable reason so many folks jump into these discussions: establishing geek cred, and distinguishing oneself from the monsters of the outside world, who are themselves too busy watching Deal or No Deal to notice that you’ve taken your leave.
Me personally, though? Your obsession with your own badge of pride is getting on my nerves. You know what? You’re a member. Congratulations: you’re one of us, and not one of them. Now sit the fuck down so we can actually talk about roleplaying. Let’s talk about the games we played last night, the techniques we discovered, the book we just bought, the system we’re designing, the house rule we’re testing. Let’s talk about what place roleplaying has in our lives, rather than what place our lives have in roleplaying. Just, please: get over yourselves, already. This hobby is much more fun to participate in than to talk about. Go Play.