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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, July 25, 2014

ROLL TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT

"Finally, an RPG for Rainbow gamers!"

The concept behind a Role Playing Game is that you play a "role" which is different from yourself.  You can play an elf or a wookie or a babylonian or a woman (if you're a guy) and so on.  It is a form of interactive, improvisational theater in which each player takes on a different role and plays them out in a variety of situations.
Although not the first, D&D published in 1977 is the game that set the standard and spread excitement in role playing games, turning it from a very minor hobby to a worldwide industry in just a few years.  From the very start, the principle was that when you played the game, the role you played as always whatever you chose to.
The only restrictions were what the GM preferred to allow (no, you can't play a dragon, no you can't play superman) and what your game setting contained.  In a fantasy setting, you usually couldn't play a science fiction character, for instance.  Other than that?  Anything goes.
Yet recently the new edition of D&D decided they were compelled to include this in the character creation section:
How very inclusive.
This has always been assumed in a game that allows you to play anything.  I'm not an elf, but I could play one.  I've played female characters before, a lot of RPGers have played off-gender characters.  The basic concept of role playing presumes that you play whatever you want.  In other words, this is redundant and unnecessary to include in the rules.
Naturally this has been welcomed with excitement and joy by the usual suspects.  But gamers, from what I've seen, are scratching their heads and saying "huh?"  Because this is pointless and has no bearing on the game.  Yeah, if you want to play a homosexual dwarf you can, that's always been true and always been assumed.  There were homosexual characters in the official modules and game materials for D&D back in the 70s, its not fresh and new.
And that begs the question: why include this?  Why was this put into the rules at all?  Some might argue that its just about informing players of their options, that gender roles and sexuality are flexible in character creation, but that's always been the case and understood.
After all, they didn't bother explaining your character can have an unnatural yen for unicorns or be attracted to children, which are both technically possible as well, if unpleasant.  They didn't tell everyone that your character can be unusually tall or short, or that your character can be fat or thin.  Why this specific inclusion?  The answers aren't hard to figure out.  Its giving them free publicity, and likely Hasbro is hoping they'll get some picketers and the Internet Outrage Machine will get all cranked up.  That helps sales and generates interest in the game.  After all its been years since anyone associated D&D with Satanism or witchcraft and they could use the controversy.
And then there's the usual tired worn out Political Correctness.  The "Social Justice" machine never sleeps, and it insists on being everywhere.  This was not necessary, but it is trendy and hip and makes a certain group of people happy, whereas its exclusion makes them very unhappy.  And further, now that D&D has done so, they have leverage to demand all games do so, or they're being h8ers.
If you're like me, you're just tired of this.  Its like someone who just stopped smoking and is in everyone's face all the time about it.  They won't shut up about it, every conservation is an opportunity to bring up the topic, and every situation is a chance to talk about their pet subject.  Just shut up already.
There's no victory for social justice here, just a another chance to beat people over the head for not agreeing strongly enough.  No one is better off for the inclusion of this in the rules, there was no bigotry against playing alternate lifestyles in role playing games.  There were no lesbian players who felt ostracized by D&D rules or shunned the game because it didn't have enough inclusive language.
All there is now is a pointless injection of trendy modern political language into a game system that honestly is more likely to annoy and push away players than gain new ones.  No one is going to now play D&D that wasn't before because of this, but there are at least a few that will avoid the new rules because of it.
But I guess that doesn't really matter to the grievance mongers and publicity hounds.  For them its never been about sales, success, or business.  Ultimately, it doesn't really matter to me in terms of sales.  I wasn't going to buy the new rules anyway; I didn't buy 4th edition, and don't care to play D&D in any case.  I found a better system decades ago in Hero.
Its just annoying to have some causehead force their way into yet another aspect of life, demanding attention with shrill cries and stamping of feet.

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