26
Jul
09

tyranny, self-entitlement & getting over it all

I want all of you boys to be able to look me straight in the eye one more time and say: “ARE WE HAVING FUN OR WHAT?” — Top Dollar, The Crow.

Ever get into one of those dialogues where you don’t want to say anything but know that you’ll have to? There’s been recent themes in my blogosphere of late. First – a so-called tyranny people submit to when they experience a game or story – an interesting point-of-view. Tyranny implies an arbitrary or brutal exercise of power, abuse of authority, severity and oppression.

When you hear this phrase being applied to concepts like fun, the role of an author/game master or participant then you consider what boundaries of trust or consensual play have been violated. The concept of social contract (discussed here) means participants need to be honest with each other – an honesty oft set aside in the name of compromise or social fallicies.

Your time is important. It’s non-renewable. Getting an invitation to ‘Titanic‘ to discover you’ve arrived in ‘Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus‘ will annoy. Communication and effective feedback is essential. Keep with what you like and acknowledge when it doesn’t inspire. Speak up – you’re with friends (or people with a common hobby) so why suffer in silence?

That said, who wants to be an ass? Consider how you’d respond if your statements were made to you. Think about the words you’re using before going as a friend of mine puts it ‘all bardic vomit’. Give respect and you’ll get it back. It’s really that simple. Tactful suggestions on how it might go better can help steer people towards greatness.

Secondly is the opinion tabletop RPGs are doomed. This particular saw has been played since the 1990s by people who fear their hobby will fold in the face of large-scale collector games or computer-based gaming. The latest view is customers are so cheap that when they can find free alternatives, they do so, rather than spend money on merchandise that can be hard to find.

This pessimism is taking the industry further away from it’s audience. It implies a basic lack of respect about the product and it’s seller. So is complaining about how hard it is to make it in the hobby today, about which version is best, or how it doesn’t fit your vision of the ideal game even though they make blog content. You might have to move on. You might have to get smart.

Choose carefully – remember your time is important. And if you think your audience or peers are petty, self-entitled whiners you may be in the wrong business or peer group. I’d rather be with a bunch of discerning, creative enthusiasts. I know they’re out there. So do they – and I don’t have to insult or litigate against them to get them to listen. Does that count for something?

You might even want to look at how people who are making it in the environment are going on. In closing – a video of a presentation by Mike Masnick of Techdirt.com on a case study featuring Trent Reznor, Jonathan Coulton and others who have realised that it’s now about the patronage of the customer. It’s a bit lengthy – start from 02:30 if your time is short – but worth it.

P.S. By the way…
Have you?

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