My weekly podcast listen turned into trash when the three DMigos bailed out on Save or Die. If I want to hear lazy, nasally analysis of trivial nonsense, I’ll turn on CNN. It was grim for a while there, until in an idle moment I checked on the status of Save For Half. Somehow the massive marketing push they made on Save For Half failed to penetrate my media shields, but now I’m catching up.
In Episode 4: Cyborg Commando, Jim Wampler provides a very thoughtful discussion on play styles in which he completely misses one of the larger fault-lines destroying tabletop gaming today. Jim’s analysis focuses exclusively on cosmetic differences and arguments about preferences. It all sounds eminently reasonable and ecumenical, but ignores the key disconnect.
Imagine, if you will, that old E. Reagan Wright were to tell you that he sure does love him some Dungeons and Dragons. He loves the flashing lights, the driving music, the well-oiled hard bodies, the arrhythmic sound of slapping flesh and soft moans punctuated by loud grunts, the ready availability of hard drugs, and the wide selection of accessible partners ranging from big huggable bears to young and nubile barely-18 boys. But really, the part he loves best in the complete lack of judgement in the room as he dives naked into the writing carpeted bleachers full of fully aroused drunken men who care nothing for tomorrow nor the decades stripped off of our lives thanks to the homophobic nature of epidemiology.
Reagan, you might object, that doesn’t sound like Dungeons and Dragons at all. That sounds like a gay nightclub orgy.
To which E. Reagan Wright might explain: don’t tell me how to play Dungeons and Dragon. That’s how I prefer to play it, and if you dare suggest that I’m doing it wrong then you are a hateful jerk. After all, everyone knows that modern Dungeons and Dragons requires the copious exchange of body fluids, and Wizards of the Coast itself supports hot man on man D&D action in dark clubs, so you have no right to tell me I’m doing it wrong. And if everyone starts to associate D&D with AIDS, then welcome to the current year, expletivenoun*.
You get my point. You can slap all the lipstick on that pig that you want, but it’ll still be Anita Sarkeesian.
When E. Reagan Wright says, “You’re doing it wrong!” he doesn’t mean that you should stop what you are doing. He doesn’t mean you should be ashamed of what you are doing. He doesn’t mean your way of doing what you are doing is better or worse that his way of doing what you’re doing.
He just means that it is wrong to call what you are doing D&D. If what you are doing is storytelling, then call it that.
And that’s why E. Reagan Wright calls the modern day pink slime played at the friendly local, Girl D&D. It isn’t really D&D. It’s a not-D&D that the world has agreed in its collective delusion is somehow D&D – similar to the way everyone pretends that CNN does journalism or that drinking milkshakes while young and plain and wearing the right style of problematic glasses proves one’s talent at comic book editing – despite all evidence to the contrary.
Jim Wampler might be right about a lot of things, but his entire rant is built around the wrong questions. It isn’t a question of preference, it’s a question of terminology. What you are doing might not be objectively wrong, but it’s objectively no more D&D than my usual Tuesday night out at the bars.
*Asshat. Fuckface. Turdbaby. Madlib swearing is how progressives demonstrate their “creativity”.