Flesh & Blood or Digital Gaming
Which do you prefer?
RPG Gaming, Online Gaming,
or Pen and Paper Gaming
(The following article reflects the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect opinions of the staff and management of Buzzy Multimedia.)
All children, except gamers, grow up.
In the beginning there was gaming and it was good. We had character sheets, an array of dice, the occasional painted figurine to represent our guy, and a table around which we sat, looking at one another, laughing, killing, and saving the world every Friday night, like clockwork.
Truly these were the best of times. Each of us remembers when we started gaming, and who “turned us onto it,” because like any good addiction, you don’t just wake up one morning and decide today is the day that I will start a new hobby/lifestyle.
I love gaming. As anyone who knows me or has read any of my blogs know, I bleed dice. What better fun can be had than sitting in a room with your friends, enjoying each other’s company, exercising your mind, and all fairly inexpensively? To me, this is what gaming is.
When the video game thing started I was not there. No doubt I was with my friends at the gaming table. I never got into it. We had a Nintendo system growing up but neither my brothers nor myself were all that into it.
After we grew up and moved out and had computers we never really explored computer games. Back then they were just like the Nintendo we used to have, but took longer to load and cost more money. Besides, some of those early games took up to 56k of memory and who had that to spare on their hard drive? NASA maybe, but not us.
Eventually the internet came along (Thanks Al Gore!) and both gaming and computer technology evolved. But still online gaming was not for me. Essentially it was no different than playing Nintendo. I never embraced it. Instead of my brother being Player Two, who I could turn and punch in the arm when he did something that got me killed, the opposition was a total stranger, one of a million interacting with me in this cyber imaginary world. I imagine hell to be like this.
A dimension that is cold and sterile and so utterly and completely stifling.
Now, before you start lambasting me and pointing out all of the wonderful aspects you enjoy about MUDDs and MMOs and WoW let me say this-good for you. Online gaming IMHO is for Gamers-Lite. There, I said it.
Not that computer online gaming is bad, it just isn’t any good. It has its place in Geekdom, and believe you me, I am well aware that there are a lot more folks who game online than those who play at a table, but it’s not my thing.
Aside from the social interaction that RPG gaming provides, I like the ability to out-think a module, outsmart the GM, and do something unforeseen. In a computer game, online or not, you can ONLY do what the game designer allows you to do, there is no room whatsoever for imagination, creativity, spontaneity, or the ability to say “The hell with this, I’m going AWOL and taking my Halo armor with me.” I don’t need or want this.
And btw, it really, truly, deeply bugs me when the online types refer to themselves as gamers and that they play RPGs. No, ya don’t. I may concede on the word “gamer,” but frankly, I wish you would use some other word. It’s our word; we had it first, and frankly, use it better.
But as far as your RPG usage goes – stop it right now. When a computer game fades to a cut scene and your “character” speaks with another “character” in the game, THAT IS NOT ROLE-PLAYING! When an exclamation mark (!) appears over someone’s head, that is not a clue, that is leading you by the self-imposed nose ring to move you to the next phase of the storyline because unless you do, you’re not gonna get there.
That is a predetermined computer program doing its predetermined thing. It’s never gonna do anything different, the dialogue is never gonna change, and neither character is ever gonna ask or answer a question that you would.
And don’t tell me that in WoW you can talk and interact with “real people,” I know that, but that is not role-playing either. That is called ‘texting.’ The missions are the same. The world has impassable edges to it. The way to defeat the level boss is always the same and sometimes the patter is painfully obvious. Technology cannot be improved upon or invented in the game. Hell, unless you’re Mr. T and a super hacker you can’t even create your own Night Elf Mohawk Clan, ya gotta settle for the options presented to you. Why? Why settle when you can be the master of your destiny and the captain of your ship? Why can Leon S. Kennedy just set that impossibly large mansion ablaze? Why can’t I throw some of all those hand grenades I have been carrying around at that monster in the lake? Why can’t I save Sebastian? Why won’t the dog come with me, hell, it’s the one who saved me from the ogre. And why can’t I just hire that creepy old guy who sells me stuff to be my scout and have him take me directly to the end of the game. It’s not like Leon needs experience points to become a better shot, he starts the game as an expert, it’s my lousy controller usage that gets him killed time and time again.
I may sound like a crazy person, perhaps a bit touched even, but I can also say this: every computer gamer who I have personally introduced to traditional RPGs loves the freedom and has since become regular gamers. I cannot say the converse is true.
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Flesh and Blood or Digital Gaming
Flesh & Blood or Digital Gaming. In the beginning there was gaming and it was good. We had character sheets, an array of dice, the occasional painted figurine to represent our guy, and a table around which we sat...