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Monday, June 26, 2006

Curse you RPGpundit, curse you! (A fairy tale in 3 parts, #2)

Part 2. A flawed champion...
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

The months passed and JMcL63 read more of the RPGpundit's rants. Our aging gamer began to perceive that this guardian of all that is pure and good in roleplaying was not without his flaws.

JMcL63 was struck first by the pundit's foul-mouthed vitriol. No lily-liver himself, our aging gamer just wondered if what the internet really needed was yet more of the abuse of strangers for which ecommunities were already well known. Moreover, our aging gamer reasoned that it is one thing to announce over and over that someone is shit- hoping thereby perhaps to convince people by dint of repetition; but that it is quite another actually to prove the point by virtue of reasoned argument.

If JMcL63 felt that the RPGpundit suffered from the fact that scatological polemic instead of reasoned argument was his weapon of choice in his self-appointed quest against swinedom, our aging gamer also eventually came to doubt the validity of the pundit's defintion of the term 'swine' itself.

At first JMcL63 (and no doubt many others) thought that by 'swine' the RPGpundit was referring to the pseudo-intellectuals of the artsy roleplaying school. As time went on however, the pundit came out with a defintion of 'swine' that included anyone for whom roleplaying was too important in their lives. Our aging gamer was unimpressed with this because it seemed altogether too self-serving.

In the first instance it let the RPGpundit off the hook for his own swinism. Yes, the internet's most famous scourge of roleplaying swine was not above a touch of narrativist idiocy himself. In the pundit's case, this was his insistence on solving the problems of all hitherto existing superhero rpg's via the introduction of 'protagonism', which for the pundit represented a superhero's ability to win against impossible odds so long as they were in their own comic, and were therefore the coolest character of all.

Beyond that, our aging gamer felt that- all appearances of an ex post facto construction aside- the RPGpundit's definition of 'swinism' would just allow the pundit to tar with the 'swine' label anyone whose attitude to roleplaying was different from his own. This is, in fact, what JMcL63 thought happened when the RPGpundit chose to add Green Ronin to his hate list, a decision that always seemed to our aging gamer to have little to do with their being anything like the genuine swine against whom the pundit had railed so venomously.

By a strange irony it was at just about this period when JMcL63 believed that the RPGpundit was losing his touch that the second of the enduring consequences of the pundit's blog was visited upon our aging gamer. Deciding to complement the pundit's scathing polemic with rational analysis and detailed refutation, our aging gamer started to investigate the very games theoretical culture against which the RPGpundit had railed so long and hard.

Irony compounding irony, one of the places JMcL63 visited as part of this investigation was the Forge, domain of the dark lord Ron Edwards and his GNS school of roleplaying theory. Our aging gamer had visited this site the previous year after hearing about the GNS theory at Worldcon 2005, something he wrote about in his very first post to RD/KA!. A quick scan of this site rapidly convinced JMcL63 that it was well worth ignoring until, in a final layer of irony, RPGpundit's rants at Edwards' expense drove our aging gamer to investigate the site the better to refute its ideas.

Entering the world of roleplaying theory JMcL63 soon found himself in a miasma of cod academicism and grandiose restatements of old nostrums and of the blindingly obvious. Digging deeper our aging gamer felt himself losing his grip on the sound precepts of good clean fun. Worse still, he realised that this material had got under his skin, and he would never be quite free of it until he had subjected it to a thorough dissection and detailed refutation, a task he shrank from even as he raged against the would-be reinventors of roleplaying.

So, for making roleplaying theory into an itch I'd rather ignore, but still must scratch, I say, "Curse you RPGpundit, curse you!"

Related@RD/KA!
- Part 1. There came a questing knight
- Part 3. ...But a champion nonetheless
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