You are NOT an Elf! Advice to Role Playing Gamers
As a child of the 70s, I have encountered role-playing games of all sorts, beginning with Dungeons and Dragons to the various spin-offs (oh, how I miss Marvel Super Heroes). With the advent of home computers, some of the first games created for the PC were RPGs. They were text based for a while, but that was not too unlike D&D, though missing the fun social component. As technology increased, obviously so did the complexity and imagery. Then the games added things like real-time and full fledged character control. Your chances of finding a standard dungeon crawler these days is limited pretty much to some free app on your iphone. Now, Skyrim is the crack people are craving. One thing unites them all and that is the gamer himself.
Role playing gamers (RPGers) are an interesting breed. They are typically not casual gamers. They can’t be. Good grief, man. Who has time to run a 3 hour campaign to save the purple unicorn from the 3 horned dragomonkeyliger? Not I. Did you see that episode of South Park and all the hours they spent leveling up their WoW characters to beat some fat slob? Funny episode and it’s based on reality. I’m not saying that all RPGers are fat slobby dudes. In fact, where do all those hot cosplay girls come from? Holy shit! Why can’t I play AD&D with them? I digress. What I am saying is that there is a level of obsession and dedication present in the RPGer that does not exist elsewhere.
The complexity of the games is now such that even in single player questing, you’re investing 60, 80, 200 hours of gameplay to finish the game. That’s good unless the bulk of that time is not spent farming or grinding to level up your guy. Then there are the RPGs, especially online, where you encounter characters that exist purely to benefit a main character. In other words, you’ve created slaves to farm items and in-game bonuses for you. How does it feel to be a slave owner? Oh, you’re just leveling up this character so you can sell it? Um, that makes you a slave trader now. Wow. You are a horrible person.
Entire websites are dedicated to strategies, mods, patches, and cheats for circumventing the programmed limitations of the game. Entire other sites are created for the brisk trade of fully leveled characters. Why do you want to shorten the game experience? You spent $60 for this game and you want to beat it in a week? Are you insane? Look, you can invest in a game and try to play by the rules of the designer and the world in which you play. Leave out all the rule bending bullshit and enjoy the game. If it’s a coop, play with friends and meet new people. Have fun.
I also seem to run across RPGers who are so into the game that they think they are their character. These are the guys at DragonCon who have “battles” in the hallway over the number of jewels on someone else’s tunic.
“Thou art a fool if thou thinkest that Ragaronocton has but fourteen mithrain rubies on his cloak of power. All but the simplest of minds know that Ragaronocton has eighteen mitrain rubies, representing the eighteen realms of the Kingdom of Entrailonia.”
I am reminded of “Mazes and Monsters”, one of the first films of Tom Hanks’ career. He got so wrapped up in an RPG that he ended up killing a bum in a subway thinking he was slaying a demon or something. Do you know how many parents heard about that and burned their kids’ D&D gear? I would think that it takes a special kind of person to get that wrapped up in a game. Now, I am not so sure. The combination of socially awkward people, combined with the relative anonymity of video games, allows the unattractive overweight guy to follow the illusion that he is a ripped warrior “in a relationship” with the sexy valkarie he met in the game forum, who is probably also a dude in real life. Let’s all add a hair of discernment and common sense here. If they don’t talk to you in real life, they likely won’t talk to you here either. It’s not real, man. Sorry.
Just remember this. You are not really an Elf, or a Demon, or Darkwing Duck. You are a human being playing a role in a FREAKIN VIDEO GAME. Have some fun. Make some friends. Enjoy the beautiful artwork that a team of designers took months, even years to design for your pleasure. Listen to the beautiful score to the game. Fight. Level up. Win. Then turn the system off and get enough sleep to go to work the next day and contribute to society. Get out this weekend and socialize with some friends over dinner. Let games be the diversion and entertainment they were meant to be. If and when you even get hired for adding “Completed ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ in 120 hours” to your resume, let me know.