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In the End, the Swine Will Devour Themselves

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RPGPundit:
It had to happen eventually, didn't it? I mean, its been five years or more now, since the fall of the great army of story-based gaming.  Their Dark Lordis long since gone, his one pretentious name-dot thrown into the pit of some volcano, destroying him forever. The Swine hordes have fled back to within the gates of their kingdom, their power over the rest of the gaming world gone forever.
The good guys won, and the true King, "D20, son of D&D" was crowned by the white-clad Wizard of the Coast (once only a grey-clad producer of magic cards) in his shining city.  And all good people have rejoiced for it. These days all have sworn fealty to his system of governance, or have seen the wisdom in it and so designed their own systems after his.  Even the distant and damage-resistant Naked Dwarves of the Warhammer, the strange Paranoid people of the underground Complex, and the lead-absorbent Trolls of the Shadow Runs.
 
The Swine have lost everything. Once they ruled over the gaming world with an iron claw, imposing their story-based pretentious terror on all peoples. Now they are nothing, broken.  Still "number 2" but only technically.  I mean hell, if this is how "nuber 2" behaves, its no surprise Number 1 is light years ahead of the crowd.

....

Story-based gaming is the core of Swine philosophy, and as I've explained before, the Swine motivation is primarily that of giving themselves a grotesquely overinflated sense of self-worth and meaning in their otherwise meaningless lives.  Their game has to not be a game, it has to be something far more than a game.  It has to be "art", it has to be "culture", it has to be "intellectual", it has to be something very special that only the chosen and misunderstood few will be able to understand or appreciate, something that MAKES THEM SPECIAL just for playing it, without requiring them to actually be artistic, cultured, intellectual or special in any real sense of those words.
 
Now, one of the fundamental requirements of the Swine philosophy is elitism; a strong sense of social hierarchy, usually directly inverted to the actual social hierarchy you would find in the real world.  The Swine, in their world, are the "Elite", the ones who are special because they understand and play their games.  They must therefore be games which are "not for everyone", which are exclusive, which reject "lesser beings".  The more you can reject those "lesser beings",  the more special that makes you.  Never mind that its all a big cover-up for their own sense of rejection at the hands of a society that wants nothing to do with pretentious shitheads who have not yet learned (and possibly never will) that you get to be special not by virtue of birth or by default but by ACTUALLY FUCKING ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING.
 
But the Swine need for Elitism is their undoing; it is what will lead them to devour themselves completely in the end, as they are doing now. Its what would have brought Roleplaying down with them, had it not been for the rise of D20.  To be "Elite" you must constantly be purging your ranks, otherwise you're only as special as the rest of the losers in black lace and white make up around you, and that really can't feel very special even to a Swine.  So what to do?

There's no choice: you have to create another "tier" of exclusivity, something to let the OTHER Swine know that while they may in fact be superior to the "unwashed masses", you are superior to them.  Rein┬ĚHagen did it by being the guy who was actually in charge of White Wolf, which defined Swine Culture in the RPG world (and his successors are more than happy to continue ruling over the scraps of his once dark and mighty empire in the exact same way).  Its the reason why Story-based gaming is essential to the Swine, because story-based gaming makes the players lesser beings to the "storytelling" GM, and the GM a lesser being to the metaplot-writing failed novelists over at WW.
 
How could any other Swine be expected to eventually react, if he hoped for forward advancement? The only way would be to DENOUNCE WW.  This was something that had already been happening for some time. Ron Edwards set himself up as the Cult Leader of the Forge, drawing fawning yes-men into his surroundings by selling the point that he was more "indie" and "exclusive" and therefore better than WW, even turning WW into the "unwashed masses" that the Swine all seem to be so fearful of, and creating the promise that anyone who came and followed him would be "saved" by the transforming power of being more "elite" than the damned souls who followed WW's false idol.  And to wrap it all up in a neat package he invented a bunch of total bullshit about "GNS theory" to try to make his "work" look academic and intellectual, and not just a bunch of mindless pretentious drivel.  Oh, and I think there was also something about a mothership and purple kool-aid in there somewhere...
Anyways, back to the point at hand: inevitably, the WW Swine fanboys will have to denounce WW en masse. It was predestined from the moment WW lost the industry leadership; it meant gaming is no longer the Swine's fiefdom and they've been mad about it for some time.  D20-hate will only get them so far, and after five years of trying desperately to bring down D20 in any way possible and getting nowhere, they are getting hungry in looking for someone to pay for their loss of status.  Maybe this debauchle over licensing will be it; the straw that broke the clove-cigarette-smoking transylvanian-wine-drinking bad-fiction-writing fake-artiste's back. But even if it isn't, the process has begun (really it BEGAN with the nWoD and DRM), and is only going to get worse and worse, as the Swine first take down their mother-corp, and then fight viciously amongst themselves to establish pretentious dominance.
 
I plan to bring popcorn.
 
This is the great weakness of the Swine, and why they are doomed to fail. Their exclusionism will eventually force them to exclude each other.   It nearly brought down the industry, but fortunately we have been spared that fate, though reconstruction is still tenous and we must continue to be vigilant and work hard to restore the fan base. Yet every day we grow stronger, and the Swine weaker.  I cannot pity them though, they sealed their own fate the moment they decided that the pretense of "being superior" was more important than actually doing something to make yourself so.
 
RPGPundit July 09, 2005

mythusmage:
Teens love being part of something special. If they can't belong to the prestigue clique, they'll invent a prestique clique of their own. But eventually most people do grow up.

RPGs are all about the adventure. Doing hazardous things for various reasons because you want to get something done. But to have adventures you need a well constructed world where the constraints make sense in the context of the game.

I find "story" to be needlessly constraining. Not only that, story flies in the face of what happens in a session in the first place. Going by the description of the word the great majority of humanity uses, a story is an account of events that have already occured. Even when a story is told in the present or future tense. (Naught but rhetorical devices those two.)

A game session is the events as they occur. To make this simple, playing an adventure is like actually performing the actions, albeit vicariously. In effect, you are playing a character who is living through the events played out in the game. He's not in a story, that's his life.

That storyteller crap is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what RPGs are. A misunderstanding based on the fact the events in an RPG are imaginary. Fictional in a word. However, with RPGs we have methods of presenting fictional events that are truly present tense. But since they are present tense they cannot be part of a story as they occur. No, the story comes when the participants recount what happened.

D&D 3.x has problems of its own, but at least it doesn't pretend to be a way of telling a story.

Andy K:
Interesting. The clock's started. There are four years left. We'll see what the world looks like then.

-Andy

fonkaygarry:
That intro is the best RPG punditry ever.

If a hater is hated, is the hater-hating-hater's hate...  Shit, I got mixed up.

Much like the anime industry (if only on a tinier scale), RPGs are headed to market armageddon.  Unlike the anime industry, small scale POD and digital distro can keep the niche product flowing as long as the writers are willing to write.

But!  If the pie gets even smaller, will design efforts suffer correspondingly?  Mike Mearls has written about the death of the freelancing market, saying that indie games are where the next generation of design will have to come from.  How can "major" game companies (defined as, I guess, those with more than a couple full time employees) hope to lure away indie designers who are seeing direct returns from their efforts?

Abyssal Maw:

--- Quote from: fonkaygarry ---That intro is the best RPG punditry ever.

If a hater is hated, is the hater-hating-hater's hate...  Shit, I got mixed up.

Much like the anime industry (if only on a tinier scale), RPGs are headed to market armageddon.  Unlike the anime industry, small scale POD and digital distro can keep the niche product flowing as long as the writers are willing to write.

But!  If the pie gets even smaller, will design efforts suffer correspondingly?  Mike Mearls has written about the death of the freelancing market, saying that indie games are where the next generation of design will have to come from.  How can "major" game companies (defined as, I guess, those with more than a couple full time employees) hope to lure away indie designers who are seeing direct returns from their efforts?
--- End quote ---


The next generation nearly always comes from "indie" game designers. thats how it has always been.

Many of todays game designers started out as "indie" game designers, including one of D&D 3's designers, Jonathan Tweet.  Mark Rein Hagen was an indie game designer. Gary Gygax was an indie game designer. (I suppose technically, he still is.)  Likewise Kevin Siembieda. So this doesn't actually represent much of a change. What has changed is that the current crop seem to be intentionally making games that not many people really want to play other than.. other indie game designers. In which case they either live in the same town or they only really play over IRC. Otherwise they don't actually play.

In any case, today only a few indie game designers seem to make that much money, and none of them see wide distribution. They're an outgrowth (and a reaction to ) the 1990s, and in a way theyre still kind of stuck there, endlessly cloning Fudge, aping Over the Edge.  

The next decade's designers will be people that came up playing the current version of D&D, understand why it rules, where it has problems, and will want to improve on that.

So in a way, I guess the future belongs to the Mearls and Kenson types.

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