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As most of you know I play a lot of D&D 5e, and me and my weekly group have a very good time with it. I started hanging out on a lot of RPG forums, tooling around RPG twitter, etc., and even made my way to some stuff with the OSR. But recently I had to scale back what I read because it's making me doubt the actual fun I have every week. Being the most visible TTRPG out there, 5e has a bit of a target on its back, and there's a pretty strong discourse surrounding its flaws. That's fine! It's okay to criticize the thing that is popular. But I discovered that it also makes me feel, well, kind of crappy. I don't really like pondering the flaws of the little groove I'm in. I mean, 5e isn't ALL we play, but it is pretty close, and it's kind of a headache to get around to incorporating another game, and so we just end up continuing to play 5e. And you know, it's not just "a game" anymore, it ends up being something of an emotional attachment, because we all create emotional attachments to stuff. And no one wants to deal with criticism about their emotional attachments. So now I limit my D&D chit-chat to pretty positive, rah-rah stuff, because it makes me feel happy about what I've chosen to do with my life.
So then it got me thinking about what other interests I have that I actually discuss online, and it occurred to me that I've had to do this pretty much across the board. I don't participate in the movie threads because I so rarely get to see new movies that aren't Star Wars or Marvel, and when I do I just feel like internalizing the feelings, maybe sharing them with others in person, and then moving on with my life. I just don't have the emotional strength to litigate opinions over and over again, you know? I did the same thing with Doctor Who, which is still one of my favorite shows, even though I've been kind of hot or cold on the most recent run. But you know, it's no big deal. I don't need it to be flawless, I just need it to be there. And I actually found a Star Wars community that I like hanging out in. What do I like about it? Its community rule is that you can only say positive things about Star Wars. It's understood that no one likes all of it, so why harp on it?
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I find myself increasingly tired of being a critic, and I want to spend a lot more of my time just liking stuff. But that is so NOT how people want to spend their time online, and it just makes me so tired. Like...I'm committing as much of my life to enjoying this stuff as I feel I can already. I don't need to read negative stuff, you know?
That really pushes against some of the discourse, even around here. I know that this site has a long history of really good debate over all sorts of stuff, and I think that's to be celebrated. But more and more I feel like I'm still here because I know a lot of you, and because this is where my friends are. It's certainly not because I have any sort of connection to most of the games being played, since I can't ever engage with most of them in the first place. And man, I am just tired of debating freaking everything online. That's not meant as a criticism of TWBG, it's really my deal. I don't want anyone or anything to change, I'm just trying to organize what I'm battling against in my engagement with this hobby.
I don't know if I have any big conclusion here. I am just tired maybe. All I want out of my games is fun times with friends, you know? Sort of a modified Marie Kondo thing, whatever sparks joy. And one of the things that sparks joy is knowing that my games are bringing me happiness, and that other people's games are bringing them happiness.
I don’t like 5e much anymore because I’ve moved on from it, at a certain point it wasn’t really the game I wanted it to be. But for most people it is THE game. For a lot of people it brings joy and a sense of belonging and happiness. It gives some people confidence, it gives others an opportunity to write and think and work out who they are. And I’m going to sit here and sniff “well, actually, D&D is a corporate product and <<<insert whatever tiny DIY RPG system>>> is somehow what they SHOULD be playing because of whatever reason? FFS, at least they are playing D&D! Support that!
Internet negativity is always a THING and you are always going to get a dogpile of people who will attack something for no other reason than it’s popular. Immature scenesters who haven’t grown out of the need to tear down are always going to be trying to drag down what everybody else likes. Whether it’s Marvel, Star Wars, Doctor Who or whatever. These people have yet to mature to the point where they realize that there is no power or value in acting like you are “above” mainstream likes, wants, and needs.
Be a critic, for God’s sake let people know what you think. Let people know what you think is a failure or a shortcoming. But recognize that your opinion is not a dictate, and your opinion is never going to foreclose on others enjoying something you don’t like or that doesn’t give you want you need or want.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth over 5e in particular is really funny to me. Without D&D, RPGs don’t exist. It is the source and the wellspring. If you don’t know why you don’t like D&D, then you have no basis for an opinion on Monsterhearts, Into the Odd, Black Hack, or whatever. D&D -is- the context, and it is the only RPG that is culturally relevant or significant outside of its scene.
So don’t let the bastards get you down. If you are doing something that brings you and your friends joy, fuck what they think.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I find myself increasingly tired of being a critic, and I want to spend a lot more of my time just liking stuff. But that is so NOT how people want to spend their time online, and it just makes me so tired.
Actually, most people want to spend their online time just liking stuff. Traffic numbers supports this. In fact, one of the on going discussions that folks that manage board game sites have been having is that positive reviews, articles about board gaming, and discussions bring in more traffic than negative ones. Therefore, negative reviews, articles and discussions are disincentivized. It creates a bit of a dilemma balancing site integrity against desire to increase traffic and grow. We are fortunately in the position of not being just a review site. We can balance out critical and negative reviews with positive articles and blogs.
Your strength is that you write authentically about what you love.