At Low Ebb

Time has come ’round again for the cyclical “Let’s lynch the game-designer” mood to strike over at RPGnet . By now, I’m more than familiar with the drill:

1) I make a harsh response to someone who is being less than civil to me.

2) Some yutz, previously uninvolved in the situation (and usually a non-registered, anonymous user) gets all huffy and put-out about it, and lambasts me for being “unprofessional.”

3) The usual suspects jump in and pile on, gleefully tearing into me with the relish usual reserved for wrapped Christmas presents. Same names every time, too.

4) One or two “industry professionals” (occasionally some pdf-basement-press wanna-be, but from time to time one of the more sanctimonious, self-righteous varieties of a genuine published professional) sounds off about how they would NEVER act that way, and hence aren’t they so much cooler than me, and worthy of praise.

5) Repeat ad nauseum, until any joy I have in writing for this field is beaten out of me for another couple of months.

I know that I shouldn’t let it get to me. I know that the ravings of a bunch of borderline Asperger’s Syndrome social misfits don’t matter at all, and I shouldn’t let it get under my skin. But after years of dealing with it again and again, it’s never failed to frustrate the living hell out of me.

Most of the professionals that I respect in this industry tell me that this is the main reason they don’t participate in the various forum boards, despite the potential to interact with the audience. I have always wondered, though, why, if the fans of this industry are such a burden to have to deal with–if, as has been said to me time and again, they are often beneath contempt and something to be avoided–then WHY bother to write for them at all?

This doesn’t apply to all of them, of course— some of the folks that I’ve interacted with on-line have been normal, well-spoken, respectful people who enjoy the dialogues that access to creative professionals afford them. What bothers me is that more of them don’t take umbrage at the behavior of their stereotype-reinforcing peers, who result in the image of fandom being as bad as it is. I know that I, for one, am tired of the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy being the image of fandom which is more often accurate than not.

I can think, off the top of my head, of at least a dozen game industry professionals who have gotten so tired of dealing with internet fandom that they have either sworn off the internet forum boards, or, in some cases, have gotten so jaded as to quit the industry entirely. They’ve asked themselves the question of whether or not the fans of the role-playing field are worth dealing with, and the answer has been, time and again, a resounding “No.”

That’s a question that I now find myself asking, yet again.

Or, if I may wax a little Carrie Bradshaw-ish to close with a posed query: Is it worth continuing to produce material for an audience comprised largely of the sort of socially-retarded, obsessive oddballs that you’d be embarrassed to be seen with in public?

GMS

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