Thursday, August 10, 2006

Silly Reasons for a Serious Suggestion

Revolutionaries should play Dungeons and Dragons.

Any roleplaying game will do, really. Or just any game that fulfills a couple of requirements, but roleplaying games come to mind as a good example, mostly because I'm familiar with them. Which is why I mention D&D, too. The personal familiarity. (I happen to play a lot of D&D.)

Why do I say revolutionaries (and that means You!) should play D&D?

It's fun. Even revolutionaries can't be all deadly serious all the time. And we spend enough time gathered around tables covered in maps, discussing things with people normal society thinks are delusional, that roleplaying isn't a huge stretch as a mode of entertainment.

It's tinkerable. There's a set of rules, but you can add or subtract whatever you want, change whatever you want. That's another reason I mention D&D, is that it's particularly good for that. It's got plenty of obvious things to fiddle with, a lot of examples changes to look at and mess with, and a large amateur designer base to get feedback from. And making changes to a large, complicated set of rules is what revolutionaries are all about.

Tinkering with it is actually surprisingly good practice for tinkering with "real" systems, like government. It trains you to think about consequences. This article, and also this one, on "proud nails" in the game are good examples, and are what got me thinking along this track. When you're fiddling with big, complicated, rules based systems, you can't just be thinking about the single rule. You've also got to think about the context, and practicality, and what it's actually going to encourage people to do. The bit about "identifying bears, but only small ones" is a pretty good example of how even well intentioned and well functioning rules can go horribly wrong.

Not that rules are a particularly good way to organize society. But the basic principle applies even if you're using more modern concepts. Like "mission statements."

As a completely irrelevant closing point, it's also good training for dealing with social ostracization. Or, since that's not a real word, being laughed at. As Gandhi says, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." But you don't get to the last to if you run away because people laughing at you hurt your feelings.

But then, revolutionaries don't really need practice being laughed at. It's practically on the "Official Revolutionary Checklist." (Been laughed at? Check. Vowed to destroy them all? Check. Invented/stole a really snazzy doctrine that will make them all wish they hadn't mocked me, so they could be part of my inner circle and use awesome words like "proletariat" in public? Indeed, check.)

1 comment:

  1. I want a copy of that Official Revolutionary Checklist!

    D&D also lets you test revolutionary ideas. Roleplaying crazy anarchists is like practice! And GM's can get a chance to develop their revolutionary schemes.