Sunday, July 06, 2008

The No Fun Game

Why do some people try to get others to play their game by explaining why the game they're already playing "isn't fun?" That's been the Wizards of the Coast marketing tactic for 4e, towards older editions, and the main effect I've noticed has been a perfectly justifiable increase in grouchiness amongst the people who play all those editions.

WotC (and their overenthusiastic minions) aren't the only ones who do this, though. It seems to be a foundation of the more annoying forms of Forge theory, that D&D isn't fun and all the people who think it is are delusional. And I've had several people try to get me to play Exalted using this strategy.

I don't get it. If those older editions weren't fun, how'd the hobby get started in the first place? (I'm using "fun" broadly here -- maybe better to say "worth playing.") In WotCs case, I think their target audience is people without the history to know any better, just trying to create comparison, but still. Clumsy.

And even leaving aside the stupid insult angle, telling me why my game is bad doesn't give me any reason to play yours. It's sort of understandable that Wizards sees the world as "our new D&D vs. your old D&D," but it always puzzled me that the Exalted players thought that if I wasn't playing D&D, I'd automatically move to their game, like there weren't a hundred other systems out there that I could play.


  1. I agree.

    Now if I find something I do not like in how it works in a game system and someone says, "Yes, but look at how game X does that. It is really clever." Then I will probably want to look at game X.

    So, a lot has to do with presentation. I entirely agree with you about the FORGEestias annoying habit of looking at any game they do not like and criticizing the people who play it. Not the way to win friends or influence people.

    I have not seen the same from the 4E crowd so much but then I am not reading those boards/journals/whatever too much either.

  2. Oh, yeah. Criticism is great. And saying, "Hey, if you're doing a combat focused game with epic quests and a lot of action, use 4e rather than another edition," is great, because that's useful. But saying, "If you're not doing a combat focused game with epic quests and a lot of action, you're not having fun, so start playing 4e," isn't particularly helpful.

    I've seen a bit of this from 4e fans on old school websites, and more from the pre-release WotC marketing. I wouldn't be surprised if it's more widespread, but it's mostly that the one or two instances I did notice reminded me of a couple of personal experiences I'd had concerning Exalted, and this suggested a broader trend.