Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My Life as a Gamer: My Dude Ain't a Robot

First, let me define a term:

Virtual Robot Thinking: The habit of seeing a character in a role-playing game solely in terms of game mechanics, as if that character were a chassis for a vehicle upon which they install subsystems and from which they expect certain ranges of performance, instead of as an individual. Tends to arise from thinking that the rules of the game is the whole the game, as one expects out of other forms of game.

I didn't get into tabletop RPGs to be told that my dude is suboptimal because he doesn't have this stat maxed out, or doesn't have the correct skill build, or picked this power or that one. I got into them because the rules of tabletop RPGs are NOT the whole of the game, but merely what one can use to make and issue rulings when required. Yes, even when doing commonplace things like combat. Yet this attitude, which has always been an issue, got normalized into tabletop RPG culture with D&D 3rd Edition. Even with the current 5th edition, it's an issue; Pathfinder encourages it as an unspoken norm.

Virtual Robot Thinking has no place in tabletop RPGs.

It's bad enough that this thinking dominates RPGs in videogames (and arose emergently for technical reasons), but the instant you start talking builds and optimizing in tabletop is where you lose the plot. The core of tabletop RPGs is "What Do You Do?" as a feedback loop. Everything else is second to that.

Virtual Robot Thinking gets you too far into the game and out of playing the role. Your character is a character, not a robot that you remotely operate to do things. You stop thinking from your character's perspective. You stop thinking in terms of natural language, as you do in your real life, and instead think only in terms of mechanics and rules, missing all of the incredible experiences to be had in favor of an inferior boardgame or videogame knockoff. In short, you miss the point of tabletop RPGs.

Stop doing it. It's spergy, and no one likes spergs.

No comments:

Post a Comment