Tomorrow is a big day in the world of Christian Orthodoxy: Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of penitence and fasting prior to Easter. It's also a day when I, among many others, will have to state many, many times in the elevator at work that I am indeed aware that I have something on my forehead. During this season many people fast by giving something up that is detrimental or superfluous in their life and I thought that we gamers could probably stand to lose a few things. Things like:
Movie References at the Table
I love movies. Ask me my opinion about the best young directors in Hollywood and you're likely to get your ear chewed off for half an hour. If you want to discuss which way Marvel should take the Spider-Man reboot, I'm your guy. I'll even rant with the best of them about the overexposure of certain A-listers in the business.
However, I've seen The Empire Strikes Back. You might even say that I'm very familiar with it. Does it really enhance our love for the film to have a gaming buddy launch into his Yoda impression series whenever the Game Master asks if a player wants to try something? If I gamed with Frank Oz, I might let him do it. Maybe. I'd probably also let George Lucas do it, just because it would be interesting to see how he has used new technology to improve it over the years, and show us all how he really intended for Yoda to sound.
Napoleon Dynamite references are so 2004, and we're all familiar with the comedy stylings of Borat. So, I beg you, let's allow our favorite characters to deliver their own lines. They do it so well. Take this small piece of advice and enforce this moratorium with your gaming group, and your friends will see that you are wise, like a miniature Buddha, covered in hair.
As a species, we gamers seem to be drawn to the color black. Is it because it reflects the deep complexity that is within us all? The slimming effect? The fact that hilarious slogans and catch phrases stand out against it with such crispness and clarity?
Whenever I'm out at a convention, or even in line for a midnight showing, I'm always fascinated at how universal this fascination is. It transcends all manner of geek, nerd, and fanboy. I'm certainly not immune to this, as I have a number of shirts displaying pithy comments about to whom, exactly, all my base are belonging. It really is becoming a uniform, however, and if we can all agree on anything it is surely that all conformity is bad. Time to branch out.
I think that we're missing out on the spice of life, tethering ourselves to just this one-trick wardrobe item. I endorse variety! Mix in a nice navy blue sweater or, if I may dare suggest, a collar. I feel that we all have the responsibility to our kind to present a more stylish facade to help hide our inner complexity, rather than displaying it on our black attire like so many greasy potato chip crumbs.
Sex in Games
I'm no prude. I have kissed at least one girl who will admit it, so clearly I am no slouch when it comes to romance. I'm a freelance RPG designer, after all, and what human female doesn't have that near the top of her wish list? In our culture we are surrounded by eroticism and sexual content at all times, so it doesn't make sense that sex has no place in an interactive fictional world, be it housed in hardbound, slick-paged tomes of stats and fluff text, or presented in High Definition on our next-gen consoles. But really, what has it given us beyond a degree of replayability in Dragon Age?
I'll tell you. It's given us those uncomfortable moments where "that guy" (you know him, right?) decides to have his Barbarian spend his free time in town at the local brothel and then gets out his lucky 20-sider to make an all-important Charisma check. Not only does this leave the rest of us staring uncomfortably at each other across the table, but it also cuts the rest of the group out of the story while the character in question wanders off on his side quest. And if it doesn't cut the rest of the group out of the story, then I think we're into greater issues that will be discussed in this blog.
I propose that for your next few sessions, you Game Masters invoke hard and fast standards on sexual content in games, not in a moral sense, but regarding a semblance of reality. When the character in question approaches the most attractive waitress in the pub, simply repeat the following in your best in-character female voice, which is entirely fictional and not based on any personal, real-life events: "Sorry, but I have a boyfriend. He's on the football team, and you'd better not let him catch you talking to me."
But, all of this talk is for tomorrow. Today it's Shrove Tuesday! Fat Tuesday! Mardis Gras! Time to get in that last feast before the fast. Now where did I put those D20 beads?