There appears to be a certain addiction involved with the APA, an addiction of the contributors to contribute. I mean, there is a compulsion, I think, to take part in some form of community regarding a pastime with which one finds endlessly fascinating. As Patrick mentioned, last issue, there is something special about A&E or else we wouldn\u2019t keep coming back.
After all, The Internet is cheaper and is, for most of us, I\u2019d presume, readily accessible. It\u2019s there, 24/7, and the types of interaction are plentiful, from Mailing Lists, to PBeMing to Blogging to other, less common methods. And I\u2019m sure that most of us make use of these to some extent, yet we keep coming back here, to this long-running,
Partly, I think, it\u2019s because A&E is an established community of those who wish to take part in it. It has longevity, long-time members, people who return month after month as a sort of ritual of their lives, an activity they found somehow important enough to take part in, not merely once but as a recurring withdraw on the finite time that we all have. That\u2019s quite a thing. Is it merely because we desire to be heard? Or is it because we wish to be part of such a community, to exchange our thoughts\u2026 or, perhaps, to confess our sins?
Opinions are like sins, I suppose. They detract from that negligible quality we all have aside from them. Indeed, opinions expose everything about us in all our ignoble glory. They announce to others what will often appear ugly blemishes, either because we find someone\u2019s opinion an affront to our better-considered sensibilities, thereby igniting our scorn or, perhaps, even our wrath, or because we simply think we know better, perhaps because of some divine grace that we alone inherently possess.
I can see, in part, why people were angry with Ty, because his opinions were stated with such certainty as to be perceived as arrogant. But, I think people who seem arrogant can still have opinions worth considering, and listening to what they have to say can often be illuminating, in part as a consequence of the passion they apply to their arguments. They\u2019re not trying
to trick us into believing something that\u2019s wrong. They\u2019re trying to convince us of something that they believe is right. There\u2019s a big difference.
So, I think if one passionately disagrees (which is at some point inevitable), that it perhaps makes more sense to reply, \u201cWhat you are saying is very silly, you know,\u201d than to be genuinely angry, because, for fuck\u2019s sake, we\u2019re all roleplayers, are we not? We\u2019re all roleplayers who deem fit to spend part of our lives writing these zines, for no more apparent reason than to reach out to one another,
be pontificated to, teach, learn, think, grow. That\u2019s what I think we are doing. At least, it is what I am trying to do.
This is why I am pained whenever one of us leaves, particularly one of us who has gotten into more than merely gaming topics, and it is why I grow even more distressed when one of us is being shunned in the direction of the door. It\u2019s annoying enough even when those who shun have a legitimate grievance, but when they are reduced to hurling personal insults\u2026and then when someone leaves as a result\u2026 there is a loss that occurs\u2026more than a loss, really\u2026it\u2019s more like a blemish of our collective, a fight that we\u2019ve written down in our own words, some participating,
standing-by, mute, perhaps disinterested\u2026perhaps not seeing the point of posting yet another opinion in what has become an
But what really burns me most is when that target/victim leaves, not SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS like some in our past have done when they have departed, but rather when he withdraws like a gentleman, tactfully, perhaps with the notion of returning at a later date, and, at any rate, cognizant of there being no point in prolonging an unnecessary argument.
Why should this make me angry? What business is it of mine? It\u2019s my business because I feel very strongly that when we let this happen, we are, each of us, culpable.
opinions are idiotic\u2026 all the things that get said here\u2026 it reminds me of caged monkeys throwing their feces at each other. Now there\u2019s a novel way of expressing one\u2019s disapproval! But in the case of the monkeys, it\u2019s even more understandable because they\u2019re driven insane by their confinement, and, obviously, they can\u2019t talk. All they have are their actions, including their screeches of one emotional state or another. (\u201cEeeeek-eeeek\u2026 you are
But we have words, and just as with our actions, we can choose them. We can cultivate, or we can burn. It\u2019s all a matter of choice. And some of us choose the latter.
Hence, when someone leaves for these reasons, and they leave quietly, not screaming abuses, it fills me with a feeling of despondence, not because they didn\u2019t fight back, but because they rationally decided that fighting with monkeys is a pointless endeavor, and that life is too short to be wasted here dealing with people who ought to know better but for some reason apparently don\u2019t.
Joshua, what was it exactly that set you off? I mean, seriously\u2026what was it exactly that you were shooting for? Did you think he\u2019d read your comment and be thinking to himself, \u201cWell, gee\u2026is my zine really dull? Wow. I didn\u2019t realize that. Hmm\u2026 thanks, Josh! Your comment is so helpful. Thank you for taking the time and the space in your zine to let me know that I\u2019m wickedly dulland unfunny. You, my friend, are a real pal.\u201dWas that your idea? Or was it
don\u2019t like him (for whatever reason), so I\u2019m just going to vent some abuse in his direction because I feel like it.\u201d I really want to understand what set you off. I mean, you don\u2019t normally hurl abuse at people. What did Louis say that made you so angry?
And, of course, I don\u2019t wish to imply that members don\u2019t have the right to criticize one another, because only through criticism can we really be jarred into re-thinking our basic
assumptions, but it is to say that there\u2019s a right way and a wrong way, and A&E has occasionally gone the wrong way, and this is particularly true with respect to Louis. He\u2019ll be back, he tells me, but for now he\u2019s got other interests which beckon, and that\u2019s really easy to decide when someone starts throwing shit at you.
I cannot really express the depth of my disappointment, aside from writing down my thoughts in this format and discussing what I feel about them, but one unwelcome realization I have come to is that I'm feeling increasingly bitter against the APA for what it does to new people who decide to open up enough to speak their mind about things that matter to them. If that was too rambling, let me put it another way. I think this, what we are doing here, has as much to do with the writing as it has to do with the reading.
Patrick Riley asked a really good question in terms of what A&E does for each one of us, but he asked it from the point of view of the readers rather than the writers. He said, if I am reading him correctly, that when it comes to campaign write-ups, what is most interesting to read are those which provides insight into the players\u2019 or the GM\u2019s perspective of the campaign. He also likes system design discussions. \u201cWhat do you like
Well, I like that also, absolutely, but I also like Louis\u2019 joke of the month, and I like the monthly picture of A&E\u2019s favorite daughter\u2026 there she is like clockwork, each month growing up just a little bit more\u2026 and I like Ty when he\u2019s talking about Traveller or ranting about politics, and I like Paul when he\u2019s pontificating about the nature of roleplaying, and I like Spike when he\u2019s being erudite on a topic that he knows very, very well, and Louis again when he\u2019s making predictions\u2026 certainty rising in his tone from the phenomena of having been right before. I like Brian Rogers when he\u2019s discussing one of his enviably multitudinous campaigns or when his wife jumps in to say that she\u2019s still putting up with him (was never a better woman save, perhaps, for my wife who is, quite miraculously, still putting up with me). I like Michael Cule when he\u2019s telling us about his employment woes,
the little anecdotes of his life, as well as whatever latest snappy lines emerged from the mouths of his party of perspicacious players. And I like the wealth of material that Misiaszek puts into his zines, whether a campaign write-up or product review or convention report or perhaps all of the above. And to those I didn\u2019t mention, well, it\u2019s because this is already a longish paragraph, and I don\u2019t see the point of going on forever.
From the point of view of being a reader, there\u2019s a lot to enjoy, but from the point of view of being a contributor, I\u2019d have to say that there\u2019s a great deal more. As a reader, of course, I prefer what\u2019s usable, and given the segmentation of the market, which I commented to Louis about last issue, what\u2019s most generally usable would seem to be the campaign anecdotes where we can draw, as Patrick indicates, some sort of insight into the players\u2019 or GM\u2019s experience of the campaign, in short, the parts where we can ponder and perhaps learn
System-related articles, as well, are worth pondering to a degree, because, after all, rules matter. So I agree with everything that Patrick said.
But I also think that it\u2019s good just to read about what the other contributors are passionate about, or what they find amusing, or simply what parts of their lives and their inherently unique perspective they feel like sharing. When Louis was talking about politics and history, for instance, or when he\u2019d quote the Bible or perhaps, just as interestingly, some gaming blog, from his choice of topics to the very words that he chose to write, he was telling us about himself. Even from the way he chose to quietly withdraw, he spoke volumes about his good temperament, his reason, even his reasonableness, which is saying a lot for someone who is perhaps even more attuned to conspiracy theories than I. (Which of us is crazier I\u2019ll leave as an exercise for the reader. Try not to have too much fun with that.)
I guess this is why I\u2019ve been pleading in vain for some minimum standards. When you tear another down, pointlessly, you diminish us all. And the APA is further diminished when the members simply let it happen, perhaps mutely resigned to
the fact that monkeys will be monkeys. Not that I want to start a huge flame war where everyone is taking sides; I\u2019m just saying that there should be some minimum standards of decency. And the only way that this might ever happen, I suppose, is if more contributors are disapproving when someone clearly and needlessly crosses the line (wherever they might think that line ought to be drawn).
What A&E does for me is it gives me a sort of family, so to speak, of people who are gamers\u2026it\u2019s a gaming family, essentially, people who stick around for what is hopefully a really long time, people who identify themselves as role-players and who offer comment on whatever happens to be going on, gaming-related or otherwise\u2026but yes\u2026 let\u2019s do try to keep it gaming-related. That is our purported focus, after all. But let us also be demanding of a certain level of consideration. We are, after all, a sort of family, unless, of course, you disagree.
link for the music archive if it is still available. I have some music freely downloadable from PureVolume for you as well, if you\u2019re interested.
Re the hijack with a timer: Interesting idea. I\u2019ve only used a timer in combat situations where the players were taking too long discussing strategy in situations where the PCs would not have time to plan. In those situations, I might say, \u201cI\u2019ll give you
your reflections on the lucky the unlucky. Ah, saving Carrot in the nick of time, good write-up. \u201cTo fight
seems perfectly apt. And, on top of it all, you\u2019ve reminded me that I need to try out that program Louis mentioned.
Hemingway, but as a quote, not as part of a novel. Thank you for mentioning the Yezidi.
Re: morality being erroneously coupled with success: Good point. I\u2019m not should how this ought to be handled in the context of children\u2019s stories, as I\u2019m not sure if children have an innate knowledge of morality or if this must be taught by example. My guess is probably the latter, but I don\u2019t know. Nonetheless, how might martyr tales be perceived by children? I have no idea.
Re technology: it seems that we\u2019re into semantics, but as I said before, habitability, marginality, and non- habitability are really a continuum rather than hard & fast classifications.
I\u2019ll definitely have a look-see when sufficient time presents itself. Also, loved The Effects of Toadstool
back again, even if it is to be only briefly, and congratulations on the novel.
think there is a form of dislocation which comes from being confronted with choices.\u201d
I would argue that although this is probably true to some extent, what intensifies the dislocation for me is having to search for the next event (item number) as though it were some word hidden in the middle of a dictionary. However, if the effort involved were reduced to the level of say, pushing a button, I think the experience of the game book would be greatly enhanced. This was, to some extent, what they did in Wing Commander, the CRPG with Mark Hamill among others, and it was also used in Star Control II. Likewise, I\u2019ve played a number of what used to be called Interactive Fiction programs, Zork, of course, being perhaps the most famous, although there were lots of individuals, hobbyists in essence, who were doing the same using various adventure creation programs. Most of these adventures are sort of lame, but there are some good ones. Also, I\u2019m to understand that there\u2019s now something called hypertext
fiction. In any case, my point is that several of these have done a good job of telling their story even though they gave the user some leeway in determining his/her own, or at least creating an illusion to that effect.
Regarding role games being defined as you say, active intervention of the participants (I think Fine called it shared fantasy) and how this is fundamentally different from other forms of entertainment: We already know this. What you\u2019re saying is self- evident to anyone who\u2019s ever roleplayed.
Regarding rollercoasters and dreams: I don\u2019t seem to have dreams in quite the same way that you do, judging from what you\u2019ve described. You write,\u201c\u2026they rarely offer us any
I remember very few of my dreams these days, but for a short while I kept a journal of my dreams. This was many years ago.
I guess what I was going for was lucid dreaming. Somebody told me that if you kept a journal of your dreams, you\u2019d remember more and more of them, and that gradually, in time, you\u2019d even be able to control your dreams. I ended up passing through the threshold of what they call\u2026 I can\u2019t remember what they call it, but it\u2019s basically where you realize that you\u2019re fully asleep even though you\u2019re deep enough under that you can\u2019t wake up without some willpower being put into it. There are different sensations that can go along with this. In one case, my whole \u201cbody\u201d felt like it\u2019s was vibrating, almost like somebody flipped a switch and my spirit was buzzing with energy. Or maybe that was just me snoring. How the hell should I know? In another instance, much more recently (which was odd, as I was not keeping a journal at this time), it felt more like a dream within a dream where everything took on a tremendous amount of detail, a sense of actually being there in a place that I knew could not possibly be real. I ended up getting distracted by some writing on an imaginary tee-shirt hanging from the wall, and eventually went looking for my wife (who was sleeping right next to me, which caused me to suddenly awake).
In any case, I\u2019ve long stopped trying to record my dreams. Probably I am just too lazy to put out the effort of trying to write before becoming fully awake\u2026of trying to push my memory further and further back into the dream events, all the while wanting to creep back under warm blankets and let my head got hud on the pillow.
What can I say? I\u2019m a slug. Nonetheless, what I discovered was that my dreams often ended at a moral crossroads, almost as though different parts of me were being tested: my courage (or rather lack thereof), my patience (or instinct to reason before succumbing to anger), my\u2026well\u2026all my virtues and vices, I suppose. I discovered that many of my dreams contain moral tests, and when the end would come, I would have to make a split decision\u2026 a gut-level choice on what to do\u2026 and I didn\u2019t always make the right one. I could go on about this at greater length, but suffice it to say that while dreams may not offer us
offer us subconscious choices, and perhaps those choices that we make are closer a reflection of our true selves than we would like to admit\u2026 that is assuming that we can even remember having made a choice. If for no other purpose than your own exploration, I would encourage you to try.
Regarding the unification of \u201cgood\u201d novels and how rough edges would make their story feel more like real life: Consider for a moment the possibility that life has no rough edges but that every moment of it has some potentially unifying meaning\u2026 just kidding.
Regarding the possibility of wholly unexpected events occurring within our form of roleplaying and this being the drawing factor: Yes, once again with the obvious, but you do say it nicely. And you make a very good point at the end, about the feeling of reality not necessarily coming from the proverbial infodump. However, it may be worthwhile to note that any sort of art can be admired on different levels, and if the players are able to look back on the story and draw inferences and conclusions and basically discuss the events and the characters and their multitudinous connections as much or more than they actually play the game, then
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