So often when I'm reading blogs I find myself forgetting that we're essentially an niche market, and a highly nuanced niche market at that. Now you could argue that essentially we're all the same hobby and that there isn't that big of a difference between us, but you're wrong.
But we're all playing role-playing games!
Yes, yes we are; which is why we're all lumped into the same niche market: the RPG Market. But where things get more difficult is when you start asking people what they play. Let's look at me, for example, I tend to play Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons, but Three point Five Dungeons and Dragons rather than the original set with an emphasis on the world of Greyhawk, and not modern Greyhawk but the Greyhawk that came out when Advanced Dungeons and Dragons was still being actively produced. A buddy of mine will only play Fourth Edition, by which he means the first three books but only without the initial flood of errata as that tended to weaken the system rather than enhancing it; and he'll only play in the world of Eberron, though not in the one published during Fourth Edition as the original setting book published under Third Edition really gave the setting a better treatment and he doesn't mean any of those supplemental books as that shit is just cray - his word, not mine.
But those are different editions, surely the guys playing the same edition aren't as finicky?
You'd think that wouldn't you, but you'd be wrong. Just look at the OSR movement. Lots of great products out there but you'll find people arguing over which version of Basic to use like it mattered. Whether you're using Holmes, Moldvay (my personal preference), or Mentzer you're talking about the same game with minor changes.
Whoa, now. Holmes was the superior version of the three . . .
See I don't care.
When we begin to break our hobby apart in that fashion we're not strengthening it; and we're not being more 'pure' or 'true' to the source materials, we're being dicks. If you love Basic and it rocks your face off then wear that shit out. Play your favorite version and let the other guy enjoy his because in the end they're the same game.
Only they aren't. Not to us at any rate.
As a hobby, and as a community, we have invested a ridiculous amount of time and energy into proving that our internal visions for the hobby are righteous and true. Just look in your reading queue (if you need some help developing one try The Great Blog Roll Call), you'll find people playing Adventurer Conqueror King; Lamentations of the Flame Princess; Swords and Wizardry; Basic - Holmes, Moldvay, or Mentzer; Original Dungeons and Dragons - with or without supplemental materials; Rifts; GURPS; Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons; Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons; Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Essentials; and the list goes on, and on, and on.
And it is fine that we're nuanced.
Hell it's provided us with some amazing blogs where people are putting out an unbelievable amount of creative material to support their vision of how a role-playing game should be.
I feel a 'but' coming on
But when we forget that we're nuanced it creates a situation where arrogance can seep in. Where we forget that this hobby is small and that our internal vision for the game isn't the same for everyone else. We'll go out there and develop egos that we can't back up and pretend like when we get snide on the internet that we're the same way in real life. Only you can't be because someone would knock you out for talking to them with that tone.
Yet it's so easy to become insular with the internet and to believe that you have a more powerful voice than you do. You can look at your page views and say, "100,000 people have visited my blog. I have an audience who values my voice and hangs on my every word. I've had 2,000 commenters who have voiced their support. I must be right."
Only you're not.
You've fooled yourself into believing a lie: that your nuanced view is the one true way to play a game and that once you publish your book on the subject the hobby, nay the world, will see the light! Only you've forgotten that we don't care about your vision for the hobby because I'm playing 3.5, and Mark's playing Pathfinder, and Courtney's playing an Advanced/Hackmaster hybrid of her own design, and David's playing Fourth Edition. And while I'm sure your book will be nice; you've spent the better part of the last two years shouting at the world that we're all morons and your vision is the only way.
So none of us buy your book.
It's easy to forget that this hobby is nuanced and limited. That we're all trading ideas back and forth and hoping that we're right and that someone will love our idea enough to publish it. But in the end we all have to remember that no matter how great we are on-line in our insular communities, that this hobby, this market place, is incredibly small and very competitive.
So don't be a dick.
So don't be a dick.