(This post is clipped from a letter to I wrote to the Troupe Berkeley RPG group.)
One part of 'gaming world' that really bugs me (as with TV & film):
> and when you explain you pop off bits as they get
> damaged, the hook is set and they GOTTA play.
I'm not critiquing THIS particular game -- I'm critiquing gaming in general (and also war-gaming).
Does anyone else feel like games that feature as a central component "DEATH" or vicious battling are perhaps in part responsible for American society being death-loving? This is in line with the Hollywood arguement of whether the increasing and explicit violence in TV/films is b/c of an increasingly violent society, or vice versa.
My view of RPG'ing is it gives me the chance to pretend to do things and be someone that I will not do / not be in my real life. Perhaps these things will influence me in my real life, however (build self-esteem, etc)?
Personally, I don't consciously seek violence in RPG's. I seek overcoming obstacles and having successes as an individual and for my team.
My biggest grief with modern American games is that much of the "game" parts have vanished, and all that remains is violence and destruction.
Doom and other "1'st person shooters" really defined a genre that makes no sense, but does help expand the militarization of the world. I'm constantly amazed (or is it repulsed?) that X-Box and similar consoles present 'pure' military simulations as games. I don't see most of these as games at all, but rather as lures to bringing young people into the military.
If they had any realism, if a player 'died' they would stay dead (and how fun would THAT be in a RPG?).
My interest in indie games is often piqued b/c so often 'violence rules' (ie hit points, damage, and so on) are not the main focus of the games, but more of a side-bar. In some indie games, there are no rules specifically for violence.
Indie games that I've played focus more on story line, character development and growth, and the 'conflict' and 'challenge' resolution system -- which can be between people, places, and things -- doesn't always involve violence or death.
It may not be as exciting or zippy in game-world, but for me the most intriquing magicians of fantasy are the incredible creators, the travellers, the communers, the healers -- and rarely the destroyers.
However, in American pop-culture, we put the hero who is the death dealer on a pedestal. Much of this comes from the Crusades (and prior) embracing of the soldier-hero concept.
Personally, while it's good to have muscle on your side in a RPG that's themed around lots of physical conflict and killing, who among us enjoys hanging out in reality with people that are like that? Real killers?
I love life.
I want to make a life-affirming statement in our gaming group. This might seem silly to some of you, but in the current US-Iraq war, they play heavy metal music to get the troups psyched (and scare 'the enemy') before sending them in for battle.
PS: I'm not pro-life as in anti-abortion. I think that line of argument is nonsense. But the "pro-life" concept has been stolen and re-packaged to such a degree that 'pro-lifers' can also be pro-capital punishment. (American life is nothing if not amusing!)