Robin D Laws has already written that it would be cool if we (the gaming community) finally could get a marxist critique of D&D (you advance by killing and looting) and that it would signify maturity of the medium (being able to think itself in such way). But my question would be what kind of marxist critique. Some easy, neo-zhdanovist and vulgar (obvious product of a capitalist society that indoctrinates young minds…) or one more sophisticated (for example one that is incorporating nuances like the fact that most D&D characters are outsiders and fringe elements that was nicely grasped by Mieville in Perdido Street Station) that would echo that old Brechts joke that we (communists) probably know everything but that for propaganda purposes we must select questions that we will claim that we have no answer to.
And I had to respond; to wit, I can't think of anything less likely to signify maturity of the medium than having a Marxist critique of D&D. The existence of such a critique, I submit, would signify the horrible overintellectualisation of something that needs no overintellectualising, not its maturity. Maturity is something else. Maturity is, in large part, being able to compartmentalise different facets of ones life and being able to embrace and be comfortable with mutually contradictory positions - for instance, that you like playing a game about killing things and taking their stuff in a hyper-individualised Randian wet-dream of a fantasy world, but do not like killing things and taking their stuff in reality nor entertain that particular Randian wet-dream in other spheres of your life.
That isn't to say that pseudointellectual overanalysis of D&D isn't fun. It is. God knows I engage in it frequently enough, as any long-term reader of this blog will know. But I would never for a second pretend that this or this signify my "maturity". They mostly signify that I am often a bit of a pretentious twit.
Perhaps I can summarise my own position in an oblique manner by referring to the Robin D. Laws essay which the commenter in question refers to. In it, Laws begins by saying:
"Role-playing games have existed for many years as an art form without a body of criticism. Reviews of RPGs have been common for nearly as long as the games themselves. Criticism, however, remains an unploughed field. This means that we probably ought to look at the basics of criticism as applied to other art forms before we go charging off to rev up the metaphorical tractor."
To which I would reply, no, role-playing games have existed for many years as games, which means they do not need a body of criticism whatsoever. (Art doesn't need that either, by the way, but let's pretend for the sake of argument it does.) They are created for a reason, and that is to be played. Everything else is incidental. It may be fun, as pseudointellectualisation often is, but let's not kid ourselves that theorising about RPGs is necessary, worthwhile, or would signify 'maturity' of any kind whatsoever.