Thursday, 29 December 2011

There's no accounting for it.

Taste. Amazingly, some people in the world have different tastes to mine. I'm slowly but surely coming to terms with this over the course of my life; I've now reached the stage where I can just about accept that other people have opinions that they hold dear and aren't just being contrary for the sake of it, but I'm yet to accept that these opinions are anything but wrong. Maybe I'll mellow with age.

I've talked quite a lot before about differing tastes in role playing games. Today, I was struck by a thought while idly browsing the HMV post-Christmas sale (a particular slice of hell on earth that you have to experience to truly appreciate): I wonder if a good way of approaching the issue is to ask the very simple question to a given gamer, "Do you prefer Final Fantasy, or Civilization?" This, to me, boils all of the differences between role players into two neat packages - either you prefer to have your freedom confined by a narrative, or you prefer to have your freedom confined by the effort you are willing to put into things. Either you prefer to discover a potentially cool and exciting story and feel part of it in a way you can never feel part of a novel, or you prefer to plot, scheme and dream up ways to achieve success. Either you like to image yourself as a bloke with weird spiky blonde hair and an unfeasibly large sword, or you have a God complex.

The thing about this dichotomy, of course, is that you don't have to define yourself absolutely as one or the other. Some days you like looking at pretty anime people doing weird stuff, and on those days you look at the porn threads on 4chan play Fighting Fantasy VII. Other days you want to waste about 6 hours masterminding a scheme to commit genocide against the people of Babylon, and on those days you play Civilization 4. Though deep down inside, of course, your heart is really wedded to one over the other.


  1. I am a Civilization guy. That's probably why I am usually the DM.

  2. I think I'm in the same boat as Mr. Dowie. I love Civ, and am almost always the GM.


  3. I enjoyed Final Fantasy much more than Civ, but I like my DnD more "Civ-like".

    That's because, if I want to just play through a scripted story, so the computer does it better.

    If I want to come up with my own plots and schemes, then DnD sessions with real people do it better.

  4. I deny the fallacy by liking both just as well, but then again, I am just as much a player as a game master. There's thrill to all sides of the die.

  5. I have to say, that's a pretty damned good dichotomy, as dichotomies go. Naturally, it is flawed, as every dichotomy is. It outlines the differences really well, and is understandable on a gut level (even to those of us who have never played either game).

    I feel like I want to add a couple other options. I'll go with Farmville, for those who don't give a crap about either system or story but are just interested in hanging out with friends in a common activity. (In all fairness, it might be better to go with Doom for this.)

    I want some kind of puzzle game for those who love to tinker with the system first, and leave any story considerations second. Myst, maybe?

    Personally, as a player, I'd be Portal. I want interesting puzzles in a cool setting, and I'm perfectly fine with being railroaded as long as the final payoff is good.

  6. I'm a poor lost bastard who don't play computer games...

    Who the hell am I, really? :)

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