Friday, 5 September 2008

Runaway Slave Never Going Back

I think I've identified what my problem with self-consciously indie, Forge-y games is. And it can be encapsulated in the blurb to a popular (as much as those games ever are) indie rpg currently making a bit of splash in circles where they care about such things: Steal Away Jordan. See, I'm happy for games to exist in which
players explore the social and psychological implications of life in a society where people can be property.
And I'm happy for there to be games in which
players consider slavery’s long-term impact on a society and on the descendants of slaves and slave owners.
But it sounds, to me, like what my GCSE* History coursework was designed to achieve, and therefore not an enjoyable or worthwhile experience as I understand it. Other people's mileage, needless to say, may vary, but I don't really want to play GCSE History coursework; it isn't my idea of a fun evening.

I think if I was going to play Steal Away Jordan and enjoy it, I wouldn't want much, or indeed any, consideration of the social and psychological implications of slavery. Rather, what I would want would be pulpy, let's-have-a-revolution-and-start-up-a-quilombo, old fashioned, swashbuckling, runaway-slaves-fighting-crocodiles, voodoo-magic, Indian-burial-grounds style adventure. I'm not sure why that's frowned upon, but it apparently is, so my interest falls to pretty close to zero.

I suppose the problem could be summed up as: I don't mind taking games seriously to a point, but at the end of the day, all we are is a bunch of nerds sitting round a table rolling dice and pretending to be elves (or Wolofs). If I'm going to be a nerd, let's at least have fun and forget about all the bloody learning and consideration of implications.

*GCSE: General Certificate of Secondary Education. Examinations English and Welsh kids have to take at the age of 16.

1 comment: