Honey, it’s OK. Your father and I don’t blame you for your wacky behavior, and we realize we haven’t always been the best parents. You don’t have to be upset with yourself that you played those weird games with the dice and the pencils–we think you did that because we didn’t give you enough attention. We’re sorry–if we ever had any idea that us going to your brother Steve’s football, baseball, hockey and lacross games one night a week for four years would cause you to do something this upsetting, we’d have…
Well, we’d have done something different. I don’t know what, but honey, we love you. We never wanted you to pick up those “devil dice.” No, don’t go away, I made air quotes! I was trying to make a joke that you’d get!
That’s why I want to talk to you today… I logged in to the Internet and read all about these games you played so I could have this conversation with you. I wanted to show you that I care enough about you to spend time reading about childish and disturbing things.
Here, let me prove to you that your mother knows all about the history of roleplaying games.
It All Started in the Caves
I can’t imagine the horrible life of not watching TV every night before falling asleep, but we didn’t always have a TV! People used to have to do things like talk to each other a long time ago.
OK, now I’m going to prove to you that I have learned about your hobby. I read all about people playing these L. A. R. P. games, where they pretend to be the disturbing sorts of people that you imagine when you play these games. I know you don’t play L. A. R. P. games, and even read something by your dungeon master–see, I learned!–that says that you look down on people who play L. A. R. P. games. That’s good! That’s a start.
Sadly, it turns out that these L. A. R. P. games actually predated roleplaying games, and not the other way around. Turns out that those poor television-less people in the caves didn’t have games, and because they couldn’t go to school, their vocabulary only had one syllable words, so they couldn’t tell stories!
I think these poor people in the caves are a lot like you: they were bored, and didn’t get a lot of attention, so they told stories. But without many words, they turned to standing up and play-acting the stories they were telling around the campfire. It’s so sad that they couldn’t just watch something.
This continued for many years. It turns out the Crusades began as a L. A. R. P. game that started over 1,000 years before someone had the sense to grow up and stop playing games.
An Italian Problem (Can’t Believe it Wasn’t the French)
In the 1600s, a band of L. A. R. P. people started terrorizing the European countryside. A group of Italian actors decided that good old fashioned scripts weren’t good enough
These people traveled from place to place–even then, most decent people had the smarts to recognize sociopaths and send them packing–and put on plays. But unlike the wholesome works of William Shakespeare, these villains made up the story as they went.
This sort of gaming continued into the 1800s with people play acting at make-believe legal trials. Again, honey, look at the sorts of people who play these games! I mean, with so many wonderful stories to tell, why would people turn to something as awful as a trial to entertain themselves? This is what I’m trying to tell you: everyone who has ever played these sorts of games has something wrong with them. I know you’re upset at Father and I, but you don’t have something wrong with you.
These people started re-enacting everything horrible, from police work to wars. You know those weird old guys who sometimes go to the old farmlands around town and put on the grey or blue uniforms and pretend to blast each other with cannons? That’s a L. A. R. P. game that has been going on for almost a hundred fifty years–and when they first started playing it, they used real cannons!
The Devil Dice Start Rolling
If humans had a problem, it took the 1960s to make it worse. I know you’ve heard awful stories of people taking drugs and doing dirty things, honey. Your father and I didn’t do those things. Even then, we had the TV to keep us occupied. But some people did even more depraved things than the drugs and the sex.
Did you know that a college dropout started this hobby of yours? I didn’t know that until I read the Internet.
This Gygax guy–and that’s a made-up name if I’ve ever heard one–he had the right idea that these L. A. R. P. games had to stop (people were dying, after all!), but he went about it all wrong. Instead of getting people to watch TV, he wrote hundreds of pages about how to play L. A. R. P. games in your imagination.
I don’t know if it was good that people stopped playing L. A. R. P. games, or if it was bad that they stopped exercising. Honey, I know this is a topic for another time, but even though you moved out of the house ten years ago, your father and I still care about your health, and will pay for a gym membership if you’ll go.
OK, you’re right. That’s not what we’re talking about.
The Edition Wars for Hearts and Minds
Sadly, the work of Gygax took off. This Geneva Convention thing that your father and I let you go to ten years ago–we’re so sorry, we thought it was just about books!–started with Gygax in the 60s! He built a whole cult around these games, and dozens of other depraved people started making them. All that they needed to make a new game was a handful of dice, lots and lots of rules, the name of a dreadful place and a dreadful monster, and and ampersand to connect them.
This lasted for twenty years, with new people making new roleplaying games and the people who already made them making new ones to steal more money from the poor sort of person who played these games. A ray of hope shone in the 80s, when for a moment gamers started killing each other again–this time people payed attention.
The 80s Tries to Fix Everything with TV
You know when Father and I used to tell you stories about how the police would come if you didn’t go to bed on time? I know you know we weren’t telling the truth then, but I know you also know that we loved you. Love you! And we only told you those fibs so you’d make better decisions about your life.
It turns out that everyone in society cared enough about these gamers to do the same thing for them. Newspaper articles talked about the horrors of this hobby, and stretched the truth just a teensie bit to try to save kids like you. 60 Minutes got into the spirit of trying to prevent gamers like you from becoming full-blown sociopaths. Tom Hanks–you know how much I love him–even made a movie to try to help kids like you from dangerously playing with their imaginations!
While this was happening, caring people also started making video games that had creepy wizards and swords and all those other weird things you like so much. These video game makers called their games R. P. G.s, and they hoped to use these games with all their weirdness to get the attention of kids with dice across the world to stop imagining these horrible things and instead to just see them on TV.
I bet you never thought your mother would admit that video games could be good!
We had some success in the 90s, but then all you kids from the 80s started getting jobs. And instead of spending money on important things, like vacations to Florida and televisions, you and your friends started buying the toys you played with when you were kids.
Now, I know that you went to see the Transformers and G.I. Joe movies, and that you’ve probably seen movies about supermen I haven’t even heard of. I won’t be upset if you go on the E Bay and spend your money on some of those old toys, even though you’re thirty.
But honey, there’s enough to look at in the world that you don’t need to dwell in your imagination. Don’t be upset–I’m only saying this because I love you Don’t do it. Don’t buy the dice.