This post started brewing last week after the boingboing.net post titled Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards of the Coast’s Problem Child by Peter Bebergal hit the net. In fact I had about half a post written last week on the topic before deciding it needed to cool off a bit. I still question whether I should post this particular post, but I think the topic needs addressed even at risk of this very post itself being taken in a way I did not intend it.
Edition warring as a label
The “Edition Warring” comment thrown out to label viewpoints you disagree with is not a valid argument or debate point. It is equivalent to simply trying to shout someone down because you disagree with them. Anytime you respond to a viewpoint about an RPG system you do not agree with “the person is edition warring” or “the person is just trolling” you are not helping make the situation any better. If anything these comments as a reply to discussion are doing more harm than the original post.
Edition warring versus discussion
I have spent a fair amount of time hanging out on various discussion forums, social media networks, and such in search of good discussion about RPGs. It is my hobby and I like to talk about it with peers. Good discussion does not mean only discussing the good things about systems, but it also means discussing things I think one system does less well than another. It means discussing systems I like and systems I dislike. It means stating reasons why *I* do not like something in a system and why I do like something in a system.
In the course of this discussion I am going to read posts and articles I do not agree with. I am going to reply with opinions that others do not agree with. This is not “edition warring”, this is discussion about RPGs. It is why we are here on discussion forums – to discuss RPGs, warts and all.
Actual edition warring
Now that is not to say there aren’t any posts that are “edition warring” in nature. There are posts that cross the line of being opinion and into the realm of saying people are “choosing the wrong system” or “you are doing it wrong if you choose that system” or “you aren’t playing the game if you play it that way”. Those posts are inflammatory and are treading into the realm of “bad wrong fun”. But the majority of posts I see being labeled “edition warring” are not guilty of this. Posts stating ones opinion and what they see as pros and cons of a system or their system preference is not this.
Back to the article
Let’s go back to the article that triggered this post, Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards of the Coast’s Problem Child. This article falls into the category of someone posting their opinion and thoughts on the Old School movement and its impact on Wizards of the Coast. This is an example of someone providing their opinion on that topic.
This article was not an opening salvo in an “edition war” and it was not a “troll”. It was an author walking the audience through what he thought the implication of the OSR movement was on Wizards and the current D&D game.
If after you read this article you found yourself on discussion forums or social media networks making proclamations like:
“That guy thinks feats are from magic the gathering, and roleplaying left when 2e introduced new rules…. that is a way back edition warrior”
“it’s just Standard Edition War Tract 101…”
“it is just another cheeto beard old school gamer”
Then you were part of the problem. In many ways I think if that was your first response you are likely more of the problem than the initial poster who did not make an attack on people, but rather stated his opinion. These statements did not discuss the path and conclusions made, but rather tried to dismiss the commentary under the “edition war” or “troll” guise.
That does not mean you need to agree with the post or the path he took to reach his conclusion. By all means, contribute to the discussion and disagree with his statements and conclusion. I know I did not agree with everything in the article.
I saw good discussion on how roleplaying was easily possible in newer versions and that was not something unique to AD&D or earlier. I saw people discuss some of the copyright topics mentioned in the article. I saw people discuss what the Magic the Gathering influence was in the game and whether or not that was a statement they agreed with.
My point is. Don’t be so quick to label a viewpoint not your own as “edition warring” or “trolling”. Those labels do not help and just increase the negative vibe of the RPG community more than people posting opinion pieces for discussion. People in the RPG community are much too quick to shout down opposing viewpoints under labels of “trolling” and “edition warring” when there has not been an opening shot in the most recent “edition war”. Next time you see an article that you do not agree with, slow down, breath and think what exactly about the article do you disagree with. Address those points in a respectful manner, but don’t resort to name calling or stereotyping views you do not agree with.