Gamers. We’re Voltron, not Mazinger Z.

Brace yourself, I’m about to belabour a point with some extreme reductio absurdum.

“Oh! Bit of a fan of films I see. Is that Bergman’s The Seventh Seal?”

“Why yes it is. I’m a big fan of arthouse cinema.”

“You’ll love Extreme Schoolgirls 14”

“What? Is that porn?”

“Sure is.”

“Why on Earth would you think I would like that?”

“Both films aren’t they?”

THIS NEVER HAPPENS

“Quite a collection of books you have here.”

“I like the one about the… duck!”

“What about the chewable ABC?”

“Yes! A is for… apple!”

“You’ll LOVE War & Peace!”

THIS NEVER HAPPENS

“I know you love art from those Constable prints you have on your walls… so I got you a present.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t have.”

“Here, open it!”

“SWEET MERCIFUL CHRIST! Are those testicles? In cuffs?”

“It’s a Mapplethorpe!”

“MY EYES! THE GOGGLES, THEY DO NOTHING!”

THIS NEVER HAPPENS

Cinema, writing, art, none of these are a homogenous whole. Just because a person likes one thing within a medium does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that they like everything in that medium. Someone who reads The Guardian is unlikely to enjoy reading The Daily Mail.

Equally the antics and content of one product in a medium almost never reflect upon other products in that medium. The awful shite that is the Twilight series does nothing to diminish Tolkien’s work and if someone likes Twilight that’s up to them and hey, it’s just not my taste.

There’s this peculiar idea in gaming circles, both tabletop and computer games, that any game that doesn’t completely avoid contentious imagery, content or advertising is somehow letting the side down and reflects negatively on ‘The Hobby’ as a whole.

Neither roleplaying nor computer games are a monoculture. There’s some crossover of course but saying ‘Gamers’ is about as meaningful these days as saying ‘Humans’. There’s plenty of room for different games to appeal to different people and it’s perfectly OK for you not to like something without having to justify your dislike on some sort of political or social basis. ‘I don’t like this’ is enough.

In a roundabout way this brings me to my second, related point. If you try to please everyone you risk pleasing nobody. Appealing to the lowest common denominator, or the most easily offended denominator, means you end up with something bland and without integrity. Better to make something that people have a reason to feel passionate about – one way or the other – than to respond to with ‘Meh’.

So a game has naughty tentacles, bondage nuns being gunned down, large breasted ginger barbarians or rules that cover sexual assault. Not to worry, there’s plenty of other games that don’t. There’s something for everyone and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to play it and it says fuck all about the games you do like.

Sorted.

ImagiNation – Last Chance

You can still donate to ImagiNation but this is your last chance!

Dear Mum,

It’s funny the things you notice, the way you see themes in people’s imaginations when they’re made flesh. Most people’s imaginations seem to be blunted, predictable. You lose count of the Angelina Jolies of David Beckhams you see conjured from people’s sordid, tabloid fantasies. A lot of people have quite mundane and predictable fantasies.

When you stumble upon an area influenced by the dreams of children it’s a little different. A child’s dreams are more vibrant, stronger. Children still believe in the monster under the bed so when you run into one it’s vicious, persistent and tough.

Even here though you’ll find some strange artefacts of blunted imagination. On the one hand this makes us happy, we know what to expect. On the other hand I can’t help but see it as a tragedy. How many TV cartoons do we see brought to life? You can hear a flock of birds take flight and when you look up they’re nothing but gestural ticks, shorthand for bird from some colouring book.

Then there are he weirder things, the stranger places. People with a stronger, more unique imagination dominate the weaker concepts around them. Everyone has something unique that terrifies them, excites them, engages their secret desires. Here there’s no secrets, it’s all writ large to be seen, experienced and survived.

Then there’s the people like us, survivors with talent and broken minds, building castles in the clouds. The only people who retain their own minds.

It’s all so wonderful, and all so horrifying.