Saturday 5 February 2011

Edition wars are stupid

It seems like most games that go through multiple editions have their own fan spats. Clearly the most prominent at the moment in the D&D 4th edition 'war', where the 'new school' crowd embrace aspects such as skill challenges and powers, while fan of earlier incarnations rage about these exact things, saying that it strips away the potential for roleplaying.

Guys, this in-fighting is ridiculous. So what if you don't like 2nd edition AD&D? Don't play it. Hate 4th edition with a vengeance? Play any other edition.

Look, Dungeons & Dragons, no matter what the edition, is Dungeons & Dragons. Someone who plays only B/X has as much right to say they love D&D as the person who plays 4e. Can't we just take all these editions, no matter what their merits and faults, under the same banner of D&D? We love D&D. The grognards playing 1st edition love D&D. The 3.5 players love D&D. The 4e players love D&D. When 5th edition comes along it'll be the same old thing. But whatever. I'll give it a try and if I like it I'll play it and if not I'll play another edition. No skin off my rosy nose.


  1. Clearly, you overestimate the denizens of the internet. :)

  2. I remember the first edition wars. They were so much better than these new-fangled edition wars they have nowadays.

  3. No, the current edition wars are clearly much better than the old ones, and it's only nostalgia that makes you think otherwise.

  4. People love to have stuff to argue about. That's why we have a two-party system of government: so we can argue round in circles and nothing ever gets done. You sound like a god damn hippy with your "Can't we all just get along" malarky. Old school / new school, progressive / conservative, demagogue or republitard, there are always going to be certain segments of the population that just have to let everyone know how awesome their beliefs are, and why the other side isn't worth shit.

  5. And now for the opposing viewpoint:

    First, a post about how we shouldn't have edition wars is two years out of date. If people are still arguing about it, let them. But since you bring up the topic...

    My main beef with 4e is that it isn't D&D, except that WotC has branded it so. They own the trademark, they have that right. But they could take the game of catching a quarter between your thumbs and trying to flip it into a cup and call it Dungeons and Dragons, too. Maybe they'd need to come up with a special "per-encounter power" cup to differentiate it, but whatever. The point is, it would be D&D in name only, which is how many of us feel about 4e.

    A corollary to that point is, the game they currently call D&D is very, very different from any other edition. Far more different than any other two editions have been from each other. 3.5 is closer even to Holmes Basic than it is to 4e, what with the latter's healing surges and per-encounter powers (or 'powers' for fighters at all, for that matter).

    This wouldn't matter, except that the name sells, and taking the weight of the name away from the game that people were playing means it's harder to find content for their editions than it was before. Especially as WotC is fiercely protective of its brand, and controls who can write official content with restrictive licenses and contracts. But if they'd called it a different, more accurate name--"World of Dungeoncraft", maybe--this game wouldn't have one-tenth the sales it enjoys.

    (Although if the rumors of Pathfinder outselling 4e are true, perhaps WotC isn't enjoying as much as they thought they would. Pity for them.)

    So those of us who loved the game, now love it under a different name. We play Pathfinder. Or Castles and Crusades. Or maybe we play 1st edition, but find that if something happens to our books, we can't just order new ones, but have to scour used bookstores or find shabby copies on ebay.

    This isn't a big deal; people can play whatever game they want. But real. Putting these very different games "under the same banner" is like calling Checkers and Risk the same game, and they aren't. Nor is 4e the same game we've been playing for over 30 years, and no amount of calling it that will make it so.

  6. And amp108 provides us with a pitch-perfect illustration of precisely how we should not behave. Gamers take note: if you want to come across as an awful stereotype of fanboy rage, follow amp108's brilliant example.

    Make sure you've got the following bases covered:

    1. No True Scotsman, right out of the gate. The best way to defend your hatred of something is to claim, repeatedly, that it's genuine in name only!

    2. Hyperbole everywhere! Take tangential lines of reasoning to their logical extremes!

    3. Claim to speak for a large group of people, whether or not they exist or support what you have to say.

    4. Make sure you find time to stick a "4e is teh WoWz on papar" jab in there. Nothing says "game traitor" louder than a desire for mass market appeal!

    5. Unfounded pronouncements of doom/concern trolling is a must.

    6. As a follow-up to point number one, be sure to make it clear that your game of choice IS THE REAL D&D, no matter what it's called.

    7. Finally, suggest that the only reason anyone believes that your most hated edition is actually D&D is because we all keep telling ourselves that, late at night, huddled under our covers with our arms wrapped around hastily-signed Mike Mearls body pillows.

    Pretty soon, you'll be whipping your own opinion out whenever you feel like it, too!

  7. @amp108 By that logic a computer from the 80s can't be a computer because they don't have anywhere near the same features as a computer now.

  8. Edition wars boil down to a simple question – is the new entry a worthy one? On the one side you have those who agree that is a worthy entry, and so consider it to be a part of a whole which they have loved for a long time. On the other side you have those you feel it is not worthy, who because of their great love of the old, and dislike of the new feel many of the same intense emotions one might expect of a spouse who has been betrayed.

    In a perfect world everyone involved could just be happy with their own opinion and go about their business, but humans are by their nature social and have a great desire to share their opinions, especially opinions which are very strong. Unfortunately, those who love the new entry and those who hate it tend to express their opinions loudly and in close proximaty to each other.

    Thus what should be a personal matter quickly becomes a heated argument. Those who love the new entry go to the meeting site to express their love of the new entry to others, but instead find themselves defending it against attacks. Those who hate the new entry go the meeting site to find solace, but instead find themselves having to defend their opinion.

    There isn't any real way to stop edition wars, but I think one way we can make a small dent in the overwhelming tide of negativity that is pervading D&D blogs and forums right now is to express our love of D&D in a completely non-confrontational manner (i.e. don't mention what you don't like, nor bash those who hate what you love).

  9. @Anonymous: aside from ad hominem attacks and hyperbole of your own, your post has no substance. (And a Five-Legged Horse argument is not the same as a No True Scotsman.)

    @Scott Malthouse: computers have evolved at a staggering rate, much faster than RPGs have (or one RPG in particular), so the analogy doesn't quite hold. Nonetheless, my comparison is not that a videogame version of Zork, for example, would be a bad thing if it had more graphics or additional gameplay; but if someone came out with a version where you didn't have to worry about light sources or being eaten by a Grue, I'd say that that version had failed to live up to the tradition of the game, as 4e has.

    @The Red DM: I agree, mostly. I don't troll forums where people are playing games I don't like. I don't usually bother with talking about 4e or edition wars, unless someone brings it up.

    But then I will say, as I have here: my beef is not that WotC has created a new and different game; it's that they have taken their marketing weight and creative resources away from a game that I (and a lot of other people) loved, and put it behind a very different beast, and anyone who says it's the same as we've always played is overlooking serious structural changes.

    And I'll get over that, by playing things that are more D&D than D&D, like Pathfinder, or C&C, or any of the retro-clones (not to mention older editions). But it's still a shame what's happened to the game.

  10. The problem with WOTC re: ending the edition wars is that the same company and designers who were so lacking in taste and good judgement as to create the schism, also so lack in it in any form that might be needed to end them.

    They're trying to innovate their way into acceptance with mechanics, which WILL fail. Using the D&D name for their extreme and incompatible with what is accepted as D&D mechanical ideas at the expense of everything else (e.g. verisimilitude, implied setting appeal, time spent to resolve combat) led to 4E and the schism, yet they appear to be too slow and narrow in their thinking to understand that most of the community has already had enough, so are overhauling magic, healing, etc. again.

    So - no hope for "Next". The same company which had the ill judgement to create the "D&D only in name" 4E and see it as a valid successor with which they might fire their customer base whilst grabbing that of the MMORPG players also lacks the judgement to create a successor which is both valid and will "unify the fanbase."