Monday, December 19, 2011

Fear & Loathing In Gaming: D&D With Pornstars

OK, this is another one of my opinion pieces. :)

Forgive the crappy photo, but I couldn't find a decent graphic online to use.
There's been an ongoing "controversy" in the online gaming communities: bloggers, Twitter and whatnot. I put controversy in quotes because I think the whole thing is more than a bit of a tempest in a teacup. There is a blog run by Zak Smith (author of the very cool Vornheim supplement put out by Lamentations of the Flame Princess) called D&D With Pornstars. In this blog, Zak talks about playing D&D with his friends...who happen to be porn actors, adult models and/or strippers. I say "happen to be" because it is always important to remember that a person's job isn't who they are. Reading Zak's blog periodically, and following some of these people on Twitter, you'll see quickly that there's a lot more going on with these people. Hell, they get to game more than I do and that is a great thing. I envy them that. They also have a passion for their gaming that is a very cool thing to see. We need more passionate gamers in this hobby.

Now, this week, or the previous, an article about the group of them appeared in the mainstream magazine Maxim. I will admit that I am not a fan of the magazine, but I tracked down a copy to see the article. I was impressed with what I saw. Yes, there were naked women (not that you could see any actual nudity, but there was plenty of skin) but nothing truly offensive. Maxim isn't trying to promote itself as a kid/family friendly magazine. You expect a level of T&A with the magazine. I don't believe that enjoying the body of the gender(s) you are attracted to is a bad thing. I don't think it should be everywhere, but I'm not going to fault Maxim, or any magazine, for cashing in on that. In a hobby that glorifies violence as a primary method of conflict resolution, we need to get over this Puritanical obsession with the human body.

However, I digress. I do that.

I have been involved in gaming long enough to remember the big gaming boom of the 80s. Some put this off onto the so-called Satanic Panic, but I think there was enough of a convergence of factors that gaming got to rear its head in the mainstream. I remember the days when Sears sold RPGs (and not just D&D) and there was a D&D category on an episode of Jeopardy. Gaming in the mainstream is a good thing. It gets eyes on our hobby and brings a diversity of people to it that is a good thing. I am talking actual diversity, when a multitude of viewpoints, backgrounds and experiences come together to give us fresh perspective and new angles from which to look at old things. "Diversity" that is nothing more than people trying to impose their viewpoints on what is right and what is proper isn't diversity. Its borderline censorship where the person who shouts loudest tries to impose their ideas on others. That is a bad thing, luckily I have a a loud voice.

That brings us back to D&D With Pornstars and the Maxim article. I think the article was a good thing. I may not like D&D, but I like the fact that an enthusiastic group of people who love their gaming got press in a major mainstream magazine. Mind you, they also talked to Dan Harmon of the television show Community, which I admit I do not like. It is a balanced article that doesn't pander or spread mistruths about gaming. The author actually sat in for a game night (playing a Druid, always my favorite character class when I played AD&D as a kid) and seemed to have fun. I think that our hobby being talked about in a favorable light is a good thing. I personally have no reason to hate on this article, or Zak and the D&D with PornStar girls either. Who knew that Zak has an MFA from Yale, in painting. I just knew that I liked the idiosyncratic style of his art in Vornheim.

People just need to stop being judgmental. I know its hard. Gamers aren't role-models. They aren't supposed to be. I don't really care what someone's job is, or who they have sex with, as long as they're straightforward and non-judgmental. You get more of that from the D&D With Pornstars people than you do with many in the gaming "community" who want nothing more than to attack them for not living up to their internal and somewhat rigid personal standards of right and wrong. Of course, I still don't understand how an illustration of a completely covered woman can be described as having a "money shot" either. We should be happy that a mainstream magazine wants to talk about gaming, whether or not it is talking about the kinds of gaming, or the kinds of people, that we want them to be talking about. For a lot, the tone is starting to come across as being more jealous than righteous.
Why don't we try to focus more on being a community, and less at snipping at each other.

Note: The usual rules apply when making comments. This is not a democracy, and this is my playground. I can and will remove comments by those who are being (in my opinion) rude, argumentative or combative. If you don't like that, don't post a comment. It won't break my heart.