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Roleplaying would have saved Millions


In early 1997, Reebok aborted the launch of their new women's running shoe, named "Incubus". Apparently, up until the product launch, no one there had any clue that they'd name the shoe after a type of male demon that rapes sleeping women.

If there had only been a roleplayer on the staff, they would have saved millions of dollars. What old-school AD&Der wouldn't immediately know what an Incubus is? AD&D and other games promote such eclectic literacy-- the avid reading of niche and specialized books.

And despite this basic demonic education, RPGs still get flake for being 'satanist propaganda'. For the most oft-cited game (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons), this is akin to calling the Bible is 'satanist propaganda'. For indeed there are forces of evil-- and chapter after chapter providing ways to smite, stake, and destroy them! There's even a reward system built in-- slay the most evil, and you get valuable gold pieces and gain in level. What better training in fighting inhuman evils than an instant reward system?

Any decent over-the-top church should hand out free modules to all their Sunday School children. Run a few bored youths through "A Paladin in Hell" and suddenly you'll have a room full of evil-smiting zealots, just looking for the next demon to slay. You could build an army of the chosen with this, a million souls ready to go out and purge evil from the world.

And with their RPG experience, they may not be so bad at it. Once you get past the powergaming aspects, a lot of RPGs provide good theoretical strategy experience in such things as flanking, ammo conservation, and the need for good backup ("fireballs coming on line now!")

So probably US militia groups should also start running their follower's children through RPGs. A few sessions with Cyberpunk 2020 and the kid will learn not to trust the establishment, and to always make sure you keep a fresh clip handy.

Yet what happens? Instead of RPGs being reviled as the source of militia or militant christian propaganda, they are instead seen as satanist fodder or shunted into geekdom. This is pathetic-- I mean, really, just how effective do people think the Satanists are?

I don't want to pick on them, but they're hardly the best poster child of bad influences. They don't do genocide, don't engage in acts of national terrorism, and don't sell porn over the net. There's barely a newsworthy item in any of the cases reported. Which intrigues you more?

"Four doctors were killed and dozens of patients wounded in the latest bomb attack against an abortion clinic. Among the bloodied survivors was Kelly, a 16-year high school girl who had simply gone to Planned Parenthood to ask about contraception. The group claiming responsibility says that they will continue to act outside the law until laws are made forbidding abortion."
"Police detectives were stunned by the faint smudged chalk outline of a pentacle and clear evidence of burned candles in the youth's black-painted room. The youth had killed himself in a fit of despair after writing a suicide note. Said the parents, "Well, were we surprised when the police came by and we found out he'd painted his room black, had bad music in his collection, and had a makeup collection! Who would have guessed that our... we have a son, right dear? Our son would be led down such a dark path! It must have been those evil satanists!"

I mean, let's have a sense of proportion here. Button-pushing with things like 'satanist' and 'geekish misfit' is all well and good, but it gets kind of pathetic when it's plastered on the front page of a newspaper. The stereotypical news-worthy 'satanist' kills 1 person-- themself. Big deal, especially since satanists are considered professionals at this evil thing. Give me a blue-collar worker who goes on a bender and wipes out a family of four with his car, and you'll get a messier picture to plaster above the byline as well as a better read. And a lot more impact. And that's just from an amateur!

At the very least, stop associating roleplayers with such pathetic subcultures! I live for the day when, instead of being seen as satanists and geeks, we roleplayers can instead be seen for what we could truly be, if only someone would show us the way. We could be the zealots, the counter-insurgents, the truly dangerous.

I want to hear "Woah... back off, this guy's a roleplayer!" in a bar fight. I want book stores complaining that the local game shop is 'unfair competition'. Teachers should be protesting that they can't field fair teams in gym because the roleplayer gangs keep rolling over their competition.

Unemployed should swap stories about how they didn't get hired because they "didn't roleplay enough". A class-action suit would be filed by folks claiming that they were unfairly barred from joining a high-level Roleplaying Club simply because they weren't 'gamers'. The Personals section would all read "ISOG".

Roleplayers are a sub-culture, but we're been marginalized into the same pigeonholes as these other ineffective sub-cultures. It's time to break out, state what RPGing really can let you do, and cause some real controversy. We can even have a new tag line. No more of this "it's like make-believe, only with rules" or, "well, it's like a movie without a script." Boring.

After all, "hire a roleplayer, and your shoe won't rape women again" may lack punch, but it'll get an employer's attention. So go do it. Seek. Roleplay. Raise hell-- and slay the demons that result.

Until next week,

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