Monday, 9 September 2013

An Open Letter to the Internet, or, Why Fantasy is Important

When I tell people I play roleplaying games or that I am a Games Designer, people often look at me with that "Why don't you live in the real world" kind of look. I am made the outcast for doing something not considered real. At these points, I wonder what normal people talk about every day.

From asking those around me who are not into the niche things I do, the answer seems to be four main areas: politics, religion, work and sports. When I hear these things, I then think I should talk about them too, so that I am normal. Everyone always wants to fit in.

However, I find that when this occurs, problems arise. They always do. Politics and religion have always been considered the topics you shouldn't talk about at the dinner table, and for a very good reason. Whenever talking about these things, someone (myself included) will always say something inflammatory, and then it will escalate until everyone is unhappy. So both of them are off the cards.

Sports, I find, have the same effect. Most are happy to talk about it in a mutual respect sort of way, but someone will always come in who hates your team, or thinks something inflammatory about something you or someone else has said. Again, fights break out and someone ends up unhappy.

Work seems to be no different. Despite the fact I can't talk about it to normal people, due to the fact my work is weird and not in the real world, others tend to divert their talk about work into in-office politics, or teasing someone, or complaining about something. Generally, talk about work focuses on the negatives. Sometimes people talk about the good stuff, but it is usually everything bad about work that gets brought up. We don't want to do it. This thing is making it harder. We don't get paid enough. Etc. So, again, people focusing on being unhappy.

So when someone asks me why I don't live in the real world, I look at that "world" and see a whole lot of unhappiness.

That is why I don't live there.

That is why I live where if something isn't happy, you can change it. If you don't like how that thing looks in that game, make a new one. If you don't like this novel, pick up a different one. If you don't like your RPG character, create a new one and be someone you do like.

Sure, geeks argue about the finer points of their interests - more often than not, to be honest - but at least at the end of the day the majority of us can all shrug our shoulders and concede "Well, at least it isn't REAL". We can laugh at ourselves for getting heated over something that doesn't exist, and 9/10 times an argument about "Which race in 40k is the best" will result in the two parties sitting down and playing a game to find out, or having fun creating a new, third, BETTER race.

There are some geeks who take it too far, but they are the ones who have nothing BUT Fantasy. To them, the politics between the Empire and the Rebellion are real, and therefore not fun to argue about.

But the majority of us Fantasy lovers are not these people. We are those who have realised that the real world, in fact, sucks. That the reason we don't like talking about it is because obviously no one does, but everyone else is afraid to let go and be weird.

You can have your unhappiness, if you want. But I'd much prefer you come with me and enjoy the Fantasy. There is much to show you, and I'm sure you'll enjoy something.