The Style-Wars

I was briefly a part of a discussion on one of the many fine Facebook Groups dedicated to the hobby. The topic was on the perennial debate over style of play in role-playing games. It was all good stuff, but one commentator stood out to me. This individual, quite directly, stated that they come to a table to play a game and not engage in any story-telling hogwash (I’m paraphrasing). I didn’t respond at the time, not wanting to be drawn into a style-war sort of argument, but it did get me thinking.

Thus, having percolated a bit, I would like to start with this: play as thou wilt.

This is an amazing hobby we have here. It allows us to socialize with like-minded people and to stretch our creativity to endless worlds of imagination. It’s also a commitment of time – my average sessions are three hours, for example. No one can afford to spend their precious time on an experience that doesn’t satisfy their desires. Play as thou wilt.

Wanna roll dice till your wrists are sore? Go for it. Wanna say fuck the dice and have an entirely role-play driven experience? Do it. The first rule is to play as thou wilt.

I don’t judge anyone based on their style of play. It may or may not be for me, but that is by no means an indictment of how you or your table plays. But, having seen this conversation come up many…many…mannnyyy times in the last year or so of being involved with the hobby on Facebook and Youtube, I have to ask: why are we, as role-playing gamers, arguing over each others styles? Why do we get so mad when someone else doesn’t agree to play likewise?

Now, I could go on at length about why this happens. I could list many intellectual and philosophical reasons as to why we as a species act this way. I won’t…because play as thou wilt.

If each of us took a step back from our own precious positions, we might see the line of fellow role-players who are having a great time doing things there way. We might understand that they can play the way they do and we can play the way we do without hurting each other or the hobby. A difference of style, of opinion, is not an indictment on your own beliefs, its simply different and we should celebrate those differences, that creativity, instead of arguing over whose style has greater validity.

All of this is not to say that we cannot have an open discussion about the nature of our hobby, dissecting its every aspect like grade schoolers with a frog in science class. That’s part of the fun: having lively discussions with other gamers about this thing we have a common passion for. Let’s leave the anger and self-righteousness at the door though, and allow each other to play as we will.

What do you think about the “style-wars” in the hobby? Comment, pen a response, or leave me a video with your thoughts below!


2 thoughts on “The Style-Wars

  1. The style wars are stupid. Unilateralism is boring and lazy. It’s like someone who just eats boiled cabbage all day and refuses to try anything else. Narrow mindedness leads to stagnation. If only one style was ever practiced the hobby would have dissolved decades ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. I think we only hurt ourselves and the hobby by attempting to pummel each other into submitting to one way of thing or the other. Likewise we close ourselves off to potentially amazing experiences by only engaging in a single type of play.

      That’s not to say we shouldn’t play what gratifies us most, but we should all try to be a little open-minded.


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