Today the halls of geekdom have rung with gleeful joy at the news that D&D hit the number 3 spot in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Toys list show. The ranking has been seen as an official endorsement of the popularity and quality of the entire field of Role Playing, a gold star in the annals of pen and paper role playing history.
Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings but this news, to me, seems to be an indication of only one thing: D&D players can rig an online vote.
I mean for the sake of fuck D&D beat the Wii! If that doesn't tell you everything then it bloody well should. The Wii is a stupidly named piece of technology that just about every adult and child in Japan, North America and Europe is at least aware of. In my work office I think every one of my colleagues has held a Wii controller in their hand. The number of people in my office who have ever even seen a d20? Oh, that would be me then.
Here's my prediction for the future glory of this ranking. It will serve only as a pyrrhic victory. What's even more damning than the fact that several people have expressed surprise at the ranking is that 100s more simply don't give a toss. The fact is, most people see RPGs as a creatively bankrupt haven for socially maladjusted geeks and this blatant vote rigging does nothing to change anyone's mind.
Here's my summary of the societal conversation going on here:
D&D Players: I think that we have empirically proven that D&D is the 3rd greatest toy in the world.
Everyone else: No, you haven't. (Goes back to playing with their Wii and talking about how Lego deserved the top spot.)
This isn't any kind of moral victory. It's a gigantic surge of all that is worst about meta/power gaming that demonstrates precisely the reason why most sensible human beings regard the hobby of role playing as something they would never get involved with.
D&D Players have just done the wider world of role playing a huge disservice and for once I am slightly ashamed to be a role player.
The problem is that D&D is where it all began and the entire hobby has got stuck in this D&D based cul-de-sac. D&D shouldn't be the core of an activity called Role Playing... I'm not sure the activity should have a core. In fact I'd go so far as to say that while D&D maintains it's stranglehold on the hobby it will never grow significantly. D&D should be an option of many equal options. Not the only game in town.
As usual I'm not saying there's anything wrong with D&D in and of itself. I personally find the whole thing stupefying and wouldn't play in a game unless you payed me a hefty sum of money. If you love it, though, you love it and that's mostly cool.
All I've noticed is that all the people who have written off my hobby as a refuge for weirdoes are now doing so just a little bit harder. The almost complete lack of acknowledgement of the weirdness of this result just tells me that people's brains are refusing to accept that role playing is a valid hobby at all.
D&D players have just made No Dice's mission a tiny bit harder. Thanks for nothing all those who voted.
* In my opinion. If your opinion differs you are both naive and wrong.**
** In my opinion.