My 2 Cents

All right folks, I feel the need to throw in my 2 (long) cents on the Columbine incident. At this point, Iím sure most of you either rolled your eyes and mumbled something along the lines of "Oh gawd, not more" or had an emotional moment. Well, my personal feeling is that the media should leave those folks alone to grieve in peace and get back to the rest of the world. There's no clearcut reason, or person/thing to blame. Itís over, people! Iím sorry for the victims and yes, for the shooters as well, but there comes a point where itís just about selling newspapers and looses all pretenses of good taste and informative journalism.

Unfortunately, this entire mess is leaving behind a rather nasty legacy. If any of you have visited slashdot or some of the gaming forums lately, youíll know that some of the blame is getting placed Ė you guessed it! Ė on video games, TV, and RPGs, namely Dungeons and Dragons. Now, this is most likely another case of yellow journalism, a witch hunt for someone to blame other than the twits of Ďadministratorsí and Ďcounselorsí that didnít see a brewing problem with the shooters, but it seems to be creating more trouble than that. I mean, banning black trench coats because Ďyou could hide a gun under ití seems rather dictatorial to me. Then again, maybe my history classes about Hitler are going to my head. But those who are classified as the outcasts, or different appear to be getting targeted (more so than usual) by not just Ďpeersí, but also the people who are supposed to be supporting them.

Now, mind you, I am sympathetic to the people in Colorado. Theyíve been through hell. But what people seem to be forgetting is the Ďwhyí. Thereís a reason those two boys went out and shot all those people. They didnít just wake up that morning and decide, "hey, Iím going to kill someone" for no reason. No one does that unless they are seriously, dangerously insane. Through whatever twisted reasoning they got to the point of wanting someone dead, they felt that others had pushed them to that point. Bullies, jocks who believe they rule the world, girls whose only concern is their looks and donít use half the sense God gave a doormouse, let alone what he gave them, havenít they ever bothered you? Havenít you, at some point, wanted to go through some sort of Doom/Wolfenstien/whatever fantasy with them? Iíll admit it, I have. But the thing is, those boys in Colorado lost track of the line between the video game and reality. I use the games as an outlet. After awhile of the game, thereís not much of a need to entertain thought of it IRL. Guess they just lost track of that. And come on. Seriously, in complete honesty, how many times have you threatened Ė even just as a joke Ė to hurt someone? Iíd like to meet the person who hasnít threatened to hurt a sibling at one time or another. Everyone has to face up to bullies or just jackasses who need to pick on someone, and I have been there. Some jerk of a prep student decided he liked teasing the geek, and it got to the point where one day he took my book. I should have some platitude about how I talked to him and got all my problems solved and my book back, but we all know the world doesn't work that way. I kicked him in the shins and then he gave me the book back. He left me alone, and because I resorted to violence, guess who got sent to the counselor? If you said the prep, you are obviously delusional. Or a school administrator. This gets far too common; the party in a confrontation that isn't the popular kid, that isn't on the honor roll or football team, the one that just likes being different for difference sake, is the one sent for 'help'. Why not deal with the real problem; the ones that conform to the petty taunting and popular image.

Now, back on subject. The terrible danger from the evil RPGs. I know this is a bunch of bullsh*t. Hopefully you do too. Iím not going to go on about the good I get from playing AD&D and Shadowrun, the list a bit too long to go on about right here. Just bear with me and Iíll get to the point eventually.

Now, Iím prolly one of the Ďluckyí people. Iím a geek and look it. Iím unthreatening and off in my own little world most of the time. As a Ďcancer victimí (I prefer Ďsurvivorí, myself) I do get a bit more leniency on it, too. The worst case of D&D paranoia was my one attempt to recruit my neighbor and long time friend into the wonders of role-playing. Her father ended up storming onto the porch and forbidding her to participate in it, but she could watch (does that make sense to anyone?) With just me and her, that didnít work so well. But anyway, my parents know enough about the game to nod politely when I rant on about the plans for a session, but they also support my playing the game. It always surprises me to read when some personís parents freak out because he/she is role playing. As my mom put it the other day after the second gaming session in a week (vacation is good); "Iíd rather know that there are 12 hours that 4 teenagers are safe inside doing something productive instead of out doing who knows what and getting into trouble." (feel free to use that one as an excuse to play)

And they are safe (no comments about productive). Sure, the characters spend most of their existence looking for enemies and killing everything that moves, but thatís only in the game and our minds. In the real world, the most violent things get is the tossing of various munchies across the room and me threatening to shove dice into places that would be most uncomfortable for my players Ė threats which, I might add, I never carry out and tend to cause more mocking of the GM and hilarity than any real fear.

Well, this has to have some point, so Iíll get to that now. I realize I sound like a callous twit whoís more concerned with a stupid game than someone who has any feelings for the suffering and dead. But in my opinion, the wounds in Colorado will scab over eventually. But thereíve been school shootings before. And unfortunately, there probably will be more again. No one can keep vigilant all the time. You have to let down your guard sometime. And when that happens, the papers and news shows will scream about it for weeks Ė again. But inevitably, the blame will be passed off.... and Ė yet again Ė to video games that probably have more therapeutic value than talking to a shrink for an hour, onto television shows that are admittedly more bloody than they need to be (my opinion again), and yes, onto RPGs. Thatís how witch hunts go. Find a decent victim and kill them. If you think itíll just go away, Iíd advise you to go to a history text and look up that section about the French Revolution.

Iím not saying gamers unite and get up in arms about this. Thatís the last thing Iím talking about. Getting hostile, going on about "You bastards, this is the greatest game ever invented, since you donít think so you must suck!!!" is just going to get RPGs Ė and computer games Ė a bad image, especially this soon after the tragedy. All it takes is a few hotheads, and unfortunately Iíve seen this already a few times. What I am saying is teach people about the benefits. Start an impromptu (quiet!) game in the library or something. If someone comes by and asks what youíre doing, invite them to join. Keep the rules simple, and you just might convert them. Share the novels, tell people what you got from the game. If your teacher gives you a free assignment/project, do it on AD&D and take the teacher on an adventure! Take the funky dice with you someplace and pull Ďem out and roll pointlessly until someone asks you about them if you have to. For the Doom (or half-life or whatever) players, guess what you should give for birthday/Christmas/housewarming presents?

Just donít sit at your computer and whine about how idiotic the people who donít share your point of view are.

If you still think I'm a lunatic, well, go ahead. I'd just like you to stop by this section in slashdot and take a look at what some people - formally uninvolved with Colorado - are going through, and then tell me you don't care about a crazy RPGer and her silly game.

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