Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Tao of Other People's Stuff

This past Tuesday, Alexis Smolensk of the blog 'The Tao of D&D' wrote a post in which he laments the fact that many bloggers write about other people's stuff instead of their own creations. Check it out.

It's a valid observation and one that has had me thinking quite a bit. For that I thank the author, regardless of the fact that many other assumptions in the post are, hmmm, questionable at best. 

I am indeed guilty of playing with other people's toys. Perhaps more so than most other RPG bloggers. I talk about Star Trek, Star Wars, Smurfs, Muppets, DC comics, Marvel comics, and my most recent obsession, The Incredibles. 

Taoalexis seems to view this as lazy to some extent. He asserts that reviews of other people's material, discussions of other people's work, and the like can come across as 'phoning it in'. Taking the easy route as it were. 

Is he wrong? I can't say from the point of view of all bloggers. Some may do reviews because they feel it helpful to their readership. Some may do it, as Alexis implies, to create filler content when they don't have anything else to say. 

I can't speak for the masses. I certainly can't speak for the elite. I don't view myself as either of those things. All I can do is tell you why I do it.

I have on many, many occasions, created my own game systems, settings, and related original material. I have discussed genres on this blog for which there really aren't any published games covering them. You don't have to take my word for it. Check out my tags, read a few. 

At the same time, you will note that there are, as of this post, 118 entries tagged 'Muppets', 147 marked 'Star Trek', and heck, 16 tagged for 'Ghostbusters'. Wait...Star Wars was only tagged 69 times?! Damn. I need to get on that.

The thing of the things I've learned about myself over the years in that I don't self-motivate very well. It is very difficult and rare for me to just suddenly want to do something to the point where I put my all into it. Some may get the experience of walking to the corner store and randomly being hit by a desire to run a Medieval Fantasy Political Thriller but that's not how it works for me. 

The way I get inspired is to see something - a movie, a tv show, an artbook, a comic book - and then a bolt of lightning hits and I am flooded with ideas for a game. I do indeed become obsessed, needing to know more than I know, more than others know, about the subject in question so that I may effectively make it come to life as an RPG.

In fact, one bit that had me chuckling in this regard was this line from Alexis, "Journalism is research.  It is explaining something to an audience who does not recognize the name or the product being dropped, who deserve to be informed."

Does this imply I didn't or won't do research before posting my ideas for a Superhero campaign based on the Incredibles? Let me ask you - did you know there was another Person of Color superhero in the Incredibles world other than Frozone who was killed by the Omnidroid? Do you know when Frozone first manifested his powers? I do. How? Research. 

I am not informing you about the existence of the product. You all know there is an Incredibles movie and that it has a sequel. My posts are not written with the goal of letting you know this product is out there. I have no specific interest in revealing to you that these two movies were made, though if you didn't know I would be overjoyed if my posts happened to make you curious about them. (Psst. Go see them. They're Awesome!). 

My goal, my sole purpose in making posts about gaming in the established universe of popular franchises such as Star Wars, Marvel Comics, or The Incredibles (Egad! Those are ALL Disney!) is to share my love of gaming and those IPs with others who also love them. If you read my blog and like those IPs, you might be inspired the way I was. Then there is one more person adding energy to the idea. If you like it and run it and four pals join in your game and like it too, that's five people as excited about a thing then there was before. That's amazing! That's why I do this.

If no one sees it or people see it and no one likes it...oh well. I got it off my chest and out of my head. I still like it. I still think its a neat idea. 

Maybe someone will like my next post better.

Alexis further comments:

"The reader is a very bored entity, wandering the internet like a prospector, looking for something that will glint among the rocks.  And while wandering, the prospector will turn over a lot of rocks just to view what's there.  Most "views" are nothing more.  Just a bored reader turning over your rock, only to drop it and move onto the next rock.  To the reader, it's a disappointment.  Is that really the journalism you want to provide?  A means to disappointment?"

To all those who aren't so into my Incredibles posts, I hope that you'll find other things on my blog to enjoy, either in past posts or future ones. 

To those who do like the idea of an Incredibles RPG, I'm really happy to provide even a mote of inspiration and enjoyment.

To Alexis, thanks for making me think about this. That said...I am not a journalist. I never saw myself as one or claimed to be one. I am not making any money on any of this. This is a labor of love and something I do for my own sanity. I've met some great people, had some great conversations, and I am going to keep doing just this, just this way, until such time as I no longer enjoy it. 

Later days,

Barking Alien


  1. Hi BA - shaking off some dormancy here to say "don't sweat it", particularly about what some other blogger thinks about how other people are blogging wrong.

    My attitude is that I write my blog for me. It's not journalism, I'm not part of a movement, and I don't owe anyone anything as far as the blog. If someone else finds some value in it that's cool.

    The stuff you've written here is interesting. It's useful. It's good enough that I keep coming back and so do a lot of other people. If that matters to you I'd say you're doing fine. Whether it does or not if _you_ are happy with the bulk of it then you're doing fine.

    Onward my friend!

    1. Thank you Blacksteel.

      Like you, I do this for myself, no one else, but I'd be lying if I said it doesn't feel really good when someone leaves a comment saying that got some use out of something I posted or just found it fun and entertaining.

  2. Like Blacksteel above I'm shaking off a bit of dormancy as well; and I say fuck that sort of criticism. You write with a personality that is all your own and it makes topics that I might not even consider covering on my own blog peak my interest. I like the hell out of your blog and it's always interesting.