Talk about the passion

Andrew Kaufmann

[Note: The events and persons described in this are part truth, part fiction, and part fiction-embellished truths. Any resemblance to real persons is probably not coincidental.]

   I was sitting at my desk and thinking the other day. Besides noticing that the most times in a row I could flip a coin and have it land heads is four, I formed a rather earth shattering theory about RPGs. Yes, yes, I know, I've been told many times to keep the brain waves straight and stick to staring blankly at inanimate objects such as Al Gore, but I couldn't help myself. The theory has two prongs, because single-pronged theories are boring. I call it "The RPG Theory," and it reads as such:

   1) Some people think RPGs are fun.
   2) Other people think RPGs are not fun.

   The notable dichotomy stands out like the nose on Link's face. The true question is, "Why?" A weenie answer is because every person is different and owns unique preferences, such as preferring apple juice to orange juice or preferring chocolate-glazed donuts over plain- glazed donuts. I wouldn't be able to call myself a super- studly investigator if I accepted that as a simple truth, however, so I "delved deeper."

   I've seen plenty of cheesy detective flicks where the gumshoe hero feels the need to "delve deeper," and the favorite place to do so is in a bar or place of exotic dancing. I was too cheap to pay the cover, however, so I went to the nearest Starbucks instead so I could investigate and hit on the cute girl that works there at the same time. Unfortunately, I'm not a big coffee fan, so I jokingly asked Michelle for a burger, fries, and her phone number. She blinked a couple of times and stared at me without saying a word. (The poor thing was spellbound by my stunningly good looks, or perhaps my unnaturally blonde hair was blinding her. Hard to tell.) It was at that instant that I hit the jackpot, as a young man with a horrible looking beard and moustache with poofy hair strode with confidence up to the counter.

   "People have different tastes in games; some people prefer the visceral thrill of defeating another opponent - often a human one - to the more paced, cereberal pleasure of watching an RPG unfold," the man said to Michelle. By now Michelle was baffled and slightly frightened. She turned around and started making a latte.

   The man turned to me. "Furthermore, just because you personally don't like fighting games doesn't mean that the genre is worthless. People who like fighting games are some of the best and greatest gamers out there! ... FOR ME TO POOP ON!"

   He then walked out.

   I took a seat by the window and stared at the passing cars, trying to find words on license plates while pondering the Poofy Statement (what I decided to title the mysterious words of the mysterious stranger) and my own RPG Theory. Then it clicked. Video games are like cars! Each car is different, some are faster, some are bigger, some have better stereos. Each driver is different, and each car gives something to the driver that someone else's car doesn't have. Some drivers get obsessed with their cars, taking absolute pristine care of it (such as putting in the really expensive gasoline), while others see it as an object to get from Point A to Point B and that needs an oil change every now and then.

   The poofy haired man re-entered the cafe and sat down next to me. "You've drifted too far astray from the intended point. In other words, you're babbling, dummy. Bring the car analogy to a skidding halt."

   I shrugged off the fact that this stranger sitting next to me was reading my mind. I looked him in the eye and spoke my mind. "What the world needs is peace between fighter fans and RPG fans. Die hard RPGers who hate fighters and fans of them need to see that fighting games have a secure place in the gaming world that RPGs can never replace. Sometimes it's fun to just beat the snot out of something or humiliate one of your best friends by finishing him or her with a stupid Hadoken."

   The man quickly countered. "RPGs have a more passionate audience, however, because RPG players often associate themselves with the games they play, hence the title 'role playing game.' They enter the worlds they create. They identify with characters and become immersed in the storyline and graphics and ambient music. They make fan clubs with fellow players to role play with others, continue story lines, and fix plot holes."

   "You're right," I said with a nod. "But that doesn't mean that some people can't enjoy BOTH fighters and RPGs! And there's nothing wrong with people that prefer fighters to RPGs."

   The man was momentarily silent as he peered through his glasses across the store, deeply in thought.

   "That girl behind the counter is cute," he noted.

   I concurred. "Quite."

   We didn't say another word to each other, but we knew an important bridge had been crossed, a bond had been formed. Maybe someday, fighter fans and RPG fans could live side by side each other. Until then, though, I'm going to rest my brain. This thinking stuff takes a lot of effort.

Feature by Andrew Kaufmann.
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