Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Artist versus Art

Recently there has been are serious debate over The Artist versus his Art, meaning does one support the art of someone whose views one finds repugnant.  This argument is an old one not a recent one.  It came up in recent news due to the controversy over Orson Scott Card writing for a Superman comic book.  Mr. Card has extreme anti-Same Sex Marriage and anti-LGBT Rights views.  He has advocated rebellion against our government if Same Sex Marriage laws were passed on a national level.  The problem is some people want to separate Mr. Card’s political views from his work.  While others want to boycott him for what they believe is a hate filled political opinion.  The question is can one divorce the art from the artist or should one.  Mr. Card has been using the proceeds of his work to fund organizations and campaigns that work against equality when referring to the LGBT community.  Due to that, people in that community or supportive of it want to boycott him.  They do not want him to be able to fund a Hate campaign.  Mr. Card has every right to believe what ever he wants.  One the other hand folks have the right to refuse to support something they find repellent. 

One argument in this situation is that Mr. Card’s views contradict the heart of the character of Superman.  Superman is the defender of the weak, the downtrodden and the oppressed.  Many feel that Superman, if he was real, would not support Mr. Card as his story teller.  I agree that Mr. Card’s personal beliefs do not synch up with what is the heart of the character.  Superman could not in good conscience advocate withholding rights and institutions to any segment of society.  So I wonder what DC Comics was thinking when Mr. Card’s stances are public knowledge.  They should have been able to anticipate this public outcry or at least someone in Time Warner’s legal department.  I myself was not planning on reading this.  Not due to the political and social ramifications, but because I am not a big Superman fan.  I do agree with the principles of the boycott.

I enjoyed Mr. Card’s Alvin the Maker series of novels.  I was a big fan of them.  That was before I discovered his political views.  Some people are able to divorce an artist from his work.  People will listen to Wagner’s work despite his being an Anti-Semite.  People like Michael Jackson’s music despite allegations against him for child sexual abuse. Mr. Jackson was never convicted, so they are only allegations.  As for Wagner he is gone so he does not get any money to support his racist views.  Mr. Card is supporting and funding his hateful ideology.  I personally cannot support someone like that.  That is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

RPGs & Me

First when I refer to RPGs or Role Playing games, I am usually referring to Tabletop RPGs.  MMORPGs or Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying games and RPG video games are Video games to me.  Although they have RPG elements to them they are not the creatively immersive experience with one’s imagination that old school tabletop RPGs are.  I began my journey with them back in the fall of 1982.  I was a freshman in High School in Oxnard, California.  My cousin, Steve, who was an avid war and strategy gamer, had referred to them before that time.  The one I was interested in was Top Secret.  It was an Espionage centered game from TSR, the same folks who created Dungeons and Dragons.  Now, I was not interested in D & D and Advanced D & D AKA AD & D.  That was due to my mother’s very religious biases about it.  I enjoyed RPGs; I tried to create some of my own.  When my grades went down that spring my mother blamed the RPGs and my comic books.  She took all of them from me.  I got the comics back but she forbade me from playing RPGs again.

In University I tried to get back into them.  There were several failed attempts when I was at Pacific University.  I was trying to get into Superhero RPG groups playing V & V (Villains and Vigilantes) and Champions.  It was not till my second year at University of Oregon, that I found a group.  They were heavy into Champions, the GM or Gamemaster was a huge Hero System fanatic.  Even though we played in TSR’s Forgotten Realms or Shadowrun, it was using the Hero System rules.  When I moved back to Dundee after I left University, Members from that group who moved welcomed me into their gaming group.  Unlike the previous group which only had one GM.  There were Multiple GMs encouraged with rotating games. Also instead of one system only they encouraged using the system that came with the world.  During this time I got way into RPGs.  I was into AD & D 2nd Edition, Shadowrun, Hero System/Champions and White Wolf’s World of Darkness Setting.

I played with that gaming group for four years.  I stopped because it went from once a week to two or three times a week.  When people left the group, games those people were in would suddenly stop, except for Shadowrun which is good for revolving door casts.  I felt like there were also financial demands on me for being the only one with a full time job.  A friend once told me, that if something was no longer fun stop.  Gaming with these folks became a chore, an obligation, not so much fun.  I could not stay in this group, so I ended my participation with the group.  I also needed some space from these people.  Let’s just say many of those friendships were never rekindled.  I try to bring back gaming with other friends but it never worked out.  I even dabbled with online chat room or e-mail games.  None of it was the same.  I also tried LARPing (Live Action Roleplaying) with the Camarilla of Portland/ Vancouver, Washington.  This was a White Wolf World of Darkness LARPing group.  I played a Werewolf, in a Vampire dominated game and area.  I felt out of place, so I left.  I came back one more time, but found it the same.

Now even though I was not playing, I was still involved. I still bought my favorite game Shadowrun.  I started trimming down how much stuff I had at this time.  I got rid of all my Magic: The Gathering, most of my comics and most of my RPGs.  The only RPG I kept was Shadowrun.  Shadowrun is set in a Cyberpunk Future where Magic comes back.  I had become a huge fan of their Shamanic Magic system.  I started connecting with folks on the internet.  This was back I 1997.  So I started my own, Shadowrun site, the specialized in the Shamanic end of things.  One of the fans of the site was a writer for FASA, the company that created Shadowrun.  I started seeing my ideas in FASA published Sourcebooks, but I did not write them.  At this time I was sending them proposals.   In frustration of all this I shut down the site around 2000-2001.  I was tired of playing in someone else’s sandbox.  I got rid of a big chunk of the Shadowrun books.  I kept a few though. 

I have been out of the RPG world ever since.  I still check out what is going on, but I never buy anything.   I got into Superhero MMORPGs for 5 years, but that is not the same.  I miss the comradery the community.  Many of the games I loved are gone.  I left Shadowrun during the Third Edition, AD & D during the 2nd Edition and The World of Darkness during the first version.  I feel out of touch, but I have people I know who are still into it.  That is My Not So Humble Opinion.