Let’s Get Topical: Dungeons and Dragons Virtual Table
We don’t cover too much breaking news at GFG, usually because board games don’t have much breaking news. We also write too infrequently to keep up with any news as it happens. But in a convenient turn of events, Wizards of the Coast announced the Virtual Table for Dungeons and Dragons on the very same day I sat down to write an article for the blog. Since we are in the internet age, many of the opinions have been negative. So I wanted to say that I think it’s going to be awesome. Josh and I might even play D&D together again, breaking the boundaries of space and time. Or at least the Mason-Dixon line.
I’ll avoid debating the naysayers who want to complain about technical issues, since I’m not enough of a tech geek to get involved in that fight. Instead, what bothers me about a lot of the complaints that I’ve heard is that D&D is meant to be played in person. I hear a lot of complaints along these lines with the Character Builder and Wizard’s other online initiatives. It seems like a ridiculous thing to complain about because Wizards isn’t burning the books or your dining room.
If you don’t want to use the software, then don’t. But why shouldn’t this software exist for people who really want to use it? Virtual tabletop tools have gained popularity since 4E was released because it solves an age old problem of people not being able to get together on the same night and time. The Character Builder makes character creation fast and easy, but you can still use the books if your not comfortable with it. Many gamer’s seem to think that WOTC descends from the mount every few months to pass new laws that cannot be disobeyed.
A lot of this comes down to the “Edition War.” I’ve seen several comments where people say things like “this is only for 4E, I’ll pass.” It’s one thing to say “I don’t play 4E, so this is irrelevant to me,” but then why are they reading 4E forums? And beyond that, why would it support any other editions? That makes no sense at all. You might as well complain that General Motors didn’t leave enough room in your ’88 Oldsmobile to install an in-dash GPS.
And it’s not like Wizards didn’t bend over backwards for the old school fans with the new Red Box and the Essentials line. It seems like a consistent issue throughout the older geek generations. In comics, for example, fans have clamored for years that DC should bring back Hal Jordan and Barry Allen as Green Lantern and the Flash, and they finally did. But in order to bring back the definitive heroes of their generation, characters I grew up on, like Kyle Rayner and Wally West, were pushed to the side. So what am I getting at here? Old dudes are getting out of control and abusing their power as consumers. They must be stopped!
Okay, so I ran off on a rant. The Virtual Table is really an excuse for me to complain about a trend that I think is helpful and harmful to the geek industries. On one hand, it’s important to support a solid fanbase that’s kept you in business for decades. On the other hand, these industries aren’t as strong as they were in the 70’s and 80’s. They need to make sure they are encouraging new players who don’t care how many times a day a wizard can cast magic missile. I think Wizards is on the right track with Character Builder and Virtual Table, but they’re not going to feel encouraged to keep innovating if the fans tear them apart every time they make an announcement like this.
Criticism is great, but remember, D&D is about slaying trolls, not being trolls.