Chris Miller

Brief Thoughts on Corporate RPGs and Freedom From Them

I posted an impromptu thread of my recent thoughts on RPGs and the recent WoTC brouhaha this morning, and decided to gather the thread here so I could keep it. It follows:

I’ve been reflecting on the WoTC OGL 1.1 blowup last week, and specifically my reaction to it. Even before Hasbro’s very public mistake I had been looking to step away from what I’ve internally called Corporate D&D. Truth is, I was bored with the content they were putting out, and with the comments about NFTs in D&D and the consolidation of online tools, I was uneasy.

As their best, companies putting out gaming content are giving us tools, but we fuel the game with our imaginations. I sometimes think we get in such a habit of shopping and looking for the next thing that we (I) forget that all of this started with a handful of dice, some fantasy novels to steal plots from, a pencil, and a pad of graph paper.

Any company who’s goal it is to hold you prisoner is not on your side. Luring you in and then locking you in place so you can be fleeced for more money is cynical, greedy, and perverts the nature of our gaming communities. It is, as Cory Doctorow calls it, the enshittificaion of our hobby. Isn’t the world shitty enough without these people trying to take whatever joy we have left by farming it for profit?

I’m sure all of this is blindingly obvious to most of us, but there is a whole generation of gamers who didn’t start out in their parent’s basement playing with graph paper. All they have known are the online tools, the microtransactions, the books you cannot read unless you have a subscription. My kids are among them. They need to be empowered to create, not simply purchase. They need to be able to liberate their game tables.

Old isn’t better. It’s just different. But I think it’s an important difference right now. Worth talking about at least.

So yes, #OpenDND. Absolutely. But also..know you can engage with this hobby without a subscription, without buying digital dice, without buying a module a month. Create the worlds you want to play in.

Thank you for attending my TED talk.

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