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The little raccoon with delusions of grandeur... [Jun. 10th, 2004|08:22 am]
[mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]
[music |Gold Dust Woman - Fleetwood Mac]

I am Bandit, God King of the Space Raccoons of Dimension X.

Okay, no, I'm not, really. My name is Sue, happily married wife of Brian for 18 years, supervisor at a medical research facility and a long time role player. Odds are no one will ever read this, so what the hell - I can be Bandit for a moment.

Actually, Bandit is a character from a wonderful Justice Incorporated game that my friends ran for many years, and yes, he was an actual raccoon who, for at least one year, was made into a player character for a tournament at GenCon. I have a little raccoon hand puppet that was used in the game a few times, and he was truly honored to play a part, no matter how small, in such a well run event. He was a player's pet who rose to greatness, becoming master and ruler of all the raccoons who inhabited the infinite realm of dimension X.

But Bandit has come to mean something more to me over the years; to represent a type of person who I have encountered time and again in fandom and gaming. You've met him or her yourself, most likely, possibly at a science fiction convention, a gaming tournament, an MMORPG or an online game or bulletin board. They don't only exist in these hobbies but in just about every sport and pasttime since the dawn of mankind when small groups of people gathered to make stone axes to hunt or to bang on rocks and make music.

Who am I talking about?

The expert. The Center of Universe X. The God King of his or her own little niche in life. He Who Rises Above Us All in Our Chosen Hobby.

These are people who get into a field and learn it all inside and out, but rather than just enjoy it they flaunt it and rub your faces in the fact that you don't know as much as they do (even if you do, they won't see or acknowledge it). They have an inflated sense of self, treating others with mockery and contempt because they proclaim not only to know everything (and will often declare themselves as gurus or teachers who are obligated to pass on their Godly Wisdom to the rest of us), but they know YOU and who you are, why you do what you do, because they've seen it all and you clearly are not in their league.

I'm not talking about the person who truly is great and who others come to for advice or instruction, who loves the hobby and loves to share it with others, but rather the one who proclaims that he and he alone is qualified and must educate those who are clearly not as well versed as they are.

Most folks want to be good at something, they want to be recognized for it, they seek the admiration of their peers even in small ways. It's a natural thing for human beings, to want the approval of others and to be noticed, but the type of person I'm talking about? They take it to all new levels.

You can know them by their attitude, the sneer on their face when they tell you why you're dead wrong, the contemptuous way they treat you when you don't conform to their idea of what someone in the hobby should be, and the open mockery of people who dare to question whether or not their way is the right way. Anyone who disagrees with them or dares to complain about how things are done is a newb, a whiner, a twink, or a troublemaker. They are the arrogant bullies of the hobby playground who have found that they can dish it out not because they're physically the strongest but because they have the knowledge coupled with the ego to push people around. They trumpet their history and credits from the top of the highest mountain - how many years they've played, what level they are, who they are friendly with, etc., because it will attract attention and admiration. This attention, though, goes straight to their head and swells it to gargantuan proportions until they feel like they are Zeus at the top of Mount Olympus throwing thunderbolts at the unworthy...

They are Bandit, God King of the Space Raccoons of Dimension X.

They don't care who they hurt along the way, either, because they are the Most Important Thing in the Universe. Somewhere along the way, they lost sight of the people who are a part of their hobby, the folks who share and enjoy the same things, because their ego has become the most important thing in the room.

Yes, Zaphod, we hear you, but most of us know you for what you are -

You're just like us.

A human being, a tiny fish in a tiny pond, a relative nobody in the greater scheme of things, a fellow hobbyist, albeit one who has gone a bit mad with power. Arrogant, elitist snobs who could have been truly great, who are knowledgeable and talented and intelligent, but who are too full of themselves to have room for anyone who doesn't worship the ground they walk upon.

The Everquest raider who not only dictates the overall strategy to the 80 folks present, but who will tell each and every person just how to do their job because they think know it better than you do.

The message board junkie who proclaims everyone else a 'newb' and dismisses any opinion but their own as uneducated and juvenile.

The convention gamer who proclaims that they lost the RP event because the game master doesn't like to be outclassed.

The online gamer who repeatedly announces to all who read that they are a great roleplayer and then proceed to give you examples as to just why they are great so you can learn from their greatness.

The science fiction fan who laughs haughtily when you ask a question which clearly anyone who knows anything would already know.

I see them over and over and over again, and more than once found myself consoling those flung to the side of the tracks by the Freight Train of Ego that beat them down. It's sad watching someone who was once really a good person out to share a hobby and make new friends become the unstoppable juggernaut who doesn't give a damn about the people he runs over on his way to glory and stardom.

Me? I have my own qualifications in the various hobbies I participate in.

- I've been roleplaying since 1976 and larping since 1983 or so. I've done my tiny little bit of contribution in the industry having co-written a gaming supplement and written a few magazine articles many years ago.

- I've been playing online since 1989, first on CompuServe and now on mushes, and I ran an online game for six years.

- I have sat at the table and gamed with folks like Gary Gygax, Jim Ward, Mike Nystul, Ray Greer, Bruce Harlick, Tom Dowd and Paul Hume among others. (I also had a wonderful discussion with Dave Arneson a few years ago about the computer graphics classes he's teaching in Florida these days. I was so doped up on pain killers that I had no clue who I was talking to until about half an hour into the conversation and sadly never got the chance to do any roleplaying with him.)

- I've had the pleasure of speaking with a number of people in the SF and fantasy industry including interviews with Gene Roddenberry and Anne McCaffrey, lunch with Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman, a lively discussion about the NHL with Walter Koenig, and I met and corresponded with the late Rick Biggs of Babylon 5 with whom I shared a love of all things Curious George. I also got to interview Timothy Leary about twenty years ago, and though he's not technically in the sf/fantasy field, he was definitely out there.

- I am the head of a gaming organization that runs events at GenCon and other gaming conventions. Originally we started with half a dozen of us 22 years ago and now we have 35 game masters from seven states and two provinces in Canada running over 4000 player hours worth of events this year. For awhile we were the Hero Auxiliary Corps running the official tournaments for Hero Games, but then we diversified and became Infinite Imaginations, Inc. and now include any number of game systems. During my time running tournaments and events, I have gotten standing ovations, been asked to sign autographs, and have gotten job offers from gaming companies. TSR even held up their program for GenCon one year because they hadn't heard from me yet and wanted to know if we would be attending, and we made it as a footnote in the Roleplaying Gamers Bible as an example of good roleplayers.

- I've taught basic roleplaying, roleplaying ethics and once held a seminar on the myths of roleplaying dangers.

- I've been playing Everquest since May of 2000 and have a level 65 enchanter who raids regularly. I have also played and beta tested City of Heroes, Dark Age of Camelot and Shadowbane.

- I was the undefeated Philadelphia Warhammer 40K champion for three seasons when Games Workshop ran leagues there.

See? I can do it, too.

As I said in the beginning, I am Bandit, God King of the Space Raccoons of Dimension X!!!

Well, no, not really.

I'm a small fish in a small pond.

A nobody in the greater scheme of things.

Just a fuzzy little raccoon sitting on someone's shoulder, twitching his nose every now and then and making funny noises from time to time.

Just like you.
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