A while back, I was reading a review of an RPG game based on/created for a very popular and long-running set of sci-fi movies. The review was doing quite the thorough job and examining and discussing the numerous flaws and oddities (as it saw them) in the rules. The responses, in comments, were quite numerous, with more than a few written in very strong and strident language.
As I read those replies, I noticed two things, the second* of which being that many of the very “animated and assertive dissenters” (for lack of a better word) diverged quickly from discussing rules and instead began “defending” the idea of an RPG in that universe/story. Their comments became about whether the story was a good one, whether you liked that story or not, and whether it was a good idea to play a game inside it.
Questions which the review never broached once, even as teasers.
My take on it all? A nice example (and reminder) of identity survival hijack: “I like this thing so much, I have made it part of my identity, and here’s this person saying something critical**about that thing, therefore who I am is at stake, and I must rise to protect and secure.” The distinctions of the text are lost, as are both the specificities of the text and any nuance contained therein. That the article was, in many ways, expressing the writer’s like of the sci-fi property (through them buying the game, running many games with it, and writing the article because they wanted to continue) was instead lost, all washed away under the spark of identity flailing.
We humans sure are funny sometimes, aren’t we?***
Besides what I got about the game itself, this little dive into the comments also gave me a nice window into seeing another way an identity hijack can play itself out. And through that, a little more was added into my mindfulness cup.
* The first was that many of the defenders of the game included phrases such as “if you ignore this…” or “if you just do this…” or “this is how we play…” (or included examples of rules interactions that were incorrect). Effectively, despite their forcefulness and opening statements otherwise, they were agreeing with the thrust of the review: that the rules, as written (which is the purpose of a review, to look at things as they are put out into the world and/or sold), were poor. That to play the game well required rather major changes. I think there’s a whole world worth exploring inside this disconnect as well…
** Which doesn’t mean “bad”…
*** No word if the many species in said sci-fi universe also suffer from the same funnyness – though I’m very much sure many do in their own way.