Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thank You, Alexis!

Most readers of this blog are probably also familiar with Alexis Smolensk, and his blog The Tao of D&D.

Hopefully you're all readers of his blog. How you feel about him personally, well, that's up to you. And honestly, years ago when I first started reading his blog, I didn't like him. He had a brusque, authoritative, pompous attitude -- or at least that's how many of his posts read to me. But one day, a few years back, he posted a video of just himself talking about whatever. And I began to see him as a person, rather than as an internet persona. I haven't always agreed with him, but I do appreciate what he's done on his blog over the years, and how it's helped me to improve my game. And now that I better understand him, and his mission with his blog to encourage gamers to be better, I have nothing but respect for him. I want to take back all the disparaging things I've said about him over the years (and I said more than a few back in the early days of the blog). Alexis, I just didn't get you back then. I think I do now. Sorry.

Since August, I've been reading a series of posts (he seems to have wrapped them up now) about applying Games Theory to look at D&D and RPGs in general. I think it started with this critique of the Quick Primer for Old School Games, although maybe it started before that. I was (and still am) busy in August writing up my dissertation.

Alexis also suggested a book on Games Theory by Matsumoto and Szidarovsky in this post, but I don't really have time to dig into a serious academic work on the subject right now. Maybe next year, if my defense goes well and I don't need to rebuild my dissertation from the ground up...

However, I did find a lighter book on game design, written primarily for video/computer games, but so far much of what it has to say has been applicable to RPGs. Game Design: Theory and Practice (Second Edition), by Richard Rouse III (2005, Wordware Publishing). It's leagues beyond any "made for RPGs" theory like the GNS Forge stuff.

I'll probably be posting some excerpts or thoughts related to what's in the book, and applying the ideas presented to Chanbara as I get it ready for publication.


  1. Thank you Dennis,

    As I said recently on my blog, I was awfully confrontational at the beginning of my blogging career. It's not surprising that you did not well like me right off; that is a consequence of my approach and not your failing.

    Yet, to me, the encouragement that I feel about this post that you've written is a bigger issue than my popularity as a person. You've changed your mind about the game; you've embraced the notion that people outside the game have much to say about the possibilities of the game. This heralds possibilities that can't be measured - and to hear you say this thrills me.

    I wouldn't expect to find many others commenting on your change of mind; I'm still the loathsome creature that I was in the minds of many and it is always an act of bravery to stand against that. Thank you. I have a lot to atone for and this helps.

    Brick by brick, my citizens. Brick by brick.

  2. I doubt I'll get any other comments here either (or maybe one from JB, he often comments here and at the Tao). But I wanted to let you know that you have positively impacted my thoughts on the game.

    Keep doing what you're doing, and give people time. You'll win enough people over.