On Preference

Image by: Chrstopher

I’ve been giving some thought to the idea of preference. Specifically, the preferences of people when it comes to the games they play. I saw a post by Greywulf that got me thinking about it. Very often, we as gamers, get into discussions about our favorite game versus another popular game and the discussions can become more than heated. What I am starting to ask myself is this: why? Why do we get so hot and bothered if someone prefers something that we don’t like?

I’ll give you an example. (And I’m writing this knowing that I could be sparking a flame war with these words). For a long time, I was an Apple user. I was a die-hard devotee of the Mac platform, from the days of the bondi-blue iMac all the way up until right before the release of the G5 processor. I even did a few retail stints at the Apple Store near where I lived. I drank the Kool-Aid. Whenever I found myself in discussions about computers, I always hotly defended my precious Mac. I glossed over shortcomings and I emphasized the stuff that made my decisions look good. I eventually had to switch to a PC for a job I had. I have to admit, when I did, it was a relief. I won’t go in to all of the details (that’s not the point of this post) but it felt good to not have to work to be compatible; I was part of the majority.

The same kinds of discussions go on in our hobby. We roleplayers love what we love and we tend to hate on those who are on “the other side.” And, in this regard, I have made moves similar to those I did when I was a Mac fan. When 4th Edition D&D came out, I started running a game for a group of friends. it was my first experience DMing and we loaded praise onto 4e and its system, giving it nothing but favorable comparisons to the 3.5 rules we knew so well.

When I ended up leaving that group and, eventually, starting running a game for some other friends, I went back to 3.5. At the time, I figured that I just knew the rules better (really I think I didn’t want to have anything to do with the system that I associated with the group I left) and that’s the justification I went with. We eventually transitioned to Pathfinder and that’s where we’ve stayed. I’m over my issues with the 4e group I left, but for some reason I held on to the “dislike” of the system that I had fostered.

I very recently had a friend ask me if I wanted to play in a 4e one-shot that they are going to be running soon. Without even considering the system, I said yes. I respect this guy as a GM and I really like the premise of the adventure. When I got out my 4e books to work on my character, I found the record sheet for the Wizard I had been playing with my first and only 4e group. I took a look over it, and I realized that, issues with the group aside, I had a good time playing that character. The mechanics of the game that built the character were sound and, in fact, I could just level up my old character and use him for the one-shot.

The point I’m rambling my way towards is this: we don’t need to draw battle lines. Companies might like us to do that, at some level, because there are only so many gaming dollars to go around. However, if you like the system you’re playing and there’s another system that someone else likes more, it doesn’t make you right and them wrong, or vice-versa. Ben plays Palladium, Nick loves himself some Savage Worlds, Buddy plays 4e and Pathfinder both and I respect all of their opinions.

So the next time that you end up in a discussion with a fellow gamer about the merits of one system versus another, do me a favor: don’t try and show them why their system sucks. Instead, try to show them why you love your system so much. They may not agree with you but at least you’ll be taking things in a positive direction.

[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, D&D, 4e, Pathfinder, 3.5, Palladium, Savage Worlds[/tags]

14 thoughts on “On Preference

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  1. As I often say to people who disagree with my preferences, “My worldview is not so fragile that I will be upset that people have different opinions.”

    D&D 4e is not the game for me, I have had fun GMing it and people I know and respect like it. But for my play style of fantasy game, I prefer Pathfinder, but I do not mind that other people like 4e or Savage Worlds or one of the OSR games or . . . or . . .


  2. The Edition Wars are stupid. For a while, they totally turned me off of one of my favorite sites (EnWorld). A couple of months ago, someone actually approached me in the FLGS and tried to start up an edition war with me because I was buying a 4e product. This was a complete and total stranger, btw. It’s ridiculous. Can’t we all just play along?

    (sings “We don’t need no edition wars” to the tunes of Guns N Roses’ Civil War)


  3. It has been my experience that the conversations, 4e vs Pathfinder for example, generally start out pretty civil. It might get a little heated, but for the most part, in the beginning, it is still pretty good natured. All it takes is that one sanctimonious jerk to proclaim the superiority of his/her preferred system and that’s when the boards/comments will explode. What was a fun discussion turns into a hateful attack on people that aren’t really any different. People that you would likely game with or hang out with if given the opportunity.
    I’ve played 4e (Original and Essentials) and I honestly didn’t like it much. I had fun the entire time I played 3e and 3.5 and now I absolutely love me some Pathfinder, but I don’t hate 4e. I don’t hate or even dislike anyone because they play 4e. If someone I know runs a 4e game and asks me to play, I’d do it.
    I don’t care what anyone says no game is better than another. It may be “better” for you, but it is not actually, for a fact, quantitatively proven to be better. If someone makes claims that x is better than y they are just talking out of their @$% and don’t deserve to be acknowledged.


  4. You will never stop edition wars, thats the part of Fredom of choice. people will always favour what they know and trust. I love 4e. I know exactly why. Its easy, I do not want or like to be hindered by many many rules. I will and have played other games with many people and systems. Its a matter of Taste.
    You may like Turnip I for one do not understand the thought that you or anyone could eat it but yet im told just try it this way or that way. no amount of saying its good will make a difference and so with our games.
    Kinda got lost in what i was saying but i hope you get me!


  5. My group uses the Pathfinder rules but we are still playing in Forgotten Realms & I love it. I’ve tried playing 4.0 several times & had an awful experience each time. At first, I blamed it on the new system itself but the last time I played I realized my bad experience was the result of the group I was with & not the system itself. My normal gaming group is awesome – I’ve been gaming w/them for 10+ years. Each of my 4.0 experiences was with a new group of people & there was little to no role playing – again, not the fault of the system but the group dynamic. I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe we should evaluate the circumstances surrounding our loyalty to a particular system & realize that in some instances it’s not the game but the group we play the game in that influences our reaction.


  6. @kathulhu That’s a really good observation. It’s also connected to the why of my re-evaluation of 4e. I finally have a chance to divorce my 4e experience from the group that I left and to play it with a group of people that I know are pretty awesome. I’m looking forward to it.


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