Eight Wisecracks RPG Fans Never Want to Hear Again
On the videogame playground, RPG players are the ones who get hit in the face with a dodgeball while everyone points and laughs. You've got your jocks gunning through their FPSes, the theater nerds showing off on platformers, and the goth kids firing up the latest indies while they cop a cigarette under the bleachers. They all have one thing in common: They make fun of the RPG crowd.
We RPG fans have heard all the jokes -- too many times, in fact. Cool kids of the gaming world, your jibes have gone flat. We're enormous nerds, so you shouldn't have trouble coming up with new material. Yet I've listened to the limp wisecracks below (or variations on them) on more occasions than I can count. Trust me, it is time to retire these chestnuts:
"ANOTHER Final Fantasy? I guess it wasn't so 'final' after all!"
I heard this one, for the trillionth time, mere seconds after Final Fantasy XIV was announced at E3 this year. Dear morons: Yes. The name of the series is Final Fantasy. It is indeed very long-lived, such that our children and grandchildren will probably still be hearing this withering rejoinder every single time a new Final Fantasy comes out.
The saddest part about this line is that it wasn't even clever the first time. It's just a freaking name, people. Nobody complains that the Rainbow Six games have fewer than six rainbows, or that LittleBigPlanet is a nonsensical contradiction in terms. (OK, I have heard people complain about that last one. But they're dorks, too.)
"That guy with the big sword is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."
This is typically heard from a heterosexual gamer when he observes a male RPG character who doesn't cut the traditional square-jawed Johnny Unitas figure. The strange image causes him to panic. A little voice in his head chirps, "If you don't say something, people may assume you want to have SEX with that man!" In a desperate move, our insecure friend points out to everyone within earshot that yo, dude looks like a lady. Thus the jokester sends an implicit message: "I want to have sex with that man, but it's OK because of his delicate features."
"Strange how the girl only wears a bikini to fight the giant crab instead of, y'know, armor."
After knocking the gender-role-defying male characters, Insecure Heterosexual Guy typically turns his attention to the women, where he is shocked to discover that they wear revealing outfits, because he doesn't understand the concept of boobs. (Insecure Heterosexual Guy has some issues to work out in therapy.)
For me, once I accept the premise that the characters on screen are fighting giant crabs with golden daggers and ice magic, it's not that much more of a leap to imagine that one or two of them might do so in their underwear. I mean, I'm sure it's magical underwear. See? Suspension of disbelief: restored.
"If I wanted to read this much, I would buy a book."
The genre is notorious for pages and pages of text and subtitles. Even the most dogged fan will concede that it gets tedious at times. But jeez, gamers, could you flaunt your illiteracy just a little less proudly? You're embarrassing the rest of us. We're not all content to communicate in a pastiche of grunts and profanity, you know. Besides, the alternative to text is more cut scenes. Which brings me to…
"I hear the new Tales game is 100 hours long, but about 99 hours of that is cut scenes."
Confession time. The cut scene jokes still make me laugh a little. That doesn't change the fact that their expiration date is long past, because RPG players' dirty little secret is that we skip the boring cut scenes like everybody else. We spot them coming a mile away (we've seen enough to know the warning signs). The only person who sat through every cut scene in Star Ocean: The Last Hope is the guy who made the cut scenes in Star Ocean: The Last Hope.
"What's the difference between an organ grinder and a World of Warcraft player? The organ grinder stops grinding once in a while."
Ah, grind. The low-hanging fruit for snickering RPG haters. Two things about grind: First, it's not as bad as it sounds. There's a certain serenity in the repetition of leveling up; it comes from the quiet pleasure of patiently improving a simple skill. Second, let's not pretend that other genres don't have grind. It's not like the 200th Locust Drone you killed in Gears of War 2 was that much different from the first one.
"Hey, does that copy of Persona 3 grant you +5 Virginity?"
Get it??? Because there's mathumatical numbrs in that thar game, hyuk! We've had to deal with the "+3 Nerd" crap since the early Dungeons & Dragons era. Look, sticking a number into your little quip stopped being clever about halfway through the Carter administration. These days, it just makes you seem like a +2 douchebag. See what I did there? It wasn't funny or original. Take a hint.
"Did you see the news about the new RPG? It's another text-heavy, grind-filled 500-hour epic with a spiky-haired pretty-boy and his miniskirt-wearing princess friend, but in this one, the pretty-boy has a BLUE sword!"
I'll conclude with some tough love. Fellow RPGers, we're the butt of so many jokes not just because we are geeks, although we are, wonderfully so. It's also because we've been playing the same game for decades. The RPG's sprawling form has so much room for experimentation, it's baffling that we've seen so little of it. Our adherence to all the old clichés makes us an easy target.
So let's nudge our juggernauts -- the Square-Enixes, the Atluses, etc. -- to push the boundaries a little further. The jokes won't ever stop, but it wouldn't hurt to have a few more people laughing with us, instead of at us.
That said, if you ever again hear someone trot out one of the lines above, you have my permission to whack them in the kidneys with your officially licensed replica mythril sword.
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