The fallacy of "fun"

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The point of Dungeons & Dragons the tabletop roleplaying game is not "to have fun".

Now, with that said, there will probably be many that simply hit "reply" without reading anything else and begin attacking me as if I were goose-stepping through here in an SS uniform. For those that stay, however, I think you'll find what I have to say might be interesting...and might even give some pause for thought about how we address and explain things to others...especially those "outside" the hobby. Oh, and for those that do continue to read on, buckle up & grab some coffee...it is a bit long.

The issue I have seen come up time and time again, is that there is little awareness of the game aspect of Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, that part of it is becoming something of a "dirty word", as if the hobby were ashamed of it. Maybe it's the result of people having endured bad DMs that soured them forever on the concept of "fairness" existing in the game as-is...or maybe it's a result of the participation-trophy mentality being insinuated into the game. At any rate, whatever the reason, the mantra has become "the point of Dungeons & Dragons is to have fun".

Why is this wrong? Simple. Because it is. Because Dungeons & Dragons is a game. No game involving a challenge has "fun" as its goal. Why? Because that is not how games work.

If someone was to ask you. "What's the point of a football game?" You would not answer: "To have fun"

If someone was to ask you. "What's the point of a poker game?" You would not answer: "To have fun"

If someone was to ask you. "What's the point of a fighting video game?" You would not answer: "To have fun"

So why is it that when someone asks "What's the point of the game Dungeons & Dragons?" we so quickly jump to "To have fun!"

The most obvious reason is because the question is being conflated with "Why do you play Dungeons & Dragons" or "What is the point of you going to play Dungeons & Dragons?". The answer to those questions, hopefully, is indeed "To have fun!"...though personally, I'd usually answer with something like "To finally kill an S.O.B. mage that's been messing with me".

And there in lies one of the big misunderstandings...or perhaps it is not a mistake and it is purposeful...at any rate, it is an inaccuracy. The "point" of Dungeons & Dragons is not "to have fun" any more than the "point" of a football game is "to have fun". The point of a game of football is to score more points than your opponent through touchdowns & field goals while preventing your opponent from doing the same. That is the point of THE GAME. Do you people play football to have fun? Absolutely. Just like I play Dungeons & Dragons to have fun. I enjoy the game and it is fun for me, but I understand that the point of the game itself is not the fun I am deriving from it. No, the fun is a by-product.

Some will tell me that this is unnecessary semantics. Considering the state of tabletop gaming in general and the positives that would come with drawing more people into our hobby, I thoroughly disagree. Furthermore, greater accuracy has never been the enemy of intellectual conversation & understanding.

This is especially true because it is invoked so often as an answer in lieu of giving a legitimate answer or defense for a position. "Why is this better?" "Because it's fun! Fun is the point of D&D!" "Why is this worse?" "Because it's less fun! Fun is the point of D&D!"

Do me a favor...tell an invested football fan that the substitute refs they had a short while ago were actually better for the game. Now, if they don't immediately strike you, they will probably ask you "Why were they better?"...smile to them and say "Because it made the games more fun!" ... Best of luck in that exchange.

When one accepts that Dungeons & Dragons as a game has actual goals and an actual point, things become much easier to understand and much more straight forward to discuss. Success in Dungeons & Dragons can generally be easily tracked via level, wealth and various other methods of influence in the game world. Now, of course these various things will not achieve parity across multiple tables because of any number of game variables, but the assumption will be that these things were gained through challenging gameplay. They were earned.

Now, if you find bile rising in your throat at that last bit, think on a moment how you would approach another player and tell them they did not "earn" their characters level. Or magical weapon. Or lordship. Tell them how the odds they faced and the risks they took with that character didn't actually matter. I should very much like to see that said to one of the players in my game.

If there are goals and ways to measure progress in D&D (and there are), does that mean there is a way to "win" Dungeons & Dragons? Well, yes and no. D&D is a great game in that you can declare a "victory" with a character at pretty much any point...retire the character and close their chapter. They ride off into the proverbial sunset and rule their land or explore the multiverse or whatever. That is a "win". Now, of course, others might find it a bit silly for you to do this upon achieving level 2...but it doesn't matter, because the game goes on! You start a new character and immediately start striving to achieve with them. That is the beauty of the game. Winning doesn't end the game. Even for the character that won! All it takes is to dust off that character sheet, pull the character out of retirement and have them go on another adventure. We all know what can happen with "one last adventure" though...and it's that danger that makes it so exhilirating. After all, that character had "won"...and now they're drawn back into the game...where their very existence could be obliterated. Imagine pulling out a character that hadn't seen play in years...putting them into a game, and having them die alongside other heroes. I've seen it happen and it still makes for a helluva story. There's just something we love about seeing a hero gamble one last time after their prime...and in doing so, over-reach their ability and die. Maybe it's jealousy. I prefer to think it's nice to be reminded that even the greatest heroes are mortal. Heracles died. And know what? Sometimes even that doesn't keep a hero down!

I've veered a bit off topic however...where was I? Oh yes, gaining peoples eternal enmity and branding myself a heretical misanthrope. After all, this is all a part of a larger, insidious agenda. Or so I'm told. In fact, go back to the beginning of this post and re-read it all while realizing I'm wearing a Hydra uniform. Immortal Hydra! Cut off a limb and two more will rise to take its place! HAIL HYDRA!

Ahem.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. So what is it that results from the endless mantra of "fun?" What is so bad about it? Well, as I said earlier, it stifles conversation and discussion because it is invoked as some inviolable, sanctified panacea for the malady of "disagreement". It is the new "let's agree to disagree". Do you know what "let's agree to disagree" translates to in plain English? "I'm still right, but you're too stupid to understand that so lets stop speaking to each other". It is an attempt to spare someones feelings while not conceding instead of simply saying "No, you're wrong because of X". Oddly, some alternate translations posited by scholars translate it as "I still think you're wrong but I'm too stupid to figuring out how or why and to communicate it...so I'll agree to a truce to save face". Linguistics experts will probably be debating that subtle difference for generations to come.

More than that, it creates an environment where nothing is valid. Chaos reigns even if it isn't obvious. Nothing is true, everything is permitted.

To return to my earlier football comparison, imagine trying to learn football as a group...and running into a problem. So you go to a football forum to get advice from more experienced football players. Once there, you ask for advice on how best to address pass interference that has been occuring in your games. You receive a bevy of answers...some suggest slapping the offending player, some suggest penalizing them yards, some suggest awarding points to the other team, some suggest dumping gatorade on the interfering players family...but then, oh what an amazing moment, when someone steps forward and says "Do whatever makes the game most fun. The point of football is fun" You smile at your computer and type a happy response in reply, thanking that person for giving such a clear, logical answer. An answer that can broach no further discussion...because the point of football is fun. If you increase fun, it must be the best answer!

Except, you haven't really been given an answer at all. You ask the players "Hey what would be the fun way to deal with this?" and they look at you as if you've gone mental. And then give you 20 different answers of how to deal with it. Confused, you run back to the football forum and let them know what happened. You tell the forum that the players could not all agree what was most fun...they all had different answers! You tried to vote, but realized that if someone didn't have their way, it wouldn't be fun for them! Is 3 peoples fun more valid than 2? Is 10 more valid than 1? It was as if everyone had a different idea on what was most fun! The people on the forum reply that you all should be able to figure it out...but you reply and explain that when you tried that everyone still wanted you to come up with an answer because you're the referee! Sadly, the forum members let you know you might be a bad referee or have a bad group of players...or both.

Thoroughly confused, you return to your players and let them know that there is no real right answer. It is all subjective. Someone leaves because they don't run into this problem in the Call of Duty game they play. Someone else leaves because they don't run into this problem in the books they like to read. Someone else leaves because they know of some other game where there are rules and a referee that can make decisions without consulting everyone else. Etc. You stop being referee and let someone else do it, hoping they will be better...you recruit some more football rookies to play...and the cycle continues.

This is the problem when the "fun fallacy" is invoked. All answers become equally valid. And equally invalid. And since none of them have to be defended (it's more fun!) it all becomes so much white noise because none of it can be challenged. After all, fun is subjective...you can't disprove someone's subjective experience.

Simply put, there comes a point when the discussion has to be elevated for the betterment of the game at hand or it all becomes dross .

Unfortunately, sometimes doing that sucks...because it can mean having to come to terms with abandoning something that feels so right...yet is wrong.

"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty" - Theodore Roosevelt

EDIT: At the request of Shaddylogic, I've done some editing and will include a bit more information...

The mechanical point of D&D is to amass power...this takes the form of character levels/wealth/etc. These are the things the gameplay itself is mechanically designed to create as tangibles. Ones character not gain "fun" from killing an orc in game...they gain XP and the treasure the orc had. "Fun" is an entirely subjective phenomenon that MIGHT be derived from the game.

It is imperative that people understand the HUGE difference in those things. One cannot design a games point to be "fun"...it is impossible because you are designing towards a subjective, ephemeral goal with no concrete grounding. Instead, one must design a game that is challenging and rewarding...in doing so, it is hoped that people playing it will HAVE fun. That fun, however, is not a core precept of the game...because it can't be. The game has no way to create, generate, recognize or reward enjoyment or fun...it can't. It's impossible.

The point of the game of Dungeons & Dragons is not to have fun. I would hope the point of people getting together to play that game, however, would be "to have fun".

I'll close now with a quote from Dungeons & Dragons itself...

"Players create heroic fantasy characters -- mighty warriors, stealthy rogues, or powerful wizards -- which they guide through an ongoing series of adventures, working together to defeat monsters and other challenges and growing in power, glory, and achievement."

That is a statement of game design purpose. A statement of intent. It says nothing about fun because it CAN'T. Does it SOUND fun to you? Maybe. It probably sounds insipid to many though. C'est le vie. One man's fun is another man's tedium.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Your stance is one that only works in a very narrow defininition.  I'd counter that if there were no enjoyment to be had people wouldn't play the game.   

So if the game was not about fun, people wouldn't play it.

So yes, by definition the point of the game is to have fun.  That fun might come from different aspects but the end goal is to have fun. 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

Your stance is one that only works in a very narrow defininition.  I'd counter that if there were no enjoyment to be had people wouldn't play the game.   

So if the game was not about fun, people wouldn't play it.

So yes, by definition the point of the game is to have fun.  That fun might come from different aspects but the end goal is to have fun. 



You misunderstand.

Games are played for fun (among other reasons like profit or such) but the point of the game itself is not fun. They are seperate things. Meeting the challenge of the games point and how this accomplished is what one will derive fun from...or not depending on their preferences...I do not enjoy cribbage, but pretty much every other part of my father's part of the family does for example

I am not putting forth something immediately simple to grasp...it requires stepping back and accepting that the act of playing Dungeons & Dragons is a seperate and discrete thing from the game of Dungeons & Dragons.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

So what you concluded is that fun is not universal, and is in fact subjective and potentially unique to each group.

Correct conclusion: The DM should take into account the needs and desires of his players when running a game of D&D.

Incorrect conclusion: Fun is irrelevant.

Seems like a cheap excuse for bad DMs. 
Original Post: If you rewrite your post removing the cocky, holier-than-thou attitude I might be able to separate the arguments from the haughtiness.

Let me know when that has happened You may be confusing your own competitiveness with truisms.
Lost me after the remark that it would be a long post. Then I started skimming and actually got lost in the wall of text. TL;DR, sorry. But I did manage to catch two quick references of comparing D&D to football.

Conclusion 1: Less wall of text please. 
Conclusion 2: Any comparison between a cooperative storytelling game such as D&D and a competetive physical sport such as football is bound to have glaring issues.
Heroic Dungeon Master
Interesting post, and lots of good points.

I agree that the 'fun-issue' can be viewed via a distinction between the point of the game of D&D itself and the point of playing it, as you have suggested.
A few comments, though:

Of course D&D is a game, and as such can be compared to football, but I think there is a significant difference here: the rules of football are defining the game on a fundamental level, and it is 'expected' to be played in a certain way (the players may play in a more serious way or in a more relaxed atmosphere, but the goal of winning over the other team is inherent in the game and the rules).
D&D does have rules as well, but these rules are not written in stone (although there has probably been a tendency towards still more 'fixed' rules, especially in 4th. ed.), but (to an extend, at least - depends a lot on how one views the game overall) can (to a degree) be adjusted or changed, if preferred (and willing to do the work ) The rules, it can be argued, are not there to define the game, but are there to facilitate the game activity (ie. players playing the roles of their characters).
Whereas the rules of football covers (pretty much) everything that can happen during the game (of course there are subjective judgements by the referee during the play, but he is restricted by the rules as well - he is to make judgement calls according to the rules, not making decisions according to a whim).
In D&D, on the other hand, the DM (traditionally) represents the world, and the players their characters. As such the DM is in a way (to a degree, some would probably say) 'above' the rules (although the whole DM vs player-empowerment discussion can be inserted here ), since he 'controls' the entire environment/world surrounding the PCs. Also, the rules don't cover every action the PCs might do, and the DM thus have to improvise regarding the results of such actions, either by making up new rules or by making (more or less arbitrary) decisions on the outcome.
Of course the DM is de facto bound by the rules to a degree (depending on play style this may be a greater or lesser degree), but I still think this is a fundamental difference between D&D and football (ie. RPGs and other games).

This places the rules in a different position in D&D than in other games: usually the rules are at the top of the hierarchy and everyone must abide, but in D&D the rules are not the top authority - (in principle) it is the DM who is (and when considering permanent rules changes he will likely often discuss them with the players, thus everyone can effect the rules of the game).

Thus the DM (and sometimes the players as well) have a much greater say in forming the game ruleswise, and such a forming of course depends on how he/they wants the game to be shaped. Perhaps 'realism'/consistence is preferred, perhaps roleplaying, etc. etc. Thus 'what is fun' plays a large role here. But on different levels, though - the 'what is fun'-doctrine is one approach in which the DM prioritize the idea of 'overall fun' (however this may be perceived), sometimes at the cost of creativity regarding worldbuilding, planning of plot etc. Kind of a utilitaristic view in a way Other DMs may deem it more 'appropriate' or simply view the game different than the 'fun'-dictrine and thus prioritize otherwise.

So, I think, 'the point is to have fun' is valid on a very general level, but on a more specific level (and this is where it is often used as an argument in discussions) this is (merely) a doctrine that DM (and perhaps players) can choose to follow or not.

(A lot of assumptions on different aspects of the game are of course the premises in the above thoughts, and many of those assumptions could individually be discussed in detail since different views probably are present there).


So what is it that results from the endless mantra of "fun?" What is so bad about it? Well, as I said earlier, it stifles conversation and discussion because it is invoked as some inviolable, sanctified panacea for the malady of "disagreement". It is the new "let's agree to disagree". Do you know what "let's agree to disagree" translates to in plain English? "I'm still right, but you're too stupid to understand that so lets stop speaking to each other". It is an attempt to spare someones feelings while not conceding instead of simply saying "No, you're wrong because of X". Oddly, some alternate translations posited by scholars translate it as "I still think you're wrong but I'm too stupid to figuring out how or why and to communicate it...so I'll agree to a truce to save face". Linguistics experts will probably be debating that subtle difference for generations to come.

More than that, it creates an environment where nothing is valid. Chaos reigns even if it isn't obvious. Nothing is true, everything is permitted.


I agree with your point here. But only under the discourse where discussion is a mean to provide arguments in order to compare (and attempt to refute) other arguments in order to promote ones own view.
If discussion is seen simply as an exchange of views, with no intention to necessarily 'win' the argument, but viewing the discussion as having value in itself as new ideas can provide inspiration etc. then I think the idea of presenting arguments for the sake of refuting other arguments play a much lesser role (this doesn't mean that arguments should not be presented, of course, just that the goal is not necessarily to 'win' the discussion, thus allowing room for lack of consensus or even for disagreement).

It all depends on ones view on the 'goal' of the discussion I think.
Good points Yagamifire and a great post. I disagree with the others who claim your football analogy is bad; I think it helped clarify your point. Perhaps D&D players insisting the point of the game is fun is a reaction to confusion by non-players. D&D has been stigamatised (nerd! ; devil-worshippers!) so defensive players insist 'but its just a bit of fun!'

You don't specify what you think the 'Point of D&D' actually is. Can it even be summarised in one line? I'm not sure if the point is really to 'earn/suffer/strive' as you seem to imply - that is too general and applies to many activities. Perhaps something along the line of: 'the point is to imagine me and my friends are in a fantasy world and are exploring it together'. 
I think the football analogy fails in a few ways.

Football the game is about having fun and competing.

NFL, college and Highschool football is about money, earning scholarships and other goals.  There is a big differance between an organized game and a backyard one.

Much like D&D there is a differance between an organized game like encounters and a home game.  at an organized game much like an organized sport a standard set of rules creates a game that the masses could find fun.   

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

NOTE: Because of the volume of replies, I'm going to break up my own replies into multiple posts for ease of reading.

So what you concluded is that fun is not universal, and is in fact subjective and potentially unique to each group.

Correct conclusion: The DM should take into account the needs and desires of his players when running a game of D&D.

Incorrect conclusion: Fun is irrelevant.

Seems like a cheap excuse for bad DMs. 



GreyIce: Your conclusion is incorrect. Take some more time or follow the thread as I clarify. My point is definitely in the initial post but, as I told another already, it is not straight forward stuff...but understanding it is paramount to moving forward with the discussion I am broaching. I've seen plenty of your posts already, and I am confident that you will see what I am saying. Most important is to realize the existence of a seperation between the game as designed, and the event of playing the game. There is a different point to the GAME Dungeons & Dragons then there is to getting together to play Dungeons & Dragons (again, think the game of poker and sitting down to play poker...two seperate things)

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Original Post: If you rewrite your post removing the cocky, holier-than-thou attitude I might be able to separate the arguments from the haughtiness. Let me know when that has happened You may be confusing your own competitiveness with truisms.



Give up worrying about being upset about something and actually think about what is being said instead of being overly emotional towards an idea you might not want to hear but that the other person believes to be worthwhile. Consider that the style in which it is being delivered might be intended to invoke a response to spur thought.

This isn't Teletubbies. This is the evening news...sometimes you'll hear things you don't like.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Lost me after the remark that it would be a long post. Then I started skimming and actually got lost in the wall of text. TL;DR, sorry. But I did manage to catch two quick references of comparing D&D to football.

Conclusion 1: Less wall of text please. 
Conclusion 2: Any comparison between a cooperative storytelling game such as D&D and a competetive physical sport such as football is bound to have glaring issues.



The irony of course that one of my major points is that the level of discussion needs to be elevated if it is to be of any serious help to others (considering the nature of the forum we inhabit). You will understand then why I can only roll my eyes after someone responds to an OP but also blatantly tells the OP "yeah I didn't read everything you said but here's why you're wrong".

Indeed.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Interesting post, and lots of good points.

I agree that the 'fun-issue' can be viewed via a distinction between the point of the game of D&D itself and the point of playing it, as you have suggested.
A few comments, though:

Of course D&D is a game, and as such can be compared to football, but I think there is a significant difference here: the rules of football are defining the game on a fundamental level, and it is 'expected' to be played in a certain way (the players may play in a more serious way or in a more relaxed atmosphere, but the goal of winning over the other team is inherent in the game and the rules).
D&D does have rules as well, but these rules are not written in stone (although there has probably been a tendency towards still more 'fixed' rules, especially in 4th. ed.), but (to an extend, at least - depends a lot on how one views the game overall) can (to a degree) be adjusted or changed, if preferred (and willing to do the work ) The rules, it can be argued, are not there to define the game, but are there to facilitate the game activity (ie. players playing the roles of their characters).
Whereas the rules of football covers (pretty much) everything that can happen during the game (of course there are subjective judgements by the referee during the play, but he is restricted by the rules as well - he is to make judgement calls according to the rules, not making decisions according to a whim).
In D&D, on the other hand, the DM (traditionally) represents the world, and the players their characters. As such the DM is in a way (to a degree, some would probably say) 'above' the rules (although the whole DM vs player-empowerment discussion can be inserted here ), since he 'controls' the entire environment/world surrounding the PCs. Also, the rules don't cover every action the PCs might do, and the DM thus have to improvise regarding the results of such actions, either by making up new rules or by making (more or less arbitrary) decisions on the outcome.
Of course the DM is de facto bound by the rules to a degree (depending on play style this may be a greater or lesser degree), but I still think this is a fundamental difference between D&D and football (ie. RPGs and other games).

This places the rules in a different position in D&D than in other games: usually the rules are at the top of the hierarchy and everyone must abide, but in D&D the rules are not the top authority - (in principle) it is the DM who is (and when considering permanent rules changes he will likely often discuss them with the players, thus everyone can effect the rules of the game).

Thus the DM (and sometimes the players as well) have a much greater say in forming the game ruleswise, and such a forming of course depends on how he/they wants the game to be shaped. Perhaps 'realism'/consistence is preferred, perhaps roleplaying, etc. etc. Thus 'what is fun' plays a large role here. But on different levels, though - the 'what is fun'-doctrine is one approach in which the DM prioritize the idea of 'overall fun' (however this may be perceived), sometimes at the cost of creativity regarding worldbuilding, planning of plot etc. Kind of a utilitaristic view in a way Other DMs may deem it more 'appropriate' or simply view the game different than the 'fun'-dictrine and thus prioritize otherwise.

So, I think, 'the point is to have fun' is valid on a very general level, but on a more specific level (and this is where it is often used as an argument in discussions) this is (merely) a doctrine that DM (and perhaps players) can choose to follow or not.

(A lot of assumptions on different aspects of the game are of course the premises in the above thoughts, and many of those assumptions could individually be discussed in detail since different views probably are present there).


So what is it that results from the endless mantra of "fun?" What is so bad about it? Well, as I said earlier, it stifles conversation and discussion because it is invoked as some inviolable, sanctified panacea for the malady of "disagreement". It is the new "let's agree to disagree". Do you know what "let's agree to disagree" translates to in plain English? "I'm still right, but you're too stupid to understand that so lets stop speaking to each other". It is an attempt to spare someones feelings while not conceding instead of simply saying "No, you're wrong because of X". Oddly, some alternate translations posited by scholars translate it as "I still think you're wrong but I'm too stupid to figuring out how or why and to communicate it...so I'll agree to a truce to save face". Linguistics experts will probably be debating that subtle difference for generations to come.

More than that, it creates an environment where nothing is valid. Chaos reigns even if it isn't obvious. Nothing is true, everything is permitted.


I agree with your point here. But only under the discourse where discussion is a mean to provide arguments in order to compare (and attempt to refute) other arguments in order to promote ones own view.
If discussion is seen simply as an exchange of views, with no intention to necessarily 'win' the argument, but viewing the discussion as having value in itself as new ideas can provide inspiration etc. then I think the idea of presenting arguments for the sake of refuting other arguments play a much lesser role (this doesn't mean that arguments should not be presented, of course, just that the goal is not necessarily to 'win' the discussion, thus allowing room for lack of consensus or even for disagreement).

It all depends on ones view on the 'goal' of the discussion I think.



pilgaard: Thank you for taking the time to actually read and think through your response. It is appreciated. It should be a given in any sort of discussion forum but, circumstances being what they are, I truly do appreciate it. Thanks. Now onto your good points and questions...

You are right on many levels in that something as codified as football has an easier time having it's rules clarified, simplified and/or enforced, etc, etc, etc.

I think it is impossible, however, for a rule to not define a game while still being enforced. Might it fade into the background? Of course. However, it will always be a defining attribute of any game. If a D&D game is being played without any rogues, at some point that rule will, on one level or more, define that particular game experience. I understand what you are saying though in that, as a game, D&D can often be like trying to hold wet molder's clay while its spinning. It is near impossible...the harder you try to conform it to a shape, the more it will deform and poke out through your efforts because you are effectively trying to restrain & codify the possibilities of a reality...this is an impossible venture. We see eye to eye on that.

Half my point is that we need to ditched out-moded inaccurate terminology like "The point of D&D is fun!" because that doesn't serve us towards our goal of making better games. Oh it certainly SOUNDS like it does and it makes one feel all warm and mushy inside, but it doesn't do anything. It doesn't offer anything. As a statement, it's a placebo. DM's are necessarily the arbiters at the table, it is the role one takes on because their position automatically lends them credibility & authority (whether or not they will prove to be worthy of either) just like a referee on a field. We need to be able, as a community, to help people be better referees. Part of that, in a big way, is getting our act together. People are not looking for an emotional support group when they come here...they want assistance.

The problem becomes when we give replies like "whatever is most fun is right"...that is not actually helpful. Now that is not to say that all responses here or elsewhere boil down to that but it is a sentiment worth removing anyway. The level of discussion can be much improved from where it's at.

To respond to your remarks about discussion, I can only offer that as DMs, we are expected to have a level of authority and insight...and that the greatest tool a DM needs is communication skills. REAL communication skills. Not the sort that political correctness tells us are important...those are non-communication skills meant to obfuscate peoples intent. No, we need to be able to discuss, like adults, matters and openly criticize and even openly attack other ideas (note: ideas, not individuals posting them). I have been told to be "nicer" quite a bit already...even just from people reading my signature...and the irony there of course is that I am being pre-judged (heck I was labeled as a non-positive term within two or three posts by a long-time poster here) and attacked by people telling me to be "nicer" and "more understanding". In fact all they are saying is "Be how I want you to be or you will be singled out and ridiculed until you conform to MY notion of what is proper". This is infantile.

After all, pilgaard, we don't agree on everything right now...with more discourse between us we may very well do just that. I already respect you though for at least having the courtesy to read what I wrote and rationally reply on it. And isn't RESPECT a much better starting point than NICENESS? After all, I respect plenty of people I don't otherwise like...but I'm very rarely nice to people I don't respect.

EDIT: I just wanted to add that I haven't gotten around to 100% clarifying...mostly because the discussion hasn't reached the point where it's proper to introduce it yet. We will get there, I promise. I just don't want you to think I'm obfuscating or delaying. Me moving on without the people that want to discuss understanding what I am initially conveying would be a disservice to those people like yourself.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Good points Yagamifire and a great post. I disagree with the others who claim your football analogy is bad; I think it helped clarify your point. Perhaps D&D players insisting the point of the game is fun is a reaction to confusion by non-players. D&D has been stigamatised (nerd! ; devil-worshippers!) so defensive players insist 'but its just a bit of fun!'

You don't specify what you think the 'Point of D&D' actually is. Can it even be summarised in one line? I'm not sure if the point is really to 'earn/suffer/strive' as you seem to imply - that is too general and applies to many activities. Perhaps something along the line of: 'the point is to imagine me and my friends are in a fantasy world and are exploring it together'. 



I will DEFINITELY agree with you, good sir. D&D is so widely misunderstood that "Its fun!" has become a natural, instinctive and almost Pavlovian respones within the community. Its a defense mechanism at this point rather than stumbling to explain something only to be met with blank stares and incredulity. You see, and this is closer to my point, the game designers never really focused on making better DMs to, y'know, actually MAKE the game fun for players...and instead continued to focus on other avenues that proved to be more profitable (though apparently not profitable enough, eh TSR?)

As for the point of D&D, I should have addressed that better...it's to gain XP and, in doing so, level up. That is the core reward mechanic of the game and therefore the tangible point of it ("it" being the actual game itself). On a higher conceptual level it's "become master of your domain through the acquisition of power & wealth"...which is XP. Originally, of course, XP was largely derived from wealth so wealth has been married to the XP/growth paradigm of D&D if only in that wealth is a means to power and power in turn feeds ones ability to gain XP. Vicious cycle that (Fun too!). This is especially true when one factors in items of power and weapons, etc as "wealth" since that directly feeds the ability to acquire XP.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I think the football analogy fails in a few ways.

Football the game is about having fun and competing.

NFL, college and Highschool football is about money, earning scholarships and other goals.  There is a big differance between an organized game and a backyard one.

Much like D&D there is a differance between an organized game like encounters and a home game.  at an organized game much like an organized sport a standard set of rules creates a game that the masses could find fun.   



D&D could be very much fun for the "masses". It is being presented poorly and is poorly understood even by those that play it at least as presenting it is concerned.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

The acquisition of wealth and power is mostly secondary to any game I run.  Often it's almost entirely irrelevant.  To say that it's the point of D&D is simply completely incorrect.

See, that's the problem here.  You think you're being deep with all of this stuff, but mostly you're just overgeneralizing.  

I've read your posts.  I've followed along.  You're 100% wrong.  Fun is the point of D&D.
While I do appreciate conceptual discussions, your entire premise is built upon the fallacy of false analogy (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_analogy). There is no Dungeons and Dragons equivalent that I know of to professional football, given that there are no professional Dungeons and Dragons players. The point of a pick-up or intramural football game is indeed to "have fun". Likewise, poker is a false analogy because while a game of poker using bottle caps or paper clips is indeed "for fun", Dungeons and Dragons has no equivalent to gambling for money, since although there's a lot of dice involved there is no way to monetize interactions between the players and the DM as there is in a casino poker table. Your fighting game example is perhaps the closest to the mark, but still fails in that the mechanics of a fighting game pre-supposes a directly competitive relationship between the players. That the players must fight each other (and one must beat the other) is hard-coded into the system. Dungeons and Dragons is clearly not built along the same mechanic.

Ultimately you are drawing far too broadly from the category of "games" versus "tabletop roleplaying games" in your attempt to craft the argument. I think you are also conflating the phenomenon of competitive arousal with fun, when in fact they are two separate and distinct concepts. 
This dude's just a troll.  It was obvious in the first post on his meta game thread that he was intended to start trolling a lot, and trying to get reactions from people.
The acquisition of wealth and power is mostly secondary to any game I run.  Often it's almost entirely irrelevant.  To say that it's the point of D&D is simply completely incorrect.

See, that's the problem here.  You think you're being deep with all of this stuff, but mostly you're just overgeneralizing.  

I've read your posts.  I've followed along.  You're 100% wrong.  Fun is the point of D&D.



Yes, the acquisition of wealth and power may very well be secondary in the game you run. That is entirely possible. And it is not a bad thing. It is not a wrong thing.

Again, GreyIce, you are misunderstanding the point of contention. I have already said that the point of YOU SITTING DOWN TO PLAY D&D will be "to have fun". This is not in dispute. It would be an odd person indeed that engaged in a hobby for something other than fun.

However, as designed, the game (THE GAME ITSELF) of D&D does not have, as its point, "to have fun". No game does. Games are not built like that. Games have goals and structure and a point. The point of football is to score more points than your opponent. The point of a football game is not to have fun. However, the point of PLAYING a football game could indeed be to have fun...that is very possible and probable (though other reasons could exist, such as for profit, etc, but that is not germane to this comparison).

That is the division. And that is the starting point for understanding necessary here. And believe me, I am doing the exact opposite of generalizing or overgeneralizing...I am specifiying.

While I do appreciate conceptual discussions, your entire premise is built upon the fallacy of false analogy (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_analogy). There is no Dungeons and Dragons equivalent that I know of to professional football, given that there are no professional Dungeons and Dragons players. The point of a pick-up or intramural football game is indeed to "have fun". Likewise, poker is a false analogy because while a game of poker using bottle caps or paper clips is indeed "for fun", Dungeons and Dragons has no equivalent to gambling for money, since although there's a lot of dice involved there is no way to monetize interactions between the players and the DM as there is in a casino poker table. Your fighting game example is perhaps the closest to the mark, but still fails in that the mechanics of a fighting game pre-supposes a directly competitive relationship between the players. That the players must fight each other (and one must beat the other) is hard-coded into the system. Dungeons and Dragons is clearly not built along the same mechanic.

Ultimately you are drawing far too broadly from the category of "games" versus "tabletop roleplaying games" in your attempt to craft the argument. I think you are also conflating the phenomenon of competitive arousal with fun, when in fact they are two separate and distinct concepts. 



Your understanding of my stance is incomplete.

Look at it this way, if you play a game of pick-up football with your friends and the game ends 7 to 0...would the team with 0 say "Nice game! We won!"...no, they would not. Though they may have had fun (and hopefully they did) the point of the GAME is not to have fun. They did not win because they did not fulfill the goal of the game...to score more points than their opponent. This is DISTINCTLY different from the point of playing that game. The discrete activity of playing the game is different from what is internal to the game itself.

I will also add that this has NOTHING to do with competition or deriving enjoyment from competition. I have played literally hundreds of rounds of fighting games that were in no way FUN yet I still was achieving the goal of that game (winning) or was not (losing) and it had nothing to do with fun. Similarly, I have played D&D and had fun and had D&D and not had fun.

I thoroughly understand what you both are saying...and you are right IN YOUR BELIEFS...however, you are not understanding the distinction being drawn.

To summarize: The act of playing a game is a distinct and different thing from the game itself. That is the CRUX of the point here. The question "Why do you sit down to play Dungeons & Dragons every week/month/whatever?" is a distinctly different question requiring a distinctly different answer from "What is the point of the game Dungeons & Dragons?".

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

This dude's just a troll.  It was obvious in the first post on his meta game thread that he was intended to start trolling a lot, and trying to get reactions from people.



crzyhawk - Yes, I have nothing better to do. Want to see my Facebook? I write about D&D pretty often and all the stuff there mirrors my attitude here...I also have some stuff on fighting games there...that ALSO mirrors this. Or you can read my posts on Shoryuken.com (same name as here) though they might have dropped off since I haven't chatted there in a while. You may very well WANT me to be trolling, but I am not. If you don't feel you can be a part of a conversation, then bow out. Otherwise, step up and actually talk. Your emotional response is reading an agenda into this. I have better things to do with my time than troll. I mean god, I'd at least go somewhere where it's HARD to get a purely emotional reaction out of people.

Seriously, how many of your 500+ posts are simply accusing people of things? Oh...and how many of those are aimed towards new members of the community? Great message to put on display. Contribute. Please. I literally am daring you to step up, realize I am 100% serious, and contribute to the conversation.

Or you can continue to rant on a street corner accusing people of implanting tracking chips in your teeth. No one here is out to get you.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I'm not ranting or thinking that anyone's out to get me, I'm accusing you of trolling.  My contribution is, that we do indeed play these games for fun.  That's the end goal, to have enjoyment, not some other aspect that somehow makes fun a side effect.  The fact is, when it gets to be no longer fun, people quit.  That makes the fun not a side effect.
I'm not ranting or thinking that anyone's out to get me, I'm accusing you of trolling.  My contribution is, that we do indeed play these games for fun.  That's the end goal, to have enjoyment, not some other aspect that somehow makes fun a side effect.  The fact is, when it gets to be no longer fun, people quit.  That makes the fun not a side effect.



Have you read my original OP? Because I agree with you in quite a few ways.

We are just talking about two different things.

I am talking about the in-game dynamic of D&D...it's GOALS. That is a seperate thing from the physical act of sitting down to play D&D (which people presumably do for their enjoyment).

Your goal in playing D&D is a discrete and different thing from the goal of D&D as a game itself...the game that would exist as designed whether or not you ever played it.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

The design goal of a game is to lure players into playing it because it's fun.  You can probably debate what "fun" means until the cows come home, but the fact that people play to have fun is pretty much set in stone.  The goal of D&D, therefore is to be fun.

I will agree that “to have fun” is not what the point of D&D is through and through.  It is also a can be a form of blocking where the user of the statement is using it to avoid discussing a viewpoint and stubbornly sticks to their own.  However, as we’ve both agreed upon in the past if approached for the “Why am I doing something, over something else, or anything at all?” angle it becomes that sort of obvious underlying truth that follows “People do what they like to do.” Logic.  After all if you don’t like doing something, and you aren’t required to do it for some other reason, then why are you doing it?  This is one of those universal truths that people go back to because it’s right, but unfortunately it does not further an argumentative point when looked at from a lower level of abstraction.


I won’t dwell on your examples, because while examples are useful for understanding a point, they are by nature in-perfect to what they’re being compared to.  As a result it’s easy to pick apart an example for the flaws that don’t make it fit within context to the original subject.  Just pretend I did so for each of the three in a “choose your own adventure sort of way” and admit that there will always be holes to poke through examples.


So let’s address the real argument that you’re putting forth.  Because D&D is a game that we assume it to have rules, goals and challenges that a players overcome to reap rewards and as a result of those rewards the players derive some form of emotional response.  This emotional response is usually defined by the being fun, and is purely subjective in nature of the individual as it is an emotional in nature and subjective by the definition of emotions.


Here is where I will challenge that thinking, playing devil’s advocate if you will.


If we look at the definition of a game as provided below by dictionary.com.  In none of the definitions of game do we find that there is required that a goal is needed, there is an assumption that there needs to be a goal.


1. an amusement or pastime: children's games.
2. the material or equipment used in playing certain games: a store selling toys and games.
3. a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.
4. a single occasion of such an activity, or a definite portion of one: the final game of the season; a rubber of three games at bridge.
5. the number of points required to win a game.


So let’s take a look at the definition of goal. Our friend dictionary.com once again provides us with at least 5 examples, but for our purposes only the first really applies.


1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.
2. the terminal point in a race.
3. a pole, line, or other marker by which such a point is indicated.
4. an area, basket, cage, or other object or structure toward or into which players of various games attempt to throw, carry, kick, hit, or drive a ball, puck, etc., to score a point or points.
5. the act of throwing, carrying, kicking, driving, etc., a ball or puck into such an area or object.


So where does this leave us?  We’re really arguing about what is the goal of D&D based on the effort we’re putting in.  This still doesn’t change your argument it just reframes them based on the fact that we’re arguing about what the goal is rather than if the game has goals.


The question what is the result or achievement that we’re directing effort towards? On a lower level of abstraction we might say that it’s to slay the beast, to save the world, ect…  On a higher level of abstraction we might say it’s to have fun.  Does it mean anyone is wrong?  Yes, but only so far as if their definition of what is being said is used as the baseline.


The bottom line is, until you can get the people you are arguing with to accept the same definition about what you are arguing about then there is little hope to come to a definite conclusion about what is being discussed.  I think you’ll find that people will generally agree with you when you present the framework and level of abstraction you view the argument, but then we run into the challenge of which level of abstraction is the view better from. 

The design goal of a game is to lure players into playing it because it's fun.  You can probably debate what "fun" means until the cows come home, but the fact that people play to have fun is pretty much set in stone.  The goal of D&D, therefore is to be fun.



No one is debating "fun". I am not debating it at all. That is all being interjected and is confusing the issue.

And no, the designed goal of a game is not to have fun...believe me, I went to school for game design. Not once did I ever answer  "What is your core game design?" with "Fun". Oh sure I might explain how that core game design will BE fun, but the answer was never "fun". If I was asked "Why would people want to play this game?" if I had answered with "Because it is fun" I would have gotten a very aggrivated look from my instructors.

A game is a thing. Inside that thing there are moving parts and components, so to speak.

Actually here is a good comparison...

The scientific, mechanical PURPOSE of a television is not "For fun". It is a series of components that work together with a goal in mind...to create viewable images on a screen from some kind of input (cable or over the air or whatever).

Games work in the same way. When a game is designed and when a game EXISTS its purpose does not magically become what people derive from it any more than a televisions purpose becomes what people derive from it (fun/entertainment).

This is especially true in that someone could FAIL TO DERIVE the same thing from that THING and it wouldn't make that thing a failure. I know people that do not derive any entertainment or fun from watching television. They would, however, not say that the TV does not fulfill it's designed purpose. It DOES in fact create viewable images on a screen.

What is derived IS subjective. The purpose is NOT subjective.

The goal of many games is summed up by their win conditions. Once again, what is the goal of poker? To make the best combination of cards to win. What is the point of football? To score more points than your opponent and keep them from scoring points. What is the point of etc etc etc etc

What is the point of PLAYING those things? Generally "to have fun".

Why you play D&D and the point of the game are two different things. People need to accept this.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Sounds to me the OP took offense somewhere to people not liking his preferred playing style and/or DMing style. He knows his is the One True Way. Therefore, everyone else defines and plays the game Wrong.
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The OP's core point about fun not being the goal of D&D, as I understand it, is that saying this utterly fails to tell you anything about the game. Suppose a group decides that rolling dice and inventing characters isn't fun, and they'd rather make model airplanes. Are they still playing D&D? If the entire definition of D&D is that you do whatever is most fun, and that's what's most fun for them, then why not? (I'm sure someone will post that the group should switch to model airplanes if that's what they like doing, and yell at me for criticizing them. So for the record, I'm not criticizing. They can build airplanes if that's what they want to do. But it's not D&D.) Pretty much any recreational activity is done in order to have fun. And yet, most of us seem to think that there's more than one game in the world, for instance. Which means that there must be some other way of defining what you do in these games, beyond "have fun."

Now, with that said, there will probably be many that simply hit "reply" without reading anything else and begin attacking me as if I were goose-stepping through here in an SS uniform.



Hey, LARPing isn't my thing, but if you enjoy it that doesn't bother me.

As for the point of D&D, I should have addressed that better...it's to gain XP and, in doing so, level up. That is the core reward mechanic of the game and therefore the tangible point of it ("it" being the actual game itself).



I think I disagree, but after thinking it through, I've decided that I probably don't understand your position well enough to agree or disagree yet. So instead I'll ask for more information. Returning to the football analogy...what if some kids are playing football in the park, and not keeping score? Would you argue that they're no longer playing football?
You're right, of course.  The point of D&D the system is not to have fun.  Systems don't have fun.

The point of D&D, the system, is to enable groups who use the system to have fun.  Which means that the system should enable good resolution mechanics that hold player interest, allow the creation of fun, fair, and balanced characters, and enable playstyles that people enjoy.   

This is basically an extended exercise in missing the point.
I concur with the OP.

As a DM, I play D&D to create a world, tell a story, act as referee to players, and test my skills at getting people enthralled and wrapped up in an illusion. I have fun as a side effect of doing these things. The fun side effect, is easily the biggest, most noticeable, and best side effect there is. And that side effect is what keeps me coming back to the game. But it is not the reason I play. Should I stop doing any of the above, or fail to do well at them, then I will not have fun.

As a player, I play to step into the shoes of someone different. Play out a role I can't normally play in real life. To be a hero, even if only in an imaginary world. These things lead to me having fun when I do well at them or simply just do them. But the fun I derive from doing these things is not the reason I play. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
@Lunar

So would you still do this activity if there was no expectation of fun?

If not then fun is indeed why you would participate in the activity. 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

There have been really good points made in this thread.  I want to talk about the analogy.  I don't really see a problem with any of the ones presented, but perhaps there is a better one.
Take another game that is played strictly as a cooperative game.  Marvel Ultimate Alliance would fit into that.  There doesn't have to be any player vs player you can I believe set it so you can't damage anyone else playing with you.  So if I said I want to play Marvel Ultimate Alliance because it is fun.  That would be my purpose of playing the game.  My friend who had never played would then ask me "Sounds good, but what is the point of the game?"  My response would not be to have fun.  I would have to explain the point of the game.  Beating levels and ultimately the game by defeating bad guys and figuring out puzzles and not dying.  You either win or you don't your on that given session or you progress toward your goal of winning.

I think where many D&D players come into trouble is that there is no defined end point of any given D&D game or it is so far away that telling someone the point of the game is to "win" seams silly because "winning" could be 3 years away.  That really is what the goal of the game is though.  You defeat bad guys, solve puzzles, solve problems and proceed toward the characters goal all while roleplaying as much or as little as your table feels appropriate.  Whatever that ultimate goal is when achieved would probably be considered winning, unless that goal is replaced with a new goal.  Then the game continues (if a new goal has been made) or is started over (likely with new characters and goals).
This may contribute to part of the problem, most games have easily recognizable and moderately quickly reachable ends.  D&D and I'm sure tabletop RPGs in general do not.  Games have ends.  D&D games have ends.  But the end of a D&D game is different for every game of D&D.


If someone was to ask you. "What's the point of a football game?" You would not answer: "To have fun"

If someone was to ask you. "What's the point of a poker game?" You would not answer: "To have fun"

If someone was to ask you. "What's the point of a fighting video game?" You would not answer: "To have fun"

So why is it that when someone asks "What's the point of the game Dungeons & Dragons?" we so quickly jump to "To have fun!"



False analogy.  Your first three examples are competitive.  D&D is cooperative.  The goal in the first three examples is winning.  The only way to 'win' D&D is to have fun.

You are wrong.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.

I will agree that “to have fun” is not what the point of D&D is through and through.  It is also a can be a form of blocking where the user of the statement is using it to avoid discussing a viewpoint and stubbornly sticks to their own.  However, as we’ve both agreed upon in the past if approached for the “Why am I doing something, over something else, or anything at all?” angle it becomes that sort of obvious underlying truth that follows “People do what they like to do.” Logic.  After all if you don’t like doing something, and you aren’t required to do it for some other reason, then why are you doing it?  This is one of those universal truths that people go back to because it’s right, but unfortunately it does not further an argumentative point when looked at from a lower level of abstraction.


I won’t dwell on your examples, because while examples are useful for understanding a point, they are by nature in-perfect to what they’re being compared to.  As a result it’s easy to pick apart an example for the flaws that don’t make it fit within context to the original subject.  Just pretend I did so for each of the three in a “choose your own adventure sort of way” and admit that there will always be holes to poke through examples.


So let’s address the real argument that you’re putting forth.  Because D&D is a game that we assume it to have rules, goals and challenges that a players overcome to reap rewards and as a result of those rewards the players derive some form of emotional response.  This emotional response is usually defined by the being fun, and is purely subjective in nature of the individual as it is an emotional in nature and subjective by the definition of emotions.


Here is where I will challenge that thinking, playing devil’s advocate if you will.


If we look at the definition of a game as provided below by dictionary.com.  In none of the definitions of game do we find that there is required that a goal is needed, there is an assumption that there needs to be a goal.


1. an amusement or pastime: children's games.
2. the material or equipment used in playing certain games: a store selling toys and games.
3. a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.
4. a single occasion of such an activity, or a definite portion of one: the final game of the season; a rubber of three games at bridge.
5. the number of points required to win a game.


So let’s take a look at the definition of goal. Our friend dictionary.com once again provides us with at least 5 examples, but for our purposes only the first really applies.


1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.
2. the terminal point in a race.
3. a pole, line, or other marker by which such a point is indicated.
4. an area, basket, cage, or other object or structure toward or into which players of various games attempt to throw, carry, kick, hit, or drive a ball, puck, etc., to score a point or points.
5. the act of throwing, carrying, kicking, driving, etc., a ball or puck into such an area or object.


So where does this leave us?  We’re really arguing about what is the goal of D&D based on the effort we’re putting in.  This still doesn’t change your argument it just reframes them based on the fact that we’re arguing about what the goal is rather than if the game has goals.


The question what is the result or achievement that we’re directing effort towards? On a lower level of abstraction we might say that it’s to slay the beast, to save the world, ect…  On a higher level of abstraction we might say it’s to have fun.  Does it mean anyone is wrong?  Yes, but only so far as if their definition of what is being said is used as the baseline.


The bottom line is, until you can get the people you are arguing with to accept the same definition about what you are arguing about then there is little hope to come to a definite conclusion about what is being discussed.  I think you’ll find that people will generally agree with you when you present the framework and level of abstraction you view the argument, but then we run into the challenge of which level of abstraction is the view better from. 




I appreciate the reply, ShaddyLogic. And yes you are right in many regards.

Your conclusion is just a bit off...I am not arguing against someone's definition. I am merely saying they are applying it to the wrong "thing" and that it makes for a very poor way of looking at D&D. It is choking the life out of discussion of it and the evolution of it.

Never have I, at any point, said that people do not play D&D because they have fun doing so. If people want to say THEY PLAY D&D because they have fun playing it, that is fine...however, that explaination does not translate over to "What is the point of D&D?"

Imagine watching someone play World of Warcraft...and you are totally unfamiliar with it. You say "That's a weird looking game. What is the point of it?" Honestly what would your reaction be if they answered "To have fun". Is there any way you wouldn't think the person was a dullard?

Now, what if they had said "Oh basically you fight monsters or get tasks to do...which sometimes involve fighting monsters. When you do that you get XP and your guy gets stronger...which lets you fight harder stuff and take on harder tasks. Also sometimes you find really nice items that you can use to make your guy even stronger"

THAT is a conversation starter. That is a basis for understanding. "It is fun" being given as an answer is...I can't even describe it without being moderated.

To wrap it up: You are right in pretty much everything your posted...except in regard to the distinction I'm drawing. But, again, that is not to say I am some mysterious sage...it is just not standard-concept stuff. It requires stepping back and realizing a game is a game.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

The OP's core point about fun not being the goal of D&D, as I understand it, is that saying this utterly fails to tell you anything about the game. Suppose a group decides that rolling dice and inventing characters isn't fun, and they'd rather make model airplanes. Are they still playing D&D? If the entire definition of D&D is that you do whatever is most fun, and that's what's most fun for them, then why not? (I'm sure someone will post that the group should switch to model airplanes if that's what they like doing, and yell at me for criticizing them. So for the record, I'm not criticizing. They can build airplanes if that's what they want to do. But it's not D&D.) Pretty much any recreational activity is done in order to have fun. And yet, most of us seem to think that there's more than one game in the world, for instance. Which means that there must be some other way of defining what you do in these games, beyond "have fun."

Now, with that said, there will probably be many that simply hit "reply" without reading anything else and begin attacking me as if I were goose-stepping through here in an SS uniform.



Hey, LARPing isn't my thing, but if you enjoy it that doesn't bother me.

As for the point of D&D, I should have addressed that better...it's to gain XP and, in doing so, level up. That is the core reward mechanic of the game and therefore the tangible point of it ("it" being the actual game itself).



I think I disagree, but after thinking it through, I've decided that I probably don't understand your position well enough to agree or disagree yet. So instead I'll ask for more information. Returning to the football analogy...what if some kids are playing football in the park, and not keeping score? Would you argue that they're no longer playing football?



Hi. I know we've just met but I'd like for us to adopt & raise underpriviledged children together. They can call you "Uncle Theta". It will be a good thing.

Ahem, that out of the way...

Yes. Yes you are correct. You grasp what I am saying entirely.

The one thing I will point out that is entirely hilarious about your model airplane comparison is that, yes, by their own standards, there are people that should be screaming at you just for suggesting that if someone wants to build model airplanes as "their D&D" that they are, in fact, playing D&D because that is how D&D is "fun" for them. It is such a cognitive dissonance I can't wrap my head around it. Slippery slopes and all...

And thank you thank you thank you for actually ASKING for clarification instead of just attacking me and declaring me wrong. You are a gentleman and a scholar (assuming you are in fact a man). To return to the football analogy, you are quite right that they would be playing football..that is not in dispute. However, if they are not keeping score they are not playing a football GAME because they are not fulfilling the point of the game of football (to score points and prevent your opponent from scoring points so that you have more points at the end of said game). I believe the common phrase is "Just &*$#ing around".

I will add, by the way, that there is NOTHING wrong with that. I am sure I'll be attacked for saying there is something wrong with it (though I didn't) regardless however.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

You're right, of course.  The point of D&D the system is not to have fun.  Systems don't have fun.

The point of D&D, the system, is to enable groups who use the system to have fun.  Which means that the system should enable good resolution mechanics that hold player interest, allow the creation of fun, fair, and balanced characters, and enable playstyles that people enjoy.   

This is basically an extended exercise in missing the point.



Yes, I agree. Unfortunately, I am not the one who is missing the point.

In fact, that is a good opportunity to point out that if a person asks a player "What is the point of that Dungeons & Dragons game?" and the player responds "To have fun!" that, in fact, the player has missed the entire point of the question.

GreyIce, I don't want to keep reposting my stuff at you...and I know you'll get it and it'll click. Maybe just give it some time? Let the emotional response/reaction die down? Then re-read? Seriously...not trying to be condescending...literally just giving some advice I find might be helpful.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

@Lunar

So would you still do this activity if there was no expectation of fun?

If not then fun is indeed why you would participate in the activity. 



Said activity is not defined by your enjoyment of it

It is not Schrodinger's D&D...it does not exist in a state of quantum uncertainty until someone opens it to find out whether it's "fun" or "not fun" 

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

There have been really good points made in this thread.  I want to talk about the analogy.  I don't really see a problem with any of the ones presented, but perhaps there is a better one.
Take another game that is played strictly as a cooperative game.  Marvel Ultimate Alliance would fit into that.  There doesn't have to be any player vs player you can I believe set it so you can't damage anyone else playing with you.  So if I said I want to play Marvel Ultimate Alliance because it is fun.  That would be my purpose of playing the game.  My friend who had never played would then ask me "Sounds good, but what is the point of the game?"  My response would not be to have fun.  I would have to explain the point of the game.  Beating levels and ultimately the game by defeating bad guys and figuring out puzzles and not dying.  You either win or you don't your on that given session or you progress toward your goal of winning.

I think where many D&D players come into trouble is that there is no defined end point of any given D&D game or it is so far away that telling someone the point of the game is to "win" seams silly because "winning" could be 3 years away.  That really is what the goal of the game is though.  You defeat bad guys, solve puzzles, solve problems and proceed toward the characters goal all while roleplaying as much or as little as your table feels appropriate.  Whatever that ultimate goal is when achieved would probably be considered winning, unless that goal is replaced with a new goal.  Then the game continues (if a new goal has been made) or is started over (likely with new characters and goals).
This may contribute to part of the problem, most games have easily recognizable and moderately quickly reachable ends.  D&D and I'm sure tabletop RPGs in general do not.  Games have ends.  D&D games have ends.  But the end of a D&D game is different for every game of D&D.



Bozz, you will now be called Uncle Bozz by the children Theta and I are going to adopt.

The Ultimate Alliance comparison is very appropriate. VERY. I suggest people read it and re-read it if the point isn't made.

Your last paragraph regarding the "trouble" is also very accurate. This is the cognitive difficulty that people struggle with because they cannot reconcile it...this is also one of the things it is MOST important to understand so that it can be explained well to potential new players or novices.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.



If someone was to ask you. "What's the point of a football game?" You would not answer: "To have fun"

If someone was to ask you. "What's the point of a poker game?" You would not answer: "To have fun"

If someone was to ask you. "What's the point of a fighting video game?" You would not answer: "To have fun"

So why is it that when someone asks "What's the point of the game Dungeons & Dragons?" we so quickly jump to "To have fun!"



False analogy.  Your first three examples are competitive.  D&D is cooperative.  The goal in the first three examples is winning.  The only way to 'win' D&D is to have fun.

You are wrong.



Your comprehension of what you have read is wrong.

I never used the word "win".

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

@Lunar

So would you still do this activity if there was no expectation of fun?

If not then fun is indeed why you would participate in the activity. 



Said activity is not defined by your enjoyment of it

It is not Schrodinger's D&D...it does not exist in a state of quantum uncertainty until someone opens it to find out whether it's "fun" or "not fun" 



You are right, at least after probably the first time someone had fun.  the game is indeed in an uncertain state until it is played for at least the first time.

After that there are expectations.  if someone was unable to have fun then they probably wouldn'd play again.  

If the game were not fun no one would play it.

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

Herro,

Fun is subjective. By your definition, if you do no find a game fun then the game itself has no point as designed.

I do not have fun playing baseball. I can certainly tell you the point of a baseball game, however.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.


The one thing I will point out that is entirely hilarious about your model airplane comparison is that, yes, by their own standards, there are people that should be screaming at you just for suggesting that if someone wants to build model airplanes as "their D&D" that they are, in fact, playing D&D because that is how D&D is "fun" for them. It is such a cognitive dissonance I can't wrap my head around it. Slippery slopes and all...



You are actually making a straw man argument through another logical fallacy, in this case affirming the consequent (If dungeons and dragons is meant for fun, then people having fun must be playing dungeons and dragons). The "slippery slope" is another famous logical fallacy (an informal version of failure to distribute the middle terms of an argument). You also (ironically) misuse the term cognitive dissonance.

Games exist as entertainment. You can argue that not all entertainment is "fun" (I doubt anyone has "fun" reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles), but any extraneous social products of entertainment (gambling, professionalism, etc) are built upon the basic premise that people are meant to enjoy the base activity. If you'd care to argue about the dangers of Marxist commodification versus Rawlsian distributive justice I would be more than happy to do so over PM, but in my experience those whose view of "entertaining" the PCs is significantly divorced from them having fun suffer from what I like to call "unpublished fantasy author syndrome". 
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