Webcomic 13: Spotlight Hogs
Explaining jokes always makes them less funny. In this case, if you don’t get the references in the above comic you’re probably better off, just go about your business. But if you simply must understand…
This comic references several obscure points of controversy or “drama” in the online communities where tabletop RPGs are discussed.Brain Damage: In the olden days of The Forge, Ron Edwards used the phrase “brain damage” to characterize the effect that playing certain 90s-era RPGs (such as those produced by White Wolf) had on shaping expectations about RPG play and how stories worked. Many people, including many who agreed with Ron’s underlying point, found this to be a crass way to express it. Some people in the Forge/Story-Games community began to casually use the phrase jokingly, as a back-handed dig at what they perceived as Ron’s unnecessarily inflammatory language. Some podcasters from that community put out an episode where they speculated that RPG-blogger Zak S’s D&D-group might have this “brain damage” which prevented them from liking the same games the podcasters liked. Needless to say, Zak and the players in his group took offense (which seems reasonable, since the joke could be considered tasteless even with the context). The relationship between Zak S and the Story-Games community didn’t get much friendlier than this rocky start, and this incident is still affecting opinions in the “5e consultant controversy” where there seems to be a whispering campaign against Zak by some people who had some association with the Story-Games community.
Swine: The RPG Pundit‘s online persona is a firebrand orator opposed to the influence of “the swine” on RPGs. Swine are apparently everyone who doesn’t like mainstream RPGs and/or anyone who advocates a political agenda associated with contemporary Progressivism and/or the ideas taught in many university Race/Ethnic/Gender Studies departments. The swine are apparently both a virulent existential threat to RPGs that requires the extreme vigilance of the Pundit, and also a movement in its death throes thanks to the ceaseless toil of the Pundit. It is unclear at this time whether calling people swine is an intentional joke based on the self-evident over-the-top nature of the accusation, or whether it’s unintentional and merely laughable since many of the people in this group disagree with each other vehemently and many of them have no ill-will toward D&D or mainstream games.
Loving pigs in different ways: Ron Edwards uses a metaphor of different people using the same phrase “we love pigs” to mean radically different things as a way of explaining the idea of incompatible Creative Agendas leading to unfun play.
A different way of “loving” a pig: Zak Smith has taken to ascribing a pig-based metaphor to people engaged in the “5e consultant controversy” that he characterizes as arguing dishonestly, making unfounded accusations, spreading false rumors, lying, etc.
Don’t harsh the zen: The Story-Games community, in an effort to squash arguments and distance itself from the Forge’s reputation for standoffish elitism, attempted to adopt a culture in which all ways of playing, and all games, were equally valid. It was frowned upon to criticize anyone’s game or approach to gaming, finding positive things to say was encouraged. The desire to avoid heated discussions had some unusual effects on the culture.