It's Just a Game

I hate those words. It's just a game. It's just a fill-in-the-blank.

The words are spoken by ignorant people imposing their opinion and belittling someone already bothered by something important to them. It cheapens desire, diminishes commitment, and undervalues passion. It's ignorant because the speaker has no comprehension of the emotional liability of the person being talked down to.  It's a declaration that one's possessiveness is not only misdirected but ethically meaningless.

It's just a game like it's just a book or just a car.

Some people simply can't understand the attachment we place on the apparently insignificant elements of our lives. No one would ever say, "It's just a child." Of course not, but I've heard people say, "It's just an animal." That would seem heartless to animal lovers, but these words have been spoken, regardless if the statement came after an unfortunate high-speed vehicle crossing or not.  The problem lies with the selfish nature of some people, in not possessing the empathy to understand the loves we have, which can often reach beyond organic bonds. 

It's just a car.  For some people, they love their car.  It's an expression of their passion.  It could be a life-long hobby.  I had a friend once grind all the paint off the bottom of my car door when he closed it over a curb.  He didn't care, and our friendship was over soon after. It's just a book. There's nothing wrong with being attached to fictional characters and a setting.  Sure, there's a line when someone begins to exclude their own life for the fantasy, but there's still nothing wrong with taking a character's death personally. It's just a couch.  Maybe they love that couch. Perhaps it had emotional meaning.  Even if it didn't, it still doesn't excuse someone in callously spilling wine on it. 

It's just a game. 

Tell that to the football players breaking their ribs to score a touchdown.  Tell that to the race drivers that tour the world for ten months of the year, eating, breathing, and sleeping motorsports.  Tell that the mathematicians that dedicate their lives in the study of competition.  To some people, it is just a game, but it doesn't devalue those that think of it as more.  And yes, that applies to tabletop and role-playing games as well.

On the latter, how many GM's have heard that statement from their players. It's only a game. Maybe they don't understand how much work you put into it. I've been designing games for twenty-two years. I know each one implicitly. Some GMs and game designers spend months developing a game, only to see it sullied by players with no appreciation for the effort invested. It's not just a game for us.  We can spend more time designing a game than players do playing it. For those weekly Sunday-night 4-hour games, one person usually owns the collection, sets up the game beforehand, reads the rules, explains them, and acts as a referee to ensure the game is played correctly.

And as for those GMs creating entire worlds whole-cloth, weeks of preparation may be required, describing the intricate details of every city, its ruling family, and how they relate to bordering nations. A passing NPC ignored might have had a significant back-story.  It would be understandable for a creator or even a fan to levy that much emotional investment in a story or game.  It is permissible to have affection for non-living entities, even if it's a book, a car, or a game.  When George RR Martin wrote Storm of Swords, he wrote the famous "red wedding" scene last, as he knew it would gut him emotionally in the process.  When commenting on specific events in his Appleseed manga, writer Masamune Shirow expressed worry that it would upset his characters too much. 

I'm not offering absolution to those wanting to go all "Misery" on a famous author, breaking the legs of a figure skater, or setting fire to a video game company because they farted on a precious franchise.  Fanaticism in every form is potentially dangerous, and I avoid the wording to describe anything I've been a fan of in my life.

Yes, I dressed up as Boba Fett, but only on Halloween (well, there was that one time at Episode I's premiere). I constructed scale models of the Enterprise, but never had plastic surgery on my ears to make myself look like a Vulcan. I'm only saying that it's permissible to take something inconsequential to someone else personally.  You don't need to justify it.  You don't even need to state precedence.  You gauge your own level of commitment, and if it doesn't negatively affect your quality of life, then it's OK to get upset when something happens. 

Except for those obsessing over Tiger King because those people are wacky.