I’m often told that I’m too harsh with my opinions about Diplomacy. I have a set answer for that, which is, frankly, they’re my opinions: you don’t like them? That’s OK. I don’t mind whether you do or don’t.
But I thought, as my first post of 2022, that I’d point out why everyone who plays Diplomacy should be playing Diplomacy. In case you’re wondering, it’s right there in the title – just for the fun of it.
The very essence of playing Diplomacy is that it should be fun. It’s a game, after all, and games are best played between friends and family. They – and Diplomacy – are designed to be fun. Can you imagine sitting round a table with six people you don’t like to play a board game? That must be one of the side circles of Hell.
When you’re playing online, it isn’t always that you get to play with people you know. In fact, with any online game community, you’re probably going to come across an idiot or two… maybe even more. And that means you could find yourself playing the game with someone who you wouldn’t normally spend any time with, if you had the choice, IRL. It can’t be helped.
Certainly, in the Dip communities I know, there are a number of people who make posts on forums that I’d cheerfully walk through caves swarming with hornets to avoid. Do I want to play a game with these people? Not really. Actually, I have a sneaky feeling I’m probably on that list for a number of people in those communities, too.
But that’s fine. That’s what communities are about. Diversity. Diversity of opinion, of philosophy, etc. Diversity is your friend… even if the person who has different ideas isn’t someone you’d choose as a friend!
Without diversity, wouldn’t life be boring? I look at what is happening online, not only within the Dip community but everywhere, and I think we’ve lost that acceptance of difference. People congregate in cliques where their opinions are shared, and shun different opinions.
This is all natural and evolutionary, of course. It’s natural to want to be with people who make us happy or feel wanted. When people agree with you, it releases endorphins that give us a pleasant feeling. We’re part of something bigger… and that’s important because we have a better chance of surviving in something bigger. This is tribalism at work.
However, it’s the exclusivity of this which is harmful. It’s probably more widespread on the internet, I suggest. People not engaging with anyone who has a different opinion to them or, if they do engage, being almost exclusively antagonistic or aggressive towards others.
What seems to be lacking is tolerance. I can understand it, especially when considering racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc – anything that is about establishing superiority or denying equality. Frankly, I don’t want to be spending my time with these kinds of people, among others. But, in the same way, I don’t want to be spending time with anyone who is intolerant in any way.
Coming back to Diplomacy, I do see a certain amount of intolerance towards certain philosophies, ways of playing and opinions. I often express my opinion that some things are against the way the game was designed to be played but that is simply stating my opinion. You… well, you are free to play however you want.
What people tend to forget is that Diplomacy is just a game. Nobody dies as a result of losing. Nobody’s really hurt because some people are happy to draw the game. If you are really that opposed to how games are being played, then maybe you need a break from it.
I love the Dip Hobby for what it is. Chaotic… perhaps too chaotic, sometimes. Opinionated to the point that lively debate can be held about aspects of it. I like that I can play a game of Dip against Carebears, Unusists, Calhamerians, etc. If everyone played the same way as I do it would get boring pretty damn quickly.
I’ll argue my point against anyone but you can play any way you want. Why? Because it’s meant to be fun, and if you are having fun, that’s all that’s important.
Unless you’re cheating, of course. There’s a limit.
If you’re not having fun when you’re playing Dip, then – again – perhaps it’s time for a break. I know, you’re not going to be enjoying every minute of every game; it’s not like being at a comedy club. But, if you’re not enjoying the challenge of playing, the anticipation of starting a game, or even becoming intolerant towards players who think differently about the game, then something’s been lost.
And that’s a shame.