Follow

I would like to coin the phrase "Fantasy protagonist fallacy".

It's the belief that a sufficient amount of trudging across the map, fighting random encounters, solving riddles, enduring suffering, and demonstrating virtue will inevitably add up, somehow, someday, to "saving the world".

It's similar to the "clueless" behavior from @vgr 's Gervais posts.

All the fantasy novels and JRPGs I consumed as a kid drilled this into me and I had to unlearn it.

I should write a blog post

@nindokag @vgr I think you're getting confused with mid-18th century British imperialism, as it sounds exactly like what you're describing! Except for the jrpg bit obvs!

@Jamest You responded before I finished my thought and took that in a very different direction from where I was going with it.

There is definitely an interesting conversation to have about how self-insertion into heroic narratives gets used to justify imperialism and all sorts of other horrible things.

I wonder what were the popular novels among the generation of british boys who went on to conquer the empire?

@nindokag @vgr hmm I totally have this embedded into my worldview, maybe not "save the world" but something equally self-affirming. Not sure how much damage it's really doing or if it's worth un-learning though 😅

@nindokag It's an interesting idea that the games drilled this into you. Do you think they provided any positive learning models? I was thinking that upgrade-itis probably fuels consumerism. But maybe the idea that skills start off weak but improve with experience?

@bkam @nindokag I’ve kept a theory on hand for a long time, that fantasy (I.e. the whole genre) is a big monument to legibility - everything neatly inscribed as races, character classes, terrain types, character stats, even down to highly detailed made-up languages.

By that theory, I think the quantification of experience is another of the simplifications that fantasy trades in. ... BUT ...

(See next toot for the fantasy-affirmative counterpoint)

@bkam @nindokag I DO think that fantasy provides great and complex exercise in reading structures, using them as crutches for narrative and creativity, and bending/breaking them as a form of creative destruction.

I know I redirected from your question about Games to one of Fantasy. Sorry about that :-/ I had more thoughts on that, and I hope the overlap is enough that it still seems relevant

@miksimum @nindokag Yes that's really interesting. I hadn't thought about fantasy in that way before. I guess most mythologies are about archetypes as well, and often about the consequences of category errors or breakage?

It's interesting to think of fantasy as Aristotelian or categorical on some way. I've been reading a lot about writing lately, and a lot of advice seems to divide up writing (freeform) and editing (categorical). I wonder if it says something about fantasy editing.

@bkam This is a good question and I've been thinking about it the last few days.

Other genres, e.g. real-time strategy, do a lot more to teach obviously applicable skills. JRPGs less so.

Persistence, maybe? Persistence is a good thing to learn. There's a lot of old-school games I solved by exhaustively mapping everything on graph paper. "This game sounds like homework, why didn't you give up?". The positive flip side of fantasy protagonist fallacy is "Not Giving Up Easily".

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Refactor Camp

Mastodon instance for attendees of Refactor Camp, and members of various online/offline groups that have grown out of it. Related local groups with varying levels of activity exist in the Bay Area, New York, Chicago, and Austin.

Kinda/sorta sponsored by the Ribbonfarm Blogamatic Universe.

If you already know a few people in this neck of the woods, try and pick a handle they'll recognize when you sign up. Please note that the registration confirmation email may end up in your spam folder, so check there. It should come from administrator Zach Faddis.