One thought on “Rules Lawyering as Symbolic and Linguistic Capital”

  1. This article does not ask the fundamental question of when is rules lawyering a problem, and when the same phenomenon is a good and useful part of play. It might be called by different name, or not noticed at all, when it is not a problem, since the term used here has negative connotations.

    Instead, the article cites Walden and implicitly claims that immersion is the only reason for playing Dungeons and dragons, or maybe roleplaying games in general. It is very easy to find that immersion is not only such goal, since there are many vocal proponents of this view on several internet fora, and hopefully the author also personally knows several roleplayers; it is unlikely that all of them appreciate immersion as the highest virtue of roleplaying, unless they all play in the same subculture.

    Rules lawyering is certainly disruptive if one desires immersion, but in other situations it is not. The obvious example is a roleplaying game played as a mechanical game of optimization and skirmish tactics. A less obvious one is many Forge games, which attempt to guarantee a specific type of gameplay when the rules are followed exactly. In this context, clarifying and reciting the rules is considered a useful function at the table. Burning wheel is an instructive example of a game with involved rules from the Forge school of design.

    On another note, the phenomenon discussed by the author is not related to rules lawyering; the same effect can be seen when people argue that something is “impossible” or “unrealistic”, perhaps citing their experience or knowledge.

    An interesting remark is that the equivalent of rules lawyering, noticing when certain rules are not used or when there is a logical flaw, is an essential part of activities such as programming, mathematical sciences, some brands of philosophy and possibly law. Especially in mathematics and programming, a single very minor mistake can invalidate the entire project. The author is suggesting that noticing and telling of such mistakes is a male phenomenon, thereby hinting that women might be inferior as teamworkers in these domains. I presume this is not the intention of the author, so it would be interesting to know why this is an invalid conclusion to draw here.

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