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Black Box Movement: Everything is a Remix

RPG culture is remix culture. Everything is a remix. That’s it. That’s the blog post.

Well, almost.

I think it’s important for people to understand what remix culture is. People need to see how it applies to tabletop roleplaying games. You’re already engaged in it, whether you realize it or not.  When you’re able to do it consciously, it can be another tool for you to leverage in your own creative endeavors.

Everything is a Remix

Gary Gygax took miniatures wargaming, mixed it with ideas from his favorite pulp fantasy novels, and created Dungeons & Dragons. Most of us bring our favorite books, TV shows, movies, and even other games with us to the table. We throw Middle Earth, Hyperborea, Melnibone, Westeros, Medieval Europe, the unnamed world of The Witcher, and more into a blender, pick out the bits we don’t like, and call it our own. The things that work for us have the serial numbers filed off and get renamed. Things we sort of like that don’t quite click get reinterpreted and “fixed” to suit us. We deconstruct, mash up, and recycle all sorts of things to create our campaign worlds, our adventures, and our characters.

The Black Box Movement started with my friend and colleague Daniel M. Perez ruminating on the Dogme 95 film movement, wondering how something like that could be applied to tabletop roleplaying. I added the philosophy of black box theater to the mix, and Daniel used that for the title. It’s not only a remix of other peoples’ ideas, it’s a combination of a few of my ideas with his.

Someone once criticized one of my creative aid books by saying it looked like I read a bunch of books on writing, synthesized a range of ideas I found, and applied them to roleplaying. I have thus far resisted the urge to scream, “Well, DUH!” at the top of my lungs. Everything you read is a remix of ideas and experiences the writer has been exposed to, processed, and interprets.

RPG Culture is Remix Culture

That DoubleZero is a remix of ideas from the Victory Games James Bond 007 RPG and Basic Roleplaying (by way of GORE™, itself a remix of BRP) isn’t a secret. The Hippogryph Codex is an obvious remix of Fate and the d20 System, which will be even more obvious when the Codex is released. This remixing is not only permissible, but encouraged. Wizards of the Coast acknowledged that RPG culture is remix culture when they created the Open Game License. The OGL allows people to modify, copy, and redistribute some of the content designed for their games.

What matters in the end isn’t that we do it, but how we do it. When credit needs to be given, give it. If you’re able to pay it forward by sharing, share it. Support not just the RPG community, but remix culture. In the end, it’s beneficial to us all.

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