Recently, we've seen some opinions on what Dungeons & Dragons 4e does (and doesn't do) for folks at The Gamer Dome and RPGCentric. For the most part, the conversations on those two entries has stayed civil, especially compared to the sort of hysterics we've been seeing to no end over at ENWorld.
But the fact remains, D&D 4th edition, switching editions, switching to Pathfinder, going back to an older version of D&D--anything in the least bit tied to 4e remains a hot button item. And though some very good bloggers have written some fantastic words about how we should all get along and not let the Edition Wars muck things up, no blog post, no matter how brilliantly worded, is going to change the fact there will be potshot takers and people without any sense of perspective claiming a "side" and pooping squarely in somebody's Cheerios. This is just how its gonna be for a while.
You know what? I don't play 4e. I mean, I have, but it doesn't do what my gaming group or I want. We run campaigns where the characters start out as very low-powered adventurers, perhaps days removed from being conscripted into the Baron's army and leaving their days as a blacksmith's apprentice behind. They are novices, without any particularly powerful attacks or special moves. They're likely scared shitless of facing a lone goblin for the first time, let alone a mess of minions. They aren't going to romp into combat and start pulling off lavishly-named maneuvers. In the end, 4e didn't fit what we wanted, and there were other systems that would get us there with less work. That's it. No sinister plan, no angry letter-writing campaign. A simple expressed preference for a different framework for rolling dice and Making Crap Up.
But, to the best of my knowledge, while growing up, I never once caught 4th Edition shagging my mom while my dad was out of town. It didn't throw my old high school sweetheart off a bridge. It didn't invade the Western United States, giving me and my fellow ragtag band of teenagers no choice but to form a guerrilla band to avenge our parents. It was not the cause of a resurgence of the Black Death in 18th-century Sevilla.
On the other side of things, my rejection of 4e doesn't mean I'm a Luddite, it doesn't mean I fed poisoned meat to your dog, and I am sure your mother is a perfectly nice, respectable woman.
Look, I get to a point why people get defensive--its the Internet, and its never fun when people start flinging poo at stuff you like. Let's take ENWorld for example. Usually we see this stuff start when someone posts a thread on "Why God and Abraham Lincoln Are Up There Right Now Playing 4e" or "GOODBYE FOREVER--4e IS THE WORST!!!1!" As I see it, there are three levels of posts on Edition Wars:
Level 1: This post is a (seemingly) innocuous comment on some perceived position someone may have on 4e. There may even be a good run of rational conversation on the topic at hand. Yet this is invariably a corrupted specimen, befouled by a True Believer or One True Way type--and once turned, it can't go back. Many times a Level 1 conversation will be changed by a later Level 2 comment (see below).
Level 2: On the surface, this post might seem like a Level 1--reasonable, courteous, informed--but there will be one comment placed in just the right spot, or juuuust the slightest air of smug superiority about it to cause the conversation to smolder. There's a tense air about this conversation, much like a Level 1, as everyone knows the flames are merely lying in wait. Sooner or later a backdraft of nerdrage will cause a fiery explosion, and the well-reasoned bits are forgotten as single sentences, minutiae, obscure books quotes, and the stress on syllables are brought in as evidence for the prosecution and defense alike.
Level 3: This post is pure flamebait. It is often signified by claims of "not really D&D", "just like World of Warcraft, "so's your sister", "dumbed-down", "the only way to play", and "clearly you didn't or were unable to read all 14 paragraphs of my brilliantly-crafted argument". It is made worse by people thinking they are clever by assigning the rant a rating ("you lose points for originality--7/10"), or pretending they don't care ("yawn--next please") when it is clearly EATING THEIR SOUL THAT SOMEONE DOESN'T LIKE THEIR NEW GAME YARRRGHHHHHHHHAHHH! This post quickly devolves into personal insults, and largely undoes the good effort put forth in therapy for a wide range of individuals.
Hey, until the research scientists at RPG Bloggers perfect and stabilize the element known as Level 0 (rational edition choice discourse, with well-reasoned discussion--something we have actually caught glimpses of, much like some rare subatomic particle in a supercollider), we can at least keep it at level 1. Or, we can laugh at jerks.