Trading Traditions

posted by on 28th April 2018, at 11:00am | Discuss Article

April has been the quiet before the storm that will be May for RuneScape. Where March came in like a lion April has just been a quiet little lamb. The good news about that is it gives us Informer writers a chance to cover less time-sensitive material and show the reader that we aren’t the hive-minded Borg, but rather a group of RuneScape loving writers who can differ on certain issues. Earlier this month Colton wrote an excellent article laying out his argument for having traditional holidays in RuneScape (Eggs, Scrambled Holidays Lost). His article made me think of what my view on the issue was. The debate really centers around the idea of having traditional real-world holidays that could be immersion breaking or having celebrations that have no connection to real-world holidays. Both sides have legitimate points, however, I propose there is another way.

First, let’s recap some of the points people make that are in favor of traditional real-world holidays in RuneScape. Colton argued this side best and for a full in-depth understanding please read his article. The number one argument people make is that RuneScape has always celebrated Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc. It has become RuneScape tradition to celebrate these holidays in-game. Another argument is that RuneScape is loosely based on a medieval European framework and these were the holidays celebrated at the time. The last argument and most persuasive is that many of these holidays have been secularized today, and the religious aspects of them aren’t focused on by the majority of people. All of these points are legitimate and make a compelling case, however, how does the other side see it?

RuneScape is a fantasy world that lets people escape from the daily rigours of life. Players that are in favor of RuneScape themed holidays don’t want that immersion broken by real-world holidays. One of their biggest arguments is that the real-world holidays RuneScape celebrates have religious roots with Christmas and Easter especially being Christian holidays. This group would also say that all religions are not treated the same. RuneScape doesn’t have a Hanukkah event or observe any Islamic holidays. Another reason for the separation between RuneScape and traditional holidays is that some people experience high anxiety and stress around holiday time. Why should someone have to experience the same triggers in a fantasy game that wreak havoc in their real lives? Once again all these are good points and make compelling arguments. So where does that leave us? And what should we do?

I propose that there is another way. I know this won’t make either side happy but isn’t that the essence of true compromise, making everyone mad? The way forward is to keep the good parts and form new ones. Many of the traditions and customs of the old real-world holidays could be transposed on to new RuneScape related holidays forming something new, yet familiar. The early Christian church fathers saw the value in this approach. The early church had its work cut out for it in converting ‘Pagans’ to Christianity. On one hand, it was easy to get Pagans to accept a new God, however many times they just added it to the pantheon. In addition, the festivals and celebrations were very important calendar events that the Pagans did not want to give up. That is when the early church came up with a plan they would just plop Christian holidays on top of existing Pagan ones. Christmas is a good example of this. Christmas was put right over the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. That wreath you put on your door at Christmas time didn’t come from the bible it came from Saturnalia. And no holiday is a better example of this than Halloween. Many Pagan traditions had harvest festivals in the fall. Many of the Halloween traditions of today come from the ancient Celtic people. The early Christian church couldn’t hope to stop such an important time of celebrating the life-giving harvest so they just added All Saints Day. The night before being All Hallows Eve which is where we get Halloween from. This process has been extremely effective. It worked for the early church and it could work for RuneScape as well. For real, where did the Easter bunny and colored eggs come from? I don’t remember that in the gospels. Nope, most likely it came from spring festivals that celebrated fertility hence the rabbit and eggs. Also, it symbolized rebirth and renewal so it was a natural fit for Easter. The question is how would this work in RuneScape?

For starters let’s not rock the boat too much. Instead of Christmas, we could have Saradomas. This could be a celebration for either when Saradomin was born or when he ascended to godhood. He is the traditional god of good (despite Jagex’s attempt to dirty him up lately). Instead of Santa deriving from some 14th-century Turkish saint he could just be an old friend of Saradomin, to which Saradomin has given the job of delivering gifts once a year, so on and so forth. Essentially you keep what people like but give it a RuneScape purpose. Instead of Easter being a Christian holiday with some Pagan traditions we could instead celebrate Seren. Think about it she shattered herself out of love for her people and then was resurrected, hmm sounds familiar. Halloween could be an ode to Zamorak. Zamorak loves chaos and deception, sounds like trick-or-treating to me. The point is it doesn’t have to be all one way or another. We’ve seen what happens when Jagex tries to make up holiday stuff from scratch, remember Cabbage Face Punch? It doesn’t work, just like having real-world holidays does encroach on immersion. No, the way forward is the middle ground the one which has been proven to work in the past.

This solution probably won’t make anyone completely happy. In an era where our lives are increasingly polarized, we are being conditioned that compromise is bad. Where caring about others feelings and wanting to be more inclusive somehow makes you a snowflake. At the same time respecting and cherishing tradition doesn’t make you closed minded. People are more complex than that and our holiday celebrations illustrate that point. It is time to add a layer of RuneScape lore on top of our cherished traditional holidays and make something we can all share. Until next time, Happy RuneScaping.