(it is nearly 830 PM - I just had dinner and I'm ready to fall asleep - OSR Christmas Day 4 remains open at least until tomorrow morning - overtime 5 out of 6 days is wearing on me)
So, if OBS banned a +James Desborough Gamergate Game, based in part on a threat by Evil Hat to pull their releases from OBS, would anyone care?
It's drama for the sake of drama, which both James and Fred are good at, but banning the game is NOT the way to handle it. The market polices itself. All the banning did was polarize fans and publishers.
OBS seems to know this but doesn't really seem to know how to fix it.
Here's the letter OBS sent to publishers (and thanks to the anon reader that sent it to me)
We elected to ban a title from our marketplaces. Of the tens of thousands of titles that we carry, and after operating for 13 years, we have never before banned a title (other than for
legal reasons). I hope those numbers make it clear this is not an action we have
undertaken lightly, nor is it one we will undertake frequently, if ever again.
Nonetheless, as this is the first time we’ve decided to ban a title, I
thought a letter of explanation was in order.
The title in question is a card game whose theme is the Gamergate issue. The game attempted to present the issue in a satirical manner.
Normally, satirical works would be welcome on our marketplaces.
However, we feel that there are situations where satire is inappropriate. For
example, we do not think that a game released today that satirizes police
killings of minorities in the USA would be appropriate. Regardless of how one
feels about an issue like that, we feel that it is too current, too emotionally
charged on both sides, and too related to real-world violence or death to make
it an appropriate matter for satire.
Similarly, no matter how one feels about Gamergate, it is likewise too current, too emotionally frought, and too related to violence to be an appropriate subject for satire. Additionally, we considered that the violent element of the Gamergate issue has a basis in misogyny. For
these reasons, we felt that this card game title was not welcome for sale on our
Note too that this is a card game, not a roleplaying game. Some may feel that if we
were to ban an RPG from our marketplaces, that action would levy a significant
economic penalty on that title since we have a long reach in the overall RPG
market. This is not true of card games, where OneBookShelf is currently a tiny
corner of the card game market. Our not carrying a card game should have minimal
impact on that card game’s economic viability.
While we also considered the customer complaints on both sides of this issue (we are a business, after all, and we cannot ignore customer complaints and survive), these were not a major factor in
our decision. Not surprisingly, given the gaming fanbase, many of the complaints
we received were intelligently written and provided us with additional,
thoughtful perspectives on the issue. Unfortunately, most customers were not in
a position to review the content of the title itself and were therefore forced
to be “judging a book by its cover” only.
Some publishers also complained about this title, and a few publishers let us know they would not be interested in continuing to work with us if we carried it on our store. We will not allow any
publisher to dictate content policy onto any other publisher, explicitly or
implicitly. If any publisher ever decides to discontinue business with us
because our content policy errs to the side of being too open, rather than
restrictive, then we will respect their decision to leave our marketplaces and
wish them well. To be clear, no publishers’ comments had any bearing on
our decision to discontinue selling this title.
Having now banned a title for the first time, we asked ourselves if we needed to establish any explicit policy for banning of future titles for reasons other than legality or production quality.
Given that this is the first time such a thing has happened in 13 years, and
given the difficulty of defining policies of this nature, we elected not to
invest the time in creating a policy that would probably end up a poor guideline
anyway. Our time is better spent getting back to retailing your titles to fans.
We carry a lot of titles on our marketplaces that some or all of the members of the
OneBookShelf staff find morally distasteful (and we’re generally a pretty
open-minded lot), but we find anything that smacks of censorship even more
distasteful. We will continue to have a content policy that is more open than
will give many of our publishers and customers comfort.
Normall Grumpy would be inserting all sorts of obnoxious comments, but as he dictates and does not type, that won't be happening tonight.
Alright - discuss. I'm putting my head down and catching some zzzzzzsssss...