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Monday, March 21, 2016

Why You Should be Concerned that Alpha Blue got Temporarily Pulled From OBS



If you read The Tavern you probably already know my opinion of +Venger Satanis 's Alpha Blue. Based upon the blurb alone - juvenile, sexually oriented campy humor done in poor taste - Porkey's meets Deep Space 9 I'd guess. No, never read it. Until last week I didn't have time to read the RPGs I was deeply interested, let alone those I wasn't. It simply wasn't "my bag" as presented, but it did appeal to a sizable audience.

Still, this in no Tournament of Rapists, whose very blurb made it seem like the PCs were supposed to be rapists (yes, the author explained how that perception was wrong but he wrote the very words that led to that perception)

You can't miss the fact that Alpha Blue (dead link for now) is over the top in it's campy portrayal of sex. It doesn't hide the fact. Shit, look at the cover.

It was, however, available on OneBookShelf for MONTHS and sold relatively well (after a successful Kickstarter campaign). Pulling it now for review (and taking up to 2 weeks to review it) seems half assed.

Now, OBS does have an "adult content" filter and I have no idea if Alpha Blue was behind that or not. I generally see their filter at the R rating area - be an adult or let your parent buy it for you section. If it was behind that restriction already and it's been pulled now, I'd be really pissed if I were Venger.

This is not censorship in the "free speech" sort one usually thinks of. OBS is not the government. It is, however a slippery slope and one where I'd prefer the content stay live and a review be conducted expeditiously in the meantime. I suspect on some level the new closeness between OBS and WotC had something to do with this.

Edit - Girls Gone Rogue IS NOT suspended. Go figure.

38 comments:

  1. I dunno if it was the WOTC connection. My guess is that it finally hit the SJW radar.

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    1. I'm not sure, but as the edit above shows, OBS is doing a half assed job of whatever they're doing...

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    2. While it is not censorship, it is heavyhanded, inconsistent, and when you are 80% of the market, you find yourself in the crosshairs quite a bit. I suspect this was triggered by a complaint. I know my submissions can't even go live without content review because I am a newbie.

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  2. Well, I distinctly remember Alpha Blue NOT being behind adult filter (a few weeks ago); and I agree that the timing is the worst.
    Still, as someone who would need a host of clones to complete all his projects, I understand OBS not being able to review everything, and something may occasionally slip through until complaint.
    Still, the cover is a dead giveaway...

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    1. It absolutely WAS behind the adult filter, 100%. Always.

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    2. Then I am wrong - I usually log in with the filter "ON", just to know what is what, and remove it if I meet something I want to see - maybe in that case I turned it off already.
      My bad, and apologies to you, Venger.

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  3. Remember kids, if there is something not to your taste and you find un-good, you need to make sure no one else can enjoy it. Right? :\

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    1. That does seem to be the standard many self-described open-minded and accepting gamers live by. They're more than happy to shriek about being tolerant, but they are somewhat lacking in that trait themselves.

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  4. *IF* it wasn't behind the adult filter, that would probably explain this pretty decently. If it should have been behind the filter and wasn't, the publisher status will probably be changed back to requiring approval for all releases again.

    If this was already behind the filter, that is strange and problematic. It remains to be seen. I do recall, however, that when OBS said it was putting a review system in place that the entire LotFP fanbase went on a prolonged rant that, if it had been accurate, would have foretold the instant removal of all things Raggi from OBS. That hasn't happened and I tend to think that there might be more to this than "someone doesn't like Venger".

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    1. I think the fear all along was that people were going to use this system to punish folks they don't like. And, sorry to say, there is a certain segment of our hobby that believe that if they don't like a person that person shouldn't be able to sell their products. They are very loud and can use social media to make their numbers seem much larger than they actually are. And, like the camel that has its nose go under a tent, once they are in they ruin where they stand (see RPG.net)

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    2. If this was just a matter of going after folks that are disliked, based on what I've read all of LotFP would have been pulled for review based on the amount of hate that flows in Raggi's direction. Considering how long this took to happen at all, and considering that their policy is still "Meh, if we feel like looking at it, we will and we will not set a firm policy that can be easily abused" I'll wait and see what will happen.

      I'm no fan, but if it was behind the filter? Meh, I'm not going to buy it, but I'm not the target market. Live and let live. But now that this has been compared to the Holocaust elsewhere, I really have ceased to care.

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    3. Where was it compared to the Holocaust?

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    4. So, my understanding is that the review process (if the review is found in favor of the publisher) puts the item on a whitelist, where it can't be thrown back into the review process... Possibly Raggi's stuff was already whitelisted since it's what triggered the creation of the review process.

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    5. James Spahn made the comparison in his G+ posting about this where he literally quoted camp survivor Martin Niemoller's famed commentary.

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  5. If it turns out this *was* beyond the adult filter, I will try really hard to care.

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    1. apparently it was behind the adult filter:

      http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?474304-Alpha-Blue-PDF/page2

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    2. I don't think the Wayback Machine lies:

      https://web.archive.org/web/20160207094634/http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/168961/Alpha-Blue

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  6. How in the name of Arneson and Gygax is OBS 80% of the market? I sell Basic Fantasy and Iron Falcon books consistently on Lulu and Amazon but sales on OBS were so poor that, when they couldn't get the colors right on the BFRPG books and wouldn't even make an excuse for it, it caused me no measurable loss of sales to pull it from there. Since the IF cover is straight black and white, I left it up, and it hardly sells there... but it does sell on Amazon and Lulu.

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    1. http://www.evilhat.com/home/tag/sales-numbers/

      That's for a line with fully-developed retail distribution. Trim out the retail numbers and you see the importance of OBS sales. Considering the great majority of small publishers are not together enough to get FBA up on Amazon and Lulu has atrocious discovery for RPG products, OBS is the overwhelmingly dominant channel for small-pub RPGs.

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    2. I also use Amazon / CreateSpace.

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  7. I'll reserve judgement based on how OBS rules. If they pull Alpha Blue, then we've got problems.

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  8. Adult filter? Are there all that many children buying products at this site with their credit cards and Pay Pal accounts?

    Adult filter? Ah, because games about killing and looting are okay for kids but anything sexual in Puritan America must be evil.

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    1. Adult filter is, I guess, for those willing to buy games for kids (there's lots of gamers with kids in "gaming age" nowadays, I have at least five in my groups...).
      As to what is or isn't "adult filtered", store owner's rules, as long as it is not censorship but just a caution (and IMHO adult filter isn't censorship).
      Then there's things that have to be rejected as they are - racism comes to mind - but that's not censorship either, it is just civility.

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  9. It is censorship. It doesn't have to be governmental to be censorship. We all said this would happen.

    https://www.aclu.org/what-censorship

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    1. Strictly speaking, censorship doesn't have to be governmental, but in exactly the same sense, it doesn't have to be unconstitutional or illegal either. According to your implied definition, it could be a book store refusing to sell neo-Nazi literature in accordance with the proprietor's own values. In other words, it doesn't have to be anything anyone is morally obligated to care about. Governmental censorship is of a qualitatively different order.

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    2. I'm totally fine with OBS having a review process and reserving the right to pull products in extreme cases. It might offend my consumer sensibility if they start to seem too prudish or trigger happy, but even then I'm hardly going to go march on Washington over it.

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    3. "Censorship" doesn't have to be governmental, but "Free Speech" is a right guaranteed by the founding document of the American Government against government censorship. Some philosophers at the time also argued that Free Speech is a natural right, but that kind of goes into airy metaphysical spaces about what "natural rights" mean.

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    4. You are completely misrepresenting how "Free Speech" works. The sale of Alpha Blue has not been outlawed, the ownership of it is not illegal, the reading of it not punishable, Free Speech is maintained. Whether they choose to carry it or not is not a Free Speech issue. Claiming that as free speech would be like me refusing to be evicted from your home after screaming abuse at you for a couple of hours. "Free Speech" right"?

      Nobody has infringed the right of speech here...at all. What has been effected is the ability to sell something through a specific outlet. That's it. Do I think the item should be removed? Nope. Do they have the right to not carry any product that they so choose? Yep.

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    5. Agree with Bob.
      Their store, their decision on "stock" (like it or not).
      Although they are probably less popular, there are other methods to sell (Venger said he sells through Amazon and Lulu too).

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  10. Um, can we get a news blurb on this with someone who has actually read the work and knows if it was behind the adult sensor or not...I read this article as "I have opinions on a thing that I know little about and maybe support a thing."

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    1. Judging by archive.org (as posted earlier by Athair), it would seem it was behind the adult filter: https://web.archive.org/web/20160207094634/http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/168961/Alpha-Blue

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    2. I have read the work in question, and it was behind the adult filter, where it belonged. It is a gonzo adult product with artwork of an adult nature. The default at One Book Shelf is to have the adult content filtered. You have to go to your account and turn on access to adult material to even see products with an adult label. So, yes, Alpha Blue is adult, and yes it was behind the filter. I had to log in to see it.

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    3. Yes, it was behind the adult filter and I have a copy I am going over. The text in question is mild compared to what I've seen elsewhere.

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    4. Alpha Blue is more R rated, while the supplement Girls Gone
      Rogue is more X rated.

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  11. I am fairly certain that the game was labeled as "for adults". Any time that the author hosts a game it is labeled as "mature" and with adult content. He does tend to be careful when he posts such things and knows that his games are very much for an adult crowd. I playtested Alpha Blue it is not a game that is meant to be taken seriously. It is one of the best beer-n-pretzel games I have ever played, the fact that it is so over the top and weird is a selling point.

    Alpha Blue, after all, is based on 70's sci-fi (which was extremely campy) and 70's porn (also over the top) and at no point does it try to hide its origin. I am baffled as to why it was pulled for review.

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  12. Well, Alpha Blue has weathered the storm and is for sale again. I just checked the link.

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    1. Yep. I'll take this as a sign that the system OBS has in place works (for now).

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