Tuesday, February 4, 2014

If You Have a Con and No One Shows, Did it Happen?

In case you haven't heard, Contessa is an online gaming con. It's run by women, with only female GMs, although men can play. It seems to be having recruitment issues this year.

Part of it may be the idea that is is aimed (mostly) at female gamers. Maybe it's just me, but not allowing men to run games seems just a tad discriminatory. But then you can't discriminate against the majority (i think that's in the definition of discrimination somewhere) and men are definitely in the majority when it comes to playing RPGs.

I think the bigger thing that is holding it back is that all of the sessions are Hangouts "On Air". Sorry, I'm not going to play in a session with a bunch of strangers and have it up on Youtube until the end of time. Apparently the reason for the "On Air" part is so disruptive male gamers can be booted (which they can't be in a regular hangout apparently). It looks like male gamers have a bad reputation. I can see why one would want to restrict our access to running the sessions, as who would be there to boot us then?

Before it's even said, I have no problem with female gamers. I like to see them as an active part of the hobby, as it needs all sources for it to thrive and grow. Heck, one of the best DMs I ever played under was a woman back at GenCon in the mid 90s. She was certainly the best I played with at the con, and I was in way too many gaming sessions that year ;)

I just don't think excluding either gender from the organizing of a con and running the game sessions is the best way to encourage gaming with either sex. Segregation was a failure when it came to race and I don't think it fares any better when it comes to gender.

I'd actually like to see Contessa succeed despite the self imposed handicaps. We do need more organized play online and it is a well organized convention from what I can tell. I won't be participating though. The assumption that male players are bound to include their share of "creepy guys" and "that's why we have to record everything" creeps me out...

For those interested, here's the link to the games being run on Contessa. Looks like the OSR has made a showing :)


  1. I just shared some thoughts in a thread on g+---copy and pasting some thoughts re: the on air aspect--

    "It (the OSR) is definitely a sausage factory. And made up generally of older guys, many of them like me who were forced to adopt political correctness at work, and will be damned if they have to be that way and watch their tongues during their downtime/gametime too. Game night for me is a night to let loose and not worry about shit, have a few beers, unwind, blow off steam, and have fun. Like hanging out at the local dive bar, with your buddies, the kind of bar that still allows smoking even though the law in your state says it illegal, because fuck them for telling me I can't smoke, that's why. The kinda bar that has the big jug of hard boiled eggs, no one wants to know the age of, and the beef jerky container right next to it. The sort of place where you can hang and be however you want, where you'd rather not have your wife/gf or people from work hear how you talk or see how you behave. That's why I don't want to go live and have it all recorded."

    Other thoughts I had:
    "Even if that (live broadcasting and recording for posterity for all time) weren't an issue, I just want to play D&D. Those games listed and the systems used are generally unappealing to a one trick pony like me. At a glance it looks like a bunch of story games. Plus, I only see one flailsnails game in the whole list. Maybe I'm not the demographic you're searching for though. Who knows." 

    anyhow, my 2 cents.

    1. The second paragraph...fricking poetry man. And agree 100%.

    2. God I miss bars like that . . . The last I went to burned down in a not-insurance-fraud-fire that totally wasn't set by the owner while he was high on methamphetamine and pills.

      Sometimes I miss college. :(

  2. For me, at 53, I'm tired of all the Reverse Discrimination; Black, Yellow, Female, et al, I don't care. It's all one in the same.

    None of that for me. They can keep their Con to themselves..

  3. Something tells me that this is not the safe harbor for Contessa's target audience.

  4. This is problematic for a number of reasons, the foremost one I see is that actively discouraging a group to participate because they are seen in a negative light tends to encourage the bad apples to come out and confirm all the negativity that is prejudged. Maybe that's because I'm a spiteful person. But if someone is going to assume I'm "disruptive" to the point that I'm lumped in with actual disruptive sorts I have little incentive not to be disruptive. It's an issue of assumption; and this assumption makes an "ass out of you and me" in this scenario.

    Then there's the problem of having to state on their page that something is "____ Friendly." Maybe it's just an issue of being a gay person of color, but unless someone has really deep-set ways they generally adhere to a rule of "not treating the guy sitting next to you like he's got the plague." And if they do have deep-set traditions, values, or excuses most of the time they aren't going to be so petty that you can't murder goblins with them.

    One shouldn't blindly adhere to the idea that representation is always a good thing, as a lot of attempts at "inclusion" tends to lead to the kind of blatant stereotypes you wouldn't find outside a minstrel show. See how Bioware makes their games nowadays.

    Oh, the nightmare games I've been involved in where a DM throws a guy---who'd make Officer Dangle look modest---at me because he'd assume in an escapist hobby I'd clearly insert myself as the hero. That's pretty insulting on its own. Girls can enjoy playing guys who save damsels in distress. They can also enjoy butchering an entire species of goblinoids and making new entries into the Book of Vile Darkness; most of my female player-base straddles the line between heroic and "I, the DM, am uncomfortable with how you are this happy about scalping the diplomat" types.

    Anyone can be distracting, creepy and rude. And anyone with a hint of social grace will clean up their act if it is brought up politely.

    All this being said, I can accept that some people want a safe place to game or at the very least vet out a population of people that might make them uncomfortable. It is the whole filmed aspect that makes me uncomfortable when coupled with the assumption that I'm already on thin ice.

    But I'm rambling and overtaxed and I can't play anyway because of the damn LSAT; so my perspective is ultimately moot.

    1. You put it very nicely at the end there. Why on earth would you want to participate in a game with people where the default assumption is that you're potentially disruptive merely because you have a penis? Why game with people who are putting you on thin ice from moment one?

  5. LSAT?!?! Dude, don't go to lawschool. it's not worth it. seriously. financially or otherwise. especially these days---there no jobs man. the pay sucks and the hours are insane. and you'll have the student loans until you die.

    1. Well the only other option was to join a cult, and both are equally likely to bankrupt me and put me in a spiraling existential depression. But I don't like kool-aid, too much sugar and it sticks to my teeth.

      Yeah, the situation is grim. My family is pushing me to do this. The situation job-wise for my actual degree is about as abysmal. So I figured, I may as well try to have an important sounding graduate degree.

      I really wish I could disagree with all of your points. My father is a lawyer and he says pretty much all the same things. He wanted to encourage me to go to graduate school for a master's in creative writing. I realize how grim the prospects are when that is something he would say.

      I need a drink.

    2. There is always another option. Why not start a cult, then you get to drink what you like.

  6. Dude, I can't stress it enough. don't do it. It's a miserable miserable porfession. And you'll have 200k in loans over your head forever, fucking up every aspect of your life, from raising a family to buying a house to going on a simple weekend away with the girlfriend. Don't do it man. get a job somewhere, anywhere, and work your way up the ladder. in three yrs you'll be making 40k per year, which is what you'd be making as a lawyer, but with half the hours and no debt.

    1. Well I don't really want to spam up this page anymore than I already have, but the LSAT is for one specific school that is state-run that is in the same town as my brother who is a med student and owns a house. Looking at rent, food expenses, and tuition I'm going to be 75-80k in the hole plus interest; which is not terrible for three years with all those things factored into it.

      I guess it's more of a better to have it than not have it thing. I can still write and try to get comics published with my art school friends if I go the law school route; but if I don't go the law school route I have less protection and power. I dunno. It is a miserable profession, and if it doesn't pan out I'm going to become a plumber.

    2. It's not that bad for everyone. :) Just my 2c.

  7. as a plumber you still deal with shit, you just get paid more. :)

    1. You deal with a better kind of shit as a plumber than you do as a lawyer.

  8. Considering one of the goals was to encourage women to run games and see other women doing so I think limiting it to female only game masters was a good way to approach it. Easy enough to be drowned out otherwise not to mention what makes it that different from any other con then?

    I don't blame the con for wanting to be cautious either. It is pretty common for things to get nuts when making something that counters a group's perceived main demographic. Did we all forget about what happened in the below link already?


    1. What happened in that link was pretty unfortunate. It doesn't help that she tricked people into giving her money, though. The publicity of her kickstarter attracted the trolls and she took the bait pretty heavily.

    2. How did she trick people into giving her money, exactly? She has been producing videos and fulfilling her campaign which at the time of that posting was well funded and nearly over.

  9. I should clarify my statement. I don't want to judge anyone else's situation, but I've literally never met an attorney who had difficulty finding employment at less than $40k for twice the hours of a normal job. And I live in a state known for high unemployment and low salaries compared to national averages, and I went to a non-tier 1 state school. (Thankfully, our cost of living is also low.)

    That situation seems very unusual to me. I went to the only law school in the state and regularly see dozens of alums, and none of them are in that position. I made more than that as a law clerk for a state circuit court judge my first year out of school. I doubt there was a week when I worked more than 40 hours.

    In retrospect, I probably would have picked up my Ph.D. instead, but that's a matter of personal preference and lack of ambition. The legal profession has by no means treated me badly.

    Student loans do suck, though, especially when you consolidate them with your now ex-wife and are jointly and severally liable for both balances.

    There, that's more like $2. :)

  10. Can someone point in their policy where it says that only men can be kicked out? I think the point is that anybody being disruptive can be kicked out. Please put your butthurt back in its can.

  11. I'm not a big fan of being in a recorded video session of a game up on Youtube for all time, personally. Anyway if you get a disruptive player and can't kick him or her out, can't you just end the Hangout and start a new one without that person invited? You don't need to be live only to exclude someone. It's not like "we had to end the Hangout and restart it" isn't a constant factor in online play anyway.

  12. Scott, the situation in the state I live in is a lot worse. I am fortunate to have a good paying stable job that's not going anywhere. Recent graduates are finding it extremely difficult to find anything here though. BTW, you may want to correct the tools over at YDIS on one matter---I have no idea where they got this, but whenever my name comes up over there someone says I paid to play online dnd with Mandy and Satine. Uh, no. And to my knowledge no one ever has. It might be a good business idea tho, who knows. But knowing the nature of that site, I'm sure it will never be corrected. The problem I think YDIS has with me is they don't know whether to like me or to hate me, based on past posts I've read there. It's kinda entertaining. (though now I'm sure they'll all say they hate me). Anyhow, later.

    1. I live and work in the state capital so that may have something to do with the ease of finding employment, but even public interest lawyers here make $40k-ish not long out of law school.

      The law is a stressful profession, but I've had some shit jobs and I definitely prefer it to those. It's been good to me and I think compromising one's home life for professional reasons is an option one doesn't *have* to choosie. I do well but I could be making much more money if I wanted my life to suck; I'd rather flip the switch when I leave and not think about it. And I worked a lot more as a solo practitioner, but I kept my overhead very low and could avoid scheduling hearings on days I just wanted to fuck around.

      I just don't want anyone thinking that it's an inherently shitty profession because I know a lot of attorneys who are not only very pleasant, ethical people but who've found a balance.

      I've (briefly) played online with Mandy, but it was in a game I ran and then got busy and flaked on as I am wont to do. She seems cool and I've never made it a secret "over there" that I like and get along just fine with Zak. (And Kent, for that matter.)

      I suspect things will not be corrected. There was once an entire post about putting up more pics of my girlfriend. Can't take it too seriously ... internets gonna internet.

  13. Oooo! A game design session. Neat! Signed up. Thanks for the heads up. I wish there were more D&D type games, the only one that wasn't full already was at 10pm for 4 hours... Way too late for me.

    I have no idea what most of the posters here are talking about...

  14. Not sure I see why being "on air" would be a problem. Simply turn off your camera if you don't want people to see you. That doesn't mean you can't still play in the games. Heck, I'd be surprised if more than half the people considering the Con even had a clue what "On Air" even meant.

    1. It's not "don't want people to see you" it's "don't want my gaming recorded" - at least in my case. Not that I do anything bad in my gaming, but it's still not something I want random strangers, employees, student's parents, etc. to Google and then watch.

  15. Looking at ConTessa my first impression was "Wow, there really are female GMs--It's not just a myth!" In my entire ~35 years of gaming I've only gamed with two female players (no GMs), and only for a few sessions. So from that perspective I'm thrilled to see them running games. I'm fine with GMs running an event booting a**holes, of whatever gender. It's like a bartender being able to throw out a problem customer.

  16. You are wrong, Contessa isn't being held back in any way, shape or form. You are the only thing being "held back" from Contessa based on your personal discomfort of not wanting to be recorded. Regardless of your reasons for not wanting to be "on air," I suspect men with the same kind of dismissive attitude is another reason why they have them, to keep out those who have no empathy for what many women would regard as a safe (and convenient) space.
    I would never tell you to keep your opinion to yourself, as someone obviously did, but I would point out that your opinion ain't fact. You're welcome to your opinion, that somehow Contessa will suffer in the long run because you won't be participating, that somehow it will fail because no male GMs means it's been handicapped, but where your opinion intersects with reality only the wails of privileged, entitled, manbaby gamers can be heard.

    1. Patrick, did I hit a nerve? I never said my opinion was fact. Never claimed it was.

      Heck, my post was polite, even if you disagree with it.

      But to resort to personal attacks and name calling? Normally I delete such, but the last gasp of a failing argument (or much too personal involvement in an issue) is often personal attacks and name calling, so I'll leave it for now.

    2. That wasn't a personal attack, that was my opinion based on the vitriol I saw posted on G+ the other day. Manbaby might seem like a harsh term, but it's polite compared to some of the antagonistic and ignorant things I've seen written on G+ about women, and the women of Contessa in particular.

      I only commented because of your follow-up "My opinion is what it is" post. My opinion on this matter is largely unmoved from what it was yesterday before you kicked up an imaginary shitstorm about gender exclusion: I think you want to participate but you're uncomfortable with their rules so instead of accepting that you won't be joining in the fun you're just whining about it very publicly.
      "Whining" is not a personal attack, it's the definition of the word for what I see posted on this page.

      "I never said my opinion was fact. Never claimed it was." That's a contradictory statement to your "The reasons this thing is failing" kind of tone posted above.

      Implying that it's somehow anti-male for making a space where women can be in charge seems founded in ignorance. The "creepy male" is the default setting of male that most women encounter online, especially amongst gamers, and if you don't believe me then here is some evidence:
      and most damning of all http://fatuglyorslutty.com/
      That these links refer to video gaming and not tabletop gaming only means that video gamers are more visible. They stream their games, they have regular online sessions, and each platform has a ready-made interface for interacting with other players regardless of what game they're playing. Some of the toxicity levels I've seen on G+ after you posted this pretty much prove that tabletop gaming suffers from the same streak of sexism and bad behavior, it's just not as visible because tabletop gaming is a smaller crowd of people, and as tabletop gamers we are, by default, not in a position to be recorded. Which maybe leads some tabletop gamer girls to the conclusion that recording online sessions is a boon for them to help weed out the assholes. QED.

      I'm sure you're privy to some of this wailing and gnashing of teeth (if not all of it) since your follow-up post about how your opinion "is what it is" just makes me think you were trying to start some drama. "Did I strike a nerve?" also sounds like somebody exulting in a reaction. If that's not the case, then I think you should take a lesson from this that your blog is basically the lead bird in a flock, and much of that flock will carry your words away without the same intent that you imbued them with. That's the responsibility that comes with exercising free speech over a captivated audience.

      Did you hit a nerve? Probably, but only because for a guy who tries to bring the OSR community together on such a regular basis, I find it disturbing and disappointing that you would double down on such a blissfully blasé attitude toward the antagonism that cropped up in the wake of this post.

    3. If you see me as some sort of "OSR Ghandi", you will be frequently disappointed.

      It appears that unless I specifically state something is "opinion" I am somehow speaking fact.

      Since I had the pleasure of having someone define nearly everything I said, or request a definition of nearly everything I said in this post, I'm going to offer up the definition of "blog" that I just found on the googles:

      Blog: a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.

      Maybe that needs to be in the sidebar, as it appears me stating my opinion is being taken as other than the intent.

      I never said the "creepy guy" didn't exist - but I am offended that ALL male gamers are being painted with the same ugly brush. Here, I'll take it to the extreme - All rapists are men, therefore all men are potential rapists. Yeah, I don't like that either.

      Another solution would be not to invite men to the con as all. Which in truth, I'd be fine with. But that's because I mostly DM, and telling me that I'm invited but I can't do what I am most comfortable doing, I'm not allowed. Because I'm a guy.

      We both know the fallout the reverse would hold. "No women DMs" allowed!" Imagine how that would play out...

      Pat, I'm just one guy with a shitload of opinions. I am most certainly NOT the person that is going to bring the OSR to a point of everyone holding hands and singing camp songs. It's been tried before and the failures are remarkable as they are tragic.

      That being said - what you see is what it is. No show. No fake personality. No fake outrage (unless I'm posting as the Grumpy Dwarf persona - which is why I HAVE the Grumpy Dwarf persona)

      You're seeing pushback because some male gamers are offended that they are excluded from certain roles at the con. Is anyone really surprised by that? I'm sure Stacey isn't, and if she is fine with that, and it's her con, what does the opinion of the unwashed masses really mean (as we both know, con goers often fall into the "unwashed masses" category)?

      Do I want ConTessa to be a success? Yes, but what I define as success and what Stacy defines as success are quite likely two different things.

      I'd like to see an online RPG con that is well run, organized, and fully open to all. I've yet to find one that meets all of the criteria I just mentioned.

    4. This comment is addressing your points that have nothing to do with my initial comment.

      "All rapists are men, therefore all men are potential rapists. Yeah, I don't like that either."
      That's a false statement, because rape is only one type of sexual abuse and women can commit sexual abuse (and have).
      Also a distortion, and beside the point.

      "it appears me stating my opinion is being taken as other than the intent."
      Not what I said.
      Sharing your opinion is one thing, telling people that your opinion has nothing to do with the the fights you kickstarted by stating your opinion is something else.

      "I am most certainly NOT the person that is going to bring the OSR to a point of everyone holding hands and singing camp songs."
      Also not what I said, or implied with anything I said.

      "You're seeing pushback because some male gamers are offended that they are excluded from certain roles at the con. Is anyone really surprised by that?"
      Yeah, I'm surprised. It's male entitlement at it's finest.
      How many gaming cons are there online? How many gaming cons are there to attend in physical space? How many of them are run exclusively by women? How many of them are run where more than half of the people in charge are women? How many have even one woman in charge?
      They're hard to find.
      Cons are almost exclusively put together by and run by men. A con run exclusively by women is a novelty, and doesn't deserve criticism since there are literally no other gaming cons run exclusively by women (that I've heard of).
      I'll point out, again, that this is not even the point of my comment. I think your viewpoint about Contessa is unfounded, and I disagree with it wholeheartedly, but I'm about as blase to your opinion as you pretend you are about it's influence.

      (As an aside, I knew girls in high school who never got into D&D because the boys who were playing held a "girls don't play these kinds of games" attitude. That this attitude seems to persist in larger gaming groups as "girls can't have their own things on their own terms" is just childish and immature.)

    5. "If you see me as some sort of "OSR Ghandi", you will be frequently disappointed."
      Again, not my words. But it is closer to what I actually have an issue with.
      You have a blog that is followed by, how many exactly? thousands? You've got over 8000 followers on G+ so I can only assume you have roughly the same number of subscribers. You're smart enough to realize that you are, in fact, an influence amongst those who follow your blog. Other people repeat what you say, they expand upon it, they extoll it as their own viewpoint, they share links, they spread your message. I only have about 25 regular followers on my blog and if I see that activity amongst a small number of them then I can only deduce that you see the same thing in regards to your blog but on a grander scale, or you are deliberately shutting your eyes to it, which I don't believe you are.

      Judging from past posts in which the influence of your blog has been a positive conversation, I would say you would welcome the correlation when people are complimenting your efforts in the gamer community.
      The 12 Days of OSR giveaway. The S&W appreciation. These are good examples of your influence being spread and your blog being shared where you are proud of it. You made several posts during both which congratulated the community for spreading the word. If your blog wasn't the influence it was, then you never would have written those posts, you would have written them elsewhere.
      Which is why it's troubling to me that you downplay your influence and try to avoid responsibility after you stirred up hatred and animosity with your false idea that men are somehow persecuted by being excluded from being in charge of one con out of, how many exactly? thousands of cons?

      So when you say, falsely, that "Men are being excluded from Contessa" other people run with that, they repeat it, they share it, they expand upon it, they take up a banner march to fight this imaginary unfairness as a personal attack. The correct response when one finds their words being used to hurt others is to apologize for the actions of a stupid minority who took what you said the wrong way, it's not to just throw one's arms up and say 'I had nothing to do with that because I'm just one guy on the internet.'

    6. I'm not going to address your whole post, as I do need to get to work, but I'll highlight stuff:

      I never said "men are excluded from Contessa" - I said they are excluded from every role but player. That's the problem with this whole conversation - no one on the other side bothered to read the original post.

      If someone ran a con that allowed women to only fill seats as players, but not be involved in the organization or running games due to their gender, would that be OK?
      I mean, just one con out of thousands stating that "women are restricted to just being players". It's just one con, right?

      Reread the actual post above - it was labeled as an "all out attack on ConTessa" in the opening shots of the G+ thread. Over reaction from someone that DID NOT READ THE ORIGINAL POST, I am sure, but what I posted was not an attack. But that very comment certainly got my Irish up.

      Somehow I am responsible for the actions and comments of those that read this blog? My readers are mindless lemmings perhaps? Trust me, that is an influence I do not have. Presumably they are adults and responsible for themselves.

      Stacy posted that con numbers were down and publicly stated this may be the last ConTessa. I posted observations that I thought may be holding attendance back, and stressed that the On Air hangouts were probably more of an issue than the gender based restrictions.

      I suspect the numbers have increased from the time she posted, due to the attention this discussion has brought if nothing else.

    7. I accidentally deleted a sentence when I was correcting a spelling error, so I'm reposting this with the correct wording.

      "I never said "men are excluded from Contessa"
      But that's your attitude, that somehow men can only be players so that means they can't enjoy it as much.

      "If someone ran a con that allowed women to only fill seats as players, but not be involved in the organization or running games due to their gender, would that be OK?"
      I went to three cons last year and I never saw a single woman seated in the role of GM, event coordinator, or at one convention anything above the level of page. Men occupying ALL of the roles at a con is the default setting and atmosphere. Being upset when women want to create a space where they are in charge is a false equivalency, it is the very definition of male entitlement.
      And AGAIN, none of this was the initial point of my comment.

      "Somehow I am responsible for the actions and comments of those that read this blog?"
      I didn't say that.
      But let me put it this way. If I said, "Oh, that Erik, I don't like his ideas." and that is ALL that I said, providing a link to your blog, and then a bunch of other people who read my blog came onto yours and started posting insults and defamatory statements, my first reaction would not be "There are jerks everywhere. I was just expressing my opinion and it's not my fault a bunch of jerks harassed you, it has nothing to do with me." It would be "Erik, I'm really sorry some people took my comments too far. I honestly didn't think that would happen." because the forum in which we express ourselves is not a self-contained ecosystem of just our opinions, perfectly preserved and held in crystal. Denial, minimization, and blaming others, which is what is present in that dismissive statement of "my opinion is what it is," are all signs of an abusive personality.

      I don't think you have an abusive personality, I'm just illustrating my point. I do think you're being deliberately obtuse about how much influence you actually have. In the field of OSR blogs, I think Tenkar's Tavern has replaced Grognardia in terms of standard bearing. You might disagree, but the numbers of subscribers and comments and re-shares disagree with you.

    8. I'm just going to address your last point at the moment:

      There is no standard bearer for the OSR. Those that have claimed such titles in the past, willingly or not, are no longer posting.

      The OSR is a multiheaded hydra with many factions, and to attempt to harness that energy is futile at best, terminal at worst.

      If I have a following (and I do) it's because I post what's on my mind and my actual thoughts. Some, many or most may disagree with those thoughts on occasions, but they are honest and true, even if they are occasional politically incorrect or potentially divisive.

      The internet requires a thick skin, because disagreements often devolve into name calling, mis quoting and worse. I'm as guilty as some, less guilty then others and more guilty than a few.

      If I self censor to, for lack of a proper phrase, be more politically correct, I'd have little if any desire to blog. It would be less than honest. At that point, I may as well post reviews of Dragon and White Dwarf issues (which I was guilty of in the beginning, and others were guilty of in their end).

    9. "If I self censor to, for lack of a proper phrase, be more politically correct, I'd have little if any desire to blog. "
      Again. Not what I said. Not even remotely hat I implied you should do.
      Since I have to constantly tell you "that's not what I said" and keep trying to redirect back to my central point, this conversation is going nowhere.

    10. Strangely enough, I keep telling you the same thing Pat, as I am being taken out of context or misquoted.

      The simple reason for that is we are on opposite ends of this discussion - polar opposites.

      I'll run your definition of me as abusive past my wife - her dual masters in psyc and social work might as well be put to good use ;)

      As an aside - I vetted the original post above with my wife to make sure I wasn't coming off as a total ass - and it got by her as is with the quote "nice - you made your points without belittling anyone, which is most of what I see on the internet these days"

      ah well

    11. I am not taking you out of context or misquoting you. Your points are these:
      - not allowing men to run games seems discriminatory (!)
      - the con is being held back because the hangouts are "on air" and recorded
      - the con will not succeed by excluding men from organizing or running the con
      - you want to see Contessa succeed
      - your opinion does not carry weight in the OSR community (!)

      My main point is this:
      - your reaction to those fights is disappointing to me personally (and is the only reason I commented at all)
      And in explaining that point I have been drawn into making these points:
      - making these points caused a bunch of people to fight online
      - my reaction to this post is that it sounds like grown men whining (and in those fights behaving like children)
      - I am not insulting you by expressing my disappointment
      - you are simply wrong on two (!) of your points; this isn't a difference of opinion because I can prove you are wrong with math
      - you are a loud and influential voice in the OSR community whether you think you are or not

      One of these points is all I cared to discuss, but I think laying it out here as my main point is all that really needs to be said on my end. If you want to pick this comment apart for something I didn't actually say, go right ahead, I won't respond to those anymore.

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  18. Let me give you a bit of background. I don't believe in discrimination, even when it has lofty goals (discrimination is often excused with lofty goals)

    I understand the argument that men are the "power players" in the RPG hobby. Sheer numbers along make than indisputable. It doesn't make gender based (or any other) discrimination right in my eyes. Understanding the argument being made doesn't mean I agree with it.

    As for my own background that is applicable to this discussion - my second game session I was the DM. I've run (as the DM) over 95% of the sessions of D&D (different editions and clones) that I've participated in over my lifetime and run about 80% (as the GM) of other system sessions I've participated in. These are conservative estimates.

    I'm a GM at heart and nature. To be told, based on gender, that that role is denied to me at a con (but I'm welcome otherwise) is both insulting and frustrating. That's an emotional response. You can't debate that away but it should give you an idea where I am coming from. Again, I don't expect understanding of my position to change yours.

    (I suspect most RPG bloggers are GM's, both active and inactive)

    The larger issue is still, I think, the recording of the sessions. Last night's game (one of the two groups I run S&W for) the topic came up. Three out of five of us would refuse to be in an On Air Hangout based upon our professions - cop, teacher, lawyer. All of us can be held responsible for an off color joke, offensive language used in the excitement of the game or even questioned about the hobby we participate in (Clark from Necromancer Games has gone thru such due to posting on forums and his job as a Judge)

    on my opinion holding weight in the OSR, I do think you put more value on that than others do. there are more than a few "talking heads" with higher podiums than most - I don't hold their opinion as any more than other bloggers and such just because they have a larger reach. I enjoy reading their opinions, but they dont get extra weight. More people will read my postings than many others (I readily admit) but I don't see that as having necessarily more weight on an individual reader basis. Based on the discussions and back and forth on many of my blog posts, my readers have no problems expressing their own thoughts, especially when they disagree with mine.

    In truth, I don't much care if you are disappointed with my opinions. Again, it's not that I don't understand your arguments or the validity they have from your POV. We both come into this with our own biases, and personal bias (often referred to as "baggage") rarely changes and most certainly won't from this short discussion.

    1. This is much better. I no longer feel you are being dismissive or deliberately occluding the issue.

      I understand the emotional reaction, I have it too, but I consider that the price a white male like myself must feel if one group of people out of thousands of groups of people want to make rules that shake up the playing field. Women players, in general, still don't feel like they have an equal seat at the table, and events like Contessa make gaming more visible and inviting to women. It's not discriminatory, it's exclusive.

      The recording issue is a price you pay for the job you want to keep. It's not an issue for me, I doubt anything I said or did on camera would ever come back to bite me in the butt. I don't think playing D&D would ever be used against me as a political cudgel either, as I have no intention of ever going into civil service. Again, price. You give up other things in life in order to maintain a profession as a lawyer, police officer, etc. and that means you are occasionally going to hear about people who run their events in a way that doesn't accommodate your preferences.

      If you didn't care about my disappointment then you would 1) not reply and 2) not maintain a blog. The whole purpose of this place on the internet is discussion, your words, and your interaction means you care on some level to communicate and clarify. Obviously I care enough to address the point, but if I were to dismiss my own investment in the dialogue that would only obstruct the conversation that could happen. Or, like now, is happening.

  19. Patrick, I'm going to disappoint someone, somewhere, with my actions or comments. I don't dwell on the possibility and in truth, dont care if someone is disappointed in them - it's going to happen, especially when you post opinions and thoughts more than gaming material.

    The recording issue is a big deal for lots of folks, and not just because of the professions I mentioned. Anyone whose job entails dealing with the public is probably not going to participate in an On Air Hangout of this sort if they give it any thought. We are in an era where companies and government employers are demanding access to the social media accounts of prospective employers - Youtube is now fully integrated in G+.

    Sure, we give up something with the professions we choose, but the recording policy is a heavy handed solution to deal with the issue at hand.

    Someone is acting like an ass? Close the Hangout and invite back all but the ass. Because even if you are recording the session, are you really going to continue playing the game with an ass, creep, or someone harassing the other players or the GM? No, you are going to boot the problem.

    Is law enforcement going to take action against the ass in question? No. Sure, you can use the video to shame him / her, but you'll also be embarrassing the players that had to live through it.

    You are using a baseball bat to drive a finishing nail, when the proper tool is a small carpenter's hammer.

    As an aside, I suspect the push back against the On Air policy would have been lessened if the reason given had been "we want to showcase actual games being played to share our hobby" as opposed to "we need to record and archive the expected creepy and harassing segment of male players". I'm sure both reasons are equally valid reasons to record.

    It wouldn't have made a difference in any decision I would make, but it would have been less inherently offensive, and I suspect would have been less an issue for more than a few.

  20. I watched the youtube footage of some of the Con Tessa groups and I have to say I was underwhelmed. Sure. Its awesome to encourage women to DM. I know some excellent female GM's and DM's. That said. I would rather have a large nail driven through my forehead than sit at the tables I just watched. I am sure there are some great women DM's that attended Con Tessa but the couple that I saw had no idea what they were doing. One kept bowing out of the group to leave the players to fend for themselves. The first words out of the other female DM's mouth was...I have no idea what I am doing here so you guys that know the rules will have to help me... What?!? Panic?!? Being a relatively young attractive female does not = anywhere in the universe of good DM. Neither does being an older overweight male. Being even a passable DM takes experience and some modest amount of preparation and effort. I would venture that anyone going to represent a tournament or themselves at a convention whether its live or online at least owes the players the courtesy of knowing what they are doing. Knowing what a roleplaying game is and how to make a character, whats important about a character in the rules and how to run a basic / fun game for the players for a start. Its the sort of complete horror show of a game that would have me and my friends politely bowing out of the play after about the first fifteen to twenty minutes. I would say that my comment here applies to any DM whether they are male or female. DMing is a bit of an art. People come to these games because they love them and hope to experience something of that art. This is why my convention time will be spent with the rest of the old farts and the promising up and coming younger people at the more traditional conventions until I see some Con Tessa videos that make me think...ok, this could actually be more fun than a root canal.


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