Sunday, July 4, 2021

A Bit Cheesed Off, and Saddened, By What I'm Seeing


A Bit Cheesed Off, and Saddened, By What I'm Seeing
Right off I need to throw up a bit of a disclaimer: I know that I'm wrong. No matter what I type by the simple fact that I am even thinking of engaging in this topic of conversation means I will be painted by a wide brush from those with an axe to grind. Against me, against the internet, against whoever will bother to listen......

.....I will try not to pre-emptively defend myself while freely admitting I am on the defensive. Why? Because I've already been painted with that brush by someone who does not know my personal history, a personal history that they would probably find shocking and closer to their professed ideology than to their professed assumptions of mine.

While not a rule per se, I really do try to treat people not just fairly, but the same? I'm sure I fail at times and I have my biases, last time I checked (to the best of my ability) I am only human. Again, not being defensive, or even offensive, I'm sure I've done shit that would be seen in a negative fashion by those wishing to attribute malice to said shit.

OK, done with that bit.

This last few days/weeks there has been a LOT of drama over unkind remarks said by TSR. I'm not gonna touch that drama because of the aforementioned brush and honestly because I am not informed enough of all the goings on, and I'm not self-important enough to think my opinion on that matters. What I have seen though, is a lot of name-calling, armchair white-knighting, and general asshattery on the periphery of our community. A whole different level of bullshit involving that same brush being applied to other people....

....good people, but also human people. 

I know, I know, just because I say that someone is a "good person" it doesn't mean that you would agree, and that's OK. I'm not trying to stand up for any specific person but for a group of people.....gamers in general. You know....us.

The thing is a lot of us, I'd argue most of us really, are not normal. I'm going to paint us with an even wider, but different (I hope) brush: we're largely dorks, geek, nerds. Yes, some of us are LGBTQ. Some of us are on the Autism spectrum. Some of us are people of color. Some of us are just assholes.

There will ALWAYS be factors that divide us. It's in our nature. The real problem, as I see it, is that in recent years we, as in people in general, allowed ourselves to be defined more by our differences than by our similarities. We've adopted this mentality that we're all special and everybody not in our self-defined division.... well, they're not. Since they aren't in our group we generally don't give a fuck about them or their feelings. Yes, fuck their feelings is the general statement, and that....THAT is the paint slathered on by the wide brushes.

You know what? Dice don't care if you're an Autistic Black Gay Jew who happens to be a wheelchair-bound asshole. Dice don't care if you're the Nicest, Straightest Mid-West White Boy, but you also know what? You have more than dice sitting with you at the table. You have PEOPLE at the table. PEOPLE have feelings, biases, make mistakes, etc.

Now I don't realistically expect people to fundamentally change who they are. I don't believe people can easily make large scale course corrections, BUT we can make make small changes. I'm willing to be most of us have seen these changes in others at our gaming table. Hell, maybe you've been lucky to see them in yourself.

Don't believe me? Take a second to think about all the gaming groups you've been in, or even all the gaming groups you've come across. Have you NEVER come across a socially awkward, unconfident, or just plain weird kid at the game table? Have you NEVER seen how acceptance of said gamer by the gaming group has had a positive effect on well, probably everyone?

I can say I have.

What I'm trying, and probably failing, to say is that gaming, in general, is a social event that is INCLUSIVE and has a POSITIVE effect on all involved, and we've largely been working against the better nature of our shred hobby,  I'm trying to advocate for all of us to step back get the fuck out of our own way and to stop painting others (or "others") with that damned brush. The thing is, when painting with that brush it's hard to not get some of that paint on ourselves by accident.

I don't expect the conservative among us to go out of their way to find some liberal gamers for their table, or vice versa. I do expect that if you try to see others in our hobby as a gamer first and everything else third. Why third? Well I'm a realist and second thing you should see is the game system. That's a fair division of players. Not the my-system-is-better-than-yours kind of way, but playing at the same table necessary way.

I've typed most of this out a few times (which is why I might not come across as smoothly as I'd like) and I keep coming back to my belief that a lot of our problems in out community are not only self-inflicted, but treatable by simply doing the one thing that actually unites us: gaming.

You know that stupid shit you said that I don't like? Well stop the table chatter and pick up the fucking dice instead. Oh I'm being an asshole (?), maybe I should be rolling 3d6 seven times. We're not going to fundamentally change who we are or come together for world peace, but maybe...just maybe you'll stop talking about stupid shit that pisses other people off and maybe I'll be less of an asshole. 

In any course, please try to be kind to each other, acknowledge your own faults, and put down the fucking brush and pick up some dice, ........but what the fuck do I know....I'm wrong, remember.


  1. At least we can all agree that 4e was trash. ;-)

  2. The price of entry into this hobby is pretty much zero dollars. You can't get more inclusive than that.

  3. Awkwardly stated or not, there’s truth in the sentiment. More things unite humans than our differences…and shared activities (like cooperative gaming) are essential tools for helping us see that about each other.

    It’s one of the best, most wonderful things about our hobby. Because when we can see our similarities DESPITE our differences, we all grow a bit closer…or, at least, a tad more tolerant of each other.

  4. I get and support what you’re saying here, Chris! The folks I’ve always gamed with are a mix of wildly diverse political, social, and ideological types -but we game none-the-less, and consider eachother friends.

  5. Well said sir. Too many people are likely to jerk their knees in outrage than actually stop & think. In addition this level of visceral intolerance of any ideas/opinions that do not align with the observers needs to be shut down. Screaming & throwing Ad Hominem attacks only shows a total inability to put together a rational argument.

  6. Never had a problem with liberal and conservative players at the same table. We don't talk politics (or what passes for politics these days) at the table, and everyone has a good time. Anyone who insists on bringing in politics (or 'politics') where it's not wanted is being an asshole.

  7. So, what's your point? Is it now to say "Be groovy, I don't want to get into any drama" while your whole blog makes it seems like you were some kind of journalist? Like the dice might not say bad things to people, but a game designer (or rep) calls a trans person "disgusting" and you are "lets all just get along?"

    1. I will admit there is a lot of "let's all get along" in my thinking and in my intent, BUT more like some of the thought process that led to one individual attacking another might not have developed in the first place if more time was spent at the table.....also some of our differences wouldn't be so big a deal if we spent more time on these obvious similarities.

    2. Chris posts every Sunday at The Tavern. His thoughts are his own, just as mine are my own.
      I am the one that is more of an investigative journalist/muckraker multi-class.
      We are blessed to have Chris and his perspective as a regular feature here at The Tavern.

  8. What an important message all said and done.

  9. I have always and will always welcome anyone into the hobby if they have decent table manners. The skills of gaming can be learned over time and teaching them does help everyone involved. My only problem is when people come into our hobby and then say it's broken or WE are broken and they're here to fix it/us. It's not broken and we're doing just fine, thanks. I don't like it when our gamer culture is appropriated.

  10. Agreed. Gaming by its very nature is all-inclusive. RPG-ing, in particular, is the epitome of this in that one can quite literally be anything that can be conceived by an imagination. It is quintessentially "inclusive".

  11. Gaming is just a reflection of our society as a whole. Saying it’s OK out there to fight like a mistreated badger everywhere but at the gaming table is asking more than humans are generally capable of. The fractures, for many, are not matters of opinion but a denial of observable and provable reality. There are many issues where this difference is stark and not reconcilable by just rolling dice. To mend the rift, the majority of us will have to agree on what is real. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    For example, how can I trust someone who denies the scientific method and it’s results? We live in a world defined by what science has wrought. You can’t just pretend it doesn’t work when you don’t like what it tells you.

    It comes down to a matter of trust. I don’t trust people who use feelings to prove a point and deny cognitive processes and whose idea of critical thought is to believe ten impossible things before breakfast. Why in the world would I game with people I don’t trust? How can I be comfortable with a gamer who I know thinks I’m a traitor to my country?

    You are a calming voice, but too late. The time to nip this in the bud was 1994 when it was just a little smoke. Hard to calm an inferno.

  12. I think this is a category error.
    Many of us were socially awkward nerds who found inclusion in game groups and it's natural to assume that would hold for others, but it doesn't necessarily. Because the groups were welcoming to (mostly white, mostly male) socially awkward nerds doesn't mean those same nerds were free of the common prejudices of the day. That they would automatically be welcoming to people of color or LGBTQ people or even women. Or for women, who'd often be welcomed but for the wrong reasons and in awkward ways.
    And back in the day, the games themselves were created with little representation for women (and in the case of AD&D, even stat limitations), none for LGBTQ folks and a lot awkward colonialist racial stuff that I was completely blind to back then.

    This whole argument kind of echoes the #KeepGamingFantasy/keep politics out of gaming thing, which superficially sounds good, because no one wants their games derailed by political arguments, but when it's identity politics type stuff it really can't be kept out. If the mere existence or validity of trans people is "politics", then either having a trans person play with you or someone playing a trans person is political. And so is not allowing trans characters.

  13. Fairly certain the people intent on inserting their politics into RPGs don't ever play them


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