Hangout Interview: Crossing the Line

I’ll be doing an interview about various controversial issues in gaming – and more general geek society – this coming Saturday from 3pm EST.

It’ll be recorded but since it’s a hangout it’ll also be live.

Hopefully we can have a respectful discussion without the witch-hunting that normally goes on in these discussions.

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+Mark Diaz Truman will interview  +James Desborough  , controversial veteran of RPG publishing, about taboos and difficult subjects in gaming. The conversation will focus on the role of free speech and community standards in publishing, specifically how sensitive material should or should not be handled differently from ordinary material.

James ‘Grim’ Desborough has over a hundred writing credits to his name including Hentacle [ http://www.rpgnow.com/product/15750/Hentacle ], Agents of Swing [http://www.rpgnow.com/product/91482/Agents-of-SWING ], Blood [http://www.rpgnow.com/product/23173/Blood ]  and The Munchkin’s Guide to Power Gaming [ http://e23.sjgames.com/item.html?id=SJG30-3003 ]. An Origin Award winner, his work has been praised for its creativity and humour as well as being condemned for its sexual content and depiction of women.  A fierce advocate for free speech, Desborough has been banned for life from RPG.Net.  

In June 2012, Desborough published a blog post called In Defence of Rape [http://talesofgrim.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/in-defence-of-rape/ ], a response to the debate [ http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/06/15/should-rape-have-a-place-in-videogames/ ] over reports about a rape scene in the new Lara Croft Tomb Raider [ Tomb Raider: Lara Croft’s First Kill! ( Rape Scene) ] game, part of a larger debate about sexism in games and the gaming industry. The inflammatory title, which Desborough himself describes as “link bait”, drew negative attention across communities. His active participation in the resulting discussion helped fuel arguments on forums, social media, and blogs, as well as online protests. This instance in the larger discussion on sexism in modern storytelling gained particular notoriety due to the questionable actions of some of those involved; Desborough was found to be dismissive, offensive, or even threatening by some readers. In turn, some commentators accused Desborough of harboring desires to see women raped, and some activists called for publishers and stores to drop his work.

A year on from these events, Indie+ has invited James Desborough to part take in an interview on handling difficult subjects. As someone who has been accused of stepping over the line of acceptable behaviour and experienced first hand the social ramifications of controversy, he has a unique perspective on the subject. At the same time Indie+ recognises the need for care when discussing issues that may be disturbing to some people; the interview will be conducted by Mark Diaz Truman, a writer, game publisher and a supporter of inclusive gaming. The aim of the interview is for a thoughtful and balanced discussion about sensitive subjects and their role in games.   

Over the last 15 months, Indie+ has run a series of events, many of which have touched on subjects of race and gender. We are proud of our commitment to supporting diversity in gaming. We recognise our responsibilities and will make time available during future events for any persons wishing to respond to the subjects raised in the interview. 

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