I shouldn’t get embroiled in this, especially right now, but this has been turning up everywhere and passed around by people who should know better. So here we are.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to take a look at this: “Tabletop Gaming has a White, Male Terrorism Problem”. Then take a look at the gallery below. Then reflect on why ‘listen and believe’ is such a terrible idea, what has happened to the atheist/skeptic community and pause to recall the depredations of Wertham, Pulling, Thompson and Sarkeesian.
That’s as much time as I’m going to spend directly on that post, and I’m not even going to make the usual set of debunkings and rationalist arguments. I’m not going to point out, at length, the inherent racism and sexism of the article or that its accusations are just that – accusations.
I am, however, disappointed that so many people unquestioningly and uncritically regurgitated that post everywhere, and that the slightest bit of misapprehension or skepticism has been – as usual – characterised as misogyny.
Instead, let’s talk about something positive.
I’ve been gaming for some 30 years. In all that time I’ve found gaming to be a very inclusive, very liberal, very accepting, very caring place. All my best friends are gamers, indeed I think all the best people are gamers. I’ve never, in any other area of life, met such an accepting, open, warm hearted bunch.
Gamers are awesome.
Sure there are creeps and very rare nasty incidents, but by and large we take care of our own and we don’t need to stoop to bullshit to do it.
I’m at a LARP which is winding down. We’re chatting and waiting to leave, one of the girls is just quickly pulling on some jeans for the walk home when a guy oversteps the mark and tries to wedgie her.
He’s lucky to still have his teeth.
We’re in a big, packed hall when a woman suffer a wardrobe malfunction. Without a word being said a group of burly chaps form a human changing screen so she can change into her spare clothes without being seen.
A couple break up minutes before a game session. We cancel, we commiserate, we make sure they’re both OK and can both get home safe.
“That guy’s creeping on me.”
We haven’t seen it, we’re not about to just throw him out, but we take it in turns to keep an eye on him. Turns out he is a creep and a few quiet words later the problem is solved.
The non-gaming girlfriend of someone at the event turns up, drunk, sits down at a table and – unbelievably – gets a vibrator out of her handbag and sits it on the table. Switching it on. Without prompting someone sits with her to talk to her, distract her and to ‘disarm the device’ so everyone else can carry on unmolested.
The guy causing problems is obviously and pitiably, quite mentally ill. He’s taken aside and gently – and with compassion – calmed down and banned from attending, with the minimum of fuss and drama.
This is the gaming community I know. The one I’ve encountered year in, year out. In America, in the UK, at LARP events and conventions, at tabletop games big and small, at stores and model shops and trade fairs. Its a community where people look after each other and when there’s a problem they come together and they deal with it, as a group. As friends and colleagues and people with a common cause.
Gamers want more people to be gamers and it doesn’t take pointless policies, spurious accusations or abject virtue signalling to make it so. Indeed that tends to create the opposite. If you pretend there’s a problem when there isn’t, or you make it seem bigger than it actually is, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Imagine, if you will, a restaurant that made a big song and dance over how they took steps at every stage to ensure nobody was poisoned. Nobody expects to be poisoned when they eat out and most places don’t act like this is a big threat. So what’s going on at this place that they have to make such a big fuss about it?
Gaming is great. Gamers are great. Encourage and spread the good and there’ll be more of it. If you’re going to spread the bad, be sure of what you’re talking about and be sure you’re advocating things that will make people safer, rather than merely making them feel safer – at the expense of the things that make gaming great.