A Note on the Smearing of the ‘Unwoke’ in #TTRPG Spaces

(Just said to Skip Williams, RE: The Woke Vs Slept war in TTRPGs, worth saying more widely I think.)

I feel that you are mischaracterising a lot of the concerns by giving them an easy label and smear. This post also whiffs of implicit bigotry, just going the opposite direction to usual.

There’s a significant portion of people concerned bout the way things are going, for the same reason we were concerned about Pat Pulling, or the Vampire Panic, or Jack Thompson, or Anita Sarkeesian.

There’s a significant number of people smearing the inventors of the games, and the games of the past – from a position of ignorance and perversely, and wilfully distorted perception.

D&D wasn’t Satanic, Heavy Metal didn’t make people suicidal, and games (as a whole) weren’t murder simulators. The ceaseless accusations of racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia etc are spurious and having a negative effect on the craft, far more than BADD ever did.

We need diversity in design, topic, genre, rules, approaches, emphasis. Turning every game into Captain Planet doesn’t increase diversity, it diminishes it. We’re also sacrificing simulationism, verisimilitude, suspension of disbelief, historicity, consistency and hyperreality for no real gain.

IIRC a lot of this outreach doesn’t seem to be working. The gender etc proportions are (again, IIRC) worse than they were around the 3rd Edition era, but that was probably the tail-end of the Vampire effect. Expanding the audience makes sense, doing so by cannibalizing and sacrificing your existing audience does not. Let’s try to steelman both sides of this debate, shall we?

2 responses to “A Note on the Smearing of the ‘Unwoke’ in #TTRPG Spaces

  1. It’s always a bit frustrating when some valiant soul paints a picture of the ‘old days’ as being some toxic bathtub full of evil white men… vs. what I saw when I was there, running a group in high school that was half women and about as racially diverse as our small town could provide for.
    Not that we thought we were doing anything special or waving flags about it. That’s just who our friends were.

  2. This is absurd. The ‘diversity problem in role playing’ is NOT because a bunch of guys are keeping other people out of role playing; it is because the large majority of the population does NOT want to take part in or have any interest in RPGs. If anyone really wants to take part in role playing, they can easily find a RPG group at their local gaming store, order a manual set online and make their own adventures for their group of friends or go online to any one of a number of forums.

    The truth of the matter is that role playing in the late 1970s and early 1980s was a somewhat marginalized, and small, group of usually socially awkward people, usually guys in high school or college. And it is the same today with the exception that some of those people from the 70s/80s are now retired. As far as the ‘diversity’ problem, no one was keeping anyone out of role playing; the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of the population had no interest in taking part in role playing; to such an extent that it was only a select few in any high school or college that would be in a gaming group; and the members of these groups were viewed generally as geeks, nerds and weirdos and something to socially avoid at all costs. And these few had to get along, since there would only a few other groups even around in the area to be part of for RPG.

    The idea that somehow some group of guys ever could keep ‘non diverse people out of roleplaying’ makes no sense. What did they do, prevent anyone they did not approve of from buying a D&D manual set?

    My observation, and experience, that the only reason to talk with the general population about your latest RPG adventure is that you either don’t realize they are not interested and they will leave; or you know they are not interested and know that as soon as you start talking about your character they will find an excuse to leave.

    This whole ‘we got to force diversity’ seems to be nothing more than targeted harassment (and libel and slander) of a group of people that have done NOTHING to anyone. They were off in their little group, happily rolling dice and running their adventures with a group of friends; but are perceived to be weak and therefore a target to direct an internet mob onto and to pile in on. The people being blamed or held responsible for the ‘lack of diversity’ are basically a group of guys, usually in high school or college, that are not very good socially, but found others like them and a shared interest in RPGs; and peacefully enjoyed the time they spent with their RPG groups. Now a bunch of, ‘whatever’, comes along and starts sputtering on and on, with their post modernist ideology and deconstructing of everything they disagree with, and sputters some nonsense about the ‘reason they are not in role playing’ is because they (socially marginalized guys) kept them out of it?

    Please, back in the day the people sputtering such nonsense would not have taken part in the role playing session even if they were paid to so!

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