#RPGaDay2021 – Trust

Trust is in extremely short supply across nerd media, but let’s try and limit it to gaming.

There are lots of remakes, reimaginings, properties old and new being brought to the gaming sphere by various companies, but there’s not a lot of trust from the fans that these companies will do it justice.

There’s also not a great deal of trust, or maturity, between players, including games masters. It’s even decreasing at our own tables.

This might seem counterintuitive, especially when conventions and stores are implementing ‘safety tools’, when these are also pushed in game books themselves as well. Companies are even running their material past ‘sensitivity’ readers and doing all they can to not offend one particular segment of the market.

Problem being, it’s not a particularly big segment, and it’s one whose actions and demands negatively impact the hobby for people outside their clique.

I’ve banged on about safety tools enough, but TL;DR they don’t make any difference (Adam K), they create a sense of entitlement and abuse (UKGE) and they negatively impact RP and creativity. Similarly con policies have gotten tighter, to the point where they can be restrictive and censorious (Dragonmeet, though they’ve somewhat fixed that now). All these attempts to earn and maintain trust have had the opposite effect, creating a culture of comfort and victimisation, rather than one of creativity and adventure, of experiencing the ‘other’.

The broader lack of trust is more widely seen in the recent Masters of the Universe reboot, or more infamously with The Last Jedi. In gaming it has been seen in the reboot of Kult, the sanitisation of Howard in the Conan RPG by Modiphius, the absurd stance around FATE of Cthulhu, the de-fanging of Ravenloft and so it goes, and so it goes, and so it goes…

Publishers can’t be trusted to treat a property with respect, or to allow it to be different. Some players no longer seem to be able to tell the difference between writing villains or being them. A segment of gamers seem to think that anything transgressive, surprising or negative (a downward story beat) is some sort of gross violation of their mental health.

Much vaunted tolerance and wokness disappears instantly, at the cost of more effective art or difficult subjects.

It’s not just grognards getting pissed off and losing trust, it’s not just conservatives. People don’t object to the gutting of Conan because they’re sexist or racist, they object because it’s no longer what it claims to be after you’ve sanitised it.

Diversity doesn’t even every contributor comes from a rainbow, at least not meaningfully. It comes from a range of ideas, approaches and topics. Many of which might even be challenging. That’s the diversity worth having. Not this ironically homogeneous pablum.

Have a DANGEROUS vision.