#TheTriggering – Commemorative Discounts!

triggeredThe Triggering is a social media event (#TheTriggering) proposed by libertarian commenter and reporter Lauren Southern as a sort of ‘online demonstration’ in favour of free speech and free expression and to raise awareness of Social Justice Warrior interference and threats to those fundamental human rights and to a free internet. Lauren knows better than many the kind of problems that face free speech advocates having both been thrown out of a protest for staging a counter-protest and, more recently, being assaulted (with a bottle of urine no less) for having a different opinion.

The ‘public square’ is increasingly in private hands and under private control, but is also being used by proxy to censor and control opinion. Whether it’s Twitter’s dubiously Orwellian ‘Trust and Safety’ council or Zuckerberg cooperating with the German government to suppress negative stories about immigration, we have to admit that there is an issue and it’s an issue that has been thrown into sharp relief by the conflicts on college and university campuses and the febrile atmosphere surrounding almost any piece of entertainment that intersects – however fractionally – with PC hotbutton issues.

You don’t have to agree with people to agree that they have a right to speak. I’m a left-anarchist and a pragmatic socialist, yet I support Lauren Southern’s right to espouse her Libertarian ideals. I worry about the demonisation of immigrants, but I believe people have a right to express their concerns about that (and genuinely worrying stories are being suppressed there too). There’s suggestions recently that media companies, including social media companies, are going to collude to exclude and undermine Trump now. I would gladly gnaw my own leg off if it would prevent Trump being president, but he has a right to express whatever opinions are most popular at the time and will win him votes. That’s democracy, that’s freedom, that’s the principle of free speech.

I’ve made games and presented ideas that people find objectionable and I’ve been censored, pilloried, boycotted and banned for it (or, more often, for ideas that people have assigned to me) so I’m presenting some of those ideas (games) under discount to participate in #TheTriggering because not only have these games ‘triggered’ people, but shilling a product on a hashtag will ‘trigger’ a whole other set of people.

Exercise your free speech and free expression today. Say something controversial. Air an opinion that might upset someone. Buy some porn, read 1984 or Huckleberry Finn, post a ‘problematic’ joke. Flex those rights and shake the tree, see who actually believes in free speech and who doesn’t.

And for those SJWs blocking the tag, or anyone that posts on it… you’re proving that we don’t need censorship and that you’re capable of maintaining your challenge-free bubble all by yourselves. You’re also proving the need for this event – which I hope becomes as annually celebrated as Draw Mohammed Day.

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DISCOUNTED GAMES FOR #THETRIGGERING

Discounts are available for 48 hours ONLY, ending on the 11th of March.

The Little Grey Book [Pay What You Want]: A simple party game that plays off the hypercritical panopticon of social media.

Hentacle [Marked down to $2.50]: A comedy print-and-play card game of tentacle rape, which is such an absurd concept it’s just inherently laughable. Apparently some people fear for the welfare of drawings and genuinely fear being molested by cephalopods. #TeachOctopiNotToRape

Cthentacle [Marked down to $2.50]: A slightly different and simpler/faster version of Hentacle, but with a Cthulhu theme and many, many horrendous Lovecraftian puns. Of note is that poor, dead racist HP Lovecraft’s head used to be used as the World Fantasy Award prize, but this was changed due to conerns about his racism. Short of a visit by Herbert West I don’t really see how Lovecraft’s racism could really be a problem for anyone any more. He’s dead. Then again #RhodesMustFall so apparently we have to erase history and ignore influential figures for wrongthink. Down the memory hole…

Privilege Check [Marked down to $2.00]: The less privileged you are… the more privileged you are. This was the basic hypocrisy behind ‘the progressive stack’ which came to prominence during the Occupy movement. Equality, apparently, is not a good way to treat people and the best way to cure *ism is to be *ist. Irony is missing from a lot of dictionaries it seems. This game triggered the hell out of a lot of people when it came out and it’s a bluffing/tactical card game that mocks the progressive stack.

Gamergate Card Game [No discount, sorry!]: This was SO triggering that it, unlike the material above, was censored off my usual sales site. This despite it containing no graphic depictions of tentacle sex, nor any off colour jokes about racial/gender/etc politics the way Privilege Check does. Just invoking the name of the consumer revolt was sufficient to bring down a gang of crybabies to get it taken down.

If you’re interested in our other products, though none are really as controversial, you can grab our catalogues, which make it easier to find stuff than using the site navigation.

Closing the Gate

Hey+this+isn+t+getting+old+at+all_b5384f_5303836I decided to stop active participation in #Gamergate from midnight on the first of January. It’s customary, when one ‘leaves’ the amorphous hashtag movement, to flounce off with great drama and an enormous speech.

So this would be that.

I’d stress, however, that I still believe very strongly in the original and ongoing issues of Gamergate which are, and you can eyeroll all you like but it won’t make it untrue, more ethical and consumer-serving games media, and an anti-censorship stance.

So why leave and why get into it in the first place?

Why I got Involved

The broader ‘Social Justice’ issues in the creative arts are something I’ve been aware of for longer, and one shouldn’t be fooled by the fact that it dresses itself up in the clothing of laudable ideas such as equality and diversity. The situation we find ourselves in, and which appears to have crested, is a moral panic. As relates to nerd media it’s a replay of the Satanic Panic or Jack Thompson’s crusade against violence in games, just with different actors and set dressing. There’s one important difference this time though, this time there’s ‘treachery’, in that many of the attacks – no less ill-informed and unscientific – are now coming from within the nerd community.

Going back to the 80s and 90s, even in my tweens and teens I was already fighting in the precursor war on D&D and other RPGs. Arguing in presentations at school from religious groups on ‘Doorways to Danger‘, making pamphlets to counter the propaganda that was going around as an English project. Writing letters to help school groups get set up. Running games for the D&D Schools Competition. Reassuring parents and later on arguing with people on the internet or arguing for the educational and other benefits of gaming.

The Jack Thompson affair didn’t require much of your average gamer, since the press was on-side and the claims weren’t taken seriously by most people. They were understood, even by most of those uninvolved in games, to be stupid, censorious and troublesome.

As a metal, goth and alternative fan I also watched the goings on with the PMRC with concern, not to mention the Columbine backlash as it went international.

All of this resonated with the Comics Code issues I’d learned about and the other things which, as an avid reader, I’d learned about growing up. The role of censorship and moral panics against everything from film and TV to comics and fanzines.

Mary Whitehouse was still going when I grew up. Section 28 was governmental policy and even at 13 and not entirely sure what a ‘bender’ was, I knew it was unjust. When I was at college it was the height of the anti-road and hunt saboteur protests, which prompted more attempts by government and tutting citizens who didn’t like ‘crusty jugglers’ to control protests.

In short, I have a long established love of free expression, and have lived through some of the key battles around nerd media and endured several moral panics. There was no way I wasn’t going to get involved in Gamergate when it crossed my path.

Gamergate emerged out of the scandal surrounding Zoe Quinn. I was following Quinn on Twitter at the time and, as a sufferer from depression, had previously passed around links to her game ‘Depression Quest’ as an imperfect but helpful tool to help friends and family better understand the experience of depression – from which I suffer. I had defended her against early trolls, encouraged her and even donated to help her out when she was mugged – which I hope was something that did actually happen.

In short, I was invested.

When the scandal around her emerged I wanted information. Here was someone whose work I had supported and who I had helped out. Someone I had recommended to others. Her sexual peccadilloes and indiscretions are none of my business, though I felt sorry for Gjoni for the abuse and manipulation he’d suffered, but I was concerned – as were many others – by the revelations of undisclosed relationships, favours and corruption.

Trying to get information to confirm whether this was, or was not happening was incredibly difficult as all discussion was being shut down, everywhere, even – eventually – 4chan. A completely unprecedented level of censorship on an issue of genuine concern to consumers. Just how rotten was gaming journalism? We all knew it was bad, but exactly how bad was it? Why couldn’t proven, even admitted, bad actors be called out on it? Why were they being protected?

Then the ‘Gamers are Dead’ articles came out and the GameJournoPros list was exposed. Dozens of articles over a few days, in a coordinated attack on gaming media’s own audience.

Not only had gamers been censored, they were now under attack – by their own. Dismissed as misogynists, racists etc simply for pointing out problems, whether it be corruption or ‘criticism’ coming from the ideological overreach of people like Anita Sarkeesian. The ‘Social Justice’ attacks on gaming combined with the nepotism of the Indie scene and the collusion of a particular wing of activist journalism to create a perfect storm and a surprisingly effective false narrative of harassment which, combined with the censorship lock down, prevented the real issues getting discussed – for a while.

Revelation after revelation followed for those who cared to investigate, and lines were drawn.

Gamergate accomplished a great deal, and not just in its own niche.

Many gaming news outlets, albeit grudgingly, began using proper disclosure and adjusted their ethical policies, which was the first, major, underlining point. Bad criticism and ideological gatekeeping has continued, but it appears to have cost sites traffic and trust, and several people their jobs. New sites have sprung up, the audience has become more aware, there’s less trust and more demand for better reporting and the anti-censorship attitude has manifested in numerous other ways.

Gamergate has also helped inspire pushback in other areas, comics, film, TV, atheism and as university campuses have apparently gone insane, there too. It may be the turning point in a much larger culture war against censorious authoritarianism and moral panic on a broader basis.

Certainly I feel more optimistic about the future, coming out of it than I did going in. Despite lost friendship (and new ones made), the lies, the accusations, the nonsense and the hard lessons about just how bad even the general media has become, especially when reporting on technology and internet culture.

So Why Leave?

Why bring an end to my involvement then?

There’s still tons of good people involved and Gamergate has settled – mostly – into a sort of watchdog and ‘call out the stupidity’ role. It’s still doing good stuff and still has a lot of good people in it, but it’s a case of diminishing returns. The less obvious the need for Gamergate as a specific phenomenon, the less people are associated with it (and, I’m sorry to say, the demonisation and lies about Gamergate have had an effect as well).

The less people are associated with it, the more the hardcore fringe of horrible shits come to dominate the discussion and the less people there are to call them out on it. There are also less people to call out and point out trolls, and that further allows Gamergate to be misrepresented and probably, eventually, co-opted.

Lately the more extreme and paranoid elements, always there but previously marginalised, have been able to increasingly dominate discussions, drive away the more moderate and interesting people involved and to almost turn the ‘movement’ into the caricature it was always misrepresented as.

Bx2pIFxCUAAna4AThe fight for me was always more about the censorship issues and artistic freedom. Those battles are being fought elsewhere now and by a much broader coalition of interests, including genuine liberals, who are finally starting to speak up and make a difference to turn the tide.

Those issues are being fought in politics and universities now, in the public square as a whole. Even if the fight isn’t over in gaming and other nerd spaces (#1MillionGamersStrong and others), Gamergate itself is now a place of diminishing returns and more can be done in these other places and spaces and by creating. So that’s what I intend to do.

Doubtless I’ll cross paths with GG people down the line, doubtless issues will come up which I’ll help spread around, doubtless there’ll be battles we’ll share.

Looking back on a Year of ‘Gooberglob’

bannerOver a year ago now I heard there was some kind of scandal involving Zoe Quinn. I was concerned for a number of reasons, not least of all that – as a depressive – I had been promoting Depression Quest as a way to help non-depressed people understand what it could be like. I’d bigged up her ‘game’ a number of times, I’d supported her against what seemed to just be ‘haters’ and I’d even contributed to her fund when she was mugged. So when this came up I was, initially, concerned for Zoe and secondarily concerned that I might have been backing and supporting someone who wasn’t what they appeared to be.

I briefly logged on to the infamous IRC chat that was discussing this to try and get more information, got a few links and comments and went looking around.

While I was getting to the bottom of things, it all kicked off.

It was obvious that there were problems here and while the sex scandal aspect gave people some prurient ‘lulz’ it was also clear that there was potentially a serious problem with regard to the games media. A problem that raised questions that needed to be answered.

We all knew games media was rubbish, biased and agenda-laden, but ‘being crap’ is not necessarily the same thing as being corrupt. We already knew that games media was full of bribery, threats and so on that were skewing reviews (the average review score is 7/10, not 5/10, showing part of the problem), but people had largely adapted to this and become suspicious.

Here, however, we had indie developers, who had been held up as the wave of the future for a new, more moral, more ‘progressive’ games world, showing to be just as riddled with conflicts of interest and other ethical issues as anyone else. This was only confirmed by the rampant censorship of discussion about these issues – by the games the media that was under scrutiny – and the steadfast refusal of anyone in a position to do so to address the issues. Instead the whole thing was reframed into the existing (also overblown) narrative of online harassment and (also overblown) hostility to women in technology, which was nothing to do with anyone’s concerns.

The ‘Gamers are Dead’ onslaught and the revelation of the GameJournoPros email list – and the shenanigans that went on there – only upped the ante and are the things that really launched Gamergate into a full blown event and ‘movement’. It’s also what exposed further corruption and got people digging and boy, did they find a lot of things that were wrong.

For me, though, Gamergate is merely one aspect of a much bigger culture war. It’s a microcosm of the broader issues where it’s ‘reals versus feels’, where genuine, very real and honest concerns about corruption and bad practice get misrepresented as misogyny and where that mere accusation is SO powerful that even after concerns have been vindicated by the Society for Professional Journalism, that misogyny and harassment narrative continues to be pushed.

The broader battle is similar, one of a rift and a split on the political ‘left’ between left-libertarian values (classical liberalism) and left-authoritarian values (what you might call an extreme version of progressivism).

Classical values of individual autonomy, choice, freedom of expression, artistic freedom, the value of reason and enquiry are not exactly being challenged, but being misrepresented by people who cannot see past identity politics – what a person is – to actions – who a person is.

  • Gamergate wants ethical games journalism, and because some of the people they are concerned about are women they get tarred with a misogyny brush and shuffled into the ‘women in tech’ and ‘online harassment’ arguments, which are not what it is about.
  • Sam Harris wants to criticise Islamic ideology and theology and to discuss the possibility of applying reason to questions of morality and ethics. He gets called a racist and ‘islamophobe’.
  • Are you concerned about artistic freedom? Then you’re everything from a misogynist and racist to a rape apologist.

And so it goes, politics, art, music, fashion, comics, games, television, movies, science fiction fandom, writing. Everywhere there are these emotive attacks that bypass reason and force the moderate, intellectual side of the debate onto the defensive (because who wants to be called a racist, right?)

The discourse is damaged to the point of being virtually irreparable. Universities have become safe spaces, in that they’re now safe from the ravages of intelligent thought and free enquiry and those same, highly damaging ‘values’ are being imposed everywhere else.

To me, then, after a year, buoyed up by seeing Gamergate vindicated I see a chink of light in the clouds. A possibility that, perhaps, reform and change is possible not just in games, but everywhere. Those attacks no longer have the power they once did. We know we’re not sexist, racist, bigoted or whatever else might be thrown at us and without that power over us what reason remains to take these extremists seriously?

It has been a tough year. It’s cost me friends who bought into and couldn’t see past the harassment/sexism narrative to the truth. It has cost me work – I should have been anon. I’ve been censored, vilified, driven to the point of suicide by lies, libel and genuine harassment. There’s plenty of people who don’t understand and make no effort to understand but, on the other side of things I have made many new friends, found a like-minded community of brilliant, mutually supportive and very creative people and I’ve participated in making a huge positive change in games and beyond.

Moving post-gamergate – and I intend to cut down my direct participation after #GGinBrum I think the best takeaway is to start doing more positive things as part of this new community that has emerged in games – and further afield. Ignore the crazies and ‘get shit done’ because if there’s one thing we really have learned about the opposition, it’s that they don’t really make or do much of anything, and what they do make or do isn’t successful.

Perhaps that’s how we win in the broader context.

Do stuff.

 

#Gamergate Vindicated at Airplay

CMenzR7VEAAiqCpHere’s some initial thoughts on what went down at SPJAirplay and it should be read or viewed even by people who are sick of the whole thing or have written it off as a misogynistic hate movement.

The Society of Professional Journalists held an event in Florida, part of which was a separate event to discuss Gamergate. Gamergate representatives were chosen by popular votes on Chans, Reddit and Twitter and anti-Gamergate… refused to come. Even with offers of having their way paid, despite any and all inducements to do so. This may have been a tactical mistake.

In its final form the event became more like a panel of Gamergate involved people, trying to explain to conventional journalists a) what Gamergate was b) why it was more important than it seemed and c) why the media had failed so hard to report well on it.

There were two panels, the first explanatory and giving examples of some of the ethical breaches Gamergate has been concerned with, the second supposedly to try and find solutions and new practices, though the second panel was very poorly handled by the moderator and then interrupted by a ‘credible bomb threat’ (according to the local police department).

The event was simultaneously a huge vindication of everything Gamergate has stood for and argued, and a disappointment.

Gamergate’s ethical concerns regarding cronyism, corruption and collusion were agreed upon to be unethical, chuckles were had at the expense of Gawker Media (and others) and Gamergate got a well-earned morale boost and stamp of legitimacy from the SPJ.

This was a win.

The more frustrating part was the second panel. Panellists Cathy Young, Milo Yiannopoulos and Christina Sommers tried to explain Gamergate contextually by reference to other problems and other, similar movements (such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter) but kept getting shut down before they could make their points, by the moderator.

It seemed obvious to me what they were trying to establish:

  1. That these issues are serious issues not just in games journalism.
  2. That it is possible to report on these issues in a more sensitive and balanced fashion.
  3. That these were, perhaps, more understandable and analogous situations via which conventional journalists might be able to understand Gamergate.

To take one example that the moderator seemed very keen to avoid, the problem of radical feminist influence on media in general and with special reference to Rolling Stone’s rape-reporting scandal the issue of blindly believing what you’re told, reporting it as true and causing a great many people a great deal of harm on the back of irresponsible reporting is obvious and a window into the sort of biased, activism-distorted reporting that has plagued discussion on Gamergate.

Thwarted at every turn trying to make these points, via constant interruptions from the moderator (who I think was trying to fill in for the lack of anti-Gamergate) the conversation finally had to turn to more simplistic examples of better ways to report on internet affairs… only to be interrupted by a bomb threat.

Every precaution had been taken, the police had been pre-warned of hoax bomb threats but this final one – the tenth – containing details on the venue and other warning signs, was enough that the police had to act. Everyone was evacuated out into the terrible heat and continued the discussion in smaller groups wherever shelter could be found.

Videos of those discussions haven’t emerged yet, but hopefully these small group discussions were productive.

The bomb threat was likely simply third party trolls, upping the ante having been shut out of the chats on streams and so forth. Another high possibility for me would be the conspiracy theorists who have – unfortunately – been lurking around Gamergate since Common Core and DARPA were mentioned. We shall see if anyone ever gets caught for these hoaxes though. It’s probably best not to speculate too much.

Something has changed though.

Gamergate is vindicated as an ethics/consumer movement.

Some parts of the media are now reporting more sympathetically.

The spin of anti-Gamergate on Airplay, and older events, is now ringing even more hollow.

The Gamergate meeting in Birmingham will likely be the endcap on my more active participation. Many of Gamergate’s goals have now been met and with Airplay I think Gamergate can smugly consider itself – rightly – legitimised and vindicated.

Gamergate won the war, on all fronts, and now there needs to be a negotiated peace. Hopefully we can continue what’s started with SPJAirplay – a conversation instead of a confrontation, a move to understanding and mutual tolerance that hasn’t been possible so long as Gamergate has been blamed for the actions of trolls and while ideologues have cowered behind automated block lists.

I hope some people will join me in trying to start conversations, and I hope some on the other side (rather than simply neutral people and journalists) will contribute.

Pax.

#Gamergate ‘TTGATE’ – The Curious Case of Identity Primacy

run-a-game

If there’s any scandals, censorship or ‘happenings’ in relation to tabletop gaming you’d like me to publicise (card games, RPGs, board games) then please let me know.

Convention Scholarship

Big Bad Con is a smallish convention in Oakland California, which looks like a fun little convention. They’ve instituted a scholarship policy to help “support individuals who would not otherwise be able to attend the con” to get there. Which is a great idea in and of itself, conventions are expensive and there’s lots of people – low on money – who could benefit massively from some help to get to a con and get a break from the harsh grind of daily life.

Except…

“To support diversity at Big Bad Con, these funds have been specifically set aside for gamers from POC, women, disabled, and lgbtqia+ communities.”

Identity Politics, not circumstances or need, not poverty, will determine who gets assistance. An overtly discriminatory policy. There’s no reason PoC, women, disabled or LGBT people must, necessarily, be poor and unable to cover their own fees. The only fair determination would be need.

Now, obviously, people will consider pointing this out, somehow, to be discriminatory towards the stated identity groups, but that isn’t the point here. The point is that it’s a policy that places identity (race/sex/preference/ability) over need and – as such, is patronising, self-defeating and ignores the most important factor – need.

Credit where it’s due though, their code of conduct is relatively sane – something rare for conventions these days.

Conan RPG Hirings

A call for more people to work on the new Conan RPG went out, the second call I believe, but whereas the first one to go out was a general, open call, this one was different – and Identity Politics was – again – the issue.

11701231_10155848647950545_1090238110330608736_n

Now, this is a second call and the aim is, perhaps, to ‘diversify’ the people working on the project, but let us not pretend that any similar advertisement going out stating it was only for ‘men’ would not be met with a wall of condemnation. This is a perfect example of a double standard at work in the gaming industry and like other ID politics shenanigans only ends up causing problems.

Are people now being hired because they have Conan expertise, or because of the contents of their pants (or their self-identification) as one interested fan asked. Is it not patronising to reduce someone entirely to their gender when considering? Could this have not been done better simply, privately, at the selection level, or could it not be an open call with a mere note that women in particular are being sought?

Why should it make a difference anyway? Diversity for its own sake brings nothing and prioritising it over talent and ability calls everything into question.

I do not think that this is what is occurring here, but it is worth pointing out simply to demonstrate the double standard, and that double standard extends to reaction.

For a rather polite pointing out of the issue:

This isn’t OK. We all know nobody will do anything about it, but I just want to register protest. This kind of hiring practice is also, frankly, illegal gender discrimination. Boo.

I was subjected to all manner of abuse, much of it presumptive and sexist itself, all manner of wild accusations and nastiness spreading from one part of social media to another and not improving. Again, this is a demonstration of the hypocrisy inherent in this kind of activity.

The culmination, perhaps, was this:

11214190_10155848750630545_232986855323305397_n

People devoted to equality and diversity, using a person’s mental health issues in order to attack them, for the crime of pointing out sexist wording which, if the genders were reversed, these self-same people would be complaining about just as shrilly as they defend it and excuse it in this instance.

If there’s any scandals, censorship or ‘happenings’ in relation to tabletop gaming you’d like me to publicise (card games, RPGs, board games) then please let me know.

#Gamergate Operation Sherman – And ‘TTGate’ things.

new_dominion_tank_police_by_alexsanlyra-d55xpw8

If there’s any scandals, censorship or ‘happenings’ in relation to tabletop gaming you’d like me to publicise (card games, RPGs, board games) then please let me know.

Some of the Gamergate people have taken it upon themselves, seemingly out of the blue, to go back over the banning of my Gamergate Card Game and to take Evil Hat to task over their threats to use their leverage and size to make sure it was taken down from sale there – which it was after brigading and possibly because of these threats, as well as because of the false media narratives about Gamergate.

I, of course, would never endorse such an Op, but here’s the info anyway, jus’ sayin’.

GGrevolt Link (FYI, these guys tend to be a bit more… extreme and conspiracy theoryish)
Gamergatehq Link (a bit more sane)
Kotaku in Action Link (Most legit)

If you want the game you can get it, just not via the best possible and most widely accessible means

Personally I do not actually think this will accomplish much, but plan to approach Onebookshelf after Gamergate’s year anniversary as they said they would reconsider putting it up after things had calmed down a bit and I think a year without any serious incidents, violence etc puts the lie to the idea that Gamergate is SOOOOO dangerous and controversial it has to be banned.

While I have the attention of Fa/TG/uys though, there’s some other tabletop related ‘srs bsns’ that I’m going to take the opportunity to publicise better.

CLSK6KmVEAAWJ21Ennies Walk Out

Zak Smith of (D&D with Pornstars fame), author of Vornheim and Red and Pleasant Land won a handful of Ennie Awards this last Gencon. Zak doesn’t get on with me any more (for reasons that I must confess I don’t understand) but I regard him, his group and his friends as some of the best ambassadors for RPGs in general and D&D/OSR in particular that there have ever been. The award was well deserved but because, like me, Zak is a ‘thorn in the side’ of certain pseudo-progressive elements in the tabletop scene (our equivalents of the SocJus clique in videogaming), some people thought it would be a good idea to walk out in protest.

Unsportsmanlike and insulting not only to Zak et al, but to the later award winners and the hosts.

(Zak was also the source of ire over Consultantgate, when he and the RPGPundit were given credits in 5e D&D)

In a shock to precisely nobody they look exactly like you’d expect them to look and are the ‘usual suspects’ when it comes to censoriousness and Twitter-mobbing.

Ken Whitman

Ken Whitman has a long and storied history of either being massively incompetent or deliberately misleading people and ripping them off. It’s hard to tell, either because he’s a great liar or he’s fantastic at telling his sob stories.

Either way at this point, people need to STOP GIVING HIM MONEY and to STOP TRUSTING HIM.

A big problem with small communities is that they can be too forgiving, but this stuff has been going on for about two decades now. If you’re involved in tabletop or would have actually liked to see a Knights of the Dinner Table series as a success you should keep an eye on him.

More information HERE and HERE

James Shipman

While we’re covering older stuff it’s worth mentioning James/Jim Shipman, a notorious rip-off merchant who not only steals art but whole books and re-sells them under his own company name (Outlaw Press previously). Mr Shipman has been relatively quiet of late, but if you do see his name in relation to any RPG stuff, ever, or see Outlaw Press come up DO NOT BUY and check into the legitimacy of any art or books you do see, reporting back to the original publisher and artist.

This has been going on for years, but he keeps coming back.

More info HERE.

Call of Cthulhu

As an honourable mention of some high profile bullshit going on in tabletop gaming, Chaosium has totally failed to produce Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition in anything like a reasonable amount of time, looks like it won’t meet a good number of stretch goals and has been consistently terrible at communicating what the hell’s going on to backers.

Check it out, ask around the net and maybe publicise. This is getting Sarkeesianesque in its lassitude.

LINK

If there’s any scandals, censorship or ‘happenings’ in relation to tabletop gaming you’d like me to publicise (card games, RPGs, board games) then please let me know.

#Gamergate – Journal update and League for Gamers

2780068426_9fa8e8d844_oThere simply hasn’t been enough interest in a new journal to make the effort worthwhile. While there have been a few enthusiasts and a couple of entrants there isn’t sufficient interest to make the effort worthwhile.

This is, needless to say, disappointing. I believe there is a genuine need for some genuinely academic and scientific insight into games and frankly, that’s for selfish reasons. I want my game designs to be informed by facts and useful information and strategies.

Here though, I’ll have to admit defeat.

As such I suggest people redirect their efforts to League for Gamers, which is in the process of setting up an academic body and which I am involved in as an interested party (President, not that it means much at this stage and I intend to flee the position as soon as things are up and running).

L4G has a higher profile and more opportunity to make something happen from a better starting point. Still, things are going to be an uphill struggle for any attempt to get this done for some of the following reasons.

  • Gamers have lost all faith in academia. The ‘losers‘ ‘study’ may have been one of many death blows. It’ll take a huge amount of effort to win that trust back. As bad, if not worse, than the situation with gaming media.
  • There is genuine research going on in the existing structure, it’s just drowned out by bullshit. Many genuine academics and scientists don’t understand or see the need for an alternative or – more admirably – don’t want to cede ground.
  • Devs don’t seem to care much either. Happy doing their own thing and product testing from the looks of it. It’s a shame as it means public money tends to support spurious research in this area (loser study) while private research and effort largely ends up staying internal.
  • I haven’t had the ability to get enough exposure to the right kinds of people to get things off the ground. L4G should be able to.

TL;DR – Forget this effort, sign up to League for Gamers and talk to the other academically inclined people therein.