#Gor – The Elaine O’Hara Murder

B5XSn1iCYAEk_d_Tragically, in what is going to be a sensationalist story for the press, Elaine O’Hara, a vulnerable woman with mental health issues was killed in Ireland in 2012. With the trial under way details are now emerging and amongst those details it has become clear that she was involved in the Gorean lifestyle and such salacious detail is bound to grab media attention and draw a sneering eye to the BDSM community in general and Gorean lifestylers and roleplayers in particular.

I have it on good authority that this woman was known to be vulnerable and the actual BDSM community had been acting responsibly in relation to her. Unfortunately that appears to be part of the reason she ended up in trouble, looking beyond the community to be fulfilled and falling afoul of someone unhinged.

This is, of course, nothing to do with the Gorean or BDSM communities, there are psychos everywhere and they’re no more likely to turn up in relation to kink than anything else. Indeed some studies suggest that kinksters are more stable psychologically than those who are not.

Needless to say, I take the side of the Gorean and kink communities in the face of another shitstorm.

Mental health issues are also hugely important to me and it’s clear that this poor woman wasn’t getting all the help she needed. I would take this opportunity to appeal to everyone to support mental health provision and the extension of nationalised healthcare, in every country, to provide more mental healthcare.

My thoughts are with Ms O’Hara’s family at this difficult time and I hope people will not fixate too much on salacious detail or use this trial to attack kinksters.


Creative, Broken Brains

It’s World Mental Health Day today. This isn’t something I’d planned to have ImagiNation out for, but there it is.

As I have, doubtless, bored you all to tears over by now I suffer from depression and it has been particularly bad this last couple of weeks. That means all I can really bring myself to do is lay around and beat myself up for not working harder. My depression most often manifests in a bone-weary tiredness, lack of concentration and self-belief. Qualities obviously necessary in the self-employed.

Weirdly, people say I’m very productive but I would be a lot more so without these issues.

I believe gaming can help people with a broad range of issues and I know I have personally benefited from the escape and the opportunity to safely deal with some of the things that grind me down. I’ve also seen it help people with anxiety, social disorders, autism spectrum issues and others.

Gaming is many things, role-playing is many things. It can be purely a game, it can be an exercise in art and self expression. It can be taken seriously and it can be entirely frivolous. I’m not suggesting that every game session be therapy, but just that it presents a safe environment in which we – as players or especially the GM – have a massive degree of control that we don’t have in real life, and a safety net from the fact that outside the game there are no consequences.

Here’s a direct link to my game inspired by my experiences. Something I have made to explore these issues and their link with creativity. It’s a stereotype but it’s one that fitted well for the purposes of a game.


You are free to host, torrent, copy and distribute ImagiNation anywhere you want and however you want so long as you don’t charge.

Hardcopies can be bought HERE at close-to-cost.

ImagiNation: Understanding the Why

Why would I go to all this trouble to create this project? Isn’t it like rubbing salt into a wound? Isn’t it a lot of pressure? Why do this to yourself? Who would want to play such a thing?

I went to all this trouble to set up this project – and this is an idea that has been percolating for some time – because I think it can be useful. I know that me talking publicly about my mental problems has helped quite a few people. I know that lots of  people find it hard to talk about their mental issues or to describe them to others. I also know that a scarily large number of creative people suffer from depression or similar issues. I think it has the potential to help people, spread understanding and break the ice. Primarily though, I think it can be a fun an interesting game.

Yes, examining all this is going to be difficult for me. The pressure I’ve put on myself by making it crowdfunded is enormous and the amount some people have put in and the level of expectation they have is tremendous. I think it’s worth the pain though.

Who would want to play such a thing? People read books of surreal or mad imagery, Alice, Kraken, anything by Burroughs. People’s pain enhances their work and can make it gloriously engaging, at a cost to the creator. I’m not saying that I’m a genius or anything but at the heart of ImagiNation is the idea that there’s a price to be paid for power, for the ability to create or alter reality and that’s what part of being depressed is like. The ability for deep self reflection, for honing one’s craft through being insecure about it can lead to great things or at least an effort to make something as good as it can be. This is an up, not that it compensates for the down side, but it is there.

They say the internet leads people into over-sharing but I want to share something with you that may help you understand the why’s and wherefores of me and the project.

For quite a while now I’ve been going to CBT therapy (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) a lot of it doesn’t work for a sceptic or cynic like me but simply having someone to talk to has been of tremendous benefit, as have some of the mental exercises you go through. Support, of any kind, knowing you’re not alone is the most important thing whether that comes from friends, family or professionals – who you sometimes need so you don’t feel like a burden.

I’ve just come to the end of all that, sorting out my cocktail of drugs, getting – finally – to a state of mind where I don’t need to be supervised so much following a suicide attempt. I’m not cured, I’m just better. Able to cope and even if one does end up feeling ‘cured’, you’ve got to be watchful, vigilant, to be sure you don’t fall again. You’ve also got to judge constantly, daily almost, whether the effect of the drugs is better than the depression or vice versa.

A game where my failings, my vigilance, my choices are a strength, where my talents – such as they are – make a difference can only help. If it helps me, it can help other people. If the game can help other people and be something great, all the better.

The project is funded, but can be made better. Please do all you can help hit our stretch goals. Tell your friends about the project and ask those friends to tell their friends.

The IndieGoGo link is HERE.

The stretch goals are listed below. Yes, you can donate, even though it’s over the target.

  • At $2,200 the game will be professionally and fully edited.
  • At $2,500 I will write, alongside ImagiNation, a genericised and updated version of the rules-set which will be placed fully in the public domain.
  • At $3,000 the game will be completed in colour inside and out and available in both colour and B&W PoD.
  • At $3,500 I will make copies (so long as financially viable) available to mental health professionals for free.

ImagiNation: Design Concerns

Oh shit…

Let me tell you one thing. If you have anxiety and depression issues, creating a massive amount of pressure on yourself by creating a money-drive to support your project is not a great idea. Expectations are high and the pressure to get it ‘right’ is immense. In many ways by creating the ImagiNation IndieGoGo drive I’ve made a rod for my own back, but I knew that going into it. Still, ‘the shit is real’ now the money’s raised and there’s a lot of expectation.


The Neverwhere Concern

I’m pretty intimately knowledgeable about Neverwhere and the concerns that Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry had in putting it all together. There was a real concern about glamorising homelessness and making it seem cool or appealing to people. At the same time there was the desire to draw attention to homelessness and the issues surrounding it.

My concern is that I don’t want to glamorise mental illness but rather to foster understanding. I know there are people who view their mental issues in a positive light, but I’m not one of them and I don’t know that it would be fair to anyone to do it that way.

I want to show the bad side, but it is a positive within the context of the game. The mental issues are a price to be paid for the creative talent combined with the (relative) immunity to the psychic virus that allows them to operate on the mainland.

New People?

I think the system is accessible and easy enough for non-gamers to grasp relatively easily but I’m trying to gauge whether I should go for accessibility or usefulness. Even as a free game I don’t know if it is going to get any sort of penetration outside the gaming community, though it is my hope that it can reach beyond.

These are all difficult concerns and concepts to grapple with in putting this together and I would appreciate assistance and ideas from people who are invested in or following the project.