#RPG – A Critique of ‘Privilege, Power, & Dungeons & Dragons: How Systems Shape Racial & Gender Identities in TTRPGS
Buy it HERE
Diversity Dungeons : Worldbuilding & Game Design in the Safe Space Age
Much digital ink (and blood) has been spilt taking about diversity representation in tabletop gaming and in every other field of geek and nerd endeavour. Usually these conversations are extremely combative and they tend to end poorly for everyone involved. I’ve been involved in these debates and discussions myself, to my detriment. The position I hold being that free expression and the vision of the author or creator should trump any and all other concerns – including diversity, representation and so on. To my mind the answer is for people to create according to their own conscience, not to be condemned out of hand or for their motivations to be presumed and for diversity of ideas to be the benchmark. I want a world in which Varg Vikernes and David Hill can both make and sell games and I can ignore both of them.
That said, I cannot help but be drawn to controversial topics – that is where the interesting conflicts and stories lie – and there are few topics so controversial as the treatment of ‘minorities’ within media. Here we arrive at a nexus-point between realism, expectation, demands for representation, demands for free expression, historical revisionism, magic, science fiction, truth, ‘is’ and ‘ought’. That makes it interesting, but the battle lines of identarian politics, liberalism, conservatism, the regressive left and cultural libertarianism also make it an area fraught with difficulty and wilful misunderstanding.
There are no good – or at least no satisfactory – answers to a lot of these questions. Perhaps there are just multiple approaches each of which will annoy some group or other. What’s true in all circumstances however is that these controversial topics are interesting, fascinating and important in terms of world, character and scenario building whatever your particular stance.
This booklet intends to examine these issues in and of themselves, outside of the current state of controversy and to ask – rather – how we might better simulate the plight of minority groups, understand them within the context of fictional worlds, make allowances for player-characters who might seek to buck those societal trends or allow characters – through their actions – to affect social change within the game worlds.
I need a few volunteers to do some final playtesting of the Gamergate card game I’ve been working on.
It’s a two-player, adversarial game where SJWs and Gamergaters vie over Ethics Breaches either to expose them or to get away with them.
Before I finalise everything and get this out for purchase, I want to be sure I’ve got things working right and that my explanations are adequate.
So I’m looking for volunteers.
Time pressure is an issue, so keep the following in mind:
1. I need you to report back by Sunday/Monday.
2. You’ll need to be able to play the game, several times, in that intervening period (ideally 3+ times).
3. You’ll need to not be afraid to make suggestions.
4. You’ll need to be able to print and prepare the cards yourself for this test. Preferably you’ll have a colour printer as that makes things much easier.
If you can fulfill these requirements, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a PDF of the test files.
A response to weheart.github.io – We feel it is the actions of ‘Social Justice Warriors’ who with shaming, mob tactics, blacklisting, mass blocking, insults, harassment, threats and attempts to control games media, production and content who have damaged the gaming community and we’re making a stand against it. Both sides are predominantly left/liberal. We’re just anti-authoritarian and want things to progress naturally.
So I’m going to touch on another taboo topic, because I a) never learn and b) find these kinds of things fascinating c) I think a lot of people are too ready to just freeze with fear and nod along when these subjects come up.
This is prompted by, and in reply to, THIS article over on Tor, about Gencon. So I’m going to structure it as a reply, but I’m also going to go off on tangents.
As has become painfully obvious over the last few years, disclaimers and prefaces and explanations are seemingly needed before touching on sensitive topics. Nobody who wants to take something the wrong way will ever take in the right way, but perhaps one can minimise the damage by taking a bit of time out first to contextualise things.
As an ethnic minority, I am apprehensive about going to GenCon.
Why? That’s the instant question I find myself asking. While ethnic minorities are scarce in many aspects of nerd and geek culture and many within the broad umbrella of general nerdery are lacking in social schools and sensitivity I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone rejected on the basis of race. If anything – like with gender – people are inclined to be TOO welcoming, even smothering.
For all that GenCon offers, it lacks in minority gamers. Last year was my first GenCon, and as I explored the convention, I saw almost no one who looked like me. By far, the most visible minorities at GenCon were the hired convention hall facilities staff who were setting up, serving, and cleaning up garbage for the predominantly white convention-goers. It was a surreal experience and it felt like I had stepped into an ugly part of a bygone era, one in which whites were waited upon by minority servants.
That seems something of an extreme reaction to me and the implicit assumption in it that this is some sort of ‘plantation wedding‘ is insulting both to the staff and to the attendees. This dichotomy is the result of a huge number of different factors and blaming it on the end result seems simplistic, blind and presumptive.
Gaming has a race problem. For all its creativity and imagination, for all its acceptance of those who find it hard to be themselves in mainstream society, gaming has made little room for people of color.
Is this right? Is this accurate? I don’t think so. The room is there for anyone and everyone to join in the fun of gaming. If that space isn’t being occupied by some people then whose fault is that? Is it anyone’s fault really? Is it gaming’s fault? What is there in gaming that actually excludes anyone? Nothing. It’s a realm of imagination and yes it accepts people of all kinds, sometimes when it shouldn’t.
“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that…
Racism is ‘prejudice on the basis of race’. The source can be involuntary (indoctrination, bad experiences and their associations etc) but the act of racism is concious.
Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on.” –Scott Woods, author and poet.
Yeah, I’m never going to agree with a lot of these terms as they’re used in social justice circles, even in terms of race. ‘Privilege’ especially is an insidious, abused term that silences the very kinds of discussions needed to make any sort of progress on social issues. After all, it’s the people with (presumed) power and agency who need to be talked to and won over if you want to make real change. Also, as a liberal lefty I see many of these problems in terms of social class and wealth, rather than race, though the nature of society (US society in particular) makes the two broadly congruous.
I am the first in my family to be born in the United States. The child of immigrants, I struggled between cultures. I was the only non-white kid in the neighborhood and one of only a half-dozen minorities in my high-school. I was an outsider. I found refuge in Dungeons & Dragons in my freshman year. I could escape who I was in those heroic characters and epic stories. I could be someone I was not. I could be strong. I could be fierce.
See? This is gaming’s value as an escape but as an escape that is a social one. It’s refuge in a group – by necessity. It gave you a safe space just a it has for so many others for so many different reasons.
I could be white.
OK, that’s your problem. Not a problem with gaming.
Most games—the genres, the artwork, the characters, the stories—were Eurocentric and white. It was easy, perhaps even expected, to be white when playing a character. I was always Eric, or Gunthar, or Francois; I was never a person of color. My name was never my name. And no one thought it was strange that I played people so different from myself.
Much of the canon of fantasy stems from European myths and European authors. The Greek Myths are probably the archetypical fantasy genre source, followed by Scandinavian, Germanic and Arthurian mythology. Fantasy wargaming and role-playing originated from that culture and so it’s little surprise that gaming started out with those sources. We now have a much more diverse gaming canon though and it can no longer realistically be said to be purely European. Then again, this is causing some issues with suspension of disbelief in pseudomedieval game settings under pressure to be inclusive.
Of course, the audience remains primarily white, educated and (broadly) middle class but that’s – again – down to factors outside of people’s control. More on that in a bit.
It has been a long and complex road to finding myself, and comfort in my own skin and ethnic identity. The first step was simply realizing that white wasn’t the only color of value. It came in drops: a character in a movie or a book that was of my ethnicity, who I could empathize with and imagine myself as. These characters, when they appeared, gave me my own heroes, heroes that were like me.
All well and good, but there’s a couple of issues with this.
Firstly, there’s a catch 22. If representation is that important it not only places a huge value on race which is counter to the idea of eradicating racism, but it also means that by choosing heroes of colour you are alienating your core, white, majority audience. I don’t put that much stock in this idea because it seems like human qualities that transcend melanin content are – and should be – more important.
The other issue is that of tokenism. Some (mostly Guilty White People) are making good money by making ‘socially concious’ game material, good money for the Indie scale anyway and especially off crowdfunding but none of this is making that much of an impact. Possibly because the debate is so charged that it matters too much and nobody can get it ‘right’. Look at 5th Edition D&D, they took a relatively small step and have caught a huge amount of flak over it. As a designer that makes me less inclined to try, especially when my views on free expression and the gap between reality and fantasy don’t seem to be shared by the crowd leading the charge.
Gaming never afforded me those options. I had to force them, going against the pressure to conform. The pressure was so intense that the first time I played a character of my own ethnicity was actually online. Eventually, I did become confident enough to bring non-white characters to the table, but I still sometimes faced puzzled looks, and questions about ‘whether I was trying to make a statement’ when all I wanted was to simply be me.
Was it canon? Were you being the ‘Ninja guy’ by doing this? You know the ninja guy. You’re playing a romantic fantasy game of political and social intrigue set in a royal court inn bronze age Greece, and he… insists on playing a ninja. It’s possible, of course, that you’re playing with arseholes but based on my experience I don’t find that especially convincing.
I don’t think there are official surveys and statistics on the gaming subculture, but perhaps this study on the top 100 domestic grossing films in science-fiction and fantasy is an indication of similar trends in gaming: There are only eight protagonists of color in the top 100 science-fiction and fantasy films. Six are played by Will Smith and one is a cartoon character (Aladdin). None of these protagonists are women of color.
Again, which order are we putting the cart and horse in here? Are there less media because of the audience, or less audience because of the media? A while back I looked at the general stats, outside the genre but in the top TV and films and only looking at ‘significant characters’ and most things were within not too far a distance of the demographic division, save for music where non-whites were over-represented by a significant margin. It seems likely to me that nerd culture’s demographic is more skewed white than the general demographic, so you’d probably expect to see a wider divide.
Things are changing in the world of gaming, but too slowly. The designers are mostly white, especially lead designers and executives. Equally, the key officers of most conventions are almost entirely white. Usually, they are well-meaning people who do not realize how their roles and decisions impact the larger gaming community and its lack of diversity.
The business is small and runs on contacts. People tend to work with people they know and people tend to know people similar to themselves. Cons tend to be run on a volunteer basis and to value experience and recognition. If you’re drawing from a majority white pool – especially from older generations that were less diverse than current nerdery – then it’s little surprise that these people would be the majority involved at this level. To even begin to suggest that this is due to some subconscious racism is, again, to be insulting and may even help make the problem worse by making people resentful and wary, as it has with other SJ issues.
GenCon is emblematic of this problem. Of the twenty-seven Guests of Honor (in various categories), only two are people of color. The judges of the prestigious ENnie Awards for role-playing, hosted at GenCon, have been almost exclusively white since its inception. The same is true for the nominees and winners of the Diana Jones Awards. There may be more efforts to include people of color in gaming artwork, but where are the real life people of color on the grand stage of gaming?
2/27 is roughly 7.5%, assuming your presumptions about people’s racial background is correct. Given the (likely) breakdown of nerd culture on ethnic lines, that doesn’t sound too bad at all to me. Of course, we need proper data and the last time we had anything like good information on gamer demographics was from WotC leading up to D&D3, and that’s ludicrously out of date, so we have to work on shitty assumptions.
Furthermore, GenCon is disturbingly tolerant of deeply offensive material. Shoshana Kessock wrote about her experiences with Nazi cosplay and paraphernalia at Gencon shortly after returning from GenCon 2013, and I had similar encounters. It would be impossible to imagine minority players running around GenCon in t-shirts that read ‘Kill the white man!’, yet the convention welcomes and profits from images of racial hatred. GenCon has weakly worded policies to prevent these horrific violations, but it has failed to enforce its own rules.
The assumption here, again, unfairly being that simply because this stuff is there, and exists that somehow that indicates approval of the Nazis. There are games set in WWII and most often the Nazis are the villains of the piece, they make good baddies. There’s also a fetishistic side to militaria that often shows up in pinup art, an aesthetic that informs many games. Star Wars draws on the fascistic aesthetic for its imperial designs and symbology, even its terminology. Where do you draw the line?
Who would WWII re-enactors fight? Should DUST excise all Nazi iconography from their alternative WWII game? What about Weird War or Achtung Cthulhu? Does that seem fair? We already have a big problem with over-reaching anti-harassment policies how far are we going to extend that? This is edging into denial of history and that can be dangerous.
These are symbols, important symbols. If the color of all the leadership, of all the roles of power and recognition, the entire structure is white, and if this same leadership is tolerant of hate-speech, it gives a clear unspoken signal to the non-white community: You can join us here, but only if you leave your history, your people, and your emotions at the door.
Calling something ‘hate speech’ doesn’t make it so. It’s not like RaHoWa hardbacks are being sold on the main floor. Right?
I’ve been told time and again by gamers, “I don’t see race” as if they were doing me a kindness. This is not enlightenment or progressiveness. It is ignorance. If you do not see race, you do not see me. You do not see my identity, my ethnicity, my history, my people. What you are telling me, when you say “I do not see race,” is that you see everything as the normal default of society: white. In the absence of race and ethnicity, it is only the majority that remains. I am erased.
This is the ultimate goal though, is it not? For race to no longer matter. That’s what the eradication of racism looks like. People being taken on the ‘content of their character’. That’s a good, simple, achievable message and while history is important, people today aren’t responsible for it. By ‘not seeing race’ people are telling you that they see you, the person, the actions, the personality.
Is it any wonder, then, that so many people of color in the community try and submerge their own ethnic identity? They do not wish to stand out or to be recognized. In most societies it is dangerous to be an “other,” and in a subculture as white-dominated as gaming, things feel especially unwelcoming.
And yet, time and again from gamers of colour that I know, I hear that the pressure and the problem comes from their own communities. The anti-intellectualism that is rife across races, but especially in inner city schools and especially in the afro community. The anti-white racism that exists and the suspicion of anything seen as ‘white’, which would include nerd stuff. In other communities the dislike of anything ‘frivolous’, such as games, which to many minds appear to serve no ‘useful’ purpose. A lot of this is to do with class, which is congruent but not identical to race.
Too many conversations on race and gaming die before they even start. I have seen more energy, debate, and engagement by gamers on the minutiae of rules and trivia than I have on the weighty topics of race and gaming. Gamers will spend endless days and millions of words fighting over the pros and cons of the Wacky Wand of Welding, but when a person of color brings up issues of race and diversity in the community, too many gamers roll their eyes and say, “Oh not again. Why do they have to be so politically correct? Can’t they just have fun?!”
And they do have a valid point. What is stopping you? Perhaps even more important, what is stopping you from creating something? Stepping up? Getting involved? This is a question I ask myself a great deal when people bring up these issues. If I can’t get it ‘right’ due to my ethnicity, class etc then what’s the point of appealing to me to do these things? If every attempt is met with hostility then why even try? The barrier to entry of making the kinds of games you want to see is very low now, but still mostly what we see are Guilty White People engaging in a much less fun and less creative form of ‘blaxsploitation’.
Listen. The Gaming as Other series is a great place to start. There are a handful of panels at Cons on the topic and I’ll be sitting on two of them at GenCon: “Why is Inclusivity Such a Scary Word?” and “Gaming As Other.” Keep engaging, listening and supporting. We notice your support and it gives us the strength to keep going.
Note: Listening does not entail agreeing and doesn’t mean being silent. It’s just the first step. It’s necessary for listening to occur in both directions and preconceptions of both sides to be questioned. Case in point ‘Why is Inclusivity Such a Scary Word’ betrays a preconception in the questioner. I don’t think ‘inclusivity’ scares anyone, it’s the things done in the name of it – censorship, death threats, boycotts, petitions, hatred and bullying – that scare people.
Hire more people of color and give them agency, visibility, power, responsibility, and credit in a wide variety of meaningful and important areas in your organization. Do not simply hire a token minority. Do not use people of color as a form of marketing.
Who? How? Where? In what capacity?
A lot of my hiring of freelancers is done via the internet via open call, unless I have someone specific in mind. I often don’t have the first beginning of a clue as to what colour they are, their gender, their age, anything. As a result of this merit/availability based policy I’ve ended up working with a lot of people who have turned out to be far, far away from my person demographic position but most have still been white, educated and broadly middle class (in outlook, if not situation).
We can’t all hire in such a way as to eliminate the possibility of prejudices and nor can we hire from a pool that doesn’t exist. Positive discrimination is just going to cause problems as it has elsewhere. The best solution is going to be to hone your craft (art, editing, writing, layout) and put yourself forward or do your own thing, and again, barriers to entry have never been lower. Just be careful you don’t become Christian Rock, or Billy Bragg. Nobody likes being evangelised.
Reach out to minority groups and invite them personally to conventions. Your neighbors, your co-workers, the people at your church, all of them.
Nobody likes being evangelised.
Offer and play games that are actively and intentionally more inclusive.
How is a game of imagination not inclusive?
There is a lot we can do together as a community. Gamers have always prided themselves on being accepting of those outside the mainstream. People of color want to be accepted too. GenCon is the flagship of gaming, and thus is a golden opportunity to start this process. Let’s start to have a conversation about the structures that led to the low number of minorities as Guests of Honor and ENnies judges. Let’s push GenCon to make changes to those structures so that people of color have a seat at the table for those important decisions. For many of us, gaming is not simply a hobby, but a home. Let’s make it both inclusive and diverse.
OK, now’s the time to have the serious conversation. I’ve touched on it a little before but pinning the blame on Gencon, or the nerd population as a whole is getting it backwards. To get what’s going on we need to take a look at WHY people of colour aren’t that well represented and to this hoary old socialist it’s pretty fucking obvious why.
Wealth and class.
That race and poverty are so linked is a damning indictment of ‘trickle down economics’ (it doesn’t trickle down) and the state of social mobility in the west, especially America and the UK (there’s very little). Poverty and city life – both associated with ethnic minorities for these same reasons – are also associated with crime, which leads to a connection between ethnicity and crime in the minds of many which is unfair, but not entirely without statistical basis.
Then there’s cultural issues which I’ve touched on before. We have a general problem with anti-intellectualism and while nerdery is much more accepted than it once was this is still a problem. It’s a problem which, according to the non-white nerds I know is especially bad in the black community and especially in the african-American community. There’s a hatred of ‘white stuff’, a macho mindset and a rejection of education that just perpetuates victimisation. You see it in the urban poor of all races and cultures, but the pressure seems especially strong here.
Make inclusive games? Sure, but what do you even mean by inclusive? Would you insert black hobbits? Do you want to shift a creators vision on the basis of your perception of racism, regardless of intent or vision?
Work with people from minorities? Sure. They have to exist first, they have to put themselves forward and – for the foreseeable future – they’re going to be a minority smaller than the overall demographic divisions of our nations. I’m not going to hire someone on the basis of colour, I’m going to hire them on the basis of talent, reliability and price. Colour, gender, sexuality, none of these are of any concern and shouldn’t be a concern of anyone else. I’m fairly certain nobody wants to be hired on the basis of these things either.
I don’t know that there’s a lot else we can do, other than to encourage people who feel marginalised to make their own stuff and to help them do so. The history of trying to do that with other issues hasn’t gone so well though.
Just a suggestion though, don’t start by calling everyone explicitly or implicitly racist, even if you think they are.
Also check THIS out.
As I’ve mentioned before, any time any one of the silly dramas in the RPG community comes up, so does every previous incarnation and the same old lies all over again. With the fuss over Zak and Pundit being credited in 5th Edition I’ve become aware of the existence of another source of ‘pig fuckery‘, a Tumblr (who could have forseen that!) called ‘Problematic Tabletop‘.
So what is Problematic Tabletop? It says it’s…
Problematic Tabletop is an archive dedicated to the absolute worst aspects of the RPG hobby. It curates racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and a whole host of other cruel things said by the people of this industry. Problematic Tabletop’s primary purpose is to show the current atmosphere of hostility, gatekeeping, unprofessionalism, and hatred found in this hobby, with the intent to lessen those things through education and change. It is meant to be an educational resource.
But what it actually appears to be is an intensely hyper-critical site of quote mines, context-free misrepresentations and right from the get-go, describing people as the ‘worst aspects of the RPG hobby’ is pre-judging and, frankly, inaccurate.
Do not harass anyone listed here. This is not a hate site. This is not about finding people to persecute, punish, harass, or harm. It’s about shedding light on the crimes that go unseen every day in the RPG industry, and perhaps make them see the error of their ways, or learn from their mistakes. Do not harass anyone.
I’m not sure who you’re fooling here, but it certainly isn’t me though this fig leaf is a necessary piece of protection. Call out culture, as we saw when Zak called out people who made entirely false accusations against me in public, only works in one direction. This blog absolutely will lead to more harassment of people and more angry reactions and it’ll perpetuate the cycle.
The site also goes on to list some ‘egregious offenders’, amongst whom I am listed.
This list consists of the most toxic people in the RPG industry. If your name appears here, you have a lot to think about. If your name is not here, DO NOT HARASS THESE PEOPLE.This is not a hate site. This is a resource.You should not support these people, you should not associate with them, and you do not want anything to do with them, but do not harass them.
Fighting fire with fire only creates more fire.
Each name links to all of their quotes on this site – take a click, and see who said what, and why you shouldn’t support these people.
Gareth Michael Skarka (GMS) – Author of Far West and other things. Runs a blog.
James Desborough (Grimachu) – Owner of Postmortem Studios. Creator of Privilege Check,The Slayer’s Guide to Female Gamers, and many, many other things.
John Tarnowski (The RPG Pundit, Kasimir Urbanski) – Owner of RPGsite. Runs a blog.
Zak S. (Zak Smith, Zak Sabbath) – runs a blog (NSFW) and The Escapist web series, I Hit It With My Ax.
After years of putting up with this nonsense, what I am thinking about is when does this bullshit end, and how can people who describe themselves as progressive be so censorious and regressive?
I know GMS, time was I’d have regarded him as one of you. We would have arguments about inclusiveness, pronoun usage in game text and many other issues and have blocked each other in the past. He’s a grumpy old bastard and a grumbly old left/liberal – like me. That you have alienated him to this extent should be a warning to you, not to him. That he reacted badly to being hounded and demonised doesn’t make him a monster, push anyone far enough and you’ll find a self-fulfilling prophecy at work.
Me? I’ll address me specifically as regards what the blog says about me.
Pundit? Pundit plays an arsehole on the internet. To a large extent the ‘Pundit’ is a persona. Yes he’s often mean spirited, nasty and uncompromising in his arguments and his scorn for indie games and much of their ethos, but I’ve never seen him dish out anything he didn’t get first. Again, we don’t get on especially well, he thinks I court this negative attention on purpose and our gaming preferences are at odds, but I like to think there’s some mutual respect. I’ve not seen him do anything genuinely awful, like, say, calling a whole wing of gamers brain-damaged.
Zak? Zak is argumentative and bullheaded about making his points and rooting out bullshit, but disagreeing with people is not a crime and that is – really – all that any of us have done. Disagreed with people. I guess(?) Zak’s involvement with porn is what triggers some people into being arseholes to him because they see porn as exploitation(?). Personally I find the judgemental attitude towards Zak and his lady friends to be far more telling of people’s prejudice. I admire Zak and Mandy hugely and I think they and their whole gang are one of the best things to happen to tabletop gaming in years, plus I met Satine (artist on MotSP) through them and I’m glad to count her as a friend too.
This hatred and misunderstanding has a life of its own now and while I don’t think it’s going to stop or that arguing back serves any useful purpose (to the point where we’re now into the gaming equivalent of a rap battle) I still feel that there’s a need to try.
According to Problematic Tabletop, my ‘current’ crimes are:
Biological Realism, which according to Problematic Tabletop is:
Explanation: Biological realism is about denying trans* people their identity, saying their birth sex is their absolute real sex. It is a form of trans* erasure. It would be very easy for James Desborough to become a misogynist, indeed.
Turns out that biological realism has a lot of different definitions, but as I meant it I meant that however you feel, whatever you believe, what you ARE comes down in no small part to your biology. I am a human, homo sapiens sapiens, as are you. No matter whether you’re a devoted creationist or not, we’re apes and share common descent with the other apes and with all other life on Earth. Physically the vast majority of people are male or female and everyone is chromosomally. This doesn’t erase trans identity or deny it to them, it is an acknowledgement of the facts which, unfortunately, put them into the position that they are in. Birth sex is immutable fact, gender identity is not. You can feel free to disagree with me, but I think the evidence is on my side. What I’m absolutely not doing is erasing trans people or saying they should be oppressed. My track record with trans people hasn’t been great, largely due to one individual, but I’ve done my best to own and move past that. It’s not fair to have one’s entire concept of a group dictated by one, awful person.
I made fun of Tumblrisms and ‘political correctness’.
The game was a way of exorcising my demons from years of putting up with this crap and of poking fun at the atmosphere of terror, indignation and two-facedness that goes on. It’s satire. Now, I know satire is dead, Poe’s Law has seen to that, but still I persist. Given that there’s criticisms of ‘Oppression Olympics‘ on all sides, I naively hoped that some people might be able to laugh at themselves. Making fun of offensive attitudes being taken as holding offensive attitudes seems like its a common problem in the kind of people who do take offence.
Also, I apparently advocate magical rape.
This spell summons a creature and binds them into your presence or that of a client long enough for a sexual act to take place. The creature summoned may not be entirely willing (some are) but is bound by the magic of the spell to do what is required and cannot return to their home save by fulfilling the demands of the spell. Beware of meeting a previously summoned creature outside the context of the spell or you may well be in trouble.
This is from Nymphology, a joke book talking about sex within an entirely fictional context of a fantasy world. The project was a little off because I was frustrated by doing comedy projects and really wanted to do something more serious (this is even more obvious in Quintessential Temptress). Tongue was required to be in cheek but I also approached the project trying to think how magic would affect human sexuality and I took my cues from reality. The internet, the abuse of drugs, snake oil claims about pheromones, hypnosis, Pick Up Artistry. Do we really think people would be any more responsible with magic, especially if its claims actually worked? Summonable sexual partners, spirits and demons are found in grimoires and ceremonial magic books going way back.
Besides, you’re happy to summon these fictional beings to fight and die for you without a second thought. If this makes you think about the consequences of magically enslaving creatures to do terrible things for you – good. Not that you should always take games absolutely seriously.
Look, Problematic Tabletop. You’re adding to the problems here, not acting to solve any by misrepresenting and smearing people with the same old long refuted guff. This needs to become a conversation, rather than preaching, and it needs to be a conversation that’s capable of having disagreement without demonisation. As ever, if you – or anyone – wants to have that conversation, I’m here – for all the good it will do.
Hardcopy versions of Privilege Check Or: An Egregious Example of the Tone Deaf, Silencing, ‘Humour’ of the Heteropatriarchal, White, Oppressor Class are now available via the Game Crafter, officially.
The simple design works very well as physical objects and the game – while not to everyone’s taste – works well.
The game replicates the bitter cut, thrust and partisan divisions of online arguments about social justice issues, making fun of both the hypersensitive Tumblrina style special snowflakes, and the cruder attitudes of their opposition. The hope is (was) that people could laugh at themselves.
If you prefer to pick up the PDF you can get that HERE.
If you prefer to express your outrage you may feel free to leave a comment below.
For those outside the US the shipping from Game Crafter is somewhat prohibitive, so I would suggest clubbing together to get several copies and then distribute them once they arrive in your country.