Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Small, Quiet Plea

There has been a great deal of discussing political agendas, social grievances, and personal attacks within the little corner of gaming that is my hobby. Make no mistake, I have very deep seated opinions and beliefs that I hold dear - but I have no desire to mix them with my silly little ‘elf games’. We’ve all seen where this has gone, as a society, when folks don’t respect decorum and ‘a time and place for all things’. 

When we start crossing the line, start labelling the ‘who is’ and ‘who isn’t’ worthy of our purchasing dollars or attention - we risk shortchanging ourselves in the wealth of diversity that the current golden age of the OSR provides us. If you want to discuss things like this on your own personal social media, hopefully separated from gaming concerns - please, by all means, rant and rave. 

If we were to dissect the authors, entertainers, artists and individuals in our cultural history - you can be certain that we’d find no shortage of bluster, repugnant ideology, and misplaced words. At our core, I suppose, we want our heroes to be fine upstanding citizens concerned with the same ideals and rose colored idealism we would choose to espouse - whichever side of that proverbial coin we rest upon. It’s just not that simple. 

There are folks within the OSR, like everywhere, who just don’t understand the toxicity that mixing 'business' and pleasure creates in a community devoted to what is, at its core, just a hobby that seeks to create a communal fictional mythology removed from daily struggles. I understand that elements of this can creep into actual business for ‘professionals’, but all too often these issues arise because someone feels personally slighted, belittled, ignored, discriminated against or just plain ‘butthurt’. It is too easy to feed these dumpster fires, to attempt to be the hero of ‘the righteous’, or to use it as a means to gain attention or followers. 

Let it die, let it rest when you are in spaces where the proper topic is gaming. There are places to take your fights, spats, ideological differences, and beliefs that are not in public forums devoted to rolling dice and playing make believe around a table. I can accept that art reflects life, and there is a certain amount of this that will creep into our collective works of RPG writing - but, for the sake of not being an opinionated ass - try to actually make that part of the story, backdrop, or characters - and not some ridiculously obvious paean to your pet cause or peeve.

Heartfelt gospel and forced morality are not idols best served in interactive games, it seems cheap and pushy. Its unbecoming to talk about your personal gripes where everybody, not involved, can see. It’s prose based exhibitionism and, all to often, self aggrandizing egotism, which in it’s dedicated places or echo chambers is fine. Despite claims that it is relevant to the hobby - too much of it isn’t. 

Assholes exist everywhere, and the approach of constantly ‘calling them out’ is just shitting all over the floor. Separate the art from the person - and do what YOU think is right - or take it elsewhere and save us having to read your libel/slander, prejudices, and recriminations.  

Push boundaries, by all means - but do it in a way that serves decorum and civil discourse - and can be selectively embraced or ignored by that ‘Other’ that you are so convinced is trying to impede your path. It is important to create art that speaks to you, to an audience - perhaps one that even screams and cries, bleeds or withers under the black heeled boots within your fiction. Please, please, please do this without being some holier than thou street preacher. Even when the issues are all too real, all too suffocating - it lacks etiquette, and dare I say, common sense, to take them into an arena where pint sized refugees from our fantasies battle fake monstrosities born out of nightmares.

It’s getting to the point where those of us who don’t want to bring the arena of real world trials into gaming are starting to feel cornered. We are not complicit with the devils you wish to out and punish, on either side of the chasm - we are trying, earnestly, to support the continuation of a pursuit that is getting lost in the human desire to always ‘be right about how life is lived’. 

There isn’t some harebrained conspiracy to undermine the core of gaming, and yes, social norms are changing and evolving (as are the reactions to such) - if you can’t deal with this in a constructive manner, preferably politely - then by all means create a space where the rest of us can ignore you. 

I have been guilty myself of being a soap box prophet, someone who certainly had their share of misguided pontification. I thought that gaming could, or perhaps should, address social issues, and, I’m fallible, sometimes I still do - but - the prevalent normalcy of picking fights with somewhat anonymous people on social media hasn’t done anyone, anywhere or anytime, any favors. You either preach to the choir or become the self imagined martyr of your cause. It’s tacky, poorly thought out and lacks restraint. 

If you find yourself a bit ruffled by this, I apologize but I’m standing ground for neutrality in a place where it shouldn’t even be an issue. Perhaps there is a need for us all to look in the damned mirror of society, all around us, and wonder just what we did wrong to get here. 

If you really want to get along as a community, to keep the OSR from exploding into fragments of ‘he said, she said’ - maybe that change should begin with you, and a simple little thought in the back of your head before you spout off about real world troubles in a place about magical boots, goblins, and infested holes in the ground…  


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