Deaf as a stone

dice and pawns

An open letter to a commenter on this blog, and to the like-minded.

Dear Pierre,

FrankieYou are vocally against inclusiveness in games, as you have made clear both in your comments on my earlier post and in the discussion thread that had partly inspired it. When you started posting on my blog on Sunday, I allowed the comments through because I try to let the conversation flow as long as it remains civil, because I harbour silly hopes of good-faith discussion of serious issues, and because I don’t mind allowing people to be damned by their own words and deeds. I may also have been lulled into false hope because like me, you are French Canadian so I expected more meeting of the minds. But you’re skirting dangerous close to outright name-calling so I must attempt to bring this delightful exchange to a productive conclusion.

I’m not sure why you’re posting here. Unfortunately for my resilient idealism, you don’t seem to be here to engage in a fair-minded discussion. It doesn’t look from your words like you read the posts you were commenting on, nor the points that had been presented by various commenters on the original thread. When one of your arguments is demolished, you continue just repeating it until people have so thoroughly beaten it into the ground that it’s embarrassing, then you move to another flawed argument but you don’t bother acknowledging that your points have been rebutted.

This shows that your conclusions are not based on your arguments, since the arguments can be rebutted and your conclusions are untouched. Instead, you use whatever you have at hand to try to prop up your conclusions, namely that making efforts to address gamers who are not able-bodied straight white cis men is an affront to the latter, the only “true” gamers. Is there anything anyone could say or do that would lead you to say “Oh, I had not thought of that, or I didn’t know that, you make a good point?” I doubt it.

So the very essence of good-faith discussion is missing. You’re not here to exchange, but to restate your grievances. Do you harbour hope of changing my mind, or any of my readers’? If you did, you would try to convince rather than ignore and evade, wouldn’t you? And that requires listening as well as talking.

GemmaBut not only have you failed to make any valid points; you have failed to convince me or anyone else of the importance of your cause (able-bodied straight white cis men) compared to mine (inclusiveness). You see, there is no shortage of games, books, movies, comics, television shows and other fiction and non-fiction showing your constituency in starring roles; in fact, it’s hard to find anything else. Why do you object to a few depictions and mentions of anyone else?

The form of your comments suggests that you don’t know anyone who doesn’t look like you and you have convinced yourself that they do not exist. But I know real gamers, real people who are hurt by this forced invisibility. You have spent your efforts trying to keep difference at bay; I’ve spent mine — years of gaming and organizing conventions in many cities — trying to open the gaming community to newcomers. I started on this path because I wanted to spread a hobby I dearly love; now it has brought me in contact with a vast circle of fantastic gamers and even more wonderful friends. I sit at the table with people who are disabled, trans, non-white, people of different orientations and genders and origins, and we have memorable adventures in our shared imagined worlds. Saying no to inclusive language and illustrations is saying no to real people.

Is this really who you want to be, the guy who holds the gate against women, minorities, and marginalized people? This is your cause? “At least I defended futuristic super-submarines from wheelchair users and trans people”?

Cancer constellation in a circleI don’t think you bothered to read anything on my blog, but if you did you may have noticed that in the weeks since you started this kerfuffle, I’ve had to face my own mortality. My treatment is proceeding but the carcinoma is described as “aggressive”, so I have to seriously address the fact that I may not be here for very long. I asked myself whether it was worth bothering with stupid little game-related flame wars with the rest of my time.

And the answer is “Fuck yeah.”

Every day of our lives, we must act as the people we want to be if we want to be remembered that way. If I’m going into the ground soon, I want to leave the memory of one who tried to hold the door open for others to get in, not the one who closed the gates.

It saddens me that you prefer to be “sourd comme les pierres.”

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10 thoughts on “Deaf as a stone

    1. For years I ran games, and played with my sons and stepsons, in an environment where one particular adult individual frequently made “gay jokes” about certain character races and classes. They were seemingly innocuous at the time, but after several years, one of my step sons came out as gay.

      Although the joker immediately stopped, and apologised, not long after that, my step-son stopped showing up, and the two never gamed together again. It may have had more to do with other factors, but I can’t help but feel that the gender thing was a factor, and I certainly can’t discount it.

      I am absolutely sure my joker friend would take back every comment and joke he made if he could. It has certainly made him more circumspect about his comments in general. I am also sure that I should have pushed back harder a long time ago – my own insecurity about coming off as a self-righteous jerk held me back.

  1. Posting a critique of the original product: totally legit

    The critique centers around one completely optional character and a single personal pronoun use: somewhat weird, and not likely to win allies in the progressive areas of gaming, but whatever.

    Shrieking the same complaint over and over like some sort of parrot: irritating.

    Using bigotted language: yep, 100% legitimate target for the ban hammer.

    Searching for WEEKS to find the site of someone who commented about the original discussion so you can climb on the soap box again and continue being unpleasant and obnoxious: pathetic.

  2. Excellent piece.

    I will never understand people who are afraid of inclusivity. I explain it like this: I send new people to my hairdresser all the time, even though how busy she is means scheduling is a pain in the ass. Because I know if she can make a living at it, she’ll keep cutting hair, including mine. And I want her to do that.

    If you open up the audience of gaming, what you’re doing is sending new people to your hairdresser (game producers), whom I assume you want to keep cutting your hair (making you games).

    It’s a matter of economic feasibility and sense, in addition to not being a xenophobic jerkface.

    1. One of the clearest indications of privilege, both in the original discussion and here, is the belief on the part of the OP that somehow his disapproval and rage, and that of his friends, will be devastating to Evil Hat sales, causing them crushing financial loss and ruin, without ever once thinking about the possibility that the loss of their minuscule economic contribution to the company (for a “pay what you want” product incidentally) may be offset by the people who will feel more welcome and purchase more from a company they perceive as being open and friendly as opposed to pandering to a small, bigoted minority of, what was it? Oh yes – “xenophobic jerkfaces”. ;-P

  3. Inclusivity is important.

    1) For selfish reasons: Despite a recent trend of straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied men running big chunks of the world and of popular culture (or at least editing history to show that), the times they are a changing. If I (as a straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied dude) want to see the hobby I love continue to grow, or even to survive, gatekeeping it is against my best interests. The world is already diverse, and that diversity is growing and becoming more apparent every day as marginalized folks are able to come forward and take their places.

    2) For unselfish reasons: Why on earth would anyone care what games people play in their own homes? If a game isn’t actively harmful or contributing to the marginalization of already-marginalized folks, then what does it matter? I would love to show up somewhere and find a convention center full of tabletop-games players who don’t look like me. I’ve played with straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied dudes my whole life. I can probably count on both hands the number of folks who fall outside of that who I played with before my first convention.

    So, to any straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied dudes reading this comment: don’t keep people out of our hobby or any other. If you’re afraid of the change you see around you, maybe trying talking to someone who doesn’t fall into the straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied guy stereotype and see what they think. Then talk to someone else. Then someone else. Listen to diverse opinions and be willing to accept change for the better.

    1. It’s very strange. I play a straight, white, cis, able guy every day – why would I want to play one in an RPG?

  4. “Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
    Shallow water – channel and tide
    Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
    Tired illusion drown in the night”

    – Thomas Dolby, “One of our Submarines”

  5. Thanks for your eloquent response! When this individual targeted my blog with comments – and not even in a relevant post – I chose to delete them. I may write a review of the product on my blog in the very near future. The intentionality that Evil Hat brings to inclusivity is something that I have taken for granted, but I shouldn’t.

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