Come at me, 2017

2017As you might have guessed, the last several weeks have been harder on my morale than my body. The last stretch of the American presidential election was hugely stress-inducing, and the results were soul-crushing. I know my friends know what I’m talking about, I heard it in their words and read it in their posts. Except for the most upbeat of topics — my gaming group, Thanksgiving, and the good progress in my treatment — I have been unable to write anything in over eight weeks. I keep thinking of words in my head, it’s all there, but I’ve been unable to put them down in writing.

Two months ago, I was cautiously optimistic. I thought we would probably get a weak Clinton victory, then some incremental building on the cautious progress made under the Obama administration; against this backdrop, I was expecting to focus a lot of energy on my geek communities, and particularly the gaming community, as I returned to health.

Then the world changed. I’m still not ready to unpack this event, but the result is that people previously known as “Gamergators,” “MRAs,” “pissing booth warriors” and “some racist trolls in the bottom drawer of the Internet” now feel emboldened to take their assholiness for a stroll in real space. Suddenly, it’s not just in a few compartments of our lives that we can meet with acts of hatred from people we don’t even know. After what most of us considered a shitty year, 2017 looks like it will be even worse. I met January 1st more downcast and apprehensive than I ever have in my life.

My backlog of writing is not helped by the fact that I feel I will be discussing many unpleasant topics this year. Indeed, in late October and early November before I sank into depression, I was planning to start writing a series tackling some of the successes, failures, and possible paths forward for diversity in tabletop gaming and related geeky pursuits. I feel this is more needed now than ever, but I don’t know how much justice I will be able to do to the topics.

Nevertheless, I can’t just roll over and play dead. It’s not the first time I have dealt with depression, and I will deal with it this time again. In fact, I was hit by a wave at about the same time the year before, when my kind and benevolent employer unilaterally cut my hours and stripped me of my benefits. You know what got me out of the ditch? Cancer. That’s right, sometimes it’s not an improvement in circumstances that serves as the ladder to climb out of a hole, but a disaster you have to respond to. And 2017 looks to be quite the disaster, so I might as well hold on to that to climb.

Happy New Year, folks. Me, I take pride in the fact that I managed to write this post without too much profanity.

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6 thoughts on “Come at me, 2017

  1. Thank you for continuing to write, and I look forward to seeing more of your thoughts on diversity.

    In all honestly, I feel that now may be the time to just start aggressively pruning things that are hurtful or hostile from our lives. Cutting off family members, leaving discussions, abandoning things that are colonized by toxic masculinity, and finding new hobbies … or at least new people to share them with.

    The people who voted a certain way fucked us all over decisively, so now is no longer the time to try to engage with them, or inhabit or fight over spaces they’ve taken by force. It’s a time to conserve and preserve whatever we have left that’s good, and focus on safety and small-scale community-building so that something new can grow to replace what we’ve lost.

    Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe that isn’t for everyone. But on the other hand, just to give an example, I’ve had a lot more fun with the miniatures and RPG hobbies after expunging 40k, Warmahordes, and D&D stuff from my life, and leaving those games’ toxic communities in search of better things by female authors. Your War of Ashes RPG, and the accompanying Zombiesmith line of miniatures, both being prime examples!

    (I’m also looking forward to parts of WoA being released under a Creative Commons license eventually; I really like the miniatures rules! I’ve used terrain and minis with Fate before, and I feel like this would enhance it. Also, TY for letting me know about Noteboards.)

    1. Thank you for the kind words! There is nothing wrong with getting rid of games you don’t enjoy, or cutting ties with online randos whose interactions bring you nothing good. And everybody has a different list of those, based on their personal experience. On the other hand, I do try to evaluate when something can be changed rather than abandoned, e.g., improve a game’s ruleset, move discussions to a different forum or platform, talk to a clueless friend about their insensitivity. Then remains the decision of whether that change, and the good aspects of the thing/person, are worth the effort…

      1. You’re right, and in hindsight I regret not pointing that out. We need people who are able to resist, or no one will be safe to build anything.

        I guess my decision is based around being an endangered minority, one that my loved ones have sacrificed a lot for to ensure that I’m safe. From anxiety, depression, and systemic injustice. The people I care about treat my existence as an inherent good, and reading about this stuff has been destroying me, so … I decided to take a step back, and just see self-care as my act of resistance. Which it kind of is, when my body’s so politicized.

        I do think that supporting women creators and diverse games is better and more fun than anything the male-dominated “industry” has to offer. My partner wrote this poem called Toybox, about women and girls being constrained by gendered expectations. But as someone who was gendered male, growing up, I kind of feel the same way. It’s been strange realizing that everything I thought I liked, that was sold to me, is just full of identical guns and violence. And that their fandoms are terrible.

  2. “Nevertheless, I can’t just roll over and play dead” — it works just fine for me here in my cabin in Denile 😛

    More seriously, I entirely agree. I admire those who have the courage to keep writing when the shit hits the fan, which hasn’t really been the case for me. And you know we all read with great interest what you have to say.

    Hang in there. Happy f-ing New Year 😉

    1. All that matters is that we do what we can when we can. Sometimes I can’t, and I have to force myself to accept that. Sometimes I can, and I do. And so do you, I’ve seen and admired your efforts! Let’s all keep looking out for each other — there’s a lot of ugliness floating around us these days.

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