Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Twisting in a wind of words

Fact: I don’t rank video games with our game types; I see digital games and I see tangible games. I have not been into video games since my son who is now 36 had an Atari.

I was vaguely aware of this Gamergate shit when I saw some seminars were cancelled at an event in Austin. I thought they were some sort of electronic bullies or vandals; I had no idea of the misogyny involved. I deplore their behavior; they seem to be a bunch of teen-aged cyber-bullies and assholes. I have not read any of their manifestos, so I had no idea that they had made an otherwise ordinary word used in medicine and science to describe one half of our species into a pejorative.

I think more people that are not male (just what term can I use?) would find a lot of enjoyment playing RPG’s. (BTW, an apostrophe to indicate plural acronyms is correct by all the style books I have followed. It might be changing, but it is not there yet; it is not indicative of the possessive case.) As a former teacher (a real teacher, not someone with honorary degrees and being brought up on sexual abuse charges; thanks for that comparison) I was quite good at crafting teaching aids and handouts, as well as having developed a very effective tool that involved role-assumption/playing  in the classroom.

In my opinion, role playing has become too rules-heavy. Most of the excessive rules are about stuff you may never do or encounter as a Player Character, or only do so after a considerable time playing. In that instance, you learn by doing. I do not like Skills and Abilities ratings for that reason; I am firmly entrenched in the ethos of the Old School about learning by doing and never being afraid to try something. So I figured out a method to boil it down to the basics needed to have fun.

I wanted to run games for only not-males; Jim Ward and Merle Rasmussen have done so in the past and related how much fun they were; I briefly sat in on one of Jim’s, observing. I wanted to try it for myself and thought to accomplish two tasks, teach the basics and run a fun adventure.

Through innocent use of otherwise ordinary words I have offended some people, for which I apologize. I did not know that the word “Female” had been used as a pejorative in a war of words of which I was ignorant. I did not know that offering to boil down the mass of rules was going to be seen as some sinister insinuation that not-male gamers are too dumb.

By restricting to only beginners that were not male, I thought to provide a friendly and fun atmosphere. This is based on classroom experiences; nobody wants to sit there thinking they are missing out on something or the only one not getting it. Frankly, I do not wish to introduce RPG’ing to a bunch of younger males (at least not below 12 or 13); that is based on classroom experience. In that regard, and that one only, you can label me sexist.

I was vilified by someone I do not know in a public forum, instead of being contacted (God knows I am easy enough to get hold of) and informing me of the concerns my listing apparently raised.  Had that happened, I absolutely would have done a quick edit (I sent the same description to GaryCon and have not heard a thing about it except several inquiries about signing up.) Attacking a stranger, in a public forum is a cheap shot, in my opinion. (I do not consider myself some sort of celebrity and am constantly humbled by the people that see me as that); I’m just an old dude that still plays games,  likes to write adventures and was once involved in the beginning of our modern hobby, involved with a minute section of the population.

When attacked, I defend vigorously. I felt I was unjustly attacked and attainted for a word that has more than one meaning and is a pejorative in a tiny percentage of the population. I hope my attacker got a warm rush of satisfaction.

I really am sorry, and a bit befuddled, by all that has transpired over a listing in a convention website. I am not guilty of any of the behaviors that my words have been twisted into, and never have been.
I have been told that the instigator of this likes to stir the pot. I would not know because I cannot recall having met her; I did Friend her on FB when I saw a bunch of mutuals but I probably “know” less than 10% of my “Friends”; there are over 2000 of them. I never even saw her initial post on my Wall.

So what is the “politically correct” term for members of our species possessing ovaries and not testicles? I still intend to call infants baby boys or baby girls; if they change their mind later I will change what I call them.

So, having gotten all of that off my chest, I reiterate that I am sorry some people were offended when they read what I wrote. But this game is still off-limits to males.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Much ado about nothing- PC in RPG's

It seems that I have become the January Whipping-boy for some disgruntled female gamers for a description I submitted for a game I plan to run at TotalCon for ladies only. This is what I submitted
For Ladies Only—This adventure is written specifically for the wives, girlfriends and daughters of gamers, as well as those females wishing to delve into the field without a lifelong commitment. It has been boiled down to the basics of role-playing as it used to be: A sheet of paper, some dice, a pencil and some numbers on that paper accompanied by an open mind and a sense of adventure. Ladies, come see what the fuss is about.

Apparently that description makes me something of a misogynist in some eyes. Why?

The adventure I have created sprang from a favor I did for my wife. She came home one night from her Zumba class and asked if I could put together a small adventure for some of the ladies from her class, which I did. The ladies were interested in seeing what all the fuss, or interest, was all about. We had a great time and I think one or two might do it again with others of their acquaintance.

I have been a gamer for close to 53 years. Until the advent of D&D, followed by its many clones, the gaming hobby was at least 97% male. At GenCons in ’74 and ’75, I can recall no more than half a dozen females (not named Gygax) present and a couple of them were clearly either bored girlfriends or an older sister stuck with taking a younger brother for the day. RPG’s came along and the ratio of females began to increase. In all the adventures I have run at all the cons I have attended since 1975, the percentage of females at my table has never, ever, exceeded 30%. (And I am pretty sure I have never gotten a rep for being nasty to ladies, in games or in real life.)

Since 2006, when I got back into the industry, I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to cons all over the US, east of the Rockies. I have had the pleasure of working the GenCon Auction for several years. I bring this up only to point out that I have had a lot of contact with gamers all over at least half of the country—a pretty wide polling sample.

Lots more ladies are now gaming; I think that is wonderful because in RPG play they often bring a different perspective to the table. I base this on my experience running games that had ladies in them. When thinking back about parties that have survived con adventures of mine, I think the preponderance of them contained females. Given that I am noted for lethal games, and given the fact that many con gamers seek a glorious Viking’s death to provide yarns for those left behind, I think the survival of those particular parties is worthy of note.

When I have spoken to many lady gamers I know that do not RPG, but are wicked-good boardgamers and some great minis players, not to mention a couple of chariot racers I have lost to, their most common response to why they don’t RPG is something having to do with being intimidated by “All those rules and rulebooks.” (I paraphrase a little here, but the gist is true.)

When I started my first campaign in 1974, I had the only set of rules for at least eight or nine months, and the only set of “funny” dice for about two months. We had outrageous fun without all the paraphernalia so common today. At my con games, the only things allowed on the table are writing utensil, character sheet, dice and the compendiums of all the OS spells and prayers that I put together. This is what I am rendering it back into-simple fun.

There are any number of other reasons why ladies might be reluctant to “force” their way into what they see as a “guy thing”, or what they have been told is a male thing. Ridicule and snide remarks are the two I heard most often cited; just being made generally uneasy or being made to feel an interloper are others. Some just don’t want to embarrass themselves in a roomful of guys. (Nor would I care to embarrass myself in a room full of ladies.)

(I have also been taken to task for calling them “lady gamers”. A 15 year old girl playing at my table is not a “woman” yet; when she turns 18 she is legally an adult. I would not dream of calling female gamers “girls”, either. I always treat, and refer to, a female as a lady until she proves otherwise.)
So, NO, I do not think all the ladies present at cons are “just girlfriends drug along”, or any other such silly crap attributed to me or my words.

ALL I want to do is offer a safe, fun and easy intro into RPG’s for those of the female sex that might be interested in learning from someone that has been doing it longer than most.

Why do some people see insult and offense when none is meant, or inferred?  The little bit about “lifelong” commitment should have tipped you that I had my tongue at least partially in cheek.

Another question: why do some people take to social media without first talking to the individual involved? How dare they presume what my motives are?

By the way,  I hold a Master's in Education; I am reasonably certain that I know what I am doing.