Friday, August 1, 2014

Wizards of the Coast is sending a damaging message

When the 5th Edition D&D .pdf was made freely available, like many others I was pleased to see the sidebar on how gender is handled in-game. I missed this, however, and to be honest wasn't even aware of these two individuals (RPGPundit and Zak S). I'm unhappy that our hobby still retains enclaves of people with social ideas like these two. Given that a lot of us in hobby games are both intelligent and experienced with social marginalization, you'd think we'd be a lot farther along on this kind of thing than the general community.

From what I've seen, we've got it better than most here in VT, but we can do better. I'd encourage all of you to take a look at this article, and speak up. Until Wizards makes a real statement addressing their failure here, they won't be getting any more of my money.

And if this doesn't seem like a problem to you, it's because you're one of the lucky ones. Think about whether or not these guys would represent a problem to anyone you care about. It's not enough to ignore people like RPGPundit and Zak S; they need to know that these ideas are unwelcome and damaging to the community that they profess to care for. The original content is here.

We deal with negativity in the hobby community on a regular basis.  It's just part of socializing, and when your social activity of choice is competitive and contentious, conflict will arise.  Nerd rage over rules interpretation is a disagreement on equal footing. Doxing your detractors and having your followers send them late-night phone calls, outing trans folks, publicizing the school your detractors' children attend, these are not the behaviors of jerks. These are existential life-or-death threats. They do not deserve your defense.

Do I think Zak should not work in the hobby at all? No, I hope that's not what came across. It's not up to me or anyone else what he does for a living. However, what he, and by association Wizards, needs to face is the fact that there are consequences for certain actions. One of the consequences of engaging in noxious behavior is being cut out of the social contract; that's how it works pretty much anywhere. If you're a dick, people don't want to associate with you. If he and his ilk find it difficult to find work in a particular industry, then that is a direct result of the action he as a consenting adult chose to engage in. It's not my job to feel responsible to protect the job opportunities of a flagrant asshole. This is 100% about the prevailing social environment and what is wrong with it, in that in feels the need to be more protective of people being assholes than people who are being hurt.

A frequent misapprehension by people who decry "political correctness" is that those of us doing the calling-out are pushing for some kind of policy change through firing, litigation, blacklisting, or whatever. And some overzealous social justice crusaders actually are doing that, but that's far more the exception than the rule. I'm not trying to get these guys banned from anything (they seem to do a great job at achieving that themselves). What I'm trying to do is further the dialogue where we can make the hobby more positive, friendly, welcoming, and open for everyone who chooses to abide by that specific social contract. We don't waste time on those who don't, other than to portray them as examples of a cautionary tale.

By choosing to hire these guys as consultants, Wizards got Asshole on them. As I've stated before, what I'm looking for is for them to publicly admit that they fucked up. Bringing these guys into their house sends a message, intended or not, that there is a place in this community for people being hateful.