Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Random Thoughts: The D&D War, Avalon Hill’s Censorship, Rules as Written, Raising a Gamer, When Chain-mail Bikinis are Okay, and Reductio ad Absurdum

Deja Vu All Over Again: their game convention was forbidden because the The Utah Association of Women convinced the mayor that playing D&D caused people to become witches. — “Think about it from their standpoint. They are a political group, out to swing public opinion. They cannot afford to look silly — and that’s just what will happen if you stand up to them and look halfway intelligent. Besides that, they have other issues they want to wrestle with — sex education in the schools, fluoridation in the water, censoring cable television, and regulating pinball arcades. Their style is political blitzkrieg, blasting one target and then turning to another … and if you refuse to be blasted, they may just decide to quit and go pick on someone else.” —  Space Gamer #61

“Avalon Hill’s letter may or may not be a threat to free speech. It is, at the very least, arrogant and insensitive. It is also, unfortunately, in keeping with the bureaucratic bullshit which we have come to expect from Avalon Hill. If necessary, The Wargamer will purchase its review copies on the open market, rather than submit to any form of publisher censorship.” — Keith Poulter, editor of The Wargamer, Space Gamer #75

Playing “Rules As Written” does not necessarily work against immersive play, though a lot of people have gotten the idea that it would. I know in my minimalistic B/X games, the rules eventually become invisible. They’re so simple, but they define the stakes and shift control of the game into the players’ hands very quickly. Actual rulings are generally so irrelevant to the tone and course of play, I can hand those decisions to a new player that doesn’t know what’s going on without changing the nature of the game! The game is that robust! Playing “RAW” in that case lets me fade into the woodwork, lets the players experience the world that is implied by the rules (the implied setting and the implied campaign), and it allows them to make enough informed decisions that they can develop their own adventuring tactics and strategies to suit their tastes. Fixing the game willy nilly gives them “the game in Jeffro’s head” with “the outcome Jeffro already has in mind.” In the hands of competent referee, RAW allows an entire world of action to unfold before his eyes, without him having to baby it all along at every point. An anti-RAW attitude can destroy the very thing its proponents claim to want!

This may be another of those rants at a point that was not actually made, but let me be clear about something. As a parent that happens to be a hobbyist, I am not raising a geek or a gamer. I am raising my kids to be adults. Yes, I do want to share my favorite games with them. Yes, I do intentionally make them read a few old books just on the principle of exposing them to things that have been exorcised from the wider culture. But when they grow up and go onto bigger and better things, they’ll get no argument from me. “Geek” is a stigma, not an identity. I’m not going to train them to take pride in the fact that they have to, in effect, sit in the back of the bus. Games are fun, but they are neither an end game nor and end unto themselves. Gaming is a pastime, not a religion.

People have this impression that the seventies was about disco or psychedelia or even punk. It wasn’t. Those other genres were just a flash in the pan in comparison to the singer-songwriters that completely dominated the period. People like Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, James Taylor, John Denver, Carol King, and Neil Diamond… they owned it. If you think otherwise, you either weren’t there or else were on drugs for the better part of the decade.

“Your right to protest silently is one that ends just where the mob of naked, screaming hooligans begins.” —  Zechariah Chafee (updated 2014)

A child’s education should begin at least one hundred years before he was born. Edgar Rice Burroughs is about as good a place to start as any.

Mondegreen in Action — This song caused almost incalculable harm to my psyche when I was a kid. Your PARENTS only love you when they’re playing. Yeah… so they… they don’t love me when they’re not playing? Like… when they are at work, they just sit there thinking about how much they hate me?! This is terrible news!!

In honor of Jacob Marley and the season’s festivities… the ghost of nerd rage past presents… the original proposed covers for GURPS Fourth Edition! Oh, yeah!!!

It’s not the masterpieces that inspire people to become game designers. It’s the godawful piles of garbage that hurt peoples’ brains and make them say, I could do better than that.

For those trying to keep up, the comments on this post are illuminating. Firstly, a woman satirizing the chainmail bikini trope is hilarious. Also, if a woman wants to revel in being objectified by the male gaze for a few hours, she’s free to go to a con in that sort of getup whenever she wants. But if a guy wants include chaimail bikini pictures on his blog posts, that’s okay only if he includes the right kind of comment with it. A chainmail bikini image on a magazine cover would not be problematic at all if it were done with an obviously satirical intent, but if the magazine includes an article that is deemed to have offensive content, suddenly the cover becomes serious business!!! Does that all make sense now? Good!

Every artist type person that I went to college with would have taken it as a point of pride if they succeeded in offending someone, particularly prudish homebody types and ordinary laborers. Now the artsy-fartsy crowd lives to remove things they find offensive from the public sphere while vilifying the creators. Seriously, how did this change so fast…?! I don’t get it.

This guy is rolling in Kickstarter money, but he doesn’t know what a Reductio ad Absurdum is. (Hint: it’s not a logical fallacy. It is a method of proof, also called an “indirect proof.”) I guess you don’t have to know much in order to both gin up a hysteria and profit from it.

Milo Yiannopoulos: I’m Writing a Book about #GamerGate

I guess this brouhaha is such a big deal at this point that it merits a book being written about it. But it’s too current, too emotionally fraught, and too related to violence to be an appropriate subject for a satirical card game. I mean, there’s just certain lines we shouldn’t cross at the table top, you know? The important thing is that guys like Steve Wieck make it clear to all of us just where it is. I think that’s something that we as a game community can all get behind.

4 responses to “Random Thoughts: The D&D War, Avalon Hill’s Censorship, Rules as Written, Raising a Gamer, When Chain-mail Bikinis are Okay, and Reductio ad Absurdum

  1. Rod Thompson December 18, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Even before the Reductio ad absurbum gaffe, he made wikipedia the object of an Appeal to Authority. Thus self identifying as just another rube with delusions of intellectual grandeur.

  2. James McGlothlin December 18, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I was the commenter at the chainmail bikini post asking for clarification about what counts as acceptable use of chainmail bikinis. In my opinion, your small paragraph summarized nicely the sort of schizophrenic, and highly idiosyncratic nature of the SF&F community. In the past whenever I have raised questions in posts, like I did in that chainmail bikini post–not sneaky insinuating ones, but questions truly seeking for clarification–I am usually amazed at how defensive people in the SF&F community get.

    To say the least, I’m always suspicious whenever anyone gets defensive simply over questions for clarification. I’m particularly suspicious that either something is being hidden, consciously or not, or there is purposely being set up a ring of defense for some agenda that will not stand for being questioned.

    Strange times.

    • jeffro December 18, 2014 at 10:09 am

      Thank you for the comment, but if I can quibble with one thing you say there:

      I do not think the Black Gate commentariat is (as you say) representative of the “highly idiosyncratic nature of the SF&F community.” They are merely representative of what happens when a small but vocal number of pearl clutching concern trolling busy bodies try make the rest of us walk on eggshells when we try to enjoy fantasy and science fiction in nearly any medium. It doesn’t have to be that way.

      • James McGlothlin December 18, 2014 at 7:10 pm

        I hope you’re right. My comment was based upon my experience of bringing up questions at the Blackgate posts and also watching the hubbub surrounding issues such as Lovecraft’s image on the world fantasy awards. If it is a small number, then they definitely are vocal!

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