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D&D 5E D&D Beyond Cancels Competition

D&D Beyond has been running an art contest which asked creators to enter D&D-themed portrait frame. DDB got to use any or all of the entries, while the winner and some runners up received some digital content as a prize.

There was a backlash -- and DDB has cancelled the contest.

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Thank you to all of our community for sharing your comments and concerns regarding our anniversary Frame Design Contest.

While we wanted to celebrate fan art as a part of our upcoming anniversary, it's clear that our community disagrees with the way we approached it. We've heard your feedback, and will be pulling the contest.

We will also strive to do better as we continue to look for ways to showcase the passion and creativity of our fellow D&D players and fans in the future. Our team will be taking this as a learning moment, and as encouragement to further educate ourselves in this pursuit.

Your feedback is absolutely instrumental to us, and we are always happy to listen and grow in response to our community's needs and concerns. Thank you all again for giving us the opportunity to review this event, and take the appropriate action.

The company went on to say:

Members of our community raised concerns about the contest’s impact on artists and designers, and the implications of running a contest to create art where only some entrants would receive a prize, and that the prize was exclusively digital material on D&D Beyond. Issues were similarly raised with regards to the contest terms and conditions. Though the entrants would all retain ownership of their design to use in any way they saw fit, including selling, printing, or reproducing, it also granted D&D Beyond rights to use submitted designs in the future. We have listened to these concerns, and in response closed the competition. We’ll be looking at ways we can better uplift our community, while also doing fun community events, in the future.

Competitions where the company in question acquires rights to all entries are generally frowned upon (unless you're WotC).
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

The term white knight has always bothered me. It implies that one cannot be genuinely concerned for others. That ones concern is always simply to make themselves look good. I find both of those ideas wrong and dangerous.

also, to turn this on its head for a moment so we can easily see the truth, why are you white knighting for those artists that wanted this contest ended? *Note it’s just the notion that your white knighting is acceptable and his is not that I’m contrasting.

#no more dismissive terms
I don't think that it is impossible for somebody to be genuinely concerned for others and that all displays of compassion are self-centered virtue signalling. Far from it.

However, in this case, I can't help but feel that Sword's concern for the so-called "amateurs" that apparently were grievously harmed by losing the opportunity to participate in this contest, and their disdain for what they call the "professionals" that were so rotten of character to point out that maybe D&D Beyond shouldn't be fishing for assets from the community (read the italicized section with all the sarcasm that you can muster) is either disingenuous, or if genuine then rooted in ignorance. In this specific scenario, I believe that they either have their own "ideological point" to argue and are using the ideal of the "amateur artist" as a prop and a shield for their views; or they are simply being a fool who believes themselves to know far more about the current state of the digital art field than they actually do, culminating in their latest post where they attacked an actual artist and insisted that they had some sort of "ideological point" that immediately devalued their argument and made their opposition to the contest worthless.

As for me? I don't draw myself; my wrists are way too stiff for that. But I have friends who are involved in art and regularly face these kinds of conditions, along with others in similar boats in other creative fields. I care about them and wish the best for them (and hope for an opportunity to collaborate with them on a project some day). As well, there were more than a few creators in the RPG industry that I deeply respect that were part of the outcry against this contest; forgive me if I value their opinions and experiences more than your's.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
The term white knight has always bothered me. It implies that one cannot be genuinely concerned for others. That ones concern is always simply to make themselves look good. I find both of those ideas wrong and dangerous.

also, to turn this on its head for a moment so we can easily see the truth, why are you white knighting for those artists that wanted this contest ended? *Note it’s just the notion that your white knighting is acceptable and his is not that I’m contrasting.

#no more dismissive terms
That's not what the term white knight means.

It does not imply that you cannot be concerned for others, or that one's concern could only be to possibly feel superior or look good.

White knighting means that you are helping another person who does not need or want your help, outwardly proclaiming your support for them, but inwardly not truly believing they can handle things on their own. It's usually used in reference to how men treat women. A man who believes women are capable of everything men are, but who insists on opening doors, carrying heavy burdens, etc, is being a white knight.

Mildly, it's not the most terrible of things . . . . but it can get pretty toxic in its extreme.

In context here, if you are arguing on behalf of artists, aren't an artist yourself, and ignoring the voices of artists on the matter . . . . you are white knighting the artists who don't want or need your help. The implication is that you know better than the artists themselves . . .
 

Hussar

Legend
also, to turn this on its head for a moment so we can easily see the truth, why are you white knighting for those artists that wanted this contest ended? *Note it’s just the notion that your white knighting is acceptable and his is not that I’m contrasting.
Just to respond to this.

It's a question of degree really. When one side of the argument can back up their argument with concrete examples stretching back several years - as in this case where companies doing this sort of contest - and the other side of the argument is basically just gut feeling without any actual evidence, then "white knighting" isn't really what one side is doing. One side is arguing from a position of evidence, while the other side is just presenting hypotheticals.

When someone is arguing a point on behalf of a hypothetical group without any evidence that this group actually exists, that's where we enter the realm of "white knighting". The problem becomes that so many people try to use the notion of "white knighting" or "keyboard warrior" or whatever term as a rebuttal to an argument without actually engaging any of the factual evidence that has been presented.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I don't think that it is impossible for somebody to be genuinely concerned for others and that all displays of compassion are self-centered virtue signalling. Far from it.
That's a good starting point.

However, in this case, I can't help but feel that Sword's concern for the so-called "amateurs" that apparently were grievously harmed by losing the opportunity to participate in this contest, and their disdain for what they call the "professionals" that were so rotten of character to point out that maybe D&D Beyond shouldn't be fishing for assets from the community (read the italicized section with all the sarcasm that you can muster) is either disingenuous, or if genuine then rooted in ignorance. In this specific scenario, I believe that they either have their own "ideological point" to argue and are using the ideal of the "amateur artist" as a prop and a shield for their views; or they are simply being a fool who believes themselves to know far more about the current state of the digital art field than they actually do, culminating in their latest post where they attacked an actual artist and insisted that they had some sort of "ideological point" that immediately devalued their argument and made their opposition to the contest worthless.
I'm not going to talk about the other posters here because that wasn't really my issue. Instead I'll say this. We all have our own ideologic opinions. I think it's okay to express them and explain them and have them scrutinized. I don't think it's okay to be outright dismissed by being called a white knight or to be dismissed because your position is more ideologic than pragmatic.

As for me? I don't draw myself; my wrists are way too stiff for that. But I have friends who are involved in art and regularly face these kinds of conditions, along with others in similar boats in other creative fields. I care about them and wish the best for them (and hope for an opportunity to collaborate with them on a project some day). As well, there were more than a few creators in the RPG industry that I deeply respect that were part of the outcry against this contest; forgive me if I value their opinions and experiences more than your's.
You are forgiven this once ;)
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
That's not what the term white knight means.

It does not imply that you cannot be concerned for others, or that one's concern could only be to possibly feel superior or look good.

White knighting means that you are helping another person who does not need or want your help, outwardly proclaiming your support for them, but inwardly not truly believing they can handle things on their own. It's usually used in reference to how men treat women. A man who believes women are capable of everything men are, but who insists on opening doors, carrying heavy burdens, etc, is being a white knight.
If the term is about how one inwardly believes then IMO it has no place in civilized discussion forums because there's not even half a chance that any of us knows that about each other.

Mildly, it's not the most terrible of things . . . . but it can get pretty toxic in its extreme.

In context here, if you are arguing on behalf of artists, aren't an artist yourself, and ignoring the voices of artists on the matter . . . . you are white knighting the artists who don't want or need your help. The implication is that you know better than the artists themselves . . .
Or, we can treat everyone that offers an opinion on a topic as having a potentially valuable opinion instead of checking to see if they belong in the only group 'we' want to allow to have a voice on a particular topic. It's not white knighting to offer your opinion, even if it's an opinion about how others think in a group to which you don't belong.

What I see happening most the time 'White Knighting' get brought up is it being used to dismiss someone elses thoughts and ideas out of hand instead of actually engage in them. IMO, doesn't seem this time was any different.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Anyways, it's probably best I go ahead and bow out now as it's very likely if I continue I will say something I either shouldn't or that I later regret. Enjoy the convo and keep it classy.
 

GuyBoy

Adventurer
I don't think that it is impossible for somebody to be genuinely concerned for others and that all displays of compassion are self-centered virtue signalling. Far from it.

However, in this case, I can't help but feel that Sword's concern for the so-called "amateurs" that apparently were grievously harmed by losing the opportunity to participate in this contest, and their disdain for what they call the "professionals" that were so rotten of character to point out that maybe D&D Beyond shouldn't be fishing for assets from the community (read the italicized section with all the sarcasm that you can muster) is either disingenuous, or if genuine then rooted in ignorance. In this specific scenario, I believe that they either have their own "ideological point" to argue and are using the ideal of the "amateur artist" as a prop and a shield for their views; or they are simply being a fool who believes themselves to know far more about the current state of the digital art field than they actually do, culminating in their latest post where they attacked an actual artist and insisted that they had some sort of "ideological point" that immediately devalued their argument and made their opposition to the contest worthless.

As for me? I don't draw myself; my wrists are way too stiff for that. But I have friends who are involved in art and regularly face these kinds of conditions, along with others in similar boats in other creative fields. I care about them and wish the best for them (and hope for an opportunity to collaborate with them on a project some day). As well, there were more than a few creators in the RPG industry that I deeply respect that were part of the outcry against this contest; forgive me if I value their opinions and experiences more than your's.
I feel the need to step in here: I have known The Sword personally for around 16 years. He is part of my gaming group. He is my friend.
He is a kind, decent and caring person. You are, simply, in the wrong to suggest he is either disingenuous or ignorant. I don’t know whether you will retract. That is your decision but you should.

On a related issue, “White Knight” is an aspect of a psychological theory known as Karpman’s Drama Triangle. It is deeply complex and probably best not to be deployed in context of a discussion forum about art.
 



Hussar

Legend
I was noodling around and I noticed that Inkarnate runs a similar sort of competition. They’re on their sixth one currently.

Why is no one complaining about them? Well I’m glad you asked.

Inkarnate’s contest is a bit different. You use the program provided by Inkarnate to create your entry. IOW you are being given all the tools you need to enter the art contest free of charge.

And all entries are displayed under a Creative Commons Share Alike license, meaning that Inkarnate cannot ever sell them. Nor can the artists either. That’s true. But that licensing is part of using the material provided by the contest runner.

My point is, it’s entirely possible to run art contests without the contest runner gaining rights to the art with zero return for the entrants.
 

I think part of the problem with these sorts of art contests is that it diminishes professional work, and propagates a message that the work is not highly valued. It's one thing to ask for a submission of proposals, with the idea that the "winner" will get a larger and more lucrative contract. It's another thing to ask for the submission to be a finished product, with a meager reward to the winner.

And while it's true that professional artists can Just Say No and not enter, leaving it up to amateurs to try to make a name for themselves, that just further devalues the profession. It's basically saying, "And we don't HAVE to hire a professional because amateur work is just as good!"

Try to imagine a similar thing happening in, say, law. "Submit a contract for the formation of my startup. The winner will get a free one year membership to my new subscription service, and your logo on our website." It would never, ever, ever happen, because as a society we believe that lawyers (whatever we think of them as human beings):
1. Have specialized training for which they deserve be compensated.
2. Do something that amateurs can't do as well.

You don't want some 1st year law student, or fan of L.A. Law, writing your documents, do you? You want somebody who knows what they are doing. You want a professional.

Logo contests (of which this WotC contest was a variant) carry the implicit message that artists are not professionals.
 

Logo contests (of which this WotC contest was a variant) carry the implicit message that artists are not professionals.
And you know what, that's true! The vast majority of artists are not professionals, but amateurs who have no intention of making money with their art. Shutting down contests meant for amateurs is not the way to go if professional artists want to improve their image.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I'm Irish and also did work experience as a 16 year old for two weeks as part of a voluntary subject for the Leaving Certificate examination. I believe those who do Transition Year (an optional year (in some schools - other schools make you do it) that I did not do had to do longer work experience or shadowing.

Mine was an actual job in that while I believe I only worked half hours (I don't remember working up to 6 - it was more like 3), I did do some basic website programming, problem solving and some minor design work. I was also working in the company my dad worked for, which was part of the reason why I was there (as my work place was 30 to 40 minutes away from my school).

My feelings now on whether it was exploitation, or perhaps more accurately, whether it could be exploitation are complicated. At the time I would not have thought of it that way at all - but I was a teenager just happy to get out of school and to do some interesting work, and the program and my school is designed to protect students. I am also lucky that I was interested in dad's work and could get in there - I know people who were not as fortunate as I, and were forced to do naughty word work (i.e. getting coffee etc.) without allowing work shadowing, which I think is pretty borderline.

To me in these cases it really depends on the protections in place, how possible it would be for a teenager to do the job, and whether the workplace is properly teaching students, and how long the period lasts. My experience is probably fairly unique since I didn't have to interact with strangers to do it.

(FWIW Ireland is not as bad as some countries when it comes to reductions on minimum pay for those under 24 or 25 - at 20 you're paid the full minimum wage, whereas I believe countries like the UK make you wait until you're 25!)

I did that here worked in a bakery. It was 4 hours a week for a month or two. Making pies and bread with free food was more fun than class.

It was also a way to either make you knuckle down at school or drop out and get a job you liked.

Context things were kinda grim unemployment hit 11% and you could leave school at 15 get job buy house 18/19.

Life skills were also taught learnt to swim, cook, camp, basic metal/wood working skills etc.

School dropout rate was 60-70%.
 


BookTenTiger

He / Him
And you know what, that's true! The vast majority of artists are not professionals, but amateurs who have no intention of making money with their art. Shutting down contests meant for amateurs is not the way to go if professional artists want to improve their image.
Isn't the main difference between an amateur artist and a professional artist getting paid for their work?
 


BookTenTiger

He / Him
You'd think so, but it sounds like a lot of "professionals" are struggling to find paid work. In most industries that would result in people finding other jobs until the supply of art comes in line with demand.
So then one way to increase demand would be for artists to protest art contests, since art contests are a source of free art, and canceling art contests leads to more demand for professional artists?
 



No, as has been pointed out before, the purpose of these contests is not to produce art, but to engage fans.

Yes, I agree. I don't think D&DB was evil for holding the contest, just naive. I also think it's possible that they could have structured it in a way that would have been more respectful. But I'm not a professional artist so maybe not. It may very well be that after years of more cynically-driven "logo contests" there's just no middle ground left here.

Full disclosure: I once (naively) tried to hold a logo contest for a startup, and got some of this same pushback. Which I fought. But I eventually realized that I was, in fact, de-valuing the profession, because I believed (hoped?) that some high school art student might produce something, for free, just as good as what I might otherwise have to pay for.

Actually, that's not quite correct, not free: I did expect to pay for the winner but I wanted my pick of all the entrants. Effectively I wanted all the others to work for free.
 

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