Personalities in the Gaming Industry and Politics

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DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
I think it boils down to this for artists (authors, etc.) posting in a blog:

1) You are allowed to post/discuss your views in a blog.

2) If you discuss your political views in a blog, some people will agree with you, and others will disagree.

3) Those who disagree may choose not to purchase the products that you are selling. That's one of the consequences of free speech - people can "enhance" their disagreement with you by not buying your products that they otherwise might have.

4) If you are willing to accept #3, then post away! You most-likely will lose some customers. If you are afraid of losing customers, then don't post controversial stuff.

I asked Chris Pramas in the other thread about this, because he indicated that he may lose business because of his blog. He felt that his freedom to post his views was more important than the bottom line. Nothing wrong with that, IMO.
 

Belen

Explorer
Whisperfoot said:
But that's not quite what I'm asking. I'm simply asking whether you think that writers in this industry should be talking politics. It sounds to me like the answer is yes, as long as it is in the appropriate place.

I would very much like to hear if there are any dissenting opinions.
Ok, I will play devil's advocate here. The answer is no. Writers or celebrities should not attempt to mix their career with their politics. Using fame or status to force personal beliefs on others is wrong. There is no difference between using status to foist political beliefs on another than using it to foist religious beliefs.

Now, I am not saying that they always have to hide their views. However, if I am at a Star Wars convention and talking to Timothy Zahn about his novels, then I am not there to here about his political leanings. I want to hear about his novels. I attended the convention because I love Star Wars and his books. If he uses that time to talk about the Treaty of the Red Eagle and how the Superfudge is evil, then I have been cheated.

If I am sitting at the political flumph convention, then Zahn should fire away about his belief in the superiority of flumphs.

Blogs are tricky. It is wrong to call them diaries because they are public. You're not writing for yourself. You are writing to an audience. You want those people to listen to you. That is the entire point of a blog. If you're a writer in the tar industry and you decide to have a blog that is 90% about tar and you advocate your blog among tar enthusiasts, then you place comments about flumph in your blog, then you're using your audience to advocate your beliefs in flumph.

If you have a disaclaimer at the top of the page that says "This is my blog about gaming, life, and flumph." Then you're covered and people have an idea of what they may find. However, if you're happily reading about tar and then find an article on poison flumph, then it becomes a slight betrayal of your audience.

End Devil's Advocate.

Personally, I have long thought that 99% of the writers in our hobby lean a certain wait. Maybe I have been colored by people such as Sean Reynolds and Anthony Valterra, but I have come to half-expect certain political leanings. No big deal in many cases. I actually go to SKR's site from time to time just to see what is happening on his politcal boards. The difference being that Sean clearly labels his site and you know what to expect.

Maybe I am a bit spoiled by ENWorld, but (for me) if a writer posts a link on ENWorld, I assume that it will follow the same guidelines of etiquette or be clear about the differences. But then, maybe I am just hyper-aware because I am assulted by politics everyday. My boss is always making comments, which is annoying because you are not allowed to disagree. Politics also destroyed my last gaming group, so I have a strict rule about not mixing the two.
 

Berandor

lunatic
I'm fine with whatever political opinion someone espouses, as long as he/she is fine with me blatantly disregarding said opinion.

Honestly, though, a game designer or other artist is just like any other person. I know if I had to keep political opinions out of my personal blog, then I would be extremely unhappy, because there are things happening around the world that rile me. On the other hand, I force nobody to read my blog or said opinion pieces, nor do I force my (imaginary, I often suspect) readers to agree with me - though I might try to convince you of my point :) Nor would I think that just because you might know me from a published story or the internet my opinion should be somewhat more worthy than anybody elses.

My opinion is more worthy than anybody else's because I'm right, and they're not, but that's another matter altogether :)
 

Belen

Explorer
boredgremlin said:
Everything that anyone says or does in life is influenced by thier morals and ethics.
Politics is not about morals or ethics. It is about power. People may try to make it about morals and ethics, but that eventually makes it impossible for rational discourse to take place. For some people, politics has become religion where only their beliefs and faith are right. Facts become meaningless once that happens and hatred and disdain for people on the opposite spectrum become your ally.
 
I feel differently. Free speech and freedom in general is the most important thing americans have. Anything and anyone that tries to impinge on that is dead wrong. No one has the right to tell other people what they can and can not say. Men died to give the right of free speech to americans. So unless your willing to die to take it away again, (and fight for it, because i for will fight you to the death) you dont have that right.

You can disagree, you can not buy the products of people you dont like or agree with. You can call that person an idiot and list all the reasons why you think they are an idiot and your better. What you cannot do is tell them that they cannot speak. Not now or ever.
 

Belen

Explorer
EricNoah said:
I read a great quote just recently about how political debate should work: "True debate is about more than winning; it is collaborative truth-seeking." In order to come to the table with "sound habits of thought" we need to do certain things: respect facts, research, and learning; think critically about sources of information including bias, credentials, funding sources and affiliations; examine our own unquestioned assumptions and motivations; practice open-minded listening; and resist "argument by slogan and sound-bite."

I think instead of telling RPG "celebrities" to shut up about their politics on their personal websites, it should be the reader's responsibility to choose whether to read or not.
You're a very smart man, Mr. Noah.

I do not think anyone has asked the writers to shup up, at least, not here on ENWorld.
 
BelenUmeria said:
Politics is not about morals or ethics. It is about power.
In my experience, politics is about money. Which is close to being the same thing as power, but not quite. Most people in the U.S. don't realize that the bulk of Congress' time every session is spent on approprations bills, determining how to spread Federal money around, fighting over the roughly 40% (actually about 19%, because DoD/HS is sacrosanct these days) of the budget that isn't on autopilot.
 

EricNoah

Community Supporter
BelenUmeria said:
You're a very smart man, Mr. Noah.

I do not think anyone has asked the writers to shup up, at least, not here on ENWorld.
In the "Erik's got a blog" thread, I seem to recall people smackin' Mona around 1 for talking politics in his blog. That's where I'm coming from, here.


1. "Smackin' Mona Around" is a fun party game, btw! :D
 

Belen

Explorer
boredgremlin said:
No one has the right to tell other people what they can and can not say.
And no one has. At most, people have asked for a bit of common sense about when, where, and how to say it. "Free" speach is a tricky road to follow. I am sure that you can think of one or two things that you would never want to say to another person or that could cause you trouble if you said them.

The funny thing about absolutes is that they never are.
 

Belen

Explorer
EricNoah said:
In the "Erik's got a blog" thread, I seem to recall people smackin' Mona around 1 for talking politics in his blog. That's where I'm coming from, here.
Well, I do not recall anyone getting really personal with Erik in that thread. And he should not have felt the need to apologize for anything. Erik is a good guy.
 
slight irony

It's great to see a topic ABOUT politics not denigrate into a closed down flamewar.

As somebody who works in a central political executive office in a (somewhat) sensitive capacity...I always felt the 'no politics' rule left me excluded on those threads talkin about" what do you do for a living" and such and such. Not that I'd spill the beans on who I work for anyway, but you get what I mean.

If game designers etc, posed their politics as largely positive representations of what they believe in -- it's quite tolerable. Blue Rose, for example, is one of the most strongly politically flavoured games I've seen, yet it goes great lengths to emphasize the positives of the political order it favours...while it has it's digs, it's politics are largely constructive.

A lot of what we're talking about however, is politics of a different kind.

I can't help but notice a reccuring theme among several posters expressing a certain "millitant cynicism" about politics in general.

There seems to be a bit of a crossover between gamers and conspiracy theorists (who, despite their outlandish views, actually embody the culture of millitant cynicism).

Of course "millitant cynicism" (they're all crooks, it's all about money, etc) is itself a political viewpoint...just not as readily self-identified as more traditional affiliations.

And watch out, millitant cynics are one of the most easily manipulated demographics in western societies. They are people just waiting for somebody new to hate. People like me get paid decent coin to ensure the people they hate are the right ones.

It's better to believe IN something than rail AGAINST something. However building a case for a cause you believe in is not nearly as cathartic as a good blog-based rant.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
Whisperfoot said:
On the other hand, shouldn't artists feel free to express their political views in the appropriate venues without doing so completely anonymously? If Erik has a blog where he discusses games, politics, and anything else that happens to be on his mind, wouldn't censoring that be untrue to himself?

I'm not really posting this because I have an agenda. I'm curious what people really think about this.
Here's my take on the situation.

An individual, be they artist, writer, plumber, or financier, has every right to express himself on whatever topics he chooses in their own venues. They should also expect that some will react negatively to their points of view, and refuse to buy their products. They might even try to organize a boycott of some sort (we've all seen it happen). It may not be completely rational, but it's human nature, and perfectly lawful human nature at that, especially where something as passionate as religion or politics are concerned. It comes under expecting consequences for what we do, good or bad.

Some of my favorite authors and designers, I don't agree with their points of view. But unless it's something I'm violently opposed to (let's say they hate Oozes and think that Oozes should be banned from D&D) then it's not likely to stop me from evaluating the work they do, because I believe that the work or art that a person does can often take on a life of its own separate from the creator, unlike what George Lucas espouses that "without the artist, the art is nothing." If that were true, all art would languish after the death or inattention of its creator, and we all know that's not borne out by the truth. So one could be diametrically opposed to me in beliefs, but it won't change the fact that one does some damned fine work in one's field.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Celebrity has a price

To use an appropriately in-genre phrase: With great power comes great responsibility.

Celebrities have as much right as anyone else to speak on whatever topics they wish. But, their celebrity means that (within however small a niche) their words carry more weight. So, celebrities have the responsibility to exercize their rights with care.

It seems to me that mixing together posts about their field of celebrity and politics is using the right haphazardly. It would take little effort to set up one blog for professional posts, and another for personal posts, or to filter or cut-tag. If the celebrity cannot apply that much forethought, they deserve what they get.

And if they mix politics with professional information intentionally, with forethought, that constitutes an attempt to use their celebrity as leverage in the political arena. In effect, they choose to make themselves political figures, heir to all the responsibilities of that ilk.
 

EricNoah

Community Supporter
I agree that there might be "consequences" for speaking one's mind, or mixing RPG and political musings in a blog or other public forum. I assume that's what you mean by "they deserve what they get." So be it. But I wouldn't ask someone to compartmentalize themselves or their writing to make things more comfortable for the reader. If the reader doesn't like it, it's the reader's problem, not the writer's. In my opinion.
 

Berandor

lunatic
Umbran said:
To use an appropriately in-genre phrase: With great power comes great responsibility.

Celebrities have as much right as anyone else to speak on whatever topics they wish. But, their celebrity means that (within however small a niche) their words carry more weight. So, celebrities have the responsibility to exercize their rights with care.

It seems to me that mixing together posts about their field of celebrity and politics is using the right haphazardly. It would take little effort to set up one blog for professional posts, and another for personal posts, or to filter or cut-tag. If the celebrity cannot apply that much forethought, they deserve what they get.

And if they mix politics with professional information intentionally, with forethought, that constitutes an attempt to use their celebrity as leverage in the political arena. In effect, they choose to make themselves political figures, heir to all the responsibilities of that ilk.
I'd say that as soon as you attain a certain level of publicity, then you should try to back your opinions up instead of just spouting some party line. (or, as you advocate, use a different venue for your opinions)

A positive example for me is Bono from U2. I may not agree with him everytime (that's beside the point), but I'm sure he's very well versed in his topics. His opinions carry weight because he reserched them. However, I often feel that popular artists simply enjoy using their popularity as a vehicle for their opinion just because they can, and without thinking.

That's actually irresponsible - I think it's always irresponsible to talk about things you don't know much about, but if you have a built-in audience, it's doubly so.
ETA: But, to me, no gaming persona has achieved a level of popularity that would make this a real problem. I'm talking more about movie or music stars.
 

S'mon

Legend
Something else I think is that it's unusual how in the USA politics is now classed with religion as a matter of faith, something that's not up for debate. I don't think that's true in most countries, but whether it is or not, it shouldn't be - politics should be about debate and discussion on the perceived merits. I think it's sad that debate is no longer possible - and not just on ENW.
 

heirodule

Visitor
Patryn of Elvenshae said:
So, one day, I decide to advertise my own webpage on the strictly family-friendly site, mentioning that I like to post somewhat random thoughts on my page - with the intimation that a lot of them will be scrapbooking related.

One of the first bits I've posted on my page is a conspiracy theory about how the government is secretly run by [non-family friendly types].

Shouldn't I have had the decency to let the family friendly website which I'm polling for traffic know that I might not actually be family friendly on my own?
No, because you have given such notice by stating that they will be random thoughts. (Or in Erik's case, a blog, which I would assume could be on any topic.)

I think people are looking to be offended.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
I think it's sad that debate is no longer possible - and not just on ENW.
I believe that, in general, it will be again one day, and that it goes in cycles. Maybe that's just the optimist in me talking.
 
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