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Players 'distressed' by gang-rape role-playing game

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Hussar, I don't think I look like a ninny at all. I am talking about the situation in general and the posts I have seen where it looks like people are getting far too comfortable with things like public shaming, with global bans from cons for one incident (which I think isn't as cut and dry as people are making it).
I think you have a problem in that you are discussing what you see as a general issue, in a thread about an incident that does not support your points well at all.

Find a documented incident where public shaming had a major impact on a GM, and it turns out the public was really wrong, and you might have something. But here, what you have are hypothetical, things you *fear* can happen, but for which we don't have evidence at hand. Without some validation that the fears are reality, what you have is, in effect, a slippery slope argument, and we all know the rhetorical weaknesses of that.
 

Elfcrusher

Explorer
I think you have a problem in that you are discussing what you see as a general issue, in a thread about an incident that does not support your points well at all.

Find a documented incident where public shaming had a major impact on a GM, and it turns out the public was really wrong, and you might have something. But here, what you have are hypothetical, things you *fear* can happen, but for which we don't have evidence at hand. Without some validation that the fears are reality, what you have is, in effect, a slippery slope argument, and we all know the rhetorical weaknesses of that.
In before "Salem witch trials!"
 

Hussar

Legend
Just want to say a bit of a my bad. I misread part of the blog post about someone trying to gain publicity. My misread. Thanks for correcting me.

he’s now been identified by someone who was seeking to use these events for their own publicity, whose name I won’t give out because it will give him the publicity he wants.
I’m actually a little disappointed that the person in question would not have been identified by the con. I would think that it’s in public interest to disseminate the fact that someone was banned for bad behaviour so that others can decide if they want this person volunteering.
 

billd91

Earl of Cornbread
I think you have a problem in that you are discussing what you see as a general issue, in a thread about an incident that does not support your points well at all.

Find a documented incident where public shaming had a major impact on a GM, and it turns out the public was really wrong, and you might have something. But here, what you have are hypothetical, things you *fear* can happen, but for which we don't have evidence at hand. Without some validation that the fears are reality, what you have is, in effect, a slippery slope argument, and we all know the rhetorical weaknesses of that.
Online campaigns have almost certainly colored a number of firings in the computer game (online and console) game world. Alison Rapp, Jessica Price, Peter Fries. I don't think you have to find a case of an innocent GM being targeted to be wary of social media campaigns and the impact they can have on real people's lives. Fact is - the tool can be put to evil uses as well as good (depending on your perspective), has been, and almost certainly will be in the future. We shouldn't be blasé about them.
 

macd21

Villager
I’m actually a little disappointed that the person in question would not have been identified by the con. I would think that it’s in public interest to disseminate the fact that someone was banned for bad behaviour so that others can decide if they want this person volunteering.
That’s a risky step to take for any group/institution. It’s one thing to fire someone or ban them from your premises or events. It’s another to broadcast that person’s name to the public.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
I’m actually a little disappointed that the person in question would not have been identified by the con. I would think that it’s in public interest to disseminate the fact that someone was banned for bad behaviour so that others can decide if they want this person volunteering.
So, I am not entirely, 100%, convinced on this one. I could go either way.

So, here's my (incomplete, subject to change) thought process on this:

1. In favor of not disclosing his name. So, apparently this GM's actions were a total shock and surprise. He didn't dispute what happened (at least initially, during the investigation). Over a decade of prompt service, etc. blah blah blah. I'm not being dismissive, I'm just pointing out that I can understand that, given that, in the best light possible, this was out of character, this wasn't targeted harassment, and this was a fictional scenario that went terribly wrong- it could be viewed more as a terrible lapse in judgment, and as such, appropriately dealt with by a ban of that individual from running games. Plus there can be liability issues if you are the entity broadcasting the name.

2. Okay, OTOH ... sunlight is the best disinfectant. The problem that society has had with habitual line steppers (as I tend to call them) is that these matters are often dealt with privately. Now, maybe this is a one-time thing. But far too often in our history, abusers and harassers have gotten away with things because it's a "one-time thing," and because it gets swept under the rug, other victims don't hear about it to come forward. The whole, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that [insert sexually inappropriate thing]. Don't tell anybody, k, 'cuz it will ruin my reputation!" And someday, years later, it comes out that this was a pattern and practice, and lots of people were hurt.


Eh, after writing all that ... I'm inclined to go with 2.
 

Gradine

Archivist
I mean, to be fair, demonstrably false accusations started Gamergate. It's funny how it's only "internet mob mentality" when the mob is pursuing goals antithetical to one's political leaning.

This is what people who insist on speaking in hypotheticals don't get: there isn't a single, one-size-fits all solution to this. Context matters. This is (one of many reasons) why the Central Park 5 example doesn't fit here; the context was extreme racism. It's also why the Gamergate example I just brought up doesn't really work; dudebro gets dumped and decides to get back at his ex by posting what amounts to a "dear penthouse" letter on a forum populated by misogynists. You don't just automatically believe everything you read; context matters.

I get that there's confusion around this point, especially with the whole "believe survivors" movement; but that movement exists in spaces that recognize the racism that fueled the false imprisonment of the Central Park Five or lynchings in the Deep South. Context matters, even in these cases. Even though the statement sounds absolute it's still not necessarily a one-size fits all thing.

Communal accountability is necessary for a safe, inclusive community. It means outing "missing stairs" and demanding (if not outright creating) consequences for bad behavior. The biggest trouble is, right now, is that bad actors are often eventually welcomed back into the industry without ever having to apologize for or be held to account for their bad behavior. Case in point: Nick Robinson and Matt Conn are at E3 right now hawking games. Nobody took away Kevin Rofle's license to GM games in the comfort of his own home and I guarantee in a few years he'll be back running games at cons whether he ever changes his story and properly atones or not (I'd be surprised if he does) and with only a handful of people, so easily ignored, crying foul about it. Zak Smith is still making games and will keep making games that will sell and one day, years from now, he'll show up at a con and nobody will question his presence. I do not understand the weeping for these men. Things will turn out just fine for them.

And that's the one downside to social accountability; it has a shelf life. How long that lasts depends on how genuine and sincere bad actors are in taking responsibility and atoning for their actions. Sometimes they do it right away, and the community largely moves on; see Dan Harmon or James Gunn. Sometimes they have to get dragged there kicking and screaming but eventually make it there, like Aziz Ansari. Everyone else? They understand that if they just lay low for a certain length of time, the recency of their transgressions will fade and they can just waltz back in like nothing ever happened. And the troubling thing is; most industries play along with it, and gaming is no different. Talent and bank-ability trump ethics and accountability every time.

There's a reason why social accountability efforts keep harping on bad actors long after it seems everyone else has tired of talking about them. It's all they can do to keep what little accountability they're able to muster alive long after everyone else seems ready to forget, if not forgive.
 

Riley37

Villager
That’s a risky step to take for any group/institution. It’s one thing to fire someone or ban them from your premises or events. It’s another to broadcast that person’s name to the public.
There are risks in naming the individual. One can sometimes mitigate those risks by stating only the most empirical facts: "we have, in the past, entrusted (individual name) with DM duties at (convention name), and as of the current con, we will no longer entrust (name) with DM roles." Astute readers may wonder what story lies behind this decision, and may find out - but hey, the con didn't make any public statements beyond literal and verifiable facts.

There are also risks in NOT naming the individual.

One of the latter risks, is that when word gets around, about "that DM who ran Things from the Flood", and there are two DMs who ran Things from the Flood games at UK Expo 2019: the omission of Rolfe's name, increases the risk that people will mistakenly blame the *other* TftF DM for Rolfe's actions.

Another of the risks, with Missing Stairs, is that he'll go elsewhere and do the same thing, getting booted from venue after venue, while at each of those venues he racks up a higher and higher total count of players with shocked faces. I doubt that this particular DM has as many options in the UK, as he would in the USA; but suppressing names has had a someone-else's-problem effect, in other domains, which I will not deign to enumerate here.

Sometimes people accept risk *to themselves*, in order to avert or reduce risks *to others*. IMO this is the core of heroism. I cannot tell UK Expo what risks it must take, for the greater good; that's their choice, not mine. But if my local game con refused to take risks, and *in the process left others at risk*, then I'd be less interested in going to that con to fulfill my TRPG heroic fantasies.
 

Gradine

Archivist
"Sure it can (and often is) can be used for good, but it can also be used as a tool for evil!"

This is an argument that holds absolutely no water. Here's a brief but by no means conclusive list of things for which this could said to apply to:

*Axes
*Hammers
*Knives
*Motorized Vehicles
*Woodchippers
*Video Games
*Tabletop RPGs
*Genitalia
*Novels
*Films
*Computers
*Satellites
*Agriculture
*Civilization

The list goes on and on.

We don't cancel video games because racists make ethnic cleansing games and we didn't cancel Tabletop RPGs when F.A.T.A.L. was published. Using the "libs'" tactics against them is one of the most enduring and, sadly, effective practices of the most vile corners of the internet. Again, see James Gunn. Clutching at our pearls and throwing the baby out with the bathwater is exactly what they want us to do.
 

Bedrockgames

Villager
I think you have a problem in that you are discussing what you see as a general issue, in a thread about an incident that does not support your points well at all.

Find a documented incident where public shaming had a major impact on a GM, and it turns out the public was really wrong, and you might have something. But here, what you have are hypothetical, things you *fear* can happen, but for which we don't have evidence at hand. Without some validation that the fears are reality, what you have is, in effect, a slippery slope argument, and we all know the rhetorical weaknesses of that.
Obviously I disagree. I think we are seeing the whole hobby focus on this one individual over one incident and many are calling for him to be banned from other cobs, for him to be pushed out of the hobby, and for reforms like all cons using X cards as a result of all this. I think it is fair to question whether this is moving in a good direction, whether this response is appropriate and whether it is going to cause undo hardship on the GM in question. Everyone is so confident in the moral judgment of the community and of the ability of this kind of online reaction to produce good results. I am not. Again I think there is good reason to be cautious here. Personally I am pretty uncomfortable with the reaction. And like I said, I have been pretty uncomfortable with how the hobby has become more moblike online.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Fair enough, I missed the quotations (though in fairness I am not writing a news article :)). But, and not picking on Danny here because I find him to be one of the most reasonable posters in these discussions, but here is one example that to me seems to be defending mob mentality (it was in response to a poster arguing that public shaming is a problem):

There have definitely been defenses of shunning and shaming, and using the power of social media to do so here I think. And I do think it isn't inaccurate to call this reaction an internet mob reaction. It is occurring on threads like this, facebook, all over twitter, on blogs and youtube channels. We have painted a picture of this person based on one session, which could have been anything from a misjudgment on his part, to blatantly offensive GMing, to an over-reaction on the part of the players. I honestly have a very hard time assessing it not having been there myself, because this is a case where how it was delivered and the tone would have mattered a great deal. Also the vibe of the tables would have mattered too.
This person is an adult. Unless he’s been under a rock for the past decade, he probably is aware of how social norms have changed. Either deliberately or by gross misjudgment, he chose a path that seems to have caused emotional distress. Consequently, either way, his judgement is suspect, and that isn’t a desirable quality in someone running an event at a convention.

If you want an analogous situation, look at Tailhook.

Less serious: check out the career of increasingly embattled MLB umpire, Angel Hernandez.

...he is being eliminated from the hobby...
No, he is being banned from participating in one aspect of the hobby, namely running events at conventions. He’s still able to play privately...if any will have him.

If you think that he might not have too many willing to play with him, knowing of these events, you may be correct. But that’s on him. Actions have consequences. He chose to be shocking; others can choose not to associate with him.
 

Riley37

Villager
The only reason it doesn't happen is because the Venn Diagram of Awesome Comments that Deserve XP and Commenters that Play Paladins and Love Them resembles two balls, one bobbing the Atlantic Ocean, and one bobbing in the Pacific.
This is the first time I've ever been publicly compared to the Panama Canal.

In private, well... that was private.

Meanwhile, if BRG can skim post #213, without seeing anything about rape, then he's got a blind spot. I can bring him water, but I can't make him drink. I also can't persuade anyone that the Earth is round, if they're sufficiently determined to believe otherwise.

Meh. We're down to the usual regulars, both on the "Boys will be Boys" side and on the other side.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Obviously I disagree. I think we are seeing the whole hobby focus on this one individual
"...the whole hobby..."?

Where are you getting the idea that anything other than a few vocal people here and on social media even give a fetid dingo's kidney about this - or are even aware of it?

I mean that sincerely - where are you getting the impression that any significant portion of "the whole hobby" is focused on something other than their own lives and gaming sessions? Remember that we are talking about literally *millions* of people. Where are you seeing millions of people focusing on this?

At this point I will not accept hyperbole for effect as an argument. You want to start talking about supposedly real dangers, you need to speak for real, not in hyperbole, or we won't get anywhere.
 

Bedrockgames

Villager
I have a speculative answer to that question, and it's not pretty. It's also been raised, as a general point rather than as a specific accusation against BRG, earlier in this thread.



.
i don’t know you are suggesting here. But I have a sense. I think this kind of attitude is unfortunately more common in these discussions today. But I knew it was possible the moment I stated an unpopular point of view. Promise I am not coming from a bad place. I just take a different view of things than you.
 

Bedrockgames

Villager
"...the whole hobby..."?

Where are you getting the idea that anything other than a few vocal people here and on social media even give a fetid dingo's kidney about this - or are even aware of it?

I mean that sincerely - where are you getting the impression that any significant portion of "the whole hobby" is focused on something other than their own lives and gaming sessions? Remember that we are talking about literally *millions* of people. Where are you seeing millions of people focusing on this?

At this point I will not accept hyperbole for effect as an argument. You want to start talking about supposedly real dangers, you need to speak for real, not in hyperbole, or we won't get anywhere.
It is a subjective sense of course but this topic is getting a lot of discussion on social media among gamers (including this rsther long thread). Any time this sort of thing occurs it tends to become a big topic of discussion. I don’t think ‘all gamers’ care about it. But a very vocal portion of the hobby devoted considerable attention to this stuff it seems
 

Gradine

Archivist
It is a subjective sense of course but this topic is getting a lot of discussion on social media among gamers (including this rsther long thread). Any time this sort of thing occurs it tends to become a big topic of discussion. I don’t think ‘all gamers’ care about it. But a very vocal portion of the hobby devoted considerable attention to this stuff it seems
You've yet to make a convincing argument for why we ought to consider that a bad thing.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
It is a subjective sense of course but this topic is getting a lot of discussion on social media among gamers (including this rsther long thread). Any time this sort of thing occurs it tends to become a big topic of discussion. I don’t think ‘all gamers’ care about it. But a very vocal portion of the hobby devoted considerable attention to this stuff it seems
Arguably, that's because there is a very toxic subset within our community that pops up and feels the need to defend this type of thing.

Sometimes it is overt defense:

"Can't those women take a JOKE. Jeez."


Sometimes it is "the sky is falling" defense:

"Won't someone please think of the menfolk? The poor, oppressed, menfolk?"



Sometimes it is obvious sealioning:

"Why can't we just have a nice conversation about how little I know, and what evidence there really is?"


Sometimes it is a call to debate the "real issues"-

"Sure, I know that this might be bad, but what about FREE SPEECH? Isn't that what really matters?



Look, I hate that so many issues, from casting in movies I want to see, to conventions, to just being nice to each other ... gets caught up in issues.

But do you know what? This isn't the fault of people that are marginalized. I can remember a time when TTRPGs were a welcoming space for miscreants like me, and people that had been cast out from the so-called mainstream of society.


Maybe the considerable attention is only because it is unfortunately necessary, when this comes up, to keep repeating such things as, "Yes, running rape scenarios at gaming conventions is a bad idea." If there was the universal agreement that this is exactly how PEOPLE SHOULD NATURALLY RESPOND TO THIS, then there wouldn't be much debate.


So yeah, I blame a very vocal portion of the hobby. Is it the same vocal portion that you are blaming?
 
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