D&D General The Art and the Artist: Discussing Problematic Issues in D&D

AnotherGuy

Adventurer
If so, can’t you see why people might balk at the need for another person to come along and tell them that something they’re feeling isn’t harmful but is just upsetting? That it may seem like an attempt to downplay the importance of what they feel.

We use language to communicate.
Communication can break down when emotions affect the language one uses to communicate, and that is true for all of us. We all do it whether it be in an argument with a spouse/love one, watching sports, retelling of a story and yes even on Enworld.
 

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HammerMan

Legend
You're not representing the example accurately. The hypothetical situation is that elves are persecuting orcs using what they read in a book as an excuse, not that orcs are persecuted by reading a book or playing games.
right, (for the most part) people who persecute are going to be jerks in one way or another no matter way. We still don't want to give them excuses.

There is a game called World of Darkness. they have a book that one of my buddies loves. However it also pretty much took a racists' stereotype used by bigots' and used it as an origin for a super power... he didn't know this (neither did I at the time) so he repeated that idea out loud and got weird looks form some and got others to tell him how right he was... want to guess what group of those people we DIDN"T want to be associated with?
Now when a big "stop publishing this" was made back in the 90s I started looking into it. He didn't, he didn't follow this sort of thing (I mean politics of the back end of gaming). It took MONTHS for me to get the whole story on the fact that the story in the book had these roots. I then joined the "Well I did like the book but now that I know it has to go" crowd. He didn't right away it took over a year from when I found out until when he finally sat and listened. When he listened he changed his tune, but was sad (something he really liked was taken from him, even if it was for a good reason)
(remember we are talking late 90's early 2000's here) I then made the mistake of thinking the book was a dog whistle... until about 5 or 6 years ago I got to meet someone that worked with White Wolf and wrote some (but not that) books... and he told me the story about how that book got written and green lit. basically a really bad story went through the telephone game and the writer didn't know where it came form, and they didn't think about it at all.
see that book wasn't an evil dog whistle. It was a dumb mistake because someone didn't ask enough questions and do enough research, or do enough thought into those scale "can this cause harm and if so what likely hood will it and on what level?" It then caused a bunch of dumb goth kids to latch onto the foundation of a VERY bad thing...without knowing it.
 


HammerMan

Legend
Yes, different people have different perspectives on whether and what things are unwelcoming or exclusionary. And, for example, some women gamers have apparently never had the experience of walking into a gaming store and being stared, sniggered, sneered at and condescended to.
really? this is the first I have heard of this. (as I said before the person I sat down with and read my book as a teen was a woman and she still plays) even the woman who have been the most outliers on this I have ever talked to have said "I deal with it everyone is jerks to everyone sometimes"

I'm not even sure I know any guys who can say they have never in a gaming store/con been sneered at and condescended to.

this is a new point of view for me. Do we have anyone here who can share a first or second hand experience where this is true? I am especially Wonder as to how long those people have been gaming (things are WAY better today then in 90's and 2000's)
 

AnotherGuy

Adventurer
You're not representing the example accurately. The hypothetical situation is that elves are persecuting orcs using what they read in a book as an excuse, not that orcs are persecuted by reading a book or playing games.
I take your point, but more to my point the word persecution is still an exaggeration because the attempt is to get to "significant harm" which was what was questioned.
 

HammerMan

Legend
I take your point, but more to my point the word persecution is still an exaggeration because the attempt is to get to "significant harm" which was what was questioned.
okay then since it was my example let me (try) to bring this right down to earth.

If a jerk is going to make fun of someone and call them bad words, nothing the writers can do will stop them... after all they are the jerk.
If the writers make an excuse for the jerk he (I don't even feel bad not useing a neutral gender for this example) will feel emboldened.

the trick is not "gota make jerks into nice people" its "Don't make jerks feel like they are justified for being jerks"

edit: the WoD book I talk about above did HARM. SIGNIFICANT HARM. It didn't mean to. It wasn't some evil guy trying to do evil. It was a mistake. It was a guy trying to write a fun book that didn't do enough thought.
Now what am I counting as significant harm... it brought a pretty smart (not smartest) good guy I know right up to the edge of falling into a hateful a dangerous group. It was not easy to get him to see why "those people" were not good people. and by "those people" I include people who in the many years since have been arrested multi times. Now would he have become one of the violant and dangerous ones, I doubt it... but he would have swelled there numbers. and what was the minor push in that direction... a gaming book. an idea. because some ideas when not prefaced correctly are dangerous in and of themselves.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I would argue it’s use is a kind of semantic argument. “This causes harm” is a common refrain of online critiques of RPGs and, I believe, it has a lot more potency than it otherwise would because if the physical and serious connotations it has. If someone clarified, or doesn’t use That kind of phrasing, I tend to be less critical.

Whether or not you are less critical, the empirical, broadly observed behavior is that if the speaker uses soft wording... nothing happens. If people keep their tone such that you are not critical, then their words are dismissed as unimportant. To be blunt - folks don't get off their butts and do something about it until the language gets through their thick skulls. Until we collectively demonstrate that we will actually act on softer wording, you are asking for them to allow the status quo to continue.

Systemic biases (racism, sexism, and others) are not built out of the single dramatic events that put you in the hospital. They are built out of the hundred little cuts. If you get to ignore your little cut as "insignificant", then everyone else gets to ignore the little cuts they make, and then... there's still a hundred little cuts and the person still bleeds. Context matters - If you are not subject to this phenomenon, your idea of what is "significant" is not scaled to the situation. When we suffer one little cut, we can blow it off, because we are mostly whole. When you already have 99 cuts, that extra little cut becomes more significant.

So, it does cause harm. It might not cause harm TO YOU, because you are in a better place. But the harm is there, and ought to be dealt with.
 

So, it does cause harm. It might not cause harm TO YOU, because you are in a better place. But the harm is there, and ought to be dealt with.
You don’t know anything about what place I am in, what advantages of disadvantages I have. My position on this isn’t from a lack of experience with that kind of suffering. Painting disagreements about these things as a lack of understanding, a lack of empathy, or as something where you assume people are incapable of comprehending the issue because of their life experience (or what you assume their life experience is not helpful). And this is why I invoked proselytizing in my previous remark: if your sim is to pursuade me: lecturing and talking down to me, isn’t going to achieve that. Not is making assumptions about what I have experienced.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Systemic biases (racism, sexism, and others) are not built out of the single dramatic events that put you in the hospital. They are built out of the hundred little cuts. If you get to ignore your little cut as "insignificant", then everyone else gets to ignore the little cuts they make, and then... there's still a hundred little cuts and the person still bleeds. Context matters - If you are not subject to this phenomenon, your idea of what is "significant" is not scaled to the situation. When we suffer one little cut, we can blow it off, because we are mostly whole. When you already have 99 cuts, that extra little cut becomes more significant.
as par for the course with you Umbran this is perfectly said.

Systemic biases (racism, sexism, and others) are not built out of the single dramatic events that put you in the hospital. They are built out of the hundred little cuts.
the goal then (IMO) should be to minimize cuts... not just against one person but against everyone. (and again weighted if you on average get 3 cuts per week and someone else gets 3 per day 1 extra cut almost has to go to you if the choice is you or them)

The trouble is (from my point of view) when 2 people who want to dismantle the Systemic biases disagree. This is 100% inevitable to happen (cause we are human) when an outside force that can and wants to mitigate the cuts, is looking at 2 people being cut one who says "Stop doing this and that is one less cut" and the other is saying "If you stop doing that it is one more cut"

Ethics and being human is complex and dirty and hard. Sometimes you get to where I am on many social issues (including how D&D should move forward) where you have a concept and are working towards it... but sometimes you end up with this... paralysed not knowing how to help and not being smart enough to find a way NOT to cut one of them.
 

HammerMan

Legend
You don’t know anything about what place I am in, what advantages of disadvantages I have.
man that is a topic all in and of itself... how many of us really know more then a handful of others? We can make broad speculation based on color creed and geography... but doing so risks us creating the sterotypes and prejudices we want to avoid.
But how do you get to know everyone without large broad speculations? how much time would it take for you and me to really know each other? What if we add a 3rd and a 4th person... how many people CAN we know about in that way?

how many miles can you walk in how many peoples shoes? how many times SHOULD we expect someone to walk in ours...

man this is getting deep.
 

Whether or not you are less critical, the empirical, broadly observed behavior is that if the speaker uses soft wording... nothing happens. If people keep their tone such that you are not critical, then their words are dismissed as unimportant. To be blunt - folks don't get off their butts and do something about it until the language gets through their thick skulls. Until we collectively demonstrate that we will actually act on softer wording, you are asking for them to allow the status quo to continue.
with.

I don't think this is true actually. Strong and accurate language, probably. But language that is strong, while also being exaggerated, misleading or just not quite accurate, I think that causes people to take notice at first, then stop paying attention to what you say after they realize you are saying something different than they initially thought. Especially with the phrase "It causes harm...". It is the kind of phrase you see a lot in public discourse, a potent term emerges that invokes ideas beyond the thing being discussed, and it has a certain power initially. But then people naturally stop and sat, wait, what does harm mean exactly? And then "Oh, you don't mean harm in the physical or direct sense, you mean someone was upset". I am not saying it is always used to describe someone being upset. But it was this broad term, that covered so much, you started to see every little complaint about a thing filed under "this causes harm". And at that point, I know I stopped listening to that language. I am sure many others did as well. Now when I see that term used, I usually ask for more specificity, but if is part of a podcast, blog, or youtube video, I just ignore it because it could mean just about anything from someone was vaguely irritated by a trope to it promoted truly repugnant stereotypes. That is just too much ground.

Also I don't think soft wording is as effective at changing minds on these topics. You are seeing in real time, in this discussion how intractable peoples positions are. The only time you see people concede, isn't when someone uses really charged language or shames someone into getting off their butts to do something, it is when people roll things back and ask good faith questions about the other person's stance, or explain themselves in an open way that doesn't cast judgement on the other person. I don't think strong language is all that useful here. Clear language sure.
 


man that is a topic all in and of itself... how many of us really know more then a handful of others? We can make broad speculation based on color creed and geography... but doing so risks us creating the sterotypes and prejudices we want to avoid.
But how do you get to know everyone without large broad speculations? how much time would it take for you and me to really know each other? What if we add a 3rd and a 4th person... how many people CAN we know about in that way?

how many miles can you walk in how many peoples shoes? how many times SHOULD we expect someone to walk in ours...

man this is getting deep.

We are always limited to our own point of view and perspective, but we can at least attempt to both see things from another persons viewpoint without automatically ceding truth to that viewpoint. Again, my main point here, is yes peoples' reactions to these things are genuine. But people also overreact to things. Especially in gaming stuff. And we need to be able to judge if a reaction to something in a game is warranted or not in our own opinion. I think you can do that, without mocking people because they have a stronger reaction to something than you do. And I think what your response is to these tropes isn't always clearly aligned with what people assume about a person's history or identity. People often have very surprising views.

One of the reasons I was so strongly against using violence to mean something that isn't violent, or equating physical safety with emotional safety, is because I know most people prioritize physical safety for a reason. I live in an area where there is crime and shootings. This is an area where there is a whole street parallel to mine where you have guys selling drugs right where kids walk home from school. More than once int he past several years, people have been shot in their home by stray bullets for instance; and not to long ago five people were shot around the corner from me. And there are all kinds of non-deadly violent crimes in the area as well. While I certainly hold my family's emotional safety as a high priority, where I live, I put their physical safety much higher (and I think that is how most people think about this issue). But it is complicated. Emotional issues, obviously cause some of the vioelnce I am talking about. The violence, obviously leads to emotional issues as well. And emotional issues can cause someone to commit suicide. So I am not saying I don't see the potential seriousness of non-physical harm. But the call I don't want to get, is that someone in my family has just been shot or beat unconscious (we had an acquaintance of the family who was beaten to death over something very stupid---so even seemingly non-lethal violence can become very lethal unexpectedly). I also don't want to get the call that someone is going through emotional turmoil. But I would much rather get a call knowing someone is physically safe and alive, than not. That is why this distinction is a real one. I am saying, when you blur that line, which people have been doing a lot in the past few years, and quite a bit in these threads, I think really risk losing people, because people know there is a very important difference between the physical and non-physical just on a gut, reality-based level. So the language starts to feel manipulative.
 

man that is a topic all in and of itself... how many of us really know more then a handful of others? We can make broad speculation based on color creed and geography... but doing so risks us creating the sterotypes and prejudices we want to avoid.

I think most people don't like assumptions being made about them (whether it is because of race, religion, whatever). So it is generally good policy to not make too many assumptions. We all tend to project what we think is the case with folks in these debates. And I think a lot of that actually comes down to we aren't hearing the tone of any of our posts. I know I've made a lot of posts, where people seem to think I was taking a dig or being snippy, but I was thinking the post in a much lighter tone in my head, or a more friendly and open tone, and it just didn't translate. When that is happening it is easy to project "this person is just X" on someone, or assume "This person simply hasn't ever experienced Y".
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Just having seen this posters posts over the course of the thread, I am 100% sure they meant the opposite of what they said, and this was an attempt at humor. The post was stated ironically
Mod Note:

1) It is possible, but not clear, that I made a mistake. I am human, ergo imperfect. A report along those lines WAS made, but evaluated and rejected by another moderator. Going forward, I’ll try to be more aware. But likewise, attempts at sarcasm- especially in long, sprawling and occasionally heated threads- ARE risky, so if that’s your intent, make it as clear as you possibly can.

2) you’re a veteran of this site- you KNOW you’re not supposed to comment on moderation in thread. PM me or other mods, start a thread in Meta, or make a report.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Orc is a racial term... that's offensive. Pie is a gluten backed good that is dangerous to diabetics, gluten allergic and vegans (eggs and milk). According to the idea that ALL dangerous things are bad, pie is bad.

It's a hyperbolic extrapolation. (Yes I can go over the top too. :) )
Racial terms are not offensive.
Racist terms are.

There is a very important difference between the two. If we can't see or understand the difference, well...that's pretty much the whole discussion in a nutshell.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Doesn't the fact that they have done it and so attracted a much wider audience show that the game was, actually, fairly inclusive to start with ? Because if it was not already quite inclusive, how did so many people become attracted to it outside of it original audience ?
For the most part, only a relatively few people who weren't the standard "cishet white guys" audience got brought in one way or another. From there, it slowly spread via word of mouth, through friends or college groups. Slowly as in over decades, not just years. For a very long time, maybe you'd have a woman or two in your game, or a black guy, or maybe one of your players would come out as gay. But it was very much a personal table thing, because RPGs weren't targeted or, more importantly, advertised to a wider audience for a long time.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
really? this is the first I have heard of this. (as I said before the person I sat down with and read my book as a teen was a woman and she still plays) even the woman who have been the most outliers on this I have ever talked to have said "I deal with it everyone is jerks to everyone sometimes"

I'm not even sure I know any guys who can say they have never in a gaming store/con been sneered at and condescended to.

this is a new point of view for me. Do we have anyone here who can share a first or second hand experience where this is true? I am especially Wonder as to how long those people have been gaming (things are WAY better today then in 90's and 2000's)
I can speak up here. I've been reading comics since forever (my dad is a comics writer/editor, my mother was a comics color artist) and gaming since about '90 or '91, although I had grown up playing the Dungeon board game and watching the old AD&D cartoon (and wondering what was so advanced about it; nobody on the show seemed to know how to use weapons correctly). I haven't had any bad experiences in a gaming or comic store. But that's quite likely because when I was younger, I'd either be with my mother, who's a talker and would always chat with the staff and often would name-drop, much to my perpetual embarrassment), or with my dad, who already knew the staff there. So... I guess the takeaway here is if you want to be a woman who reads comics of games, be related to someone in the industry who isn't a jerk themselves.

I'm not going to say I've never actually gamed with any jerks, because I have, including some people who are sexist or otherwise did inappropriate things, but my personal store experience has been fine.
 

teitan

Legend
You very strongly implied it was inappropriate, actually. I can't read your post any other way. You're directly criticizing anyone having this discussion by claiming they're attacking people by doing so.


This feels a bit off to me.

Using the language of religion (preached/proselytizing/converting) rather strongly implies that you don't think that equality and anti-racism and so on are inherently valid goals, even if you personally share them, you think they're something people should have personal conscience over, and not be judged for. Whereas I think it's pretty definitely okay to judge someone for being a anti-racial-equality, say, or not giving a sod about it.

I think you are being a little too kind by approaching it this way. The more honest approach, I feel, is to note that many people just inherently push back on advice given to them about being better people, no matter how polite, well-meaning, honest, or helpful the person giving it is, and that if those people are also not impacted by racism, they have the luxury of doing so here.
And yet I go on to have the discussion yes? You like making these arguments about people who do the opposite of what you claim they are saying. I didn’t attack anyone for the discussion. I said it feels like it is tantamount to telling people they are having bad wrong fun and it is… you’re telling people how to spend their money and what to enjoy with these arguments and implying there is something wrong with them or “othering” them for liking Rowling for example, because they allow for her views on transgender people as her views that have no bearing on their enjoyment of Harry Potter which has no statement on transgender people either way. Much like Patton Oswald recently pulling a picture of himself with Dave Chapelle and apologizing for 30 years of friendship with him because of his nuanced views.
You don’t have the privilege to say I said one thing while I indulged in the one thing you said I was saying you can’t do. That’s not how this works. It would even seem you are the only one who took it that way as others have quoted or commented and had discussion with me on that topic so…
 

MGibster

Legend
But it was very much a personal table thing, because RPGs weren't targeted or, more importantly, advertised to a wider audience for a long time.
I was a little surprised looking at old ads for D&D to see that they frequently included women. I don't just mean the one with Gail Gygax but print ads with young women and girls as players and at least one as a DM. They seemed to stop at some point though. I think a girl showed up in one of the D&D VHS games from the 90s.
 

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