• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

We're All Gamers Together: Why Harassment Has To Stop

Status
Not open for further replies.

Another piece talking about the harassment of women in tabletop gaming has surfaced on the internet. At least one of the incidents related in that piece has been substantiated as being true, so I am willing to accept that there is more truth in that article. Whether gamers, or geeks in general, want to admit it or not, there are serious issues within our communities with how people act towards women, people of color, and the LGBTQI. We need to knock that off right now. Obviously, this is an opinion piece.
Just as a warning, for those who might be bothered by certain sorts of content, some of the incidents that were relayed to me, the stories that were told, have jarring, uncomfortable occurrences in them. If mentions of rape and unsolicitated physical contact will bother you, you might want to skip the rest of this article. I know reading the emails and PMs from these women bothered me as they came in.

As much as what these women related bothered me, and obviously bothered them as the targets of the harassment, I felt that the fact that it was so uncomfortable was exactly the reason why this current piece needed to be written. We, as a group, need to start looking the people doing this harassment in the eye and telling them that we don’t think it is okay. We need to stop pushing these accounts into the shadows, under the rugs, and pretending that they do not exist. We need to make our communities into better places for everyone, and not just a bunch of men.

I put out a call over my various social media feeds (which was shared a lot), asking for women to share their experiences of harassment in tabletop gaming with me. Anonymity was offered to those who wanted it, and not surprisingly most respondents asked that their names be kept confidential. The reasons for them wanting to be kept anonymous were one of two. First, they were afraid of further harassment within their communities for calling out the bad behavior. They seen how women who tell men to stop get treated in small, closed communities and, for better or worse, they want to continue with their hobbies without additional harassment. The second reason was a bit scarier. Some of these women are professionals, working in tabletop gaming in a number of different capacities, who fear that publicly coming forward would negatively impact their careers within gaming.

I’ll just say that last one again, with emphasis: they were afraid that coming forward about their harassment, or the harassment that they had witnessed, would negatively impact their careers in tabletop gaming.

Because of these reasons, I will be keeping the identities of everyone who asked anonymous. Everyone who spoke with me identified themselves, I am just not identifying them.

One of the common threads through the experiences shared was rape. Most of these women had had characters raped during convention play, online games, or at events at stores. Sometimes the rapes were matter-of-factly introduced into play, others there was a titillating level of graphic detail to the assaults. One women talked about how a regular attendee at a local convention bragged of having a “rape kit” in his car for the women at the convention, and at one point he yelled at her to “find him women to sleep with.” She also talked about the organizers of the convention having a “men only camping retreat” and when she was on the board of the con the only way that she could attend was “nude and wearing a dog collar.” Another woman talked about the GM of her online game suddenly having her character knocked unconscious, taken away on a ship, and then graphically narrated raping her character. All of this occurred on voice chat while using a popular virtual tabletop site.

Another woman told me that her attempts at organizing a couple of women only games for a VTT online convention was met with such vehemence from male gamers that the games were pulled from the schedule of the convention.

People wonder why more and more people think that anti-harassment policies are needed at conventions. After all, even Gen Con has one:
Gen Con: The Best Four Days in Gaming! is dedicated to providing a harassment-free Event experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, or affiliation. We do not tolerate harassment of convention participants in any form. Convention participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled without refund at the discretion of show management.

And an Ethics policy:

All of the following constitute grounds for expulsion from the convention without refund:
  • Violating any federal, state, or local laws, facility rules or convention policies
  • Failure to comply with the instructions of Gen Con Event Staff or security personnel
  • Using anything in a threatening or destructive manner against person or property
  • Endangering the safety of oneself or others
  • Threatening, stealing, cheating or harassing others
  • Failure to conduct oneself in a mature manner

The creators of the 13th Age RPG have anti-harassment policies for their organized play because “Nobody shows up for a game with the goal of feeling uncomfortable or unsafe, and sorry that they came. But organized play brings together many different types of people with different expectations and approaches to play. An anti-harassment policy sets ground rules that everyone can recognize and follow, resulting in better games and more fun.” In the policy they outline harassment as “Everyone has the right to a space that is safe from any type of harassment: physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual.”

Honestly, considering the experiences that have been related to me, these sorts of policies should be commonplace for conventions and organized play. I have heard that Paizo is currently drafting an anti-harassment policy for their organized play, and Ad Astra Games has one in place already.

These are some of the more overt things that women have to deal with in their tabletop gaming experiences, and doesn’t go into the more “casual” or systemic harassment and sexism that women deal with at conventions, in online play and at game stores. One of the women talked about women being a subclass in society, and it being more so in gaming communities. “It sucks for a female gamer, going into a store and having that reaction.”

Men are openly commenting on women’s body parts in a sexual manner. Sexual content is added to games because “that’s the kind of stuff that women like.” Crude sexual references and jokes are made.

I’m not saying that there is no place for sexual, or adult themes, in gaming. Just the opposite, in fact. In my personal groups I game with grownups, and we play games that can have adult material in them. We have, however, agreed that content like that is okay in advance, and most of the time we agree that players’ agency over their characters should not be railroaded by the story of the game, or the actions of the GM. There is a huge difference between making awkward sexual comments out of the blue, because you are hoping it will interest a woman gamer, and making awkward sexual comments that people expect in their game. This goes doubly so for games in public spaces, like conventions or stores.

And just because it is okay with your wife, girlfriend or the woman in your gaming group at home, that doesn’t mean that it is okay with all women. If it makes someone at the table uncomfortable, or makes them feel like they are being harassed, just don’t do it, or apologize for having done it.

And, of course, none of them are safe from accusations of being a “fake geek girl,” or being in the store to get something for their husband or boyfriend. Apparently the idea that a woman would want to buy her own dice or miniatures or rule books is alien to some gamers.

As Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World, points out in an online essay, there have always been gender problems in tabletop gaming. But he also points out that women have been interested in tabletop gaming for a long time. But, just because something has “always been that way,” it does not mean that it has to stay that way. Even in the 1970s TSR Games employees were taken to task by fandom, and female designers, to be more respectful of women gamers and to stop using phrases like “ladygamers.” Sadly, these attitudes that were considered to be outdated back then are still being perpetuated now…in some cases by some of the same people.

My first AD&D group, back in 1979, had a woman for the GM, and about half of the group were women. Most of my groups since then have had women involved in them. We need to be better, as a community, about these things. We need to speak out when we see women being harassed, online or in person, and we need to tell the people who think that doing this is okay that it isn’t. We need to be active in making the change that creates better communities where we don’t have to worry about our friends being harassed because of their gender, or their sexual preferences, or their ethnicity. We have to convince conventions and organized play societies that having anti-harassment policies is a good thing, and enforcing them so that everyone feels welcomed and accepted is a better thing.

Guys, we have to remember that this isn’t about us. This isn’t about our perceptions of what is happening at conventions, during organized play events and in online games. We sit back, listen and ask what we need to do, rather than try to make the discussion about how it “isn’t all men.” We already know that. We need to not take the focus away from what needs to be done.

There are never going to be completely safe spaces, in gaming or outside of it. However, we can make better places where no one has to worry about their body parts being part of the table talk, or their characters being sexually violated. It is the 21st century, and we should be better about this than we are. We need to stop being quiet, stop facilitating harassment, and we need to start making better spaces for ourselves and our fellow gamers. A group, like nerds, that talk so much about being harassed in their youth for being different should really be more sensitive about harassing others. We can, as a group, be better about this, and we need to do it.
 

Comments

Status
Not open for further replies.

MechaPilot

Explorer
I would never bring something like romance or sex in the game with guys I don't know. They can get so weird about it. In one game the male PCs went to a brothel and my lone female PC went to dinner with the town's sheriff and spent the night with him. I had to deal with the entire I didn't know your PC was easy. And they were often suggesting I seduce the guard of the King. It got so tiresome.
Don't forget the other side of the coin. I've had some DMs drop in love interests for my character.

I think could have had a number of motivations (some good or neutral, and some lecherous):
G/N - They could have been providing a balance to the male PCs going to brothels.
G - They could have legitimately wanted to provide ties that link the PCs more closely to the game world they live in.
L - They could have been expecting me to RP a sexual encounter with that NPC for their amusement.

However, in the years after my harassment experience (i.e. after I learned to not even hint at character sex or romance around men I don't know) I never allowed a character to pursue those romantic relationships. There was one time where another gamer commented that my character was simply a frigid b**** because she refused the attentions of an NPC who, to be perfectly frank, had been portrayed by the DM as a legitimately kind and decent person (and who I thought my character would have been genuinely interested in).


And yes I read enough threads on here about how some groups hate romance in the game.

Luckily my regular group is all for romance if it fits and it is not treated as weird or girly.
Some people don't like romance or sex in their game. That's perfectly cool. I think that leaving out romance detracts from the game world because it removes a layer of positive relationships with the game world. However, I also fully understand people being uncomfortable with it, and I think most people who opt to leave it out do so for comfort purposes and not because romance is "girly."
 

damned

Villager
Certainly, if I was a con-organiser and I was asked to provide a woman's only game, it would be natural for me to check whether this was because women felt the open games were un-safe/toxic. As, of course, if that was the case I would want to do something about it.

However, the possibility that others (i.e. men) might ask themselves whether or not this special game session says something about how women feel about the community, is no reason to refuse the game session.

As an academic, I am sometimes involved in organising academic conferences. Even though the conferences are open to all, we frequently have special social events for various groups: "women", "PhD students", "alumini of particular institutions", etc. This doesn't imply that "women", or the other categories are discriminated against in the open events. The special events are just an opportunity for people to meet and socialise and talk with others of similar interests and experiences.

So, having a woman's only game, should not be any more controversial than having say "a 4E game", or "a game for out-of-town visitors to the con", or "a game for under 18 year olds", or "a game where all the PCs are elves", etc. Providing an opportunity for women to play a game together at a con seems like a truly excellent idea to me.

In fact, having a woman's only event really paints the opposite picture of the con. A woman's only session is advertising that a) there are enough women attending to make this worthwhile, and b) that the con is thoughtfully providing opportunities for women gamers to meet and play games together.
Yes. Which is a ridiculous reason for refusing. A group of women wanted the opportunity to game with other women, and it was refused because it might make other gamers question whether their community was safe for woman.

If the answer to the question "is this community safe for women?" isn't immediately and transparently "yes", then the problem isn't whatever prompted asking the question.

There are plenty of other reasons for wanting to have an opportunity to game with only women, and note that there is no suggestion that the individual women concerned wanted to only game with women for the entire con. She reportedly just wanted a table which was only women. Which is perfectly reasonable. Woman are a minority in most areas for gaming. Like for every minority an event like a con should be an opportunity to game with people that you cannot easily normally play with.

However, the difference with a "man-only" table is that it is hard to see a reasonable justification for a "man-only table", other than for the purposes of excluding an already excluded, and harassed minority. A "woman-only" table simply provides a great opportunity for woman to game together, for whatever reason, which is something difficult for most women to do normally (because they are a minority). A "man-only table" is just another way for the majority to exclude the minority.
Id like to point out that the game in question was not refused - it was unconditionally approved, supported and promoted. I specifically advertised the game through newsletters and social media posts.

That the game didnt run disappoints me a little. I always want to see games run.

What really pisses me off is why it didnt run and how the whole experience has damaged the female GM and her friends, how it has left them feeling the complete opposite of included and welcome.

To me the response was incomprehensible. Not only was the idea rubbished but straw men arguments and logical fallacies were used to imply that the GM said very different things to what she actually did. I had only casual interactions with the GM but had a fair idea of her mindset from our conversations and yet the way I read the post made me think she had messed up and said something stupid. I checked with her first and then went back and searched all the posts I could find to see where the poster may have gotten his impression from. Zilch. Nada. It was a crap response and it has alienated and hurt the female gamers in this community.

People can be arses in person. Online this tends to happen even more often.
 

Fergurg

Villager
I'm quite sure there are a number of far more reliable ways to lose a war.

The nice part is that you don't need to believe me. You're living in the aftermath. This is what it's like. It isn't perfect, yet, or even close. But I'm afraid you can't put the genie back in the bottle.
Here's the thing - when the war is over, the fighting is done. Everybody acknowledges that the war is over, including the losers. The winners don't have to try to convince people, "Hey, my side won!" because everybody knows it already.

Especially when you state that the objective is to crush a viewpoint you don't like, which is what you said, in the name of tolerance and compassion, and that people who don't agree have already lost. It reeks of a sad unawareness of what winning really is.

And keep in mind that I didn't take a side in your internet feud with Maxperson; I just find your arrogance sickening, regardless of who is morally right.
 

MechaPilot

Explorer
Thank you the last thingiwant is to get into numbers thing,,,they areway too high. Someone below already tried to take what I thought was a normal turn a phrase to make issue...

But no about 8%ish is a big issue... Physical and sexual assault numbers like that are iirredeemable.Does anyone know how to contact the cons to see how we can help?
I have never been a con attendee, but I would imagine that most cons have some kind of web page, especially the larger cons, and that you could find contact info on those pages.

Also, someone posted a link in one of the two harassment threads to an organization that at the very least is promoting awareness about the issue. I'd have to dig it up again, but I think it had the term "consent" in the name. You might be able to get them to help you come up with a game plan for talking to con representatives.
 

Dannager

Villager
Here's the thing - when the war is over, the fighting is done.
Nonsense.

The question of whether black rights or racists' rights would come out on top was settled decades ago. That hasn't put an end to all fighting, just most of it.

You're trying to squeeze reality into a handful of cliched pseudo-quotations because you think it sounds nice.

And keep in mind that I didn't take a side in your internet feud with Maxperson; I just find your arrogance sickening, regardless of who is morally right.
Well there are two possibilities, here: Either you actually have taken a side, as seems almost undeniable given your history here, or you believe my "sickening arrogance" to be more deserving of your attention than correcting an actual moral wrong. I'll let you decide, though.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Fergurg

Villager
So, parent-like, they don't often care about actual guilt. They opt for cessation of outbursts and restoration of peace.
As a parent, and as someone who believes that the truth is always relevant, I separate the children when they are fighting, sending them into different parts of the house. I don't deprive either one of anything until I am certain that wrongdoing has happened and by whom. And if I can't determine who did wrong, I punish neither.

And yes, expelling someone is punishment; you are depriving that person to something that he or she would have if you didn't actively take it away because of a policy that forbids wrongdoing.

If you are indeed accused AND innocent, your best option is compliance...AFTER you make a formal complaint so that you can sue the fraudulent accuser.
But what about the venue that took the action?
 

Lehrbuch

Villager
Nylanfs is correct and I have restated it several times, the game wasn't refused, and was cleared by the event organizers before I posted it because THEY did support it...
Apologies to you (Jeanneliza) and the organiser (damned) for getting the story a bit screwed up.

On the other hand, I am also hugely disappointed that your game ultimately didn't run because of idiots in your community. I hope it doesn't stop you from trying again in the future.
 

Fergurg

Villager
Nonsense.

The question of whether black rights or racists' rights would come out on top was settled decades ago. That hasn't put an end to all fighting, just most of it.

You're trying to squeeze reality into a handful of cliched pseudo-quotations because you think it sounds nice.



Well there are two possibilities, here: Either you actually have taken a side, as seems almost undeniable given your history here, or you believe my "sickening arrogance" to be more deserving of your attention than correcting an actual moral wrong. I'll let you decide, though.
Actually, it's because your arrogance IS an actual moral wrong. But mostly, it's because you're a worthless a-hole who needs to be called on his BS. You went on the attack against me, trying to figure out what I think, when I stayed civil to you. My civility has come to an end.
 

Dannager

Villager
you are depriving that person to something that he or she would have if you didn't actively take it away
I think you're simply going to have to accept that we don't agree with you on this. We don't see something as punishment merely because the person being affected doesn't like it.
 

Dannager

Villager
Actually, it's because your arrogance IS an actual moral wrong. But mostly, it's because you're a worthless :):):):):):):) who needs to be called on his BS. You went on the attack against me, trying to figure out what I think, when I stayed civil to you. My civility has come to an end.
Please proceed, Governor.
 

Fergurg

Villager
I think you're simply going to have to accept that we don't agree with you on this. We don't see something as punishment merely because the person being affected doesn't like it.
Then all of you are wrong.

I understand that you, Dannager, are mentally disabled enough to believe that you have already won and that "The accusation is the evidence" is already the standard, but your willful stupidity does not affect everybody. As much as you would like it to, it couldn't, or else there'd be too many people still trying to decide what to eat for breakfast yesterday.

Now, for everyone who's IQ is above room temperature (which excludes you, Dannager. Sorry.), if you are taking something away from somebody because of alleged wrongdoing, that is punishment. That is why it is considered punitive in nature. Removing a person innocently accused and removing an accuser who was harassed is the exact same wrong for the exact same reason - it is actively taking something away from somebody that they had, were entitled to have, and only lost it because of wrongdoing that they did not do. Because there are other, better options available, why is that acceptable?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
As a parent, and as someone who believes that the truth is always relevant, I separate the children when they are fighting, sending them into different parts of the house. I don't deprive either one of anything until I am certain that wrongdoing has happened and by whom. And if I can't determine who did wrong, I punish neither.
As a parent, you have the time and an ongoing relationship with your children- getting down to the actual truth is in your family's best interest. So first, you separate, then investigate.

As a venue operator, you generally do NOT have time and resources to ascertain truth. Investigation, while the best option for the persons involved, is usually beyond the scope of your personnel, and possibly beyond the legal powers at their disposal.

So they separate- and possibly eject- unless things are crystal clear. End of story


But what about the venue that took the action?
If they (or the police, if they've been called) intentionally don't take down the accuser's info- they probably don't have to give it to you there and then due to anti-stalking/witness protection laws, etc.- they're probably in breach of the law.
 

Nylanfs

Registered User
Oh and Nylanfs, remeber the complaint when I said there are men who don't WANT women in their games, but you guys wouldn't know because they don't have to say so to have it? Read these threads.
Oh I had seen the behavior here, and at RPGNet, and a few other places and have blocked several people because of their views. I had never seen it in FG, and quite frankly I was shocked that it was. I mean logically since I had seen it at other gamer boards I should have statistically expected it, but I've been active there since 2006 so it was a shock.
 

Dannager

Villager
Fergurg, I think it might be a good idea for you to take a step back from this thread and reassess. It's clearly bothering you a great deal. You don't have to take my advice, of course, but maybe just consider it briefly.
 

ehren37

Villager
I have never been to a GenCon or gaming Con, I am curious as to what context at a gaming convention the quote would be appropriate and in context?
The most I can think of is the rules for an answer to a Kindergarten Cop quote question in a trivia contest... yeah, I got nothin.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Fergung said:
if you are taking something away from somebody because of alleged wrongdoing, that is punishment
A victim of sexual assault has something taken away from them. Something much more important and fundamental than a fun con weekend (though that gets taken from them, too, actually). They aren't any more at fault than some hypothetical person unjustly chucked out of a convention. Why are you okay punishing the victims of sexual assault instead of punishing those accused of sexual assault? SOMEONE is going to get punished get something taken away from them - why victims of sexual assault and not people accused of sexual assault?

In fact, if you're looking to advocate for innocent people to not be punished, you're kind of wasting your time on people unjustly accused of sexual assault at a con. There's not that many of them, and the pain they feel isn't very deep.

Meanwhile, there's lots of people who get punished that you could find to rally behind if it's an important cause for you. Some of them even get KILLED for it. Some get viciously shamed in public. Some are imprisoned for decades. Some get unjustly killed by police.

Some just get their feeling of safety and security taken away from them.

Again, there's no solution that causes no suffering. There's only a solution that reduces the incidence of sexual harassment and makes con goers feel safer but might sometimes kick out someone unfairly, and a denial of that solution that keeps perpetrators of sexual violence as active con members but at least doesn't kick anyone out unfairly.

I can only imagine that those who think getting kicked out of a con is a worse scenario than being sexually harassed have the luxury of being very ignorant of the suffering sexual harassment causes. That ignorance just lets more sexual harassment happen. If that's not acceptable, there's plenty of avenues for education and support out there.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MechaPilot

Explorer
Thank you the last thingiwant is to get into numbers thing,,,they areway too high. Someone below already tried to take what I thought was a normal turn a phrase to make issue...

But no about 8%ish is a big issue... Physical and sexual assault numbers like that are iirredeemable.Does anyone know how to contact the cons to see how we can help?
I found the link to the organization I mentioned: Geeks for CONsent
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Advertisement

Latest threads

Advertisement

Top