Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What Everyone* Is Getting Wrong about "Consent in Gaming"

This past week Monte Cook Games released their Consent in Gaming free PDF.
And...as expected there is a lot of whining and complaining from the expected crowd.  Lots. Like somehow this is a personal affront to them.

Now I say Everyone* up there, but really most comments I have read get what this guide is trying to do and be.  So the vast majority get it.  I have tried to spend the last week or so reading everything I can that has been posted online.  I certainly have not read everything, but I am pretty happy with the sampling I have read.

AND nothing in this is new. I talked about social contracts back in 2015. They have been going on for longer than that.  This is just one type of codified social contract / social agreement.

On Wikipedia, we have something called "Assume Good Faith."   The same needs to be used when using this.  Assume the player on the other side of the table is presenting their concerns in good faith.  If something bothers them then it bothers them. 

At the risk of these being straw-man arguments, I do want to address the most common types of comments I have seen online (FB, Twitter, YouTube).  By lumping them together I do make my own error of over-generalization, but I have already spent a lot of time on this post (I started it last week) and more time and text will not make my points any clearer.

But I am Only Gaming With People I Really know.
Great!.  Guess what, you probably don't need this. You likely don't.  You have self-selected yourself out.   Don't worry about downloading it.

But what about...
Whataboutism is a weak argument all the time. 
Sure ANY rule in ANY book from ANY game can have a "What about..." This is not a reasonable argument.  Sure though maybe some hypothetical reasons could come up, but isn't that what this document is supposed to help with? 

But...
I have SO many reasons why people will use this to "fuck with a game" but guess what? That can happen with ANYTHING.  Your ability to pull a hypothetical situation out of your ass is not an argument against this.

Ok. But What About *MY* Fun?
Again, if you can't give an example without starting it with "What About" don't even try.
Also, why is YOUR fun greater than everyone's total fun? OR what is your fun greater than someone else's personal pain?

This is SJW Virtue Signalling!
Since when does not being an asshole mean you are an SJW? Besides calling someone an SJW and expecting it somehow mean an insult is signaling to your own in-crowd and like-minded people.

This is some sort of Millenial Bullshit!
The authors, Sean K. Reynolds and Shanna Germaine, are in their mid to late 40s.  Monte Cook, of Monte Cook games who publishes this, is also in his mid to late 40s.   All have several decades of game design and development with some of the biggest publishers in the world and the awards to match.  They are all solidly Generation-X.

This is Censorship!
Far from it. This actually frees you to do the things you and your players agree with.

But What About Horror movies/TV Shows?
Yeah, and those things have warnings and people self-select themselves out of them.  I love horror movies, my wife hates them. I don't take her to see them no matter how much we love each other. Nor do I expose her to them without warning her. She doesn't "stop the movie" because she scared, she just doesn't go. 
This document helps people make those choices.

What the %@&! are "Sensitivity Readers"?
I took that as basically "Educational Consultants." Both seem qualified to that. Darcy Ross is getting her (or has) Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (something I don't see on the CVs of the critics) and I don't know much about Jessica Meier save that she works in RPGS and has a black belt in taekwondo. 

It's *My* Game.
No. It isn't. It stopped being *your* game the second other people sat at the table.  If you want a situation where characters go through your made-up world with no agency consider becoming a novelist instead.

This is Maoist/Communist/Socialist!
Hmm. So I guess these people never actually studied those things in school.

We have always handled this on our own.
Great. If your track record is objectively, rather than subjectively, good.  If not then this is just another tool to help.

But Psychological Studies Say...
Ah, more whataboutism.   Ok I have read those studies. I have WRITTEN those studies. They are good, BUT please keep in mind WHO were the subjects back then.  Those subjects would not be the ones this document is aimed at. 

That Form
So the fuck what?  I recall starting a game back in college in the late 80s where I went over the potential issues in the game (AD&D Ravenloft) that included murder, the threat of sexual violence and implied child murder (I mean where do you think I used my Utburds?).  You know what people had the most issue with? The child murders of course.


I am reminded of one of my more intense and adult WitchCraft RPG games, my Vacation in Vancouver game. This game dealt with themes of sex, bdsm, sexual slavery, actual fucking evil (demons) and death.  Would this document have helped this game?  Maybe.  I can say this with 100% certainty; this Consent in Gaming document would not have had much change to my game.  We all had talked beforehand about what was and what was not allowed in the game.  I was pretty upfront about the content and the people signing on agreed to this.  There were some intense moments AND at the time I was coming off a long bout of very deep depression, so lots of things bothered me then.
There were things the players did not want.  For example one wanted more BDSM, another player though had issues with this due to her personal history.  Oh she was fine with other violence, but not this.  What did I do?  Did  I kick the player out?

No. Because I am a fucking adult. I worked around it.

I had to get MORE creative, not less creative.
There were a couple times when the game was paused when things got fairly intense.  We then went back to figure out where to take it next.  Well, that was EASY REALLY.  We moved the timeline a few hours ahead past the situation.  That worked FOR US. The same thing may or may or not have worked for other groups.  That is where this document would have worked in those groups. 

Don't tell me it will damage games.  Maybe it will damage YOUR game.  Maybe YOU need to become more creative.


When my kids run games in my house my wife and I cook for them. (yeah full diners each session)
We DON'T make anything with peanuts in it.  Why?  One of the players has a peanut allergy, a pretty bad one.  Do we tell them (that is their pronoun, go suck it if you don't like it) "sorry, you will have nothing to eat for the next four hours!" or "you self-selected into this game now eat the peanut chicken or you can leave!"

No. Because we are not dicks.  We make something else. We do something else.

This is the same thing. Why is that so hard to get?


So here is a bit of advice to the crowd that is so quick to dish out the exact same advice.
If you don't like it or don't want to use it, then don't.
It's really that damn simple.  I have never seen sadly I have seen way too much immature overreacting about this.

It's not going to retroactively change your games. It won't do a damn thing to the 40+-year-old game you run with your buddies.  Nothing.

So be the intelligent player/gamer you say you are.  If you don't want this, then don't use it.

But those that want to use should have access to it. 

5 comments:

Wormys_Queue said...

Amen to that.

Tom H said...

I don't get how some people don't get this, not just in gaming but in life.

StevenWarble said...

Well said!

Rob Barrett said...

Mic drop.

Gwythaint said...

Excellently said.

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