Slipping Down the Slope: Gamergate Card Game to Today

When the Gamergate card game was banned, Steve Wieck boasted about how Onebookshelf had only ever had to ban one thing ever, and hey, it was okay because it was just Gamergate, the maid rape and crack whores were safe. Well, first they came for Gamergate, now they’ve come for Tournament of Rapists. Because that’s how fucking far through the looking glass we are. Yeah, the inoffensive card game satirizing the events of the first few months of Gamergate was banned first, but now Onebookshelf has gone down the “We’ll ban offensive stuff when we see it” slippery slope that everyone said would happen because of some tacky open d20 product that got brigaded.

So it’s been shown that brigading titles on Onebookshelf could be the new primary means for the perpetually offended to attack things they don’t like in tabletop. In the meantime, James Raggi, creator of Lamentations of the Flame Princess and world famous provocateur of tabletop gaming, has possibly threatened to leave the industry in response to this:

“I checked my stats and according to the ranking function they have in the Publisher tools, I am a Top 2% seller on OBS. (which says more about how small the 98% are more than how big I am) I have done over $100,000 gross sales over the six years I’ve sold through the site, which isn’t nothing.

If one of my products gets pulled, or if the products of my peers are pulled without their consent, I am taking every LotFP product off of that site, which will be something of an economic armageddon for me and a hardship from everyone on my roster getting royalties from sales. I’ll also have pretty much no mechanism for conveniently delivering PDFs to people. (even reinstating PDF sales on my site would leave me no mechanism to provide access to people that do not purchase the title; I have rather cheap software and investing in more sophisticated software will be quite impossible without OBS sales money coming in.)

This past weekend a brainless howling mob showed they were in charge of this industry and have the power to disappear ideas and products they disapprove of. Whether this is the majority or a very vocal minority doesn’t make much difference to me; I consider myself at war with them. That this is within our industry feels like an intense betrayal; I have been literally shaking mad over the past several days. Simply shitting out pieced-together cheap crap POD versions of what I owe people and simply quitting has crossed my mind.

Without the ability to freely create, and freely reach people who might be interested in those creations, participation in this hobby and this industry is simply not worth doing.

Anyone who would restrict that creativity, or make it more difficult to find people who are creating things you might enjoy, anyone who restricts imagination and works of fiction, anyone who works to ban any work, is simply evil.

Evil.

We have lost a great deal over the past several days.” James Raggi via Google+

Frankly, I don’t care much for Raggi’s products and would probably never buy them, but I cannot dispute his importance to the tabletop market as a creator, consultant, and product developer. Tournament of Rapists, disgusting as it is, likely had no importance or significant impact on the tabletop market until this week.

What do you do about gross things? You don’t buy them!

People aren’t mad because you can’t buy a game about rapists, people are mad because they see the existential threat to creative free speech looming on the horizon. We didn’t want to hear Steve Wieck say “Rape is fine!”; what we wanted to hear Steve say was “Tournament of Rapists sounds gross; I’m not going to buy it. If you think it sounds gross, you probably shouldn’t buy it either!”

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7 responses to “Slipping Down the Slope: Gamergate Card Game to Today

  1. What a mess that is.
    I learned about the book in question via Tenkar’s Tavern. Erik both expressed outrage and provided a link to buy it, which seemed odd and probably gave it a lot more publicity than it would have had. As much as he used to decry the “drama llamas” he sure courts controversy. But that drives traffic and makes him some money, so I guess that changed his mind about drama. 🙂

    OBS did a pretty miserable job dealing with the situation, from what I’ve seen, first dismissing the concerns and then swinging too far in the other direction. If they pulled the product because the writer posted it with improper tags (pathfinder, not adult) in order to garner hits/publicity that would be one thing, and a thing I totally get. If they are pulling just this title as offensive, that’s another and I find that confusing.

    I’m not sure what I think about them pulling it. It’s a free market after all. Raggi’s response seems pretty over the top. Not selling something is not the same as “banning” it. Is it a little juvenile to demand stuff be pulled because it offends you? Yes. Is it also juvenile to expect no consequences from the market when you offend? Yes. I guess Raggi would say that denying access to one of the biggest outlets in the industry is de facto banning the work, and he’d have a point, but surely OBS has some kind of right to decide who they do business with too.

    If the GG card game was making light of real/ongoing crimes (threats, etc.) and the victims of said crimes, I certainly understand the outrage about it, and OBS’s decision not to incur the wrath of its customers. You can call that cowardice, or call it standing up for decency or victims or whatever, but it’s not really censorship.

    It seems to me the issue is which customers does OBS offend, when both pulling and not pulling a product causes offense. That’s a crappy choice to have to make. In a way it says something pretty depressing about the RPG consumers, huh?

    Don’t buy it, ask for the tags to be corrected, maybe even hold up as an example of the problems in parts of the industry, but demanding it be pulled seems like a censoring impulse, even if you’re not calling for legal/governmental intervention.

    So how’s that for a wishy washy stance. I think the wrong is in asking for it to be pulled from the store, but not in the actual pulling of it from the store. (Oh, and of course it is also wrong to produce the product, but morally repugnant stuff is still allowed in a free society.)

    FWIW though “perpetually offended” is very dismissive and kind of a low blow. I remember someone not wanting to lumped in with everyone who shared his views on certain controversy; is it any more fair to call everyone who wanted the thing pulled “perpetually offended” than it is to call all GGers misogynists or all “Sad Puppies” reactionary?

    • I’ll probably respond more thoroughly on a day when I’m not home sick, but what strikes me is that Wieck essentially acknowledges that this title is probably less offensive than people think

      • Yeah, I don’t really shop at OBS and only have hearsay about the Tournament thing. Just going by the blurb, it sounds terrible but based on the discussions at Tenkar’s Tavern it also sounds like the point is not to participate in the tournament but to go and kill the rapists.

    • Y’know, I was going to get around to saying how you’re right, that there aren’t people who are actually perpetually offended by thing, but that the issue was an ‘outrage culture’ that fed into things today just as like with the Satanic Panic of 80s, only coming at things at a different angle and from a different part of the political, if not ideological, spectrum, and it’s the outrage culture that needs to be resisted and transformed…

      Then I saw this today:

      The person was complaining about the sexism in 5e’s artwork, specifically that there weren’t enough women in the background of the bar-fight, only one of the non-skeleton figures in the middle picture was discernibly a woman, and the woman in the last picture was clearly just the smurfette. There are some people who will never be happy. One can never make everyone happy by the decision one makes, and while you can definitely try, I think there are areas where it is rational to accept the losses of approval, because you probably would not have gotten it anyway.

      So, I DO think that there is a tiny core of individuals with a certain mindset who take part, either directing, feeding into, protecting, whatever, in fostering the climate of outrage; not everyone who becomes involved in targeting a particular work or idea is one of those individuals, but they do empower them. It’s one of the reasons why truly egregious or offensive works do tend to be targeted first-off, because they’re the most difficult to defend and its easy to find and recruit others to attack those works. The consensus against the offensive work is used as leverage to attack subsequent works.

      As for the free-market vs. retailer rights issue, you do have a good point. I think at the heart of this issue is the watershed period in publication we’re in the middle of. For one of the first times in history, we’ve seen an almost total democratization of the publishing industry. On the upside, the gatekeepers are gone, and anyone with a story to tell or game to sell has tools unlike any that have ever been available before. On the downside, we have Tournament of Rapists and City at the Top of the World is behind over 100 titles with naked dudes and wolves on the cover in the short fiction section. What people are most angry and worried about is that we’re on what seems like a vista of relatively infinite creative freedom and this seems like a step back towards the Gatekeepers of old. Maybe it’s just a baby step, but it’s perceived as a step backward none-the-less.

  2. Pingback: Now Would Be a Good Time to Invite the Thought Police to Leave Our Hobby Alone | Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

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