Monday, August 31, 2015

#RPGaDay2015: The Best Non-RPG Thing

Last one. Was it good for you?

Favorite Non-RPG Thing to Come Out of RPGs: Hrm. What, like, culturally? I think +Thomas Deeny makes a good point; what we think of as an "RPG" in video game terms probably owes a lot to tabletop RPGs. For my part, though...

I don't know. To wax loquacious for a minute, gamer culture can be really toxic. I'm watching it happen right now with the big clusterfuck over on DriveThru RPG, and what it cooks down to, I think, is: A company that's produced some pretty problematic stuff put up a really problematic game. DT has no approval process in place for products, so it just went up. The outcry was entirely justified (this was a really shitty product, guys), but, as usual, some of the specific responses were abusive and vitriolic. But at the same time, DT's response wasn't ideal. There were reasons for this (it was a weekend, people were away), but not excuses (the owner still shouldn't be engaging in slippery slope fallacies on Twitter).

What does all this mean, and why does it relate to the question? Because gamers are people. I'm around people in a lot of different contexts, and my experience has been that most people need a reason to step outside themselves. We talk a good game about walking a mile in someone else's shoes, but the truth of the matter is that most of us - any political leaning, any race, any gender presentation, any orientation - judge things from our own perspective first, and that doesn't always take the nuances of other people's lives into account.

Does that always matter? Of course not. I'm a privileged white guy, so I can afford to absorb a little more hostility because I don't get hammered with microaggressions on a daily basis. But I only know that because I pay attention. I pay attention, in part, because since I was 11 years old, I've been regularly sitting down at a table with other people and deliberately trying to communicate what's in my head. That means learning how others' biases work. That means playing to their expectations and challenging them. That means trying to know them.

Empathy is a skill, and it's one you can (and should) cultivate. I know socially liberal people who are on the right side of the issues, but are absolutely assholes about it. I know people who say really ignorant, racist/sexist shit, but are willing to listen if they're approached the right way. Yes, it's exhausting to do that, and I'm not saying it's anyone's responsibility to take that on.

What I am saying, and it's something that the games I run often emphasize, is that sometimes a job might not be yours, but it's not anybody's, really, and it still needs to get done, so who's going to stand up?

That is my favorite non-RPG thing to come out of RPGs.