The Why of It
Recent events such as BREXIT and the U.S. Presidential election have served to divide people in an unprecedented way. Even in hobby gaming, such events as Gamer Gate have brought a dormant ugliness to the surface that both shock and dismay this long time gaming hobbyist. For the first time in over 35 years of table top RPG gaming, I am sorry to say, I was actually ashamed to call myself a gamer.
So when the opportunity to stand up and declare myself as opposed to that ugliness arose, I jumped at it without hesitation and with only cursory thought on the matter. One thing all people should be able to agree on is that hate has no place in our world.
Given time to reflect on it, I have slowly come to the conclusion that gaming needs to be and remain neutral ground. It’s not a matter of injecting politics, or religion, or whatever into gaming. As a human pursuit they already exist there. It is more a matter of not letting those things rise to the surface and ruin the broad appeal of our hobby.
Social media and the Internet show us time and again that being isolated by the distance between us, and a keyboard and a screen, only serves to heighten the perceived differences between us. People sling memes at each other, and use exclusionary and partisan language that only serves to further isolate. What makes hobby gaming so extraordinary is that people of all beliefs, backgrounds, races, and gender identities come together as one and have fun together. By having and creating the deep bonds that gaming fosters we can begin to understand those who are not like us.
So What is the Solution?
For me personally, the solution is simple. I will continue to be an activist for the world I want us to achieve. I will protect the weak, voiceless, marginalized, and disenfranchised among us. And I will continue to be public about it when I think I can educate and illuminate.
For the gaming community I think the solution is to bring more people together around gaming tables, not isolate and exclude people. Open dialog cannot occur if people don’t get together and talk. Many strong and lasting friendships are made through gaming. Do we not at least try to understand our friends?
I have been working with Frank Mentzer, Benoist Poire and Jolly Blackburn to find a way to bring all gamers together for the love of hobby gaming. Gaming should be a refuge from the storms of the real world. It is neutral ground. It should provide a safe place for all those involved. We have devised a simple hashtag (#GamersForGaming) and will provide some simple memes to get across the point that everyone is welcome, everyone is safe around gaming tables.
So What Can I Do?
I know that I can be hard headed and not really listen to those who speak to me. I, for one, pledge to listen more and (maybe) talk less. It’s going to be a struggle.
I also pledge to do everything within my power to make sure everyone is able to live without being harassed, demeaned, or bullied. I believe all of us are created equal. No one should be able to take that away.
For gaming though, I want nothing more than for partisanship to stop. I want people of all types to come together, ignore the cares of the world for a few hours and have fun. Can’t we all say the same? Isn’t that what gaming is for?
So what can you do? Just be kind to everyone. Is that really so hard? Accept diversity. Be inclusive. Listen to others. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. Understand what other gamers…your friends…wants, dreams and fears are. And just have fun.
Gaming tables are a place where everyone is welcome, a place where everyone is included. Where all ideas are valued. That is how we end destructive division; how we end bullying; how we end elitism. That is how we end hate.
At least for gamers anyway.
If we can do this, then it’s on to the rest of the world. Let’s make sure we can be an example of what is right with the world.
The memes in this post (and there will be others circulated as well) can be used by Dungeon Masters, Game Masters, and players. For Dungeon Masters they will signify the type of table they run. For players they declare the type of game they want to find.