Despite the title, this is a really positive update from me. For those of you that don’t know, over the past two and a half months I have gotten married, went on my honeymoon, moved into a new house, and have had some of the most memorable life experiences ever. I have also landed some very cool partnerships, worked on some amazing projects (the NDAs prevent me from talking about them just yet), and within the past few weeks the layout for the last DR book has started to wind up. Utopia has started to get some major headway, I’ve reconnected with some creatives that I thought I might have lost forever to dark voids of third parties, and the creativity is on a full high.
Life has been fucking amazing.
For those of you that follow the internet noise and drama in LARP circles, you probably also know that the past few months have included some incredibly difficult times as well. There were death threats, people drawing lines in the sand, and people who I once thought were cool being completely shitty. The negativity was so potent that not only did I look to remove myself from LARP all together, but I also questioned some of the ties I had with people who called themselves my friends.
While I hit some of the highest highs, the internet and a handful of people were determined to be what I felt were complete and utter assholes.
Many weeks went by, and then something happened in the real public eye that shocked all of us. Neo-Nazi’s, racists, and alt-right white supremacists assaulted not only Charlottesville, Virginia but also then followed with rallies and marches in cities around the United States.
And while most of civilized humanity recoiled and reacted with the degree of outrage, disgust, fear, and fervor that should be expected… there was something that I noticed on the internet. Many of the people who had, with one of my games or another, had a freak-out online that were freaking out about the events in Virginia were doing so at the same volume, potency, fervor, intensity, and duration as they freaked out about LARP or gaming related items.
I had to think about this for a few days and really gestate it. Why were people acting the same way about Nazis marching in Virginia as they were about their favorite FPS character being nerfed?
I think I have come to a few conclusions, but not rock solid on any of them. The first conclusion that I came to was that games and gaming meant as much to these people as real world issues did. This was both concerning and complimentary to me since I have seen people become overly invested in things I have created. The truth is that we encourage the “only play at game” mentality to try and prevent this, but there are gamers who define too much of their mundane/not-at-game life around the hobbies they have. I don’t know if there is a solution to this or what could be done other than to encourage these people to take a break and (without it being insulting) find a life outside of gaming.
The second conclusion I came to was that people AREN’T equally infuriated and engaged, however they only understand one form of voicing discontent. Maybe we have reached a point in society where people feel that the only way to have their opinion listened to at all is to scream as loud, and as offensively, as possible in the hopes that it makes change. Water too cold for your coffee? If the employee doesn’t give you what you want, yell and make threats. Dislike the direction of your favorite comic book show? Yell and make threats. Dislike a game rule change? Yell and make threats. Dislike Nazis marching the street (the one you really SHOULD flip your lid about)? Yell and make threats.
Normally when you get to the end of one of my blog posts there is some sort of witty summation that either causes a fight or draws everything together in a nice irony. Unfortunately, this one is still out there and I don’t have a witty punchline to end things with today. I still have to figure out how to tell people that game design is worth it (despite the evidence). I have to convince writers and game designers that the hobby is worth engaging in and that the abuse they see is the exception and not the rule. I have to spend time explaining to people that yes, because you berated and were a total shit to my coworkers, friends, and myself, I don’t want to be your friend and I don’t plan on doing projects with you in the future. I need to parse the fact that people are flipping their shit at the same levels about a female Doctor Who and real Nazis on the march.
I don’t know how to tell people that they are taking the wrong shit too seriously and the real shit not serious enough.