There has been A Strange Signal popping up on the internet lately. No this is not about the WOW! Signal from 1977, nor is it about the recent radio signals seen from Deep Space. It’s about some dark veins of thought that are appearing in table top gaming lately.
It’s really a very disturbing trend that makes me sad for the state of the internet RPG gaming. Following a lot of progressive TTRPG players and designers I get to see a lot of different perspectives that have historically not had a voice in gaming. LGBTQ, women and minority gamers are making their presence known in modern TTRPG in podcasts, blogs, and streaming, and it’s wonderful.
With the rise of more diversity in TTRPGs there is the inevitable backlash from Gamergate-esque personas as well as the typical “gatekeepers” that you see all over the internet in nerd culture. I’ve really come to hate social media, gamer culture, these troglodytes who feel encroached upon by women, minorities and the LGBTQ communities playing their games, but really it’s mostly women you get the most hate.
There was a recent twitter thread by @bluejay_712 where some gamers bragged about gate keeping women out of their RPG games. They pointed to a few bad experiences they had with women who they had in their games (significant others of some of their fellow gamers) who made them “change their style of game to suit them”, whatever that means. Through some of the discussion, which I admittedly didn’t follow too closely as it was just too depressing, it sounds like they asked to take out some violent game play content (read rape) and make it more open to others who don’t appreciate sexual or violent (or both) content. Is this really a problem in peoples games? Not having that content, because depending on the game or tone that MIGHT creep in, but why is it such a problem to NOT have it in? You are not eliminating any sense of realism by not including that but instead banning some disgusting material that some players might try and include to work out some bizzare fetish.
Some point to inclusion of the “X Card” mechanic in TTRPGs to flag offensive, sensitive, any content that makes one of the players feel uncomfortable as a solution to these problems. They can play the X card to stop the discussion or content, with no questions ask. I dont think I’ve ever had this problem in my games, but if I ever were to play with people I didnt know personally I think it would be a great mechanic to call in to help others feel comfortable.
This backlash on the internet for not just RPGs really makes me feel like the internet was a mistake. Yeah it’s great we can have the entire breadth of human knowledge at the tips of our finger tips, but the sheer volume of negativity and disgusting behavior that anonymity breeds on the platform is almost not worth it. I just hope that these types of behaviors and opinions just stay on their side of the internet and dont intrude on mine. That would be ideal.