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Victory: The Importance of Winning

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Recently I played and finally finished Horizon Zero Dawn. It's an amazing game, full of all the things I want in any game. Diversity, incredible story, impressive characters, badass moments, and meaningful layers of nuance. Except the ending. The ending is one of those endings that promises other games (fuck yes) but it does it in a way I can't stand that I'm solidly convinced is bad story telling and bad GMing. And yes, I see all media as GMing in one way or another.

At the end of this game, the bad guy you thought you killed is still alive. The threat is stopped, temporarily. It's not a real win. You were promised it was, but it wasn't. Just like in the end of Season 2 of Stranger Things. You thought you won, but you didn't, jokes on you! Monster is still there! What is this nonsense? Honestly, it's just... cheap. It's an easy out for a cliffhanger to get you back in. It's a cheap trick to keep the story going. When this trick is used in gaming, …

A Year In Reflection: Lessons from the Dicelands

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A year has come and a year is going. Silence has become its own language. I won't lie, part of me is still trying to decompress what's happening in our community. Always forward has become a marching song, so similar to what we say in wake of the world's state. Things are changing. Kind of. We move forward or get left behind. There are so many platitudes about time waiting for no one.

I keep looking forward, eager to step into the New Year, but find myself chained to the present, finding it almost impossible to move at all. Always forward, they say, but lately it's almost impossible to do anything in the present without feeling the weight of it all. This year was a struggle. It had great moments of beauty and of simplicity. It had moments of struggle. It had moments of defeat.

One of my favourite musicals is Into the Woods. The Baker's Wife has this beautiful song about how life can't be just made of moments, because then you'd never know you had a moment t…

What Happened to You: Playing After Trauma

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"I don't go to that con anymore," she says.

"Oh. Why?"

She hesitates. I can see in the way her lips purse that she's weighing the odds of telling me something. She's deciding if I'll listen and believe her, or if I'm going to call her a liar and abuse her. It's a debate I've done myself, multiple times. "I was groped there."

"Jesus. I'm so sorry."

"Mhm." She goes quiet for a minute. "I talked to the con about it. They didn't do anything. They didn't remove him."

I stare, blankly, at this person who was hurt and abused. I am looking at her, looking down at the ground, the safe neutral area where she can't see my response. She doesn't want to see my pain on her behalf because this is about her, not me. I swallow. "Fuck 'em. I don't need to go that con. I'm so sorry that happened."

She hesitates again and finally looks up at me. "Are there policies, at your con…

Me Too: Gaming in the Age of Rape Culture

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On Sunday, the internet decided it was time for women (as the original meme started) to open up their scars and post them on social media. Almost everyone I knew posted "Me Too" and some variation of the meme. Whether it was a trans man or an enby femme or a cis woman, nearly everyone I knew in the gaming community had a story. Hell, some people have even come forward to point fingers and name names. I don't know how many people I've watched lose their jobs or their community this week.

And that's a good thing, in case you were about to decry public call outs on sexual assault. Our community has been one of the big ones for public call outs this week. It turns out the gaming community has a missing stair problem. It's not like hundreds of people have been saying that for years. It seems like a bunch of people posting "me too" has left an impression on those of you who don't suffer as much as the rest of us. Suddenly we're believed. Suddenly…

Who's To Blame: Toxic People vs Toxic Men

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As I sat on a roundtable talking about removing toxicity in gaming, a lot of the topic kept swinging back to men in the community. Specifically, straight white men. I'm the first in line to do a call in with a toxic dude or a dude exhibiting toxic behaviour. I'm also regularly concerned when I'm at a table with all dudes, or when I'm at a con with mostly dudes, or when I'm in a space with only dudes. Whether these men have done anything to me or not doesn't matter, it's the memories I have of other men who have.

Whether it's the threats I've received, the doxxing, the harassing, the stalking, or the straight up sexual harassment, I've received enough problems from men in the community that I don't need more. I don't need to blog and podcast about problems in the community that often are committed by men. But I do it in hopes that our communities will get better and do better and ultimately be better. It opens the door to a lot of issues…

How You Can Help: Accountability and the Lack Thereof

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Decompressing after a convention can be hella hard. We're combating con drop and con crud and just that overall sense of "fuck that was good" or "shit that was horrible" and unpacking everything around it. We've ben surrounded by our people for several days, had some intense experiences, and then had to return to the mundanity of our joe jobs. Gaming conventions are a weird space of dreams and fears all rolled in to one. If it's a good con, you'll have a good experience and the safe space you're in won't be invaded.

But what happens when that safe space is invaded? What do you do when you're sitting at a convention shaking after a man got aggressive with you and is now doing everything in his power to ruin your reputation? What do you do when the con you've loved and support for over a decade has a token woman on panels and when that's called out, stays silent as you take the blame even though you had nothing to do with it? What…