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Showing posts from 2017

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…

Finding Impact: Empathy and Exploring Lives

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I spent a lot of time at Gen Con going to panels about inclusivity and making our community better. I learned a lot. I listened. I asked questions when things got derailed in an attempt to bring them back on focus. I asked questions with stuff I was struggling with personally. If there's one message I took away from the con, after playing Psi-Run and the Watch and Love in the Time of Seid I came to some interesting conclusions about my gaming experiences.

At first I thought my conclusion was that men can't share a table very well. Even when we were playing games about women's experiences, or men were playing women, they still dominated the table and the women had less speaking space over all. It annoyed me, even though I loved the people I was playing with. They are good friends. I didn't really play with strangers during Gen Con, but I did notice the way gender dynamics played into how much each person spoke at the table.

As I sat, listening to an amazingly diverse g…

Game Hack: Writing Toronto for Urban Shadows

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I run a lot of games set in Toronto. It's my city. I love it. I hate it. I live in it. I've been here for a lucky 13 years, probably more now, and it's always one of my favourite places to run games. Toronto is unique in so many ways, and yet feels the same as any other metropolitan city at first glance. Whether it's because it's tucked away in Canada, or because all Torontonians believe themselves at the centre of the Canadian universe, or both, it isn't clear. But what is clear is that Toronto provides an excellent location in any urban game.

Running a game set in Toronto, like any game set in a place you're not from, will require you to do some research. Like many major cities, Toronto is home to dozens of neighbourhoods. Each has its own unique vibe, purpose, and subculture. Hell, someone even drew the neighbourhoods of Toronto and assigned magical creatures to them. Whether it's post-apocalyptic Toronto or urban fantasy Toronto or Victorian Toront…