Showing posts from 2018

Loving Yourself: Self Care in the Apocalypse

Metatopia was hard this year. We turned the news off and refused to talk about the world outside the convention centre. We battened the hatches, threw down some sand bags, and smiled at each other instead of continuing to die on the inside. The world outside was frightening. There was an invisible pressure we could all feel that made existing difficult. Each step we took, each game we ran, each hug we gave or receive felt weighted. But we endured. Beyond the dismal future of a dystopian novel we were spiralling inside, there was the pressure of our lives. All of us have been on one hell of a journey this year and we all have felt it. We've confronted our demons, we've gone looking for new tools and weapons to slay them with. We've born witness to radical pain and loss in ourselves and each other. We've seen such terrible shadows it's no longer possible to walk away from them. And we endured. There's something inherently beautiful and filled with grace ab

Ten Lessons From 2018: Becoming a Better Gamer

It's that time of year again. The one where we push out the old, reflect on it (if we're brave) and usher in the new. We look at our game shelves, wonder what games will be under the tree (or in our inbox) and if we're very lucky, schedule a game or two before 2019 hits us. It's the time of year many of us spend thinking about our 2018 Game of the Year and what we're looking forward to next year. I have to admit that this year I have barely played anything. I counted the other day, and save a few conventions games, I've played about 8 game sessions. It makes me really sad. I did a fair bit of convention gaming, but mostly my gaming year has been spent organizing game rooms and conventions, getting Crossroads out, working on Robot Dreams, and becoming a better human. Yet through all of that, I've been doing a lot of listening. I've been talking to people at conventions about their struggles, through online mediums, and in my daily game life about what

Too Girly Part 2: Owning the Fuck Up(s)

Today I was in a class on facilitating restorative justice. It's something I'm passionate about and something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. This class was particularly on point as we discussed community involvement in breaches of trust or in harm caused within the community. This is the part that interests me the most. In gaming, we see a tonne of breeches of trust. Of hurt and of harm. We see people fuck up, really hurt people, give up, walk away, or just forge ahead like nothing has happened and try to continue their work. We all have our own unique responses to it. In a later post, I'm excited to talk about how we can do better with those breaks as a community overall. But today I need to talk about my most recent post, Too Girly, and the backlash I received against it. Or more specifically: the feedback I saw on the internet. I specifically say feedback because while it was definitely backlash, and I can't support threats of violence, there was

Too Girly: Gaming's Problem with Femme Folks

When I was younger, the ideal woman was a badass. She was Buffy, the Charmed sisters, Lara Croft, Willow, Zoe Washburn, and Starbuck. She was kick ass, nerdy, and/or adventurous. There was a note of tomboy in most of the kickass women in nerd culture back then. They were there to save the day, be witty, a little stoic, and not take shit from people. These powerful women were falling in and out of love on their terms while fighting back evil baddies and discovering their powers and saving the world. And because these awesome women were powerful and turning the 90's and early 2000's stereotypes on their heads, they of course influenced how our culture treated and perceived women. To the point where femininity, in pop culture, kinda became... a trademark that also meant vapid and stupid. Whether it was the high femme charms of Cher in Clueless, or the sweet Princess Peach who was always getting kidnapped, or the bitchy Cordelia who was just getting in the way, femininity wasn

Game Buy-In: Embracing Tone and Setting

Recently at Fan Expo (all my best stories start this way, I promise), I was lollygagging around and decided to play a game of Cartel with my friend who was GMing. She had GM'd it at Gen Con and people there always looked like they were having a blast. So I was eager to play it with her. After ensuring the last slots went off, I grabbed my crap and settled in to my seat across from her and with three other dudes at the table. Dude to my right, almost immediately after I sat down, said, "I wanna play a French guy."  Let me pause in my story to tell you about  Cartel . Cartel is a Powered by the Apocalypse game of Mexican drug cartels set in Mexico about Mexican people. That sentence should give you all you know to see why I was instantly concerned. So I spoke up and said that this was a game about playing Mexican people, not white people. Dude didn't back down, name dropped the designer to me, and proceeded to play a white dude in a game about Mexican people.

Wide Awake: The New Gate Keepers of Gaming

This is a big year for me. This is the year I stop being a lot of things to Toronto Area Gamers (and Fan Expo) and hand my keys over to younger, more diverse people. It's the year I let go of some reins, really focus on what I want to do, and decide where that leaves me. It's the year I recognize that stagnation in power seats is not good, and that I'm part of that problem. It's the year I acknowledge that term limits are a super good thing. It's also the year I spent crying the most. Everyone I knew had a tale to tell, a trauma to unpack with me, and another person to throw shit at. I listened to the stories. I took note. I nodded and agreed and began to realize that most of the community hates someone else in the community and it's all clear as mud. It was heartbreaking to see the amount of ostracism and hate happening between people I knew had similar core values and beliefs, but weren't able to step back to see a bigger picture because hurt keeps us

We Are Not Therapists: Gaming and Trauma

I remember about a year back or so I saw someone saying their GMs should basically have therapy tools on standby as they only played TTRPGs to explore their trauma. At the time, I made a "gross" face and moved on. More and more of these types of statements began to appear. People were playing games to explore their own traumas. Often, they were doing it at conventions, in larps, and in spaces where they were the only ones aware that they were deliberately entering into a potentially triggering situation and would need care if something hurt them or re-traumatized them. They were using gaming as exposure therapy. A few months later I was having a conversation with my girlfriend about scopes of practice in our health care jobs. In health care, and I assume in other careers, you have scopes of practice. These are things in your job you're allowed to do and anything that falls outside of that scope is something you shouldn't do. Like, as an RMT, I'm allowed to cli