The title alone told me so.

June 26, 2008

This is why gamers aren’t allowed to talk about race.

Now sure, the thread starts talking about history and culture. But of course, it’s really interesting how quickly people are willing to jump in and offer definitions of things which maybe they know, maybe they don’t know about.

Ultimately, though, such discussions demand a willingness to look at the greater context- and you quickly hit BINGO, since, you know, the typical gamer fandom SOP is to shift whose voices and statements get to “count” based on the listener’s discomfort.

Or, “Whether it hurts you or not as a human being is less important than me getting my squee.”


Leave it to rpg.net, to give you more. D&D’s issues of race to alignment have always been troublesome, though, it’s not an accident that image representation also springs up in this thread, though it’s clear no real dialogue will come of it.

Sadly, I doubt we could expect any better from a discussion in the L5R circles or Glorantha, despite each group’s “focus” on culture.

Enworld joins the game…




  1. Hi Chris

    I’m not quite sure what the “this” in “this is why gamers aren’t allowed to talk about race” refers to. I see a messy discussion, but fail to nail the specifics. Care to expand?

  2. I counted at least 5 examples from the BINGO card.

  3. Ow. I saw what you meant, and I gave up pretty quickly into it, without even getting out the bingo card.

  4. Alright Chris, will do some homework! Thanks

  5. I’m reminded again of why I hate RPG.net. Didn’t bother clicking the second discussion link after reading through the first. But it’s disgusting that I have to share my gaming culture with people like them. UUUGH!!!

  6. To be clear, this isn’t about the usual gamer, “Us better than them!” that pervades gamerdom. This isn’t just rpg.net, or a few stupid folks, but rather a good example of the problem with geekdom as a whole.

    It’s the fact that, ultimately, problematic behavior is insulated and protected both from criticism and corrective action by the “community” itself, mostly through acting out and defending it both directly and indirectly, whether through trolling, “debate”, or attempting to silence the conversation altogether with supposed reconciliatory actions. (In that thread, note how everyone who said, “this makes me uncomfortable” was ignored and the point dropped quickly.)

    So no. We’re not sharing the hobby- they have it in full, cradled in their arms and sometimes the rest of us get a spoonful of the hobby depending on what we’re willing to put up with to get it.

    Or we have to build alternate networks of our own.

  7. Hopefully one day fantasy will emerge from the projection stage. Especially the white projection state wherein everything must be based around a rather… colonial way of thinking of different races and people. That’s what I feel is really, really hamstringing the genre and the possibilities for its expansion right now.

    I still can’t figure out why orcs would consider human women attractive. Oh wait, I remember fear of the Other, especially sexually. Let’s just hope no orc ever whistles at a white woman.

    But to talk of this is detracting from the game, it’s just a game, stop taking it so seriously while I try to make my elves some bastardized version of Chinese which I must do research for.

  8. Oh yeah, I understand that completely in that it’s not just ‘a few bad apples’ or ‘vocal minority’ but entwined in the geek culture itself (much in the same way it feels ingrained in the larger [U.S. for me] society as well), because you think it’d taper off, be geek-socially unacceptable or handled by some sort of ‘mods’ but nothing really happens so you leave elsewhere only to find it there too. So you feel like you have to make an alternate network, like you say, because this crap is either the something of the majority or just left to its own devices in a way.

    Sorry for the incomprehensible rambling.

  9. Kialio,

    Yeah, I think the problem is this: already too many POC in sci-fi, so now the only place closet supremacists can retreat to fantasize about a homogenous world where the white normative is the only possible existence, is fantasy.

    Because, you know, POC are more dangerous to deal with than dragons and liches, maybe because we refuse to accept the roles of monster, victim, servant or sex toy.

  10. Hi Juan,

    Not incomprehensible at all. I think that the more recent geekdom/fandom kerfluffles are basically that for the first time, noncolored folks are actually having to hear the conversations we’ve -been- having, and that, what might be invisible to them as the norm, is problematic for us as the norm.

    The incomprehension they have for these discussions (as linked) is mostly based around the flat world theory of, “Wait! Are you trying to say that the world -doesn’t- revolve around us? How dare you even speak!” etc.

  11. The discussion at ENWorld is surprisingly sane, but cluelessness still abounds.


  12. Jonathan Tweet apparently took down the post linked to in “Dear Geekdom,” and archive.org hasn’t picked it up. Has anyone saved it for posterity?

  13. A quote of part of the post is at the Iris Forums.

    But, the fact the post is gone? It’s not like gamerdom doesn’t spew gender based biological essentialism every 2 weeks anyway.

    The only reason it strikes harder is that it happened to be a big name at the big company which has PR and lawyers who ought to tell them saying certain things is just a bad idea from a business standpoint, nevermind whether they believe it or not.

  14. Heh, flat world theory. I like the image. =]

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