Ching Chongery

June 8, 2011

So, over at Story Games, there’s Avoiding Ching Chong Ting Tong at the Table, a thread started with good intentions, about… not using ChingchongLOLS in your game.

You know the bar is set super low when you have helpful play threads about how NOT to spew racial slurs.

Anyway, I wanted to talk a bit about that whole thread and how it highlights problems even as it’s intended to solve them.

For instance, SG has a pretty good history of silencing people of color or women – which, is why the thread is basically a lot of white guys talking about how NOT to be racist with other white guys as an intellectual exercise – well, except for all bits that are fishing for reassurance that what they’re doing isn’t problematic (or the players in their games, etc.).

It would be like if you could only have “reasonable” discussions of sexism after you’ve ushered all the women out of the room, and one of the major discussion threads is asking other men, “…but I’m not sexist, right???”

The reason these kinds of discussion spaces fail for that is a matter of what is, and isn’t permitted. The social contract mostly boils down to a vague “Be Nice” (“Zen” EXTRA IRONY), which, when played out in practice over the years, means when someone says something really fucked up and sexist/racist/etc, but “politely” (rather, with faux-humor, whatever), then it’s all good, and when people call them on it, it’s the latter who get piled on.

And while I know Andy doesn’t intend that, the fact is it ends up becoming the kind of space where Derailing for Dummies rules the day, and you end up with conversations like this:

“Um, is that what you meant to say? That’s pretty messed up.”
“I don’t believe you! I challenge you to prove it to me.”
“(Lengthy explanation)”
“I don’t believe you! Explain term X to me/Justify this hypothetical edge case which only exists in Bizzaro Land.”
“(Lengthy explanation)”
(Repeat x10)
“I don’t believe you! Explain the term ‘the’ to me.”

And then the headdesk taiko begins.

This is also the same problem for rpg.net, Enworld, The Forge, and even Knife-fight (which is why that site became talking about recipes and childhood experiences, rather than, you know, it’s namesake).

Why White Men Should Refuse to be on Panels of All White Men is pretty relevant here. People point out that they play with their friends, and I have to ask what kind of life you’re living where all of your friends are other white men?

I mean, it’s 2011, I’m glad we’ve reached the point where people can publicly say, “Wow, Ching Chongery is wack.”

I’ll be even more glad when (self segregated) gamer culture can figure out how sad it is to have to be happy about that.

ETA: And now I just read the thread which spawned it which basically is a ball of white man defensiveness. Fucking awesome.

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