Archive for the ‘gamerculture’ Category

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Go check out The Abuser’s Playbook

November 4, 2020

Not really an RPG, but an educational resource using the PbtA language. Pay what you want, proceeds go to stop cyber bullying. https://wundergeek.itch.io/the-abusers-playbooks

The Abuser’s Playbook(s) is an educational resource designed to use the language of PBTA moves (rules for the Powered By The Apocalypse system) and character archetypes to teach people about the “mechanics” of abuse.

The Abuser’s Playbook(s) is not designed to be an exhaustive guide to all of the different types of abuse that exist. Nor does it discuss all possible forms of abuse. There were many other “playbooks” I could have written, but I chose to focus on abuser archetypes that are common but don’t often get talked about as being abusive.

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Award time!

August 10, 2020

I don’t think I’ve gotten “single-handedly” but I certainly have been dubbed as someone trying to “destroy RPGs” for pointing out things like:

  • Play games you like, with people you like
  • If you have to lie to each other about how the game works, or how you feel about the game, something is wrong
  • If hateful bigotry “makes” the game fun for you, whether that’s the presented materials/setting or what you add in to the game at the table, it’s not a defense as much as an admission on your part
  • Different people want different things from games + not all rules do the same thing – pretending otherwise wastes time and gets people upset.

Anyway, I’m super glad to see more folks creating a better space.

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Betrayal games and how to ruin friendships

August 8, 2020

I was initially going to write this up as a post as normal, but in working my thoughts out on Twitter, I pretty much said everything I wanted to say, so I’m just going to copy and paste the text here. Sorry that it’s going to be short and disjointed sentences due to that format.

There’s a dividing line between the games that involve bluffing and betrayal that are generally bad for friendships and ones that aren’t.

It depends on 3 things:

1) Opposition vs. false alliance

Poker everyone knows they’re against each other. So there’s no feeling of betrayal because there was no illusion of being allied to begin with.

2) Personal appeals as the means of bluffing

In Poker, the cards and chips serve as tools you can bluff with or deduce information from. Games like Mafia or Werewolf, the primary means of bluffing is how well you can manipulate your friends.

There’s a certain psychological trick in these games that amplify that feeling of betrayal.

As humans, we are generally understanding that lies scale to a situation and we accept how/why someone would lie depending on context.

“How are you doing?” / “I’m fine.” is a way to simply acknowledge each other & avoid deep/uncomfortable conversations for the situation. An appropriate scaled lie. If you’ve got serious lies that it turns out involve trauma in your life, people are more understanding. Same thing.

So let’s say we’re playing a game of Werewolf or Mafia and there’s no money on the table. There is effectively “no stakes” that are meaningful here. In order to lie successfully, “You gotta trust me” “Please don’t do this, we’re friends” puts the friendship as stakes in play.

So, our brain goes, “You wouldn’t put this high of stakes on the table for an empty game” and that’s how the feeling of betrayal creeps in on one side.

The other side is the person who IS telling the truth and not believed. “If you won’t believe me when there’s no stakes at hand, what will you do if it’s something important that affects my life? I thought we were friends.” is the feeling.

Then there’s a third strategy – sowing distrust away from oneself. That depends on playing up negative emotions between other people in the group. So… gossip to tear people down.

3) Time

Finally, here’s the one that I think amplifies the previous in a really bad way; time. A 20 minute game of lying to each other is a short, quick thing. A 2, 3, 8 hour game is not. That’s the timescale we start talking about interrogation & brainwashing sessions lasting.

Games where there’s an agreed time limit or mechanical limit (including “when you run out of money” in Poker), don’t have this as much, while open-ended games do. People are tired, irritable, but again, “you wouldn’t put this much in for a low stakes game, right?”

People break down over time, and thinking also chews up emotional resistance. It’s why interrogations and brainwashing work this way. But you’re doing it for a game. So the brain assumes this must be, for the only thing that matters; friendship & status of self.

You trigger physical survival mode responses, then play emotional manipulation for long periods of time. So yeah, if a friend betrays me in a 20 minute game, haha, that’s good fun. If a friend betrays me in a 7 hour game and I’m exhausted, that’s just inflicting bad brain stuff.

So basically…

So why are these games so popular? Well, strong emotional stimulus STICKS with people. I think, for some people, there’s a “gotta win” drive that might be normal competitiveness, or, the desire to win from losing previously, as a “redemption” model in their head.

That said, I’m all for betrayal games where there’s mechanical tools besides “know how to plead your friends into believing you” and “know how to read when your friends are turning on you” that don’t last more than 2-3 hours at most.

Just be aware when people say a game “ends friendships” it might not just be people being sore losers and immature, you might be playing a game that’s well engineered to create negative spaces in friendships and add a dose of torturous stress on top of it.

If you find my blog entertaining and valuable, consider supporting me on Patreon.

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Signalboosting I Need Diverse Games

December 18, 2019

I Need Diverse Games is doing a fundraising push to stay afloat.

If you’ve followed my writings online (…since…what, 2002-3? and the relaunch from Blogspot to here…) it’s not hard to see my posting quantity has gone down drastically.

Some of that is lowered energy levels, post chemotherapy in 2012-2013.  Some of that is the fact that I generally try to post things that are lasting in value and cover the topic well, so I don’t have to repeat myself.

But, a fair portion is the way in which the TTRPG space wallowed in toxicity and allowed Hatebros to run through everything while telling everyone they targeted that we were “too sensitive”, only to… you know, declare later that the scene wasn’t “toxic like videogames” (infinite eyeroll).

Anyway, to the point – I Need Diverse Games and Tanya DePass has been DOING the work and outreach that is the only reason I have even kept a hand in the larger RPG space rather than just write it all off.

I understand I produce little enough here for most people to want to subscribe on Patreon, however what Tanya does supports a lot more people than just me, and if you have a few extra bucks you can send as a one time, or a dollar or two a month, it would go a long way.

Until gaming can be a place fun for everyone.

 

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RPG Podcast Industry survey

December 10, 2019

The linked post also has further links to the full report if you’d like to look closer.

The RPG Podcast Industry

I think this is pretty interesting to see both where it is better than my usual dismal expectations but still worse than where we should be as we come up on 2020.

One thing I think contributes a lot to the RPG representation in online media is the two hurdles of hypervisibility resulting in violent harassment and the other hurdle of time/money cost.

Obviously, suffering LESS harassment makes online media work (well, any work) drastically easier, as I’ve spoken about many times.

It also takes some amount of time and money to improve the presentation of your gaming content – audio, website, or for a videostream all the screen overlays, etc.  Fan support is always stronger for cishet white men, which then gives them more signal boosting and resources to make it sound/look even better so it becomes a vicious circle of an old boy’s network, effectively.

That aside, I also am guessing that games that run long form, such as D&D, probably do better for podcasting and video streaming, since for the listeners, if they are not gamers themselves, are probably more invested in the characters and plot – the fiction, than the actual game rules.  Short run games don’t allow people to tie into that, the same way they would for long run games.

If you find my blog entertaining and valuable, consider supporting me on Patreon.