Had a marvelous time at Norwescon! I participated in several really wonderful panels. The ones that are germaine to this website, were LGBTQI in Fandom and Putting the R in RPGs: Adult themes in gaming. I had a few more panels on “adult subject” matter, like kink and Victorian Sex.
The LGBTQI panel had a really great turnout, and we’re hoping in the next year to expand the LGBTQI paneling, as well as creating an LGBTQI fan organization to increase our visibility in fandom. We have a Livejournal group called LGBT_fandom in order to facilitate conversation about this. As more than one person, both on the panel and in the audience pointed out, for years the assumption is that women in fandom are bi, and men are straight. There are actually quite a few Queer fen of all orientations: Gay men, Lesbians, Transgendered and Genderqueer individuals, and of course the ubiquitous Bisexual women, and some Bisexual men. If you’re at all interested, please let me know and we’ll see about setting up some sort of mailing list. And, please, please, please if you are a gay man or transgendered person, let us know if you would be interested in being on the panel.
The Putting the R in RPGs panel actually turned out to be less about sex and more about how to get under your players’ skin, and how to deal with the aftermath if you’ve done it badly, or accidentally hit a psychological landmine. We talked about hooks that are pretty much guaranteed to pull a group in, like kidnapping a child, child abuse or animal abuse. We talked about what happens if you push it too far and what your options are. We talked about exploring and using gaming to deal with pathological issues willingly. And we talked about making sure your players are all ok with these things.
Yes, you can use things like rape, child abuse, eating disorders, incest, drugs and brutality in your game in a very serious, real manner (as opposed to in a very over the top cartoony sort of way), but you need to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Pulling out the gut-punches without letting your players know it’s a possibility is a lousy thing to do them. I’m not talking give away your plot or the surprises, but sit them down ahead of time and ask, “Hey, is everyone ok with themes like rape, child abuse, etc…” And if you hit a landmine and suddenly someone’s not comfortable with something, you have a couple choices: End the game there, Excuse them for the remainder of that section of plot, or see if they think they can soldier on through it. Some people will be up for that last one, some will not. But no one should be shamed for what they choose.
There was a lot of good humor and laughing in the panel as well. Phil Brucato, who used to work for White Wolf and who wrote Deliria had several good suggestions for creating atmosphere and jarring players out of complacency. Wolfgang Baur talked about starting out with an already over the top scenario, and how the hell do you ramp it up from there? The Geek Husband What Rules talked about Lines, Veils and how not to be a dick.
Honestly, while I had a blast in all of my panels, I think the RPG panel was the best. Mr. Brucato and Mr. Baur are both wonderful people, and the audience was great! We managed to keep the game anecdotes to a minimum, and only had to wrestle the sharing stick away from one person.
Another thing I discussed with someone in the bar, was a need for Gamer Girl Meet-ups in the Seattle area. Please, watch this space for announcements in the future.
Thank you to everyone who came to panels, and I hope you had a wonderful time! It was great seeing you all there!