Several years ago, the Geek Husband What Rules and I were on a panel about games and gaming groups, and I cannot remember what the exact question was that we were responding to, but we told the audience that they did, in fact, have the right to not game with people who did things that made them uncomfortable.
Now, in our definition, this means people who are racist, sexist, homo or transphobic, with a poor grasp of other people’s boundaries and societal mores.
One of the other panelists had gasped, and said, “That sounds like you are advocating excluding people!”
Yes. Yes, I am and yes, I do.
And this is why.
At some point you have to make a choice. Who do I want to game with? Do I want to game only with people who look like me? Do I want to game with people who make racist and sexist jokes, “ironically” or not? Do I want to game with a wide spectrum of people of all ethnicities, backgrounds, and genders?
When you decide who you want to game with, other people are going to be excluded by default.
If you want to game with a wide array of people who are not just cis het white dudes, you are going to have to jettison the racists, the sexists, the transphobes, the homophobes, and probably a few other categories. You will have to exclude them, because when those people you say you DO want to game with see you gaming with them, they are going to assume that even if you are not actively one of those people, that you condone it and will not have their back should the shit hit the fan.
And to be frank here, they’re probably right.
And, hey, if you do want to game only with other cis het white dudes, you do you.
See, not picking a side in an argument is by default siding with the status quo, and the status quo is pretty racist, sexist, homophobic, etc…
If you do not remove people who have sexually harassed or assaulted women from your groups, women will not want to play with you.
If you do not remove racists from your groups, people of color will not want to play with you.
If you do not remove trans- and homophobes, trans and queer people will not want to play with you.
And rightly so.
Gaming is supposed to be fun, for all of us. And if someone persists in staring at my tits, speaking over me, touching me, and saying gross sexist shit, I am not having a good time. And if being asked to respect me as a person ruins your good time, you are an asshole.
If all your humor relies on racist, sexist, etc… tropes, you’re not actually funny. A. You’re an asshole. And B. You’re relying on shock humor which has very little replay value. Get better material.
And if you’re terrified that someone who is trans or gay might be attracted to you, get over it. I assure you, your personality is ugly enough to drive them off. And you’re an asshole.
Now, sometimes you can get the asshole who is willing to behave themselves for the sake of the game, and if you get one of those, sometimes they do learn that, “Hey, these other folks are pretty cool. I was kind of a jerk.” And sometimes they just do a bunch of shitty, passive aggressive crap until even your “Switzerland” ass has to throw them out for your peace of mind.
But even though a good outcome is possible, you very much should ask your non-cis het white dude players, if they are willing to spend their leisure time being part of your social experiment. Being someone’s teachable moment can be fucking exhausting, because you aren’t just being you, you’re being a representative for the entirety of the group you belong to.
So this is why “everyone” can’t be welcome. Because some of “everyone” are assholes to the rest of “everyone.”
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