Monday, August 5, 2013

Open Letter To Shannon Appelcline and Christopher Allen At Skotos

Although you own RPGnet, you may not be aware many of the people you've chosen to moderate your forum there recently spent a 500-post thread arguing that Monte Cook, Shanna Germain and Kieran Yanner's game Numenera promotes sexism because it has a succubus in it. Well, a space succubus.

(And kicking out people for disagreeing with them. It's kind of a normal day on RPGnet like that.)

Meanwhile, RPGnet lets ads like this run on the front page:


If RPGnet is serious about fighting sexism in gaming you maybe might want to do something about that.

And if RPGnet is serious about attracting a better quality of advertiser you maybe might want to do something about your moderators.

Sincerely,

The D&D With Porn Stars crew

P.S.
P.P.S. This is the most plussed post in the history of this blog.
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70 comments:

  1. Yeah, I wondered how "Wartune" enforced its males-only policy. I think you have to plug your jockstrap into a USB port for their patented Schlong-O-Scan diagnostic test.

    Still, I wonder if this is a sign of a coming bifurcated hobby, where you have blatantly sexist Slave-Ghouls-of-Gor games on the one hand, and ultra-PC on the other.

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  2. Spot on, Zak. I was wondering when someone was going to point this sort of two-facedness...

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  3. I actually pondered about posting on this myself...lol. I read 12 pages into this and just had to stop. I find myself growing very weary of even messing with RPG.net at all. It started a while back but it has been getting worse over the months. Good on you for calling them out.

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  4. Rpg.net has became a creepy place. Sort of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, lots of finger pointing and incoherent screaming every time they spot a human being among them.

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  5. You know, the three indy game authors who's work I follow the most: yourself, James Desborough, and RPGPundit, have all gotten kicked off that site. It's like the site is going out of its way to exile anybody doing interesting work or, in your case, making this hobby hip and sexy for possibly the first time.

    Wear your ban as a badge of honor, man.

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  6. Meanwhile, over on Story Games there is a thread on whether or not Pathfinder is "ethnically problematic" since they have talking ape men in what the posters agree is "fantasy Africa" in the Pathfinder world.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, that thread popped up on RPGnet too.

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    2. That same thread appeared on Paizo's own forums as well.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. I think it's rather silly to have a serious discussion about the moral difficulty pose by talking apes when the implied goal of the game is to kill things and take their stuff.

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    5. It also has popped up on RPGSite. A few people are toeing the Tangency line, but most of us are trashing the theory.

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  7. This is a thing, huh? This happens?

    Humans make me laugh.

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  8. It's a silly place. I do not go there.

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  9. What the? 0_0
    I did it. I just read the entire thread (and I wanted to go to bed early today, thank you very much... ;) ). There where some interesting tidbits in it. A few of the posts how to make this thing more interesting.
    I don't wholeartedly agree with everything you wrote, but WTF? Why where you permabanned? Or even banned at all? This doesn't make any sense, whatsoever. No sense at all.

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  10. For context: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?698051-Infraction-for-Zak-S-17)-Permanent-Ban

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    1. The context is... a guy with a mad on for me is a mod and lied a lot

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    2. I read the thread. I've been a RPG.net poster for years and usually when people say things like 'all you have to do to get banned on RPG.net is show up' I tend to roll my eyes because I've usually seen them trying to deliberately bait people etc. But that thread is idiotic from premise to execution.

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    3. 'Me, here's who I can test: 2000 blog readers and G+ people. 4 figures of "I Hit It With My Axe" fans on Facebook. Mandy's fans which are like in the 5 figures. We ask what keeps women from gaming: The data we get has nothing to do with content and everything to do with a social environment of weird controlling nerd boys. '

      This is also one of the reasons a female friend of mine cited for quitting a lucrative software job. I've heard that complaint a lot from women in many other contexts, so this rings really true.

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    4. I can't understand how Ettin ended up as a mod on RPGnet.

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  11. Honestly, getting banned from RPG.Net is a sign that you are breathing. They have the most ban-happy mods ever. I have been going there off and on for the last 10 years and seriously doubt I have more than a 1000 posts.

    Whether you are right or wrong there isn't germane to discussion here, I think RPG.Net needs take stock in what it is they want to do for this community.

    Of course avoiding hypocrisy would nice for them to do as well.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. What cracks me up about that Wartune ad is the fact that it assumes the reader has only a single friend.

    I managed to get banned from RPG.net once for reasons I still don't understand. I hadn't even bothered to post there for years when I followed a link from Jeff's Gameblog, which took me straight to the announcement I'd been banned. At first I assumed this was some kind of joke link, like a gamer's version of rick-rolling, but it turns out that for about a month I was barred from accessing the RPG.net forums. Where else do you go for well-intentioned but hilariously overstated handwringing?

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  14. Whatever happened to a bunch of friends just getting together and playing a fucking game? Is there not enough metal for these people to deal with their angst?

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  15. Those ads are finding their way onto RPGnet via AdSense (Hi, Google!).

    Shannon from RPGnet wrote me when he noticed them, asking for my help getting rid of them, and we tracked down at least some of the sources.

    I know Shannon has been working for at least the last 8 hours to get them off his site.

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    1. Did the mods arrive via adsense too?

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    2. Modding is a pain in the ass. I tried it for a while at theRPGsite, where the rules are a lot less ambiguous, and ended up hating it. The job came with all the hassle of DMing a group of rowdy players, only there were hundreds of them instead of five and there was no creative fun in making the dungeons. It really is a thankless job. So I quit. I honestly can't think of a good reason why anyone would stick with it. Either your ego becomes too invested in this dumb website and you turn into a holy warrior or you become a petty tyrant because being the good cop is boring. In other words, I think Shannon could flush all the mods and get a whole new roster of people and a year later the problems would still be very similar.

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    3. Mr. Rients is wise and speaks truth.

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  16. as a gamer, comic guy, computer nerd, pinup art slave and graff artist i deal with cavemen daily - it is possible for all these interests to welcome women and even consult their opinions

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  17. Maybe it's the angle, but damn your thumb looks long.

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  18. "because it has a succubus in it"

    A lot of the thread is about how Nibblonean Wives aren't *just* a succubus, specific complaints about the way they're written rather than the basic concept of a succubus or even the idea of a body-horror-ish Stepford-Succubus Mother of Demons. (IIRC, the main critical mention of another game is Exalted, on account of something like a prominent character being perpetually raped in hell.)

    You made *a lot* of posts in that thread, Zak. I think it's kinda crap to turn around and summarize it as everyone having a freakout about "OMG A SUCCUBUS!"

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    1. It was argued that the game promoted sexism because it had a succubus in it.

      That is me referring to my precise phrasing from this page.

      I think that is accurate.

      Though I think even "arguing the game promotes sexism because of the way the succubus is written" is equally dumb and totally undefensible and if you would like to see the nuts and bolts of that belief, you apparently read the thread where I lay it out in so much detail not one person was able to raise an objection I didn't counter so long as I was there.

      (Which was one minute before my final post: I had a game of Cthulhu to play. Pretty sure I have documented evidence of when the game started if you think I am lying.)

      If there is _any thing_ in that thread that I said that wasn't completely true or defensible please quote me and I will explain to you exactly why it's true and cite any and all necessary facts.

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    2. I read the thread and thought it was pretty amazing the way no one was able to engage you in your arguments. Why . . . why? They are good solid arguments about important ideas that should be talked about more. Even the idea that pleasure is good for its own sake, and that thinking can be pleasurable, is overlooked so often . . . funny that you would be banned for saying stuff like that. I bet someone read and understood what you were saying though.

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    3. @Zak: I'd like to see the data you mentioned getting from your and Mandy's fans about what keeps women from gaming. Not because I doubt your word but because I'm interested in reading it and I think it deserves publicity. If I read through the thread will I find it? If not could you point me to it?

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    4. This is the first time I talked about it
      http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-wont-you-play-with-us.html

      That was 2 years ago.

      Ever since _every SINGLE response_ on twitter or Facebook or in real life from women interested in fantasy stuff or gaming who haven't played RPGs yet gave the same response.

      All of them.

      Charlotte Stokely said it just last week. (She'll be playing her first game on sunday.)

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    5. Thanks. It's a pity that only one of those commentators was female. It would be nice to have an opinion sampling from just women, though an RPG blog is obviously not the place to get it.

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    6. All the people I talked to were female. but the people who responded to that post, a lot of them were dudes because most people who talk online about TRPGs are.

      The blog has been turned over to women a few times:

      http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2011/02/female-gamer-roundtable-is-go.html

      See especially Question 19

      http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2011/02/fem-gamer-roundtable-round-2-girdle.html

      http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2011/03/female-gamer-roundtable-part-3.html

      http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2011/01/question-for-straight-female-gamers.html

      http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2011/02/some-raw-data-on-sexy-male-characters.html

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  19. RPGnet is a problem, and its moderators are a bad problem. Kai Tave and Ettin are a REALLY bad problem because the image of the hobby that they present is so unappealing. I hope that Shannon Appelcline, and Skotos Tech, who are enabling and empowering the mods to perpetuate this arbitrary and sexist behaviour, find this reflecting on them and their reputation.

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    1. Well it doesn't have to.

      Shannon Appelcline and Christopher Allen at Skotos Tech could have their names associated with, say, awesome and responsible corporate governance if they went "Hey, we kinda clutched an asp to our bosom on this one, time to fix that"

      Will they, though?

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    2. Hardly. This is the forum that had Curt as a mod. He was far worse than any of the current idiots.

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  20. I couldn't even get through all of that thread. The bannings started long before Zak even showed up. Ridiculous.

    Isn't there a forum someplace where people can just talk about games they like to play without a bunch of witch hunters jumping all over things that are as old as time itself? Maybe you should start one Zak.

    After all, we aren't playing Utopia: the Game. The real world is a lot grittier than that. Just because you're playing fantasy doesn't mean you should disconnect from reality...wait...I think I know what I mean.

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    1. I went there and signed up (as Brian Sailor). Learning my way around. What are some good circles or whatever to look for on that site?

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  21. For now...

    ...guys like these do more to hurt the gaming community than Pat Robertson and the 700 Club ever dreamed.

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  22. I don't think I would ever want to be a part of a community that would ban you from participating in discussion.

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  23. ah, welcome to the club, Smith.

    almost the exact same thing happened to me. there was a petition (yes, a petition) to stop racism in games. I read the petition, but it was provincial and misguided, I said so (despite the blanket warning that no one was to question the petition) I got a 'threadcrap' warning, but I saw that other members were being banned for saying what I had said. So I posted again, this time asking several questions about the petitioners perspective and the perspective of the mods banning people. That did it, I was instantly 30 day banned, the given reason 'gay bashing'. Why gay bashing? Well, unbeknownst to me, some people who supported the petition happened to be gay. Therefore my statements were also against them and their lifestyle and the concepts of equality and tolerance in general. When I tried to plea my case (again there is a blanket warning not to plea your case) I was instantly permabanned.
    I benefited from frequenting rpg.net because there were gamers there who were smarter and more well spoken than I am. There were also enthusiastic people and some great free and crowd-sourced resources. I later wrote the author of the petition with my unanswered questions and asking him how he felt about so many people being banned. His reply was an assurance that he had a "black friend" (not kidding) who once agreed with a casual remark that RPG's were racist. He also labeled me a stalker for e-mailing him.

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  24. Okay, is Rachel Brooks making a point about the sexualization of girls in society as a whole, or is she a spam-bot? Because I really can't tell.

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  25. Strike three, Balfour.

    No trolls allowed here.

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    1. Update for troll:
      Burden of proof is always on the accuser.

      Delete
  26. Numenera looks interesting. Thanks for the (indirect) heads-up as to its existence.

    As for forum mods and RPG.net: meh to the lot of 'em.

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  27. If RPG.net is to remain consistent, they need to pull the glowing, positive review for the Teratic Tome by Neoplastic Press. The Tome has more female body parts than any TSR product. They should probably check all of their content, before taking a stand.

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  28. I actually wanted to thank you that day, because you seemed to be the only one arguing in defense of Monte, and you were doing it (IMO) quite eloquently. Your RPG.net inbox was full sadly. I was floored when I saw that you were later banned, and upon reading the reasons in the "reports" thread, I was floored.

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    1. And that's stupidly redundant... I can words and stuff. :sigh:

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  29. Ettin BRAGGING about being first to ban another poster was way douchier than anything Zak did, I'd even say it was douchier than most of the things he *accused* Zak of. What a cesspool.

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    1. Grrr... why am I even reading that thread... another fairly reasonable poster with similar views got a "day off" for "concern trolling". Don't even get me fucking STARTED on the notion of "concern trolling". "Concern troll" is what you call someone when you're totally committed to some orthodoxy and they don't subscribe 100% to that orthodoxy and you have fucking NOTHING else to say in response to their critiques of it. It's the most worse-than-useless concept in the history of Internet discussions and that's a prize there's a lot of competition for. I'm stopping now for the sake of my blood pressure.

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    2. I actually mad an admin complaint about the mods for the ban on that dude, Manzanaros.

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  30. You're awesome, the whole lot of you.

    I really welcome thoughtful discussions, passionate opinions, and constructive criticism on the game, but I will say that I think the people accusing us of being sexist, etc. for creating the Nibovian Wife really are way off base.

    And as an openly bisexual, kinky woman who has a long history of advocating for gender/orientation/race/sex and general human rights, I feel incredibly disappointed in and deeply ashamed for those people who say they are advocating for change, but who I believe are actually doing damage to the industry as a whole and to women in the industry in particular by focusing attention on the wrong things.

    We worked so hard to put our passions and beliefs into this game, and while we certainly made mistakes, I stand by my position that the Nibovian Wife is not one of them.

    Thanks to everyone who's advocating for thoughtful, intelligent dialogue about the topic. That goes so much farther than knee-jerk hate, every time.

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    1. You know that the dialogue at RPGnet has gotten pretty fucked up when you only feel comfortable saying that here instead of there.

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    2. Yeah, I tried to have a discussion over there, and they promptly closed the thread down for not being relevant. Also, I try to give my attention to the people who deserve it and who will consider what I'm saying with some semblance of respect. Thus, here. Not there :)

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    3. When an obviously very pro-sex female RPG author is accused of promoting sexism by a bunch of male moderators of the biggest RPG forum, the world is kinda ass-backwards.

      It's like _How fucked up would RPGnet moderation actually have to be before Appelcline and Christopher Allen decide it's a problem?

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  31. I also got involved in a forum on Intagibility, a site whose tagline is, "Geeky, socially conscious discussion for gamers, fans, and friends."

    Along the way, someone wrote about how his daughter recently introduced him to feminism (YAY!) and he talked the Nibovian over with her and she decided it was sexist (ALSO YAY for discussions and critical thinking), but then this happened at the end of his post:

    "So... If Monte of Shanna are reading this... don't do that again. I don't think you did it on purpose, but now you know (and knowing IS half the battle), so don't do it again."

    Which, to me, feels like conservative slut-shaming wrapped in the guise of new-wave feminism. If I've learned anything in my 40+ years of being a female on this planet, it's that I will not be shamed or scolded. And I will certainly not be silenced.

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    Replies
    1. Some dude was complaining about Wonder Woman's costume this morning.

      I said:
      "
      In order to accept this point of view I would have to reject the point of view of literally every woman I have ever met except one.
      So, no. Wonder Woman keeps her original and awesome costume.
      "
      "
      Well, enjoy your film sexism, then.
      "
      Zak Smith9:07 AM

      So you're saying, Shaun, that you know what's sexist better than the Gloria Steinem (who was a big fan of the old costume), all the D&D wIth Porn Stars girls and, again, every woman I've ever met?
      Why should I go with your opinion over theirs?
      "

      When you're arguing with Gloria Steinem maybe take a step back, dude.

      This shit is fucked.

      If any of these people were serious about getting more women gaming and making game stuff, there needs to be a public place where female creators can get feedback from women about what they actually want about games and what actually brings them to the table without all this noise from allegedly well-intentioned scolds.

      RPGnet isn't it and neither are these other forums and neither are the social media sites.

      And this blog shouldn't have to be it either.

      It's fucked up that, in trying to communicate with a wider public you have to resort to doing it _here_ .

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  32. I found your permaban both completely stupid and sad, Zak, because as far as I could tell you were one of the people who always contributed with insightful, well-thought posts.

    I avoid any thread on sexism on rpg.net because you get two kinds of people on them: those who say something is sexist, and those who get lambasted and shamed for not agreeing with them, but that's how it goes with the site's moderation, I've found.

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  33. It is getting sad really. You cannot have a decent conversation any more without some one trying to make you feel bad for having a opinion. I can't really tell who is worst any more. As far as I am concern these white knights riding their high horses are just as bad as the trolls and the actual bigots that live in the internet forest.

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  34. Funny, when I first saw that logo I thought it said "Wartline", not "Wartune". So... it's a herpes MMO, maybe?

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