First, let's have an example of a pig-fucker.
|Squee squee! Who will fuck me??|
So we were talking...
The DIY D&D crowd has (unlike many other game design cliques) consciously prioritized
-having confrontations until disputes get settled
-avoiding confrontation in order to build a community of people who all play the same games and papering over differences with positivity. It might be one reason why we keep making such awesome stuff.
I'm fairly dubious on the 'argue until fixed' approach, but YMMV.
It works flawlessly and eliminates the weak, so I'm a big fan.
We'll have to agree to disagree, then, since I find design-by-social-Darwinism repellent.
If the stakes were life and death, I'd agree. The stakes in RPG arguments are…almost nothing . So people who can't even hang in a conversation for fear someone might say "I don't like Rolemaster" are not exactly the same as underprivileged youth who've fallen through the cracks of the system.
This is a typical RPG exchange. No harm, no foul.
Now watch as Mark Carroll fucks a pig, in public, by what he changes my statement into, a day or two later:
My personal problem with Zak is his take that ad hominem, ad argumentum, and game design by way of Social Darwinism are 'great tools' because (and I quote) 'they weed out the weak."
Did you see him fuck a pig just then?
Mark just put his dick into a pig.
He turned me saying that you produce good game stuff by openly discussing problems into me saying I support ad hominem attacks. That is putting your penis into a giant fucking sow and jizzing right up in her.
Saying "Mark Carroll lies and my evidence is he fucks pigs" is an ad hominem attack. I do not believe in that and do not stand behind that. His sexual activities with barnyard megafauna, if any, are unrelated to his honesty.
Saying "I'm comfortable calling Mark Carroll a (metaphorical) pig fucker because he lied about me in public" is true. And not an ad hominem attack. For an attack to be ad hominem it has to cite, as evidence, the suckness of the person arguing--not draw the conclusion that the person sucks. It's just being really mean to someone because they are terrible and deserve it for slowing down the RPG conversation.
Mark Carroll has gone from being a real human who we can sympathize with to being The Comments. He has proved he's useless as a voice in any RPG conversation.
How This Is Relevant To You
Now why would Mark Carroll fuck this pig? Who cares?* He is shit and nothing he does matters.
The more important question for all of us is:
Why is so much of the RPG community so ok with people fucking pigs?
They're ok with it? You ask. Yes they are. Mark Carroll fucked this pig in an RPG thread with 20-odd other people in it and none of them did the honorable thing, which was go:
"Mark--Zak said ad hominem attacks are good for the RPG conversation? That is a crazy thing for Zak to say--where is that quote, Mark?" (To his credit, Viktor Haag came near the issue.)
Luckily, we have an answer: someone in the thread, in a very roundabout way, a tolerater of Mark Carroll addressed the issue of tolerating people fucking pigs (and, thereby, fucking pigs of their very own).
It was A Professional Game Designer associated with the indie scene.
He described his experience in college:
Got in the habit of picking fights with friends to flex philosophy debate skills. Won all the fights. Pissed off all the friends. Realized it wasn't about arguments but maintaining good relationships and common experiences.
In MN, the GOP tried to introduce an amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. OutFrontMN and Minnesota United knew that every previous attempt in other states to defeat these amendments had failed. Those attempts tried using Constitutional law, refutations of Bible verse, talk about civil rights and persuasive argument. None of it worked.
We tried a different approach. We staffed thousands of phone banks, knocked on thousands of doors, engaged in thousands of one-to-one conversations with Minnesotans, most of whom were if not hostile to same-sex marriage, at the least unconvinced of the need to call it "marriage" at all. We shared stories of couples in love who wanted the same thing anyone wants, to express their love and support and commitment to their partner. We asked the opponents to share their own marriage stories. We engaged empathy, common human experiences.
Without conflict, without trying to assert logical superiority, without resorting to semantic or rhetorical tricks, or even calling them out for being bigots, we turned them around. We won.
And then we did it again, putting same-sex marriage on the ticket and getting a bill passed.
Sometimes you need to get into it with people, to have those brave fights, be aggressive, poke holes in arguments, question relentlessly. I know this, I did that all through college. But true activism that brings about real social justice and progressive change comes through empathy, common ground, and love.
So that's what I learned.
Sounds nice, right? Persuade. Catch more flies with honey, right? However, I replied...
If writing and playing RPGs was a political campaign or activism (sides, votes, final outcome) then that would make sense.
But it's not.
I understand many indie RPG people think of it that way still-- (public campaigns, "our side", "proving things to the community" "representing the community") etc. But we're not doing a collective endeavor that gets voted on in public (that is, me and the people reading this in my community). We're making individual creative things and deciding how to get rid of people who make that conversation worse.
So it's an utterly different paradigm. Charm and coalition-building avail us nothing. Let's say you get a coalition of people who agree on a simple idea, what do you get for that? Nothing. Unless you're selling something.
Let's say you, instead, eliminate all the irrational people, the boring, the stupid, what do you get?
You get what we have here: The unbelievably awesome DIY D&D RPG community that keeps producing cool stuff all the time with a very low noise to signal ratio.
The job is not to convince. It is to judge the trolls and eliminate them. To bounce them out of the club so the club can pursue private goals without noise. Not suffer fools so long as the fools vote for our "side". We don't have a side. We need the wise and clever, not the gullible and the evil-but-willing-to-go-along.
Or, to put it another way: DIY D&Ders do not see this activity where we talk games as activism (How could they? We have no cause but to trade ideas about how to run games we play at home.)
When people go "Oh be nicer, Zak, you may convince the fence sitters". What do I need with fence sitters? I am not trying to get legislation passed, I'm trading tips on how to make dungeons with people who hopefully are smarter than me.
If I am talking to someone who won't accept true stuff unless it's delivered with a spoonfull of sugar, I'm talking to someone dumber than me. And they have nothing I need. This isn't charity. When I make a porn movie or have an art show and then donate the profits to charity, that is charity.
A lot of gamers disagree fundamentally on a basic level and never think about this disagreement: they do think what they do is a crusade. They consider themselves and their friends to be on a path for some higher cause and so they tolerate lying, they don't ask questions when they see something "off", they don't debate because they are trying to build the biggest community possible. They consistently avoid (i.e. Story-Games) or silence (i.e. RPGnet) debate in the name of Getting Along.
I don't want the biggest community possible--I just want the smartest, fairest one online where I am. Every time I find out another person is writing an awesome game blog I groan like "Ok no, now I have to read everything Arnold K writes, too? Fuck!".
This is, I think, why we keep getting such high-quality stuff. We keep eliminating or ignoring the dumb.
I want a community that accepts every kind of person, and then ruthlessly combs out the fucked ones from among them. And when I see people willing to accept dumb--to accept the Mark Carroll's of the world--people who lie, troll, attack people then flee, or believe shit without evidence--especially when it's directed at me or my friends, I wonder what the fuck is wrong with them.
Well this is what's wrong with them: they just want to get along with as many people as they can. So that one day they can all get together and… something.
Some want to change the industry's attitude toward things, some want the industry just to be big because it'll encourage diversity or because they buy a lot of commercial RPG products and want the industry to give them more or because they want to be in the industry themselves, or because they just want more people to play with. Or just because they feel embattled and want to feel loved and like other people are with them--even pigfucking people.
All these goals are fine, and they are right to think that a Big-Tent-Ignore-Conflict attitude is good to achieve those things. Love-in hugboxes are good for that.
But I don't care about those things: I just want a conversation that helps my game get better. And occasionally to help folks I like. My altruistic energies are not expressing themselves in a desire to enlighten or expand this industry--I just want the part of it I use to be useful. And I don't think the RPG hobby is a better hobby for all the non-RPG playing people than whatever they're entertaining themselves with now. RPGs aren't medicine--I see no pressing need to distribute them further if it's at the cost of the conversation being shit.
So this clash of goals creates conflict: someone attacks my girls, I go "That's not ok". A pigfucker goes "Perhaps you misunderstood, maybe there are good intentions there" I go "It's not my job to find out if the people who just fucked a pig in front of me had a good reason. They can come apologize later if they (on their own or due to some wise entity) grow up."
I am happy to just make and help people make awesome things and invite any non-pigfucker to help.
*He does keep fucking pigs: Mark on this article: "Shortly after, as is his wont, he _totally didn't passive-aggressively call me a pigfucker for daring to disagree" (I didn't call him a pigfucker for daring to disagree, I called him a pigfucker for lying. And not passive-aggressively either.)