So in the US, every Thanksgiving on Twitter, we're all reminded that when we go, on our holiday, to our turkey table, we must confront our racist uncle. We are encouraged to squint over the peas from the far end of the table, and call out his Trumpy, overtanned ass.
You've heard this one?
In the story, it's not the whole family who is racist--it's just this one uncle. But the rest of the family doesn't bring it up. The idea is: we all have convictions and know the right thing to do, but acting on it is a whole other thing.
Seldom discussed is why the job of calling out the Uncle falls only to the activist or the terrible teenager: it's because there are other motivations in the world besides doing the right thing--other loyalties.
Your progressive mom does not call out the racist uncle because he saved her from drowning in that lake when she was 12 and he was 14.
Your liberal dad does not call out the racist uncle because he owns a three-qurter share in their grocery store.
Your aunt does not call out the racist uncle because she hates arguments.
Your cousins don't call out the uncle because they're angling for the inheritance.
In the RPG community, Thanksgiving is GenCon, and the most consistent core of the family are those designers and publishers who've been coming back year after year after year for decades. They know central Indianapolis' bars and steak houses, they know whose table is usually where on the floor, they have lost dice beneath hotel couches in every state of the union. They are familiar names, people like Mike Mearls, Monte Cook and his handful of designers at MCG, Chris Pramas and Nicole Lindroos and Steve Kenson at Green Ronin, Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue at Evil Hat, Robin Laws and his Pelgrane folks, and Kenneth Hite--who wins an Ennie every year for best podcast (at minimum) along with Laws and is seen posing centerfold-style above with several other family members at the Ennies in the picture above--there are a few others.
Unlike many younger designers, these people are definitely not going anywhere. They made some choices a long time ago: they are sticking with this career forever.
They have a family-like relationship, and "family" does not mean "They all like each other" family means "Every one of them has a little bit of a relationship to every other one of them whether they want to or not." Family means: they're in a boat, the kind that can be rocked.
The major Thanksgiving Uncles here are Rob Donoghue and Fred Hicks at Evil Hat. The folks discussed in previous chapters--Olivia Hill, the Something Awful /tg goons and the RPGnetters who copy them--are their Donald Trump. They may not agree with everything Mr Trump does, but they donate to the cause and support him when it counts.
Most of these other designers and publishers, for the most part, want nothing to do with bottom-scraping trolls--often for the very selfish reason that they themselves have been targeted by RPGnet and company's omnidirectional rage at anyone with enough name recognition to score lolpoints off of.
But Evil Hat keeps inviting them over.
Anyone with a hate take (other than "Why does Evil Hat pay such low rates? And where are the people of color in your organization?") they invite them in. Evil Hat literally recruited off of Something Awful. Like someone who worked at Evil Hat literally waded on the /tg forum and said that if anyone wanted to get started in the RPGs they should totally contact them.
Rob Donoghue, the more-talkative face of Evil Hat, deals with questions about why Evil Hat does this exactly how a racist uncle responds to you asking about that whole Build A Wall thing. "Well, you know, it's to get a reaction, I just think..." Any words he can hang on to in order to maintain a facade of respectful distance from the hate he's signed on to.
So...the family doesn't talk about it. They read threads, they know gossip, they have people they don't respect, but they still have to drink together, eat together, be on panels together, have turkey together, get medals together. It's undiscussed.
The Dog and the Dice
So, if you remember back to Chapter Three, Olivia Hill, the hatemob had heard I was working at White Wolf on account of the Vampire video game I'd done with Sarah Horrocks. I'd been thrown off Vampire's 5th edition, but they had no idea--three more chapters to go and nothing in the story from here forward is about me--but they don't know that., which meant in their mind the game was still Tainted By Zakness.
This meant that when Vampire 5e was announced, the hatemob spent the next year raking over press releases, interviews, beta rules, and any other shred of Vampire news looking for excuses to attack it.
Remember: I was long gone. I didn't write a word of the new tabletop game.
People who still hung out on RPGnet--many of whom had no idea I'd ever been involved (or even who I was) followed the loudest and squeakiest wheels--Olivia Hill, Paul "Ettin" Matijevic, etc.--who had an axe to grind. Vampire 5e had to be problematic. Somehow. They were like those Japanese soldiers on the island of Lubang who kept fighting because they didn't know the war was over--except they were on the winning side.
|This means Fred read my blog, which is something his people call "stalking"|