Brian Ashford @ 2019-04-11 07:56:38
Good god. Do not do a search on twitter for "D&D Colonialism" I am fairly sure that not one of those people complaining about the 'entrenched colonialism in D&D' actually understands what both of those things are. Apparently D&D is a game of "kill, take." One guy was posting that he was considering doing an anti-colonial game of Dwarves returning to their ancestral homeland. You know, one of the touchstone plot arcs upon which D&D was based. I get that there is problematic content in D&D, it started in the '70s, of course there's problematic content in there. But D&D is about so much more than that. The total absence of nuance and logic in their arguments is leaving me somewhat baffled.
Paolo Greco @ 2019-04-11 08:29:29
I think we are the right crowd to make a compilation of classic D&D anti-colonialist scenarios, put it out, win fake internet points.
Brian Ashford @ 2019-04-11 09:05:03
It's a good idea, but we would have to make sure the creative team was super diverse. Not just for the obvious reason that it's the right thing to do, but some people would be looking to shoot it down for spoiling their narrative.
Paolo Greco @ 2019-04-11 09:15:02
If only we know who to ask! oh, wait, we do.
Richard G @ 2019-04-11 10:56:45
I’m in if I can do an anti-nationalist scenario. Ihave anessay I could write about this but I’m too busy to rant today. Short form - now that Americans don’t think postcolonialism is dangerous to them anymore, they’re happy to use it to deflect other anxieties.
Scott Martin @ 2019-04-11 14:52:48
I thought we were the colonials haha But jokes aside I'd approach Sukhdev Sandhu to help make that module because it would be outstanding . . . maybe he'd even break out the risograph.
Handy Haversack @ 2019-04-11 15:16:50
@Brian, searching Twitter was likely when the the trap was sprung!
Bryan Mullins @ 2019-04-11 19:25:42
I mean...when you just learned how a hammer works...every solution looks like a job for a hammer. Also, there’s tons of janky content in nerd culture, it’s probably okay to wrestle with that for ourselves right?
Eric Nieudan @ 2019-04-11 19:30:22
I wonder, is anyone complaining about the religious propaganda in D&D? I mean, like, gods actually exists!?
Brian Ashford @ 2019-04-12 11:00:54
I had a big discussion on Twitter yesterday with a couple of storygames people. They were very helpful and explained their views. It started with me questioning the assertion that a "do violence" mechanic would be a colonialist mechanic within your game system. After much confusion we came to a common point of understanding that violence in games *can be* colonialist. For example, if your players are killing goblins to drive them from their homes so that fair skinned humans and elves can move in, farm their land and steal their stuff, then yes, that's the definition of colonialism and your game is colonialist. If however you are killing goblins because they have broken through the gates of your village and are trying to find babies to sacrifice to The Great Wurm and bring about the apocalypse. It seems to me that the Why of an action is more important than the What. Even in the first scenario, if your game goes on to deal with the consequences of your player's actions, if you show the suffering caused by driving those goblins from their homes, or if you later have fifty ogres and trolls pile in to take it back, then sure it's colonialist but it could hardly be said to be promoting it. It came up a couple time that they aren't accusing games of anything, they are simply "using the lens of colonialism to critique them," now, I'll admit that I don't exactly no what they mean by that, but the general tone across Twitter is an assumption that decolonising our games Is A Thing That We Should Be Doing. I don't know. It's a mess. I have some friends who say that calls for de-colonising games is nothing more than virtue signalling, and I've certainly seen some complaints levelled at D&D 5e which simply aren't based on fact. I do know that I don't really understand what it is that people are asking for when they make these requests. It seem that any reasonably run game will be dealing with the consequences of player action in a considered way anyway.
Bryan Mullins @ 2019-04-12 13:17:41
My take is that your conversation sounds productive. Also, I think that if someone wants to take on the very personal project of being thoughtful about the games they run, play, design, and promote. That doesn’t seem bad to me. In the absence of any real evidence one way or he other...it seems awkward and petty to make a difference between a person “virtue signaling” and saying that they want to do some thing they think is good. It seems to me that it’s okay to want to do good things, and even better if you actually do them. Loving a problematic thing isn’t much of a problem until you harm someone else rather than acknowledge the part of the thing you love that is janky or hurtful. In some ways this reminds me of the topic of how violent TTRPGS are or aren’t and how harmful that violence can be...firstly, they are fantasy and don’t seem to produce a lot of lasting consequences. However it is possible to do harm that leaves no appreciable external evidence. Some folks will be more resistance to being moved by make believe violence and some will not. Finding the spot that works for the people you play with can’t really be prescribed by a text or a procedure can it?
Brian Ashford @ 2019-04-12 14:41:53
I definitely have no problem with people working to make their games better. I think the reason why "virtue signalling" stuck in my mind is that often the people complaining about D&D (or using the lens of colonialism to critique D&D) are people who don't play D&D. Maybe not though, I don't have stats to back that up, that's just how it seems to me.
Richard G @ 2019-04-12 14:56:52
Is complaining about virtue signaling a form of virtue signaling? Do we actually have a consensus definition of that term? I see it used pejoratively but does it have to be a bad thing? Are we claiming that social signaling in general is bad, or just expressions of values, or just of some values? Would there be any internet chat without social signaling? What, really, is the signal being sent by demonising virtue signaling? Regarding colonialism in rpgs, I’d be really happy to have a full and frank discussion about that at some time when I have multiple hours free to get into it.
Richard G @ 2019-04-12 15:03:43
.....also, public displays of piety tend to arise where there is public shaming. As such, they can be seen (some of them) as a response to bullying. I'm told we should support victims: should we do so when they are expressing their fear of society by declaiming their virtues?
Brian Ashford @ 2019-04-12 15:45:42
As I understand the term, virtue signalling is when somebody gives the appearance of being virtuous without actually meaning it. It's a performance. Usually the accusation of virtue signalling goes hand in hand with the accusation of being a Social Justice Warrior. Basically saying, 'You don't actually believe the things you are saying, you just want people to think that you are a good person!' It says something about these accusers that they are more ready to believe that people will live a life for selfish reasons, than actually want to try and help another person. So yes, I was surprised when my friend used the term and applied it to people calling for decolonising our RPGs, but then he's off the opinion that tweaking the RPG you run to make it slightly more PC isn't going to do squat for the centuries of inequality doled out by actual real colonialism, so I couldn't really argue the point.
Bryan Mullins @ 2019-04-12 16:25:49
@Brian, I got no problem with your view point, but since I feel Lasagna is a safe enough space to talk to you about this...I’m taking the opportunity to make my stance as genuine to myself as I can. I don’t think that there’s much difference in a signal of virtue and actual virtue in the case of online interaction. I do allow that folks could be lying, but what do I lose by taking them at their word until they act contrary wise? Also, if they’re only trying to change their own games and express their beliefs about games...I don’t see harm in that. Now, if they’re calling for censorship of a thing...or censure of a person...it gets tricker for certain.
Brian Ashford @ 2019-04-12 16:54:15
Yeah, you are right, they aren't doing any harm so I should probably just move on and focus on my own games.
Richard G @ 2019-04-12 16:58:16
I also kinda need to decolonize my opinions about various gamers from the fountain of verbiage Zak threw up on the subject. It's amazing how that stuff still clings to my ideas about certain people _who I never even interacted with._
Brian Ashford @ 2019-04-12 17:54:02
That's probably a more worthy thing to spend time on.
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