OK, so while there were a few specific incidents that prompted this post, it’s 2019 and I haven’t seen many posts like it. The main point / TL;DR:
Games are for everyone. There is no room for sexism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, or transphobia at my table.
The board gaming world has long had a majority of white men, with other races and genders on the outside looking in. Some folks made crude jokes, others were patronizing, and others didn’t exactly welcome people with open arms. I’ve also heard the selection of wargames or games involving lots of combat weren’t exactly games of choice, either…
Today, it’s improving. Board game cafes are popping up all over the place, and there are plenty of accessible gateway games with less direct combat. Games and game designers are more conscious of representing women in equal numbers, adding a variety of skin tones to the characters, and consciously designing for the color-blind. Some games put women and people of color in leading roles, on the box, or another high-profile place, and I hope to see more of that in the future.
It’s far from perfect, however, so it’s time to call it out.
This isn’t a ‘liberal agenda’. It’s a basic expectation on how to treat humans.
If you’re religious, your religion has a variation of the maxim ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. It’s worded a little differently, owing to cultural differences, translations, and the writing styles, but the maxim remains the same.
If you’re not religious, the notion of reciprocity and getting what you give is still a good rule to follow. It’s been around and almost unchanged since the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt (at least 1650 BCE).
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
When you spot it, deal with it.
Yeah, this is easier said than done. If you’re in a position to deal with it then and there, do so. A private conversation later on or an e-mail / PM works as well, but ‘shape up or ship out’ is the key message. Whatever kind of hate it is, it doesn’t belong in your life, your Facebook feed, or your gaming life.
Is unfriending is the new de-platforming?
De-platforming (or ‘No Platform’) was in some headlines in 2018 when social media platforms deactivated the accounts of people spreading hate. Losing a prominent place to amplify one’s voice (or having notifications sent to followers via the platform) means fewer people are hearing that voice of hate. It doesn’t make them disappear, of course, and it doesn’t take away all their power, but it takes away the platform’s ability to amplify that voice.
While you can’t unilaterally decide to de-platform someone, you choose which voices have meaning in your life. Like a lot of other people, I spend a lot of time in my Facebook feed, interacting with friends and trading ideas with other game designers (what, you don’t do that?). Hate has no place there (or anywhere else), and when it’s clear these are their genuine views, they get unfriended. Very few minds are changed when arguing over the internet, regardless of how many facts are presented, so sometimes it’s best to unfriend and remove that toxic influence.
I’ve seen multiple examples now within some Facebook groups of people calling out the hateful views of people they called friends. ‘I can’t believe I have 285 mutual friends with this person’, as one example goes, implying hundreds of others need to examine what this person said and decide whether that person still belongs in their lives.
There are dangers here, of course: it’s very easy to take a person’s words out of context. The screenshot might have been Photoshopped. An apology might have been made (and missed). Don’t just take someone’s word about it; research for yourself, then decide. More often than not, there’s a string of comments proving their feelings.
Doesn’t that just devolve into an echo chamber?
Absolutely not. I’m not de-friending someone because of things they can’t control or their views. I’m de-friending people whose hateful views have no place in my life. You can still enjoy a diverse collection of viewpoints and experiences without needing to allow hateful views into your life.