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Inclusion in RPGs

Posted by on July 19th, 2011 with 14 Comments

First off, spreading the Kickstarter love: Heartbreak and Heroines, a fantasy RPG specifically designed (in the words of the author) to be much more inclusive:

Heartbreak & Heroines is first and foremost a fantasy adventure game. It’s not preachy and it isn’t a textbook about feminism, but it’s written from a feminist point of view. It challenges some of our assumptions about the role of gender in gaming but at the heart of H&H, it’s about being a heroine (or hero) and finding your way to happiness in a dangerous world.

I think that this is great, a laudable goal, and also pretty much exactly why Kickstarter exists. Come up with an artistic project concept, tell people about it, and get the project funded if enough people are interested.

So naturally, there is a 200+ message thread on RPGnet, bitching about it. Now, to be fair, most of those messages are in defense of the project (or at the very least “WTF”-ing the detractors) — but still. The “conserva-gamer-libertarian-anti-‘political-correctness’-warrior” stereotype is out in FULL BLOOM, kids. Because making an effort at inclusion? “Extreme.” “Silly.” “Insulting.” “Condescending.”

I pledged just because they pissed me off. I want to see this game funded because it will stick in their craw like the ashes of defeat.

When the thread started, I saw that the designer had only raised $300 or so. She’s asking for $3K. I’m pleased to report that it’s almost to $1K now, less than a day later — and the Kickstarter runs for another 29 days. So please, consider chucking a pledge their way.

Couple of things:

1st, it seems that the original poster also has a problem with what he calls “the Kickstarter Gold-Rush” — I’ve seen him bitch elsewhere, terming it “the money-grab”, etc. The less-socialized corners of the geek community has always had a problem with people obviously enjoying something that they don’t, and therefore railing against it with as much vitriol as they can muster. Kickstarter must really push that button even harder, because the enjoyment of others now has a visible dollar-value tagged to it, making it more of an incitement to rage to these folks.

To which I say: Fuck you, grow up.

People like things you don’t, and sometimes they ‘like’ with money. Nothing to bitch about here (without waving the “I have problems with mature interactions in public” flag wildly, at least).

Second: Inclusion? Important. Just as important to those of us who have chosen not to make it an explicitly-stated mission statement of a project, in fact. I draw your attention to the artwork that we’ve presented from Far West:

  

We didn’t come right out and say it. We were sneaky. But everything we’ve done, we’ve done for a reason.

(So I guess now the Usual Suspects will grouse about our ‘political correctness’ and give us an upward spike in pledges, too!)

14 Comments

  1. Steve Kenson says:

    Yeah, I remember just how much static Green Ronin took for publishing Blue Rose (another RPG that worked to be inclusive): how the game’s “obvious political agenda” detracted from it as a game, how elements of the genre it emulated (more romantic fantasy, often written by women) were “forced” onto the reader/player, etc. ad nauseum.

    I tend to think when your creative work is making some people uncomfortable, you’re on to something. Best of luck to Ms. Snow; I hope Kickstarter helps her to make her game!

  2. Dan Houser says:

    All you need to know about commentary on internet message boards can be informed by this series of events:

    1. Something happens in the real world or online.
    2. Penny Arcade has a comic making fun of the issue, making light of it, or pointing out what they perceive as flaws.
    3. Every single reader cops the same opinion…and immediately regurgitates this opinion everywhere on the net.

    I’m a reader of Penny Arcade. Their ‘Dickstarter’ comic was funny, but layered. So, instead of understanding the layers of that comic — Gabe would abuse Kickstarter in that way, Gabe’s a fake character in a comic, and Kickstarter doesn’t really work that way fail to penetrate layers of internet concrete around most people’s common sense brains.

    Here’s the comic that spawns all contrariety on this subject:

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/5/23/

    Yeah, it’s the narrow view I’m espousing. But I think it fits this situation.

    Dan

  3. Gareth says:

    That’s exactly what this reminds me of: Blue Rose, redux. “Ewwww…. GIRLY STUFF!”

  4. Gareth says:

    Yeah, I’m not seeing it. I can’t really draw a line between the criticisms I’m seeing and a marginally-amusing webcomic.

  5. Dan Houser says:

    I was referring to the ‘gold rush’ aspect of Kickstarter.

  6. Eddy says:

    Man, people are going to fucking HATE some of the stuff I’m hiring people to write, then….

  7. Hey, I admit to playing, and enjoying Blue Rose. If H&H can rise to the level of Blue Rose, its definitely worth looking at.

  8. [...] array of essays tonight. We start off with this blog on inclusivity in RPGs by Gareth-Michael Skarka, reacting to the Heartbreak and Heroines feminist RPG project. And on the headier side, The Mule [...]

  9. [...] Haters gonna hate, but if more chicks at your game table is something you can get behind, please contribute! They’ve already reached their goal after a scant 48 hours live, but they’ll be adding more H&H (specifics TBA) if they reach the next milestone of $4,000! And it’s the best way to pre-order the product itself! Tweet [...]

  10. PeterAmthor says:

    I remember all the Blue Rose crap that stirred up about it’s release. Personally I was confused by it all, I’m still a big believer of ‘if you don’t want it don’t buy it’. It was like someone was going to force them to drop down money for the game.

    I’ve read Blue Rose, still have my copy somewhere. While I didn’t think it was the best thing ever written it wasn’t bad either. But after I read it I sat it down and was still confused about what all the fighting about it was.

  11. Aaron.Brown says:

    GMS, while I’mma RPG.net’er, I actually got here via GoMakeMeASandwich.

    Good post! Also, I’ve discovered FarWest just now and that art work is awesome. If the art didn’t make me want it alone the blurbs about it are pretty awesome.

    aaron

  12. Gareth says:

    Thanks. Check out the Kickstarter we’re doing for FAR WEST: http://kck.st/nXBxDa

  13. Rob McHugh says:

    Hey, Gareth! Been a long time. Just wanted to say I thought this was a great post. I’m looking forward to H&H, and hope to see more works like it.

    Rob

  14. Lachlan says:

    It’s been cancelled, unfortunately, for reasons that are (AFAI can tell) unrelated to the project itself. On the upside, this certainly shows that there is a market for inclusive projects, despite what the RPGNetters say.

    Also, now I know how Kickstarter works, and it is cool.

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