Hey guys in games!
Yes, you, the one with a recognizable name! Or you, who has a bunch of followers on social media! Oh how about you, with the style and character that everyone thinks is super cool? Even you, my guy, who just talks a lot.
I'm going to tell tell you something awesome that is also pretty awful.
When you talk, people listen.
They don't just read you or hear you, they take it in. They appreciate it. They might disagree with you, and some of them will tell you as much, but many of them will just take a deep breath...
share your post...
And be like…”yeah man, this guy is RIGHT!”
After that, when someone else - especially a woman, trans, or nonbinary person, and sometimes (if you are not these things, but sometimes if you are) a person of color, queer person, disabled person, or person of a “lower” social or economic class - says something that isn't the same as your point, they get a response that can kill discussions and innovation and learning in a hot second:
“But [you, man with influence] thinks…”
Boom. Well, we know who matters now, don't we? And this is not just a mention of your feelings or what your personal preference. Often, it's law. This is how games work!
You can't do that when you hack this game because he said...
You can't use those words to define something in your game because he said they meant something different 15 years ago.
Well, those aren't real games because he said...
Yeah. It's super common. I can think of at least 5 men in games - just in indie games! - who I have had my conversations deadlocked because “well he said…”
And like, guys. I love you. I think so many of you are freaking awesome. Some of you are close friends, and I trust some with things that women and NB people I know have never heard. I respect your opinions and we often agree.
But when I disagree with you, or I just have a perspective that is different, I know I can get shut down with the mention of that social media post you made five years ago when you were bored on a Sunday afternoon. Your words, when it comes to thoughts about games, are often not just your personal thoughts shared with the public that will only be referenced as your feels, man.
And no, this is not only men and not all men but it is way more than you think and way more likely that it's you than you think.
Here are some suggestions.
Learn to preface your opinions.
“In my opinion…”
“My personal favorite…”
“I can't speak for others…”
Don't assign value.
“It is more useful for me…”
“What works better for me…”
“I personally enjoy…”
“I have more fun when…”
“My tastes are more suited to…”
Respect those who know the subject.
If you choose to speak your mind about something outside your expertise, or even within your expertise, don't be a jerk when someone disagrees with you or corrects you. I totally understand feeling a bit defensive but don't treat them like an idiot, understand that they may know better than you or simply have a different opinion that is also valid, and don't let anyone supporting you go after them either.
Respect those who are impacted by your opinions.
If you're going to say that Nordic larps are fundamentally not games, remember that people are still making and playing those larps and deserve human respect. That means not letting your buddies pile on your trash things with personal attacks or even just misguided points of view. If your criticism could impact people financially, think it through damn hard. Real damn hard.
We all have our opinions and it's cool to share them but sometimes, there's a real value in the act of shush. I can't offer deep insight on how early D&D mechanics influence Dungeon World, so I don't (I have no idea if they do). Maybe if you are a man who has strong financial security and has good education, and access to lots of resources, you shouldn't say that there's no way people couldn't afford games and that implying that anyone who can't get the money together is irresponsible. Sometimes...shush.
And like, guys, I still want to hear from you. I love your thoughts. I learn from them and share them a lot.