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Opinion

Gaming's Woke Problem

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I recently had my relationship with a science fiction franchise cancelled by the work mob, because of my conservative beliefs and ideals.  I wrote for BattleTech, an intellectual property that is both in the fiction and tabletop gaming space.  I contributed material for decades but was cast aside because of my willingness to give voice to my conservative values.  None of these were radical, they were the views maintained by tens of millions of Americans.  Worse yet, my unceremonious dismissal was done because a person who had threatened my life, a criminal on probation who I have a restraining order against, whined enough to make the publisher, Catalyst Game Labs, to take action out of fear of bad PR.

I have been in gaming since the 1970’s.  I still own a first edition of Dungeons and Dragons. The industry has boomed to a multi-billion dollar market. Tabletop gaming has always been an open culture.  In all of my years attending countless conventions and events, I have never witnessed anyone excluded for any reason.  Gaming has had an infiltration of radical wokeness in recent years, and it is damaging to the hobby as a whole.

For example, in 2018, Jeremy Hambly, a conservative who speaks out against the culture wars, was attacked outside of the industry’s largest gaming convention – Gen Con.  In 2021 The Gaming Goats President, Jeff Bergren was physically ejected from the convention over a controversy involving an image of a frog that was on the cover of a game his company was promoting that was allegedly making a white supremacist gesture with its toes. Gen Con claimed it was because of their anti-harassment policies despite the OK symbol having been proven to be a hoax. The culture warriors who endorse this behavior/decisions say their targets deserve this harsh and dangerous treatment.

This year, Gen Con, which brings together 70,000 gamers, chose to incorporate preferred pronouns to their name badges and still maintains mask mandates. The convention center is attached to Colt’s Stadium where masks are not required for games. Then came the announcement of a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Lounge three weeks ago. Despite gaming being one of the most inclusive hobbies out there, they ran up the flag of virtue signaling for attendees. Gamers buy products based on their interests, not on the race of the people that worked on them.

The last year I attended Gen Con there were calls online for people to come and protest me.  So much for inclusiveness or diversity of thought.  Of course with these people, if you don’t think the way they do – you are the enemy. For all of their ire online, none had the guts to actually show up.

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Gen Con is not the problem in the industry, but merely a symptom of it. The popular RPG, Dungeons and Dragons, is now changing some of their monsters and character races to be less offensive.  Orcs are no longer considered evil, I guess they are just misunderstood. The Drow, the dark skinned elves, are now, after decades, being recast as more neutral race.  Drow lives matter?  Many RPG authors are now compelled to put rules in about non-discrimination, as if that somehow solves a problem doesn’t exist.

As an author in this space, my editors attempting to get me to change the sex of some characters in a book.  On its own, this is not a big deal, but the reason wasn’t to make the story better…it was because for two chapters in a row, there were all male characters.  To be clear, BattleTech has always been inclusive – with numerous strong female characters, and I had plenty in the novel – but the editors wanted a change – not because it helped the story, but because they wanted to force inclusiveness in a mindless box-checking exercise.

A friend reached out to me recently and told me about a game he had run at a local game store.  The person was upset that the miniature they had to play with wasn’t painted and other players had them.  This was escalated when the individual made it an inclusiveness issue, online – all but claiming it was somehow discriminatory.

This spring I was queried in Twitter by someone who demanded to know how many transgender characters I had in my novels, and how many I intended to put into future books. This, of course, was a bait to a trap. But this is now the mindset of many new players.

Most authors, myself included, have no issues with transgenders, gays, or other people who wish to take part in the hobby. The only gate-checking I subscribe to are against those individuals that bring their real-world politics to the game table. I have no problems with LGBTQ characters appearing in gaming fiction, as long as that relationship serves some sort of purpose or is important to a character or the story.  Anything else is pandering.

At its core gaming is problem solving, conflict, and cooperation.  These woke gamers bring their hate out of the game into the real world. They sow the seeds of conflict and are intolerant of anyone that doesn’t think the way they do. The result: Gaming has become toxic, with people demanding that game companies make dramatic changes to their properties to reflect woke ideals or change longstanding canon to fit their view of the world.

Game publishers create entertaining product and content.  The politics of the people working at these companies shouldn’t be a factor at all, as long as it is not reflected in the material they produce.  What should be enjoyable and fun experiences for fans has devolved into people making sure that leftist standards, fluid and undefined, are adhered to. These culture warriors are ruining an industry under the guise of making it better.

Can’t we just get back to rolling some dice and having fun?


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Blaine Pardoe is a New York Times Bestselling and award winning author.  He is a regular contributor to American Thinker, PJ Media, American Greatness, Bizpac Review, and other conservative sites. His most recent works include the conservative political thriller Blue Dawn tells the story of the violent overthrow of the government by Progressives. The sequel, A Most Uncivil War, was released on June 28.   His new book, The Democratic Party Playbook 2022 Edition was an Amazon bestseller for new political humor.

 

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