On Gen Con, Angry Men and The Importance of Inclusion

Hey everyone. Yesterday I posted a video on the Little Metal Television YouTube channel in response to some offensive bile that’s being spouted by certain sections of the board gaming community in regards to the increased presence of women and representatives of the LGBT community at this year’s Gen Con event, being held in August in sunny Indianapolis. If you’ve not seen the video, I’d be greatly appreciative if you took ten minutes out of your day to check it out. It’s a bit angry and sweary, so is Not Safe For Most Workplaces, but it’s a subject that has really pissed me off.

Now, a few people have been in touch about the video and wanting to share it, but as I am a sweary chap in it they’d sooner disseminate something a bit less… blue. Normally I’d pretty much ignore such a request as I don’t have much of an issue with swearing, but as this is an important message, I said that I’d put up an edited transcript – so here it is.

Thanks for watching, reading, listening… whatever you do. Please don’t let the dark side win.

“This is very much a video where I’m preaching to the converted, but **** it, things need to be said. Before that though, I’d like to tell you a story.

When I was a kid, I was bullied for years. I was fat, I was short, I was basically the prime target for anyone who felt like being an arse for no reason aside from plain hatefulness. The advice I was given was the normal stuff you expect – keep quiet and ignore them, and like a bee, they’ll go away eventually. Which they did, sure, because there’s always going to be someone else who attracts a bully’s attention for a while, but the focus will get back to you eventually. Unlike a bee, the bully keeps stinging, and it hurts more and more every time.

Now I’m older, and I’ve realised that this turtle approach is frankly, **** bull****. As the internet has become more and more dominant in our lives, the ability to bully and intimidate anonymously is something hundreds and thousands of people have to deal with on a daily basis. The only way to stop this tsunami of crap is to address it, face to face – call it out and show the bullies just how much of a joke they are. In the words of the inimitable RuPaul, my goal is to always come from a place of love …but sometimes you just have to break it down for a ****.

Inclusion is important, not just in gaming, but in everyday life. We live in a world where arguments are regularly heard about where people should go to the toilet, where people are denied the ability to stay in hotels or get bloody wedding cakes just because the person they love happens to be the same gender as them. You’d think that kind of thing wouldn’t affect something as daft as playing games, but there has been a horrifying growth in the amount of people who seem to think that gaming is just for white, straight men, and at the moment a lot of it seems to be focusing on the biggest party on the American convention circuit, Gen Con.

Before we start calling out this bull****, let’s look at the positive side of this. Earlier this week, Gen Con announced that over 50% of their Featured Presenters will be female. This is excellent. It shows a growth in the hobby that it truly needs. Games should be not only be played by everyone who wants to try them, they also need to be more represented in the creative fields. There’s also several special guests who are looking to promote LGBT issues in the games they make and play, which is great. Why not reflect the lives of the people who are playing them? After all, cardboard and bits of plastic don’t discriminate. A dice won’t consistently roll badly just because you’re gay or identify as female – dice roll badly because they ******* hate you.

And now onto the dumpster fire of humanity that is people who think diversity is a bad thing. I’ve been made aware of a putrid little corner of the internet called Alpha Game blog which is apparently “Breaking the chains, winning the games, and saving Western Civilization” – according to the writer Vox Day (real name, Theodore Beale). He’s also one of the figureheads of the Rabid Puppies, which is a **** in itself but we’re focusing on games here, not science fiction writing. There’s a small but rabid bunch of subscribers, all of whom seem terrified that women will destroy the world of gaming because – and this is posted all over the blog – “Women Ruin Everything”. Most posts are a carnival of lunatic viewpoints, but a few recent posts have been highly critical of Gen Con, in particular the increased female presence of list of Featured Presenters at the show (which is actually 13 to 12 this year), and Beale firmly believes that Gen Con will shut down over the next decade, apparently for no more reason than he just hates half the population of a planet. Here’s an actual quote: “Men, particularly low rank men, never understand that by inviting women into their interest groups, they will destroy those groups in time.”

Holy **** crap, where to even begin…

Speaking as a Low Rank Man, because this is invariably what I’d be referred to as by this Caravan of Twattery, let’s take that quote and switch it up for some other massive sections of the population.

  • Something stupid to start. “by inviting Belgians into their interest groups, they will destroy those groups in time.” Of course, without Belgium, we wouldn’t have had the release of 7 Wonders, making the world a worse place.

  • Something a bit harder? “by inviting black people into their interest groups, they will destroy those groups in time.” Hmmm. That sounds pretty **** wretched to me.

  • “by inviting Jews into their interest groups, they will destroy those groups in time.” Hmmmm. Hmmmmmmmm.

Basically, these people are the worst. A festering pile of actual human garbage who, when called out on their utterly **** crazy opinions, accuse you of being under the thumb of Feminazis.

Note: if you ever use the word Feminazis in any fashion that even appears vaguely serious, you immediately render any and all of your opinions invalid.

So, let’s see how Gen Con actually goes, shall we? I don’t think we’ll see the entire building ablaze by 11am on the Thursday morning, just because there are people with vaginas in the halls. Hasn’t happened before, but you never know.

I am all for freedom of speech – its a central tenet of the country I choose to live in, after all – but these ******** should also remember that it gives me the right to call you out on your absolutely ******* ludicrous, disgusting opinions.

It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, transgender, black, white, gay, straight, or anything in between – if you sit down at my gaming table, you’re a Person, and I want to play with you. Unless of course, you think that it’s OK to deem anyone else sat at that table as a lesser being than you because of their genitals, the colour of their skin, or their sexual preferences. In that case, how about you bring your little gang behind the bike sheds at Gen Con, and I will bring Literally Everybody Else? Let’s see if you’re willing to voice your opinions in the face of tens of thousands of members of the public. Anyone can post ridiculous rhetoric on a blog, but expressing your opinions in the face of those you’re deeming as less worthy than you is a very different thing.

I can’t wait for Gen Con – it’s an incredible event that offers countless amazing experiences every year, as well as amazing amounts of new games to check out. However, if you’re doing or saying anything that will lessen that experience for even a single person, I will do everything in my damn power to see that you never get to attend that – or any other – convention again.

However, I want to be fair. Muppets like this seem to thrive on the oxygen of publicity, and it just so happens that I have the means to offer just that. The Little Metal Dog Show has a decent audience of several thousand gamers, many of whom will be in attendance at Gen Con, and I hereby offer a platform to anyone who holds these absurd views. You come to me with measured, provable facts as to why anyone who plays the games we love who doesn’t happen to be a straight white male will lead to a negative impact on the hobby and I will be delighted to publish that as an episode of the show, in full. Not half-considered opinions. Not empty rhetoric – stone cold facts. Arguments live and die through provability, and if you’re the kind of person who actually believes that women playing games is going to lead to the collapse of the biggest convention in North America and the end of gaming, you surely have something in your pocket that will back it up, yes?

I’m not hard to find. My email is michael@littlemetaldog.com. I’m on twitter too, @idlemichael. Come to me and do your best to convince me. You’ll inevitably fail, I tell you now, but I’m giving anyone and everyone the opportunity to express your side of the argument in measured, considered terms. It’ll be interesting, at least.

It’s not about being a feminist. It’s not about being pro-LGBT. It’s about being a decent ******* person, and if you can’t realise that, you you probably shouldn’t leave your basement. Hell, you probably shouldn’t leave your house, as you’ll inevitably find the world a very scary place. We’ll have fun playing all the awesome new stuff as you complain like Chicken Little that your world is being destroyed by the rest of us.”

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