Dear gaming community – a follow up

I want to start by saying that I apologize for any harm I caused by my last post. The original “open letter” has been written while I was angry and frustrated, something you really shouldn’t do.

The topics of racism, sexism, etc. are very complex topics and it’s hard to discuss these on the internet. Quickly things boil down to us vs. them and/or people say things they actually don’t meant to say. The old saying goes that everything is fun and games until someone gets hurt. And I am sure I was not the only one who got hurt in the process.

At this moment I am rethinking the whole affair. One lesson that I learned is to avoid writing posts in anger and to discuss complex matters while angry or frustrated on the net. You can only lose this way, and hurt others, including yourself. I need to rethink how to express my thoughts on this matter.

One last thing: I am an (almost) university educated white male atheist with enough free time and money to have his own blog on the internet that is focused on gaming. In a way I am a privileged person which of course influences my perspectives on the world. Sometimes I may not even be aware of that. It’s definitely fine to point that out to me. I am more than willing to see the error of my ways.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

14 thoughts on “Dear gaming community – a follow up”

    1. Thanks for your kind words, but I felt miserably yesterday night and this morning. So I wanted to set a few things straight and take me some time to think things through.

  1. Discussing these issues in the context of what should be a fun hobby isn’t easy and remains fraught with peril, especially when done in the very public forum of the internet. No matter the depth of your understanding or examination of the issue, you have the courage to address it in some form and to seek to engage others in further discussing it. I maintain a personal online policy of always trying to be positive — and avoid publicly venting my negative feelings — but that’s my personal, introverted self. I’m not too aware of the issue at hand, though your post inspired me to explore that on my own; your views on it help me evaluate my own views.

  2. Don’t apologize, and don’t be bullied into feeling guilty because someone else calls you “privileged” because of your race, or gender, or education, or whatever. You’re entitled to your honest opinion, you’re free to say it, and that should be the end of it.

  3. See, I understand your frustration… And I don’t think you have to apologize about anything. Still I understand the need to clear the air sometimes. Supporting you a 100% my friend, carry on!

  4. Privileged white male or antrhopomorphic talking cat, you’re still entitled to your opinion. No need to apologise for speaking your mind, even in anger.

    Besides that, I expect that the sentiment you expressed is shared many others.

  5. Vent all you like. Anybody who can’t deal with the fact that you are a human being with a full range of emotions really needs to stay off the ‘net.

    (Heh, as a female gamer, though, I do want to comment on the “chainmail bikini”… If a guy wants to oogle scantily-clad women, that’s perfectly natural and doesn’t bother me in the slightest. What makes me laugh is when these skeletal-figured, impractically dressed, hyper-sexualized pieces of eye-candy adorn every cover and page of an RPG book and the publishers scratch their heads and wonder why more girls don’t play their games!)

  6. Your last post was all right : you were polite and articulated, and your responses were, too. Don’t beat yourself up for engaging in a discussion in a civilized manner. As David Hume put it, “Truth springs from argument amongst friends”.

    Don’t beat yourself up for being (in a way) a privileged person, neither (I’m a white, heterosxual, university-educated, atheist man with a job and enough money to not worry about my groceries or my rent, so I’m pretty much in the same situation you are in). Anti-racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. is not about shaming white/males/heterosexual/etc., it’s about raising awareness.

    It’s always nice to read your blog and to discuss with you. Thanks!

  7. Hey guys, I am glad that Stargazer has many friends who want to say encouraging words.

    At the same time, telling him “he’s got nothing to apologize for” is not cool. He said that he ended up hurting himself, not to mention hurting others. Even if his intention wasn’t to hurt others, when you happen to do it, it is best to apologize. Further, you may not be privy to information which has led to this apology and re-thinking of things, let alone his feelings over the matter.

    If people say “oh don’t be sorry, you got nothing to apologize for”, they are engaging in diminishing and dissing his feelings. Feeling bad about having done something — even unintentionally — is a part and parcel of being human. He did not write an emotion-wrought screed of “I am bad and horrible and the earth should swallow me”, but a statement that he needs to rethink things, and he is sorry that he hurt others and strives to be a better person in future.

    I understand you want to stand by your friend, and I consider Stargazer as a friend as well. However, instead of rushing for the insta-panacea of “Nothing to feel bad about!” (which does very little to actual feeling, as it dismisses the possibility of the feeling being valid in any fashion, and at worst contributes to hard tribalism which runs the risk of shutting oneself from other points of view), how about asking “Why do you feel bad?” and help him unpack it. Oftentimes, this means hearing why others were hurt by what he said and opening oneself to different points of view. Sometimes, it just requires that you’re there, and listen to him; however, if you start with “don’t”, you’re not listening.

  8. “In a way I am a privileged person which of course influences my perspectives on the world. Sometimes I may not even be aware of that.”

    That’s a good insight, and it’s the first step in actively listening to why people find things offensive or off-putting is important.

    It’s okay to like seeing a woman’s tits in gaming artwork, really. The question is, should women’s depiction in gaming art be sexualized so pervasively, or can we still have great gaming art that’s more than pinups?

  9. You know, a lot of people are appointing themselves moral watchdogs for the rest of us. And what’s even more disturbing is that they’re discounting the argument about “just don’t buy/read it” as being an insufficient response.

    They would rather take steps to silence that with which they don’t agree, and attack those who criticize this tactic.

    I understand the frustration of your previous post.

    Personally, I’d rather not have what is available for purchase decided by the most sensitive among us.

  10. Stargazer:
    You, of course, are entitled by my Constitution to both have and express an opinion. You are also free to change that opinion, and air a new and/or altered opinion. As a thinking adult, I am free to agree and/or disagree with your opinion, and tell you that.

    All that being said — you did not offend ME with yesterday’s opinion. I, also, am a white, middle aged, university-educated male (who, it must be said, is a card-carrying Methodist). I have to tell you that, when disturbed or offended by a piece of art, literature or action, I react to it by refusing to purchase it. If anyone asks my opinion of such an article, I explain it and then enjoin them to form their own opinion.

    That’s what grown-ups do.

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