Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gamer discussions.....OF HISTORY!

Content Warning: gamers talking about sexual assault

Travel with me now back to the distant past of the dim, misty age of the year of our lord 1995. President Bill Clinton faces a newly Republican Congress. Kevin Mitnick is arrested by the FBI for hacking into secure computers. Mississippi ratifies the 13th Amendment, to abolish slavery (better late than never, y'all!)  Selena is murdered.  Christopher Reeve is injured in a horse-riding accident. The O.J. Simpson trial occurs. And....on Usenet....a gamer asks a question!!!!! LET'S LOOK BACK ACK ACK ack ack.......

RPG characters die all the time, and I'd rather be raped than die. In games with critical hit systems, hit locations, or unforgiving referees characters can lose limbs or organs easily, and I'd rather be raped than lose an arm, leg or eye. In fact, I can think of whole hordes of things that can happen in role playing games (curses, transformations, imprisonment in a hell of some kind, medieval torture, being used as food for weird alien larvae) that seem to me (an adult male who has never been raped) far, far worse than rape.

This is a little disturbing, because as a referee I would rule that a character lost a limb, or was killed, without a qualm. In one game I played in, I was kind of hoping that, after a nasty accident, my character would be paralysed from the waist down so I could get some cripple pathos out of the whole incident (it was a soap-opera scifi game, admittedly a special case). But I don't think I would ever have a PC raped in one of my games... it seems to be beyond the pale somehow. Even though a villain _might_, say, hold a PC down and cut their eye out, if they were so inclined.

Does anyone care to discuss this inconsistency? I'd like to have a consistent basis for what I will and won't do in a game, for my own benefit and as a sort of "social contract" with the players. Am I just hypersensitive about rape, or is everyone?

Of course you know what to expect after a question like this (once you get past the "cripple" slur, ugh.) Today you would get a slew of angry blog posts, three hour Youtube videos, a Twitter storm of pure rage, six thousand posts on reddit, 384 of which would just be the word "cuck", all howling that this supposed "gamer" is a filthy SJW, the worst threat to freedom and decency and our beloved hobby imaginable, and have you heard about Anita Sarkeesian????? We would see nothing whatsoever in the replies to this inquiry except people spitting "political correctness" and "censorship" and demanding to know if this person really was a gamer after all, perhaps they are merely a hipster, not a REAL gamer because a REAL gamer would never DARE to imply that there even MIGHT be something wrong BUT WAIT


It's NOT 2015!

This is the distant past of 1995. Let us therefore turn to what actually happened in those ancient times.  Here are the responses:

I think most people will find that using rape to further a plot or set the mood of a game trivilaizes the issue and most of us are not prepared to do that. OTOH, most of us don't mind trivializing violence, killing and dying because, being such a common feature in fiction, we have become somewhat desensitized towards it. I mean after a constant diet of John Wayne and friends killing truck loads of bad guys (hey, he didn't have any other choice, besides they deserved it) since I was three, I may be forgiven if I find the concept of a fictional killing has lost part of its shock value. I haven't become desensitized to the concept of sexual violence, and I would not want to. Bare also in mind that the type of violence depicted in most books, films and indeed games, while it may be very gory, is usually glamorised, sanitized and anything but realistic. This is the rough equivalent of the pulp villain forcing the heroine to 'marry' him.


Most players do not consider it terribly likely that *they* will be hacked to death by an assortment of swords, or turned into a crispy critter via fireball or red dragon breath. Rape is a hazard which is faced by players in real life, particularly if you are a female on a college campus or in a nasty neighborhood. I suspect that the fact that it could happen to players makes it more terrifying when it happens to characters. In any case, I would like to note that I played with a (group that portrayed rape in-game) for a short time in high school; about half the group was disgusted enough by the DM's antics towalk out and form a new group.
Wait...people in 1995 didn't have to be convinced that there was a problem with sexual assault on college campuses? Okay. Well, let's see who's next.
It's sometimes hard to not suspect that scenes of rape are put in because someone (often but not always the GM) finds them gratifying. This makes me really queasy, and I'd rather not deal with it.
One's players are more likely to include someone with an unexpected trauma involving rape than involving violence, especially since people who are touchy about violence usually don't like the hobby in the first place. 

Uhhh...oh, you want to say something, sir?
Let me put it crudely:
many male adolescent gamers would rather watch or describe crudely a rape scene than a mutilation scene, and in response to this people who pride themselves on mature play steer away from it. Twits may fantasize about rape and getting away with it, but they are incapable of dealing with the emotional complexity of it in a nontrivial way.

Thankfully, someone comes along to set these people straight with logic that must be flawless since those that repeat it haven't changed a single fucking comma since 1995:
What about us Disabled American Veterans out there who have been injured in the line of duty? Should we be put off or offended by death and injury in the game? Should you treat us differently?

What if you had a player in your game who was physically handicap and had to use a wheelchair, would you not have any paralyzing injuries? What if you had a player in your game that was blind, would blindness never enter your game? How do you think that player would feel if he knew you were treating them differently because of your perception of disability?
Looks like you people thinking about maybe not having rape in your game are the REAL bigots after all. makes u think doesnt it. maybe you were the real bigot all along

Oh, ah, here's a reply...
Unlike a mugging, a murder, an accident, an injury, etc., rape has a stigma of shame attached to it unlike any other form of violence. Rape victims are often put on trial in court, by their families, and by total strangers. Worst of all, they often put themselves on trial. Because our society has a hard time separating sex (and our hangups about it) and the violent and dominating nature of rape, we end up attaching much more emotional baggage to rape than we do to disabilities, mugging, war injuries, and so on. In fact, my understanding is that folks who have been raped experience psychological after-effects similar to those who have been tortured. The kinds of scars left by rape are very different. The analogies you use are not entirely apropos.
Ah, that's too long. Here's the REAL reply:

"> What if you had a player in your game who was physically handicap and had to use a wheelchair, would you not have any paralyzing injuries?"
If I thought my roleplaying would hurt them, then no. 

Just a reminder that there have always been gamers putting good thoughts and advice on this subject out there. It hasn't always been a constant shitshow of screaming fuckheads howling "censorship" whenever anyone dares to ask a question.  Even in 1995 (perhaps moreso?) people were trying to look out for each other.

"If I thought my roleplaying would hurt them, then no."

How fucking simple and to the point is that?