We all do it.
This is all about the recent controversy that all started with a tweet by D&D Designer Mike Mearls. Here is a pic, as I believe the tweet has since been deleted. (edit nope the tweet is still around!)
This simple tweet caused an absolute shit show to occur on Monday, and I was involved in it. For the record, if you actually read this tweet you will realize its 2 distinct statements.
- Statement 1: Some fans insist on gatekeeping (prevent people from entering) the hobby via Rules Complexity / Lore Knowledge.
- Statement 2: Those Same Fans tend to have a problem with woman in tabletop gaming.
What surprises me is the sheer number of people who are taking his statement to mean that woman have tiny squirrel brains and cannot understand complex rules (I have no idea how they are reaching this conclusion btw). But I stated that I agreed with his overall view: that Gatekeeping has no place in this hobby and the people doing it should leave.
By the afternoon I had blocked several people on twitter, and was called a variety of names. Here are some of my favs. I have removed the names because frankly I dont want people seeking them out to defend me. Its unneeded. Also these are kind of funny after a fashion. The best they could do was equate me to a White Knight Butthurt Cuck who seeks to date rape ladies and promotes piracy apparently. I tend to block people who insult me or are hyper aggressive towards me.
Now here is the thing. I will freely admit, to anyone, that I do not want Sexist, Racist, Homophobic, Mysognistic, or any other form of hate mongering nutjob in my hobby. It serves no purpose, it helps no one, and it only ends up preventing the hobby from growing. But my doing that?
Its Gatekeeping. Seriously.
What makes mine any better then theirs? Well, in my opinion (And of course this is going to be a biased opinion) my particular reasons are a bit more nuanced then “THEY ARE GIRLS / BLACK / GAY ZOMG NO GAMING FOR THEM!” Rather, I seek to create a positive and fun environment for the hobby that I love to grow, expand, and prosper. For this to occur, we need to have a place were as many people as humanly possible feel welcome and are able to learn. The trick here is this: I am willing to give the assholes a chance to learn and grow and change.
You see, you cannot change your sexual orientation, gender, skin color, ect. Those are physical and mental attributes that are personal and individual. I cannot change the fact that I am a white male anymore then my wife can change the fact that she is an asian female. And for the record: A Trans person is whatever gender they SAY they are. If they are a male to female, then they are a female, end of story. Gender Fluid, same thing. We cannot change they basic way their brains function, its not going to happen, it SHOULD not happen. Additionally, all these issues can flow both ways. Women can be just as sexist as men, Black/Hispanic/Asian can be just as racist as Whites. Frankly the entire mess needs to just stop because at the end of the day we are all just people and more then the sum of our parts. I sure am. The vicious cycle of hatred only causes more hatred.
Now, what I (and others) can change however is my outlook, perspective, and the way I treat people. I can change my way of THINKING.
Excluding someone just because they are female, male, gay, straight, trans, black, white, ect is wrong. It helps no one, it does not solve a problem, and these people CANNOT change those aspects of themselves. Its impossible for a black man to become white just to join a game of DND, or Pathfinder. Expecting a woman to suddenly become Male just to play (or a man to suddenly become a woman, yes sexism exists both ways folks) its insane. Its not a feat that is achievable.
However, I can expect a person to realize the error in their thinking and possible realize the pain and hurt they are causing others for things those people cannot change.
A prime, but Hypothetical example of this: I am running a game at a con. At my table are 3 males. A woman walks up to join us. One of the men makes a snide comment along the lines of “Oh god a girl is gonna try to play!” or “No woman allowed here!” or “This game is too hard for you little lady” or anything along these lines. My immediate response would be to say “Hold on miss. Please have a seat.” followed by “And you sir, explain your reasoning please. Cause unless there is a really good reason for her not to be here, she is perfectly welcome to join us.”
EDIT: After some discussion this may not be the best option. I am a firm believer in attempting to educate people to remove hatred, but honestly in a tense situation the best option to create a more inclusive overall experience would be to remove the trouble player at the table, as they clearly have a poor attitude towards others.
The question then becomes how the man answers. And yes, you can flip that to me running a game for a table full of ladies, and a a guy sits down. Or whites and a black sits down. Ect.
The first step is trying to get them to provide a reason so you can show them that this hateful way of thinking is wrong, and explain they should just try to let the person (whomever they are) show that they belong in our world just as much as themselves. Sometimes you can reach these people. Other times, such as those examples above, you cannot.
The ones I wish to push out of the hobby and into their own little hate filled bubbles are the ones who cannot be reasoned with. The ones who cannot and will not change their way to adopt a more positive, inclusive, welcoming attitude. They do nothing for the hobby other then to harm it directly. And for those who cannot believe that these people exist, well just look at the screenshot. Read my tweet here about how I suffered the effects of gatekeeping myself once. Or how about this post from a fellow twitter user named Mysty who ran across the classic “Girls shouldnt play DND!” Explain to me in a way that makes logical sense how either of these events were ok. That these were the right things to do. Spoiler alert: You cant. Cause in both cases, it did not achieve a good result. In both cases, we were dejected. In my case, I stay away from Miniature Wargaming. In Mysty’s case, she finally found a place that welcomed her in.
Additionally, for those who say things like “Let the assholes be assholes its their right!” and “You should just get stronger!” understand that there is no single solution that fits every single person. You are not everyone. You do not know what another has been through, what things they have experienced, that has shaped them to who they are now. Also letting assholes be assholes is not a solution, its passing the buck and saying “Well its not my problem to deal with!”. That’s not strength, that’s cowardice. If you just let them be, nothing will ever change.
As long as there are different view points, there will always be gatekeeping. People trying to prevent others from ruining things. The trick is understanding where you stand, what you stand for, and why. To make sure you effect the least amount of people in a negative manner, and to aim for a positive overall result and a better place in the end.
I stand for a hobby, a world, that is welcoming. I am happy to help you learn to get over your hate, but I have zero issues showing you the door if you refuse to. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. If you treat others hatefully, then expect a similar result. If you treat people well, expect a similar result. If I have to run off 1 asshole so that 5 new players feel comfortable to join in so be it. I would rather lose 1 jerk then 5 possible friends.
So yes. At the end of the day I am gatekeeping in a way. We all are.
Just be sure you are doing it in a positive way. A way that will leave things better then how they started. Always strive for the better.
Thanks for reading. Stay nerdy folks.
EDIT: This is a good example of the whole paradoxical mess we are in at this point. This single tweet says it all really.