On this, our National Coming Out Day

You know how it is. You’re living your life as a straight, cis guy, and you start to notice some things. Like, you get really excited that the super cute server (with the sideburns and the glasses and the waistcoats) is coming to your table at The Weary Traveler. Or you’re at Plan B again (I mean, come on), and you find the male dancers way more interesting than the female ones (but, like, obviously). Or you’re watching some porn, and you find yourself thinking “That guy has a really pretty dick. And the rest of him too.” Then you’re just sitting around one day, and you go “Oh… ooooooooooh.” And you think about all kinds of stuff that’s happened in your life and all kinds of stuff you’ve felt before, and you go “Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh.”

But, like, why did that take until I was 25? Why wasn’t I even able come out to myself, to tell myself that I’m bisexual, for so long? That’s a complicated question, and any useful answer is almost certainly grounded in the specifics of my psychology, in my experience of masculinity, and in all the tiny nuances that built up my sexuality.

But there’s also this: I grew up in a culture, both generally and locally, which regards queerness as evil, suspect, weird, wrong, gross, dangerous, illegitimate, corrupting, and a problem in need of correction. What was I to think of my queerness, to whatever degree I experienced it, when I was younger? What do you do with a part of yourself when you’re told it’s villainous, grotesque, shameful? You bury that shit. You hide it away. You joke around the edges and distance your emotions. Let it be there for others, but not for you.

But here I am today, with super supportive friends and family, with an incredibly queer-friendly community, and I’m bi as fuck (or pan, omni, poly, ambi; I’m not super attached to any particular term). And I’m not here because of some special strength in me, because I’m so brave and great. I’m here because a lot of people, over many years, have put a hell of a lot of work into making this world a bit better, a bit more welcoming for people like me.

So I try to pay that forward. There are too many people, more than you know, more than you suspect, who still don’t feel safe coming out. A closet, for all its flaws, for all the stress of it, for all its uncertainty, is a means of staying safe. A closet is a way to control access to yourself, to create a bulwark against what the world might do to you if it knew the real you. Our task isn’t to take closets away from those who want or need them. Our task is to make a world that’s more inviting than the closet. Our task is to get rid of the judgment, the violence, and the dehumanization that is still all too active and powerful. Our task is to make a world nice enough for people to actually live in.

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Nuke it from orbit

This is the best I’ve got right now. It’s either ramble or cry and scream.

At the time of writing, we have 50 dead from the shooting at Pulse in Orlando. Many others are injured and hospitalized, some fighting in intensive care. So 50, maybe more once everything is said and done, of my queer sisters, brothers, siblings, comrades, and beautiful humans are dead. They don’t get to be alive anymore.

And I want to spit on the whole fucking species. We’re a couple hundred thousand years into our existence, and we haven’t figured out how to not massacre each other. The whole thing should stop. It’s been a shitty experiment from the start, and we continue to get poor results. We’ll never kill enough. Our cruelty won’t buy us better selves. We’re piling up sticks, hoping to climb to the Sun.

And then I think about how this happened in the US. Of course I care. Of course I cry. This hurt my world. 50 dead is a slow day for American Empire, but those are exported deaths. They happen in those other places where people are supposed to die. So no rush to end the horror. No hurry to mourn. No solidarity. No special Facebook posts. Fuck the species.

But we have these 50 dead, and they’re ours. Their faces come up on all my news feeds, and I can’t stand to look at them. They’re these human faces, not that different than mine, but I know there aren’t people there anymore. We failed those people, so they don’t get to be here anymore. We can read about them, learn how they lived their lives, understand their struggles, triumphs, pains, and joys. But we’re too late. We’re coming to know phantoms. I hate seeing their faces. I should never have seen their faces. But we failed, so all we have left is remembering.

And there’s Omar Mateen. I’ve been looking at his face a lot. He seems pretty typical, kinda broey, maybe goofy sometimes. And I want to see his face as a human face. I want to know that he loved and hurt and hoped. I want to imagine him smiling and dancing. His evil is all too obvious, but it isn’t the totality. I don’t want to look at his face and think “monster.” There are no monsters. There are human beings doing human evil. Omar Mateen was a human being, fully and grotesquely.

So, as lucky as I am to not be one of the 50 dead, I am just as lucky to not be Omar Mateen. He was as human as the rest of us. What was in him is also in you and me. Homophobia, racism, misogyny, hate, violence, murder. That’s us. That’s from us and in us and sustained by us. There are no monsters to fight. We only have human problem and the hope that we can solve those problems.

I don’t believe that love wins. At least not automatically. Love isn’t some external force that will propel us toward harmony, peace, understanding, and whatever. It’s all us. It’s all on us. Maybe we’re good enough. Maybe we aren’t. There’s no way to tell in advance. What a shit show of a species.

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Press the Red Button for More Red Button

A while ago, I decided to do a full play-through of the Mass Effect series. I’m not a big fan of the games overall, but my roommate was playing Mass Effect 3, and I found myself inescapably enticed by that old combination of shiny space stuff, shooting robots in the face, and watching numbers go up. Hackneyed dialogue be damned! I was gonna be a super cool space-soldier with a super cool space-brain! Also, gritty. I was gonna be soooooooooo gritty.

And there I was, going to town with all my space-guns and mind powers. A bunch of stuff blew up, and thousands of robot babies became orphans. Then it was dialogue time. One of the dialogue options was Red for Renegade. My Jane Shepard is totally Renegade, so I hit the red dialogue option. I said a bunch of tough, cool Renegade stuff, got some XP, and became even more Renegade. Since I became more of a Renegade, I could pick the red option during the next dialogue, say a bunch tough, cool Renegade stuff, get some XP, and become even more Renegade. That lead to the next dialogue where I could pick the red option, say a bunch of tough, cool Renegade stuff, get some XP, and become even more Renegade…

Robo gritty

Robo gritty

But then I came to the point in Mass Effect where we meet the rachni queen. She’s a giant, psychic space-bug. Obviously, that’s pretty awesome. However, she and her potential offspring might be an existential threat to the entire galaxy. Less awesome. Fortunately, there’s a container of acid I can use to turn her into harmless bug soup. Easy solution? Maybe, but that would be akin to genocide since the queen is the last living rachni. I have to either let the queen go or kill her. What’s a Shepard to do? It’s a very grey situation both logistically and ethically. Even with the best intentions, this is a difficult choice to navigate. 

At the bottom of the screen, though, I see my dialogue wheel. It tells me that letting the queen go is a Paragon action, and killing the queen is a Renegade action. Now I have a different consideration. My Shepard is a Renegade. I’ve been making Renegade decisions up to this point, and I want to make more Renegade decisions in the future. So, to get as much as I can out of the Renegade path, I should dump acid all over the rachni queen. On the other hand, maybe genocide is a bit much. Renegade is one thing, but my Shepard probably isn’t Space-Hitler.

Plus, I think she's cute

Plus, I think she’s cute

How should I make this decision, then? I don’t want to be evil, but I do want to keep the galaxy safe. I do want my Renegade points, but I don’t want to betray my vision of Shepard. The whole thing’s a big mess, and, as far as I can tell, the only way to approach it coherently is to disregard some of those concerns. I can either weigh the situation as it exists in the fictional moment, or I can weigh the metafictional matters of my character’s stats and authoring my vision for Shepard. These are categorically different types of concerns, so, to my eyes, there’s no way deal with them all at the same time.

And I find that pretty frustrating. The game falls into conflict with itself, and that, in turn, puts me in a strange double bind. It isn’t just that the decision is difficult, but rather, when considered in its entirety, the decision is incoherent. If it were just a matter of choosing whether to free the rachni queen or kill her, that would be totally fine. It’s a fairly meaty choice and gives you an opportunity to author/discover something interesting about your Shepard. But adding the Renegade-Paragon system confounds things. Fundamentally, the choice between Renegade and Paragon is a choice about stats, a choice about what kind of XP you get. Most of the time, that decision maps fairly well onto other decisions about what kind of person your Shepard is. In this case, though, the decisions don’t mesh. It becomes apparent, at least to me, that authoring my vision for Shepard and choosing between Renegade or Paragon are not the same thing.

Which totally sucks because Mass Effect definitely wants me to do both of those things. It wants me to express my Shepard by picking dialogue options, and it wants me to accumulate Renegade or Paragon XP by picking dialogue options. In this situation, the game wants me to do both things simultaneously but makes it impossible for me to do so. And that isn’t to say that the choice itself is impossible. I can and have decided what to do about the rachni queen, but that decision was only partly an in-play decision. I also had to decide what parts of play I cared about. Did I care more about authoring my Shepard or about getting the right kind of XP? That’s a choice about how to play the game, not a choice that results from playing the game.

Any maybe that’s a trivial choice. Maybe it’s really easy to figure out your priorities and go on with the rest of the game. Deal with that tiny bit of discord, and move on. No harm, no foul. But it still irks me. It’s a tiny, completely avoidable failure of design and only seems to exist because mechanics were put where they don’t need to be. It isn’t as though Mass Effect’s dialogue system or the Renegade-Paragon system are fundamentally broken. But they each do particular things and inform play in particular ways. In the case of the rachni queen, they speak with different voices. One says “This thing with the rachni queen is pretty important, right? What’re you gonna do?” The other says “So, do you want more Red Button or more Blue Button?”

Remove the Renegade-Paragon component, and the situation works fine. This is one of those moments in video games where the choice itself is system enough. There’s no need to further “mechanize” it. Let an alignment system do its work in other places. When it comes to weighty decisions, though, write them well, invest players, give us stakes, and the rest takes care of itself.

Oh, and I obviously freed the rachni queen. Jane Shepard isn’t a monster.

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Je Suis

There is an intuition in the progressive mind (or at least in my progressive mind) to respond to violent tragedy with “Sure, that was awful, but…” It’s an intuition that aims toward nuance. It’s a check against common sense explanations for why violence happens. It’s an ingrained desire to look at chaotic, terrible situations and say “There’s more going on here than what’s on the surface.” This is a useful and well-founded intuition.

So, following the terrorist murders at the Charlie Hebdo offices, we get many responses grounded in that intuition. “Murder is never excusable, but…” “Terrorist attacks are completely appalling, but…” “Free expression is incredibly important, but…” We want to find the nuance in the situation. We want to express complication because the situation is complicated. And so, we qualify our statements. We hedge our condemnation. We back off a bit.

As well-intentioned as this intuition might be, I think it leads us astray in this instance. This is a complicated situation, no doubt, but we can embrace and address that complication without watering down our condemnation of violence and terror. To say that something is awful “butis to imply, however slightly, that it’s less awful than something else, that it’s understandable given the circumstances, or that it’s part of the way we should expect the world to work. “It’s terrible, but…” is the beginning of all victim-blaming, and we should never accept that.

Instead, “It’s terrible, and…”

  • “Murder is inexcusable, and French society treats Muslims like shit.”
  • “Freedom of expression is vitally important to civil society, and Charlie Hebdo used grotesque racial caricatures in some of its cartoons.”
  • “Violent, extremist Islamic ideology is a problem, and Western foreign policy murders a lot of innocent people in the Middle East.”
  • “We should stand in solidarity for a free press, and many governments are utterly disingenuous in their support for the press.”

Maybe this is just some linguistic nitpicking, but I think there’s some substance in such a distinction. “It’s terrible, but…” undercuts moral condemnation by offering a wider context. “It’s terrible, and…” simply offers the wider context. It’s a way of considering multiple factors at the same time without judging their relative importance or moral veracity. There are plenty of times when we need to pull back and question our immediate moral intuitions. In those instances, additional context can change what we care about and how we care about it. Context changes the game. In other cases, our moral intuitions are pointing in a good direction but our view is too narrow. Then additional context just gives us more to care about.

As far as I can tell, the Charlie Hebdo murders fall into the latter category. Condemning the attack and supporting freedom of expression is good. That’s a great place for concern to be. In the periphery of the attack, though, there’s a lot of other things to care about, and we need to care about all of them to make any real forward progress. Ensure freedom of expression, and embrace the humanity of Muslims. Oppose violent, extremist Islam, and hold Western governments accountable for their violence. Mourn the loss of artists, and fight the racism ingrained in our society. We do ourselves no favors by thinking, explicitly or implicitly, that such values are in opposition to each other. These aren’t either-or situations. It isn’t a zero-sum game.

#jesuischarlie, and we have a lot of other shit to fix.


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I Have a d12 in “Four-sided Triangles”

Question: how do you represent luck in a role-playing game? Let’s assume this is a fairly typical role-playing game. You roll dice to determine the outcome of certain events in the fiction. Rolling high gets you the result you want, so it’s better to have more dice and bigger dice. Given these parameters, how do we represent a character’s good fortunes?

Common wisdom has it that we represent luck with some kind of probability manipulation. Many games approach this by allowing players to add dice to their rolls, reroll some dice, alter target numbers, or some similar mathematical tricks. Depending on the game, these rules are part of a player-directed economy, contextually activated, or invoked according to a GM’s judgment. Regardless of the particulars, this makes a certain kind of sense, right? When luck kicks in we’re more likely to get the things we want. Good things happen to lucky people. That’s what we generally mean when we talk about luck, yeah?

No. I’m pretty sure that’s bullshit. In such games, having better dice probabilities doesn’t mean a character is lucky; it means the character is better at doing things. A basic implication of this sort of dice mechanic is that a character’s competency is reflected in the probability that they will get a desirable outcome in their dice rolls. The inverse is largely true as well. A character whose dice are likely to produce a desirable outcome is, in effect, a competent character.

Consider the case of that reroll mechanic. My character is a fledgling warrior, new to the battlefield and barely able to swing an axe. Fortunately, my character also has a trait called ”Lucky.” This trait periodically allows me to reroll some of my dice. When I invoke the trait and make the reroll, I’m doing so because it makes me more likely to get a desirable dice result. That’s what the trait does, so there’s no other rational reason to use it. When my character fights an opponent who, by most measures, is a superior combatant, you can be damned sure I’m going to invoke Lucky as often as I can. And that has nothing to do with representing luck in the fiction. It’s entirely a matter of making my character more competent.

In the right hands, a truly deadly weapon.

In the right hands, a truly deadly weapon.

So, why do we have this dissonance? Why do we try to represent luck but end up representing character competency? Is it just impossible to accurately present luck in a role-playing game? Maybe, but I don’t think this is a problem with luck itself. It’s an issue with how we tend to approach representation in role-playing games. It’s a matter of what it even means to represent things in role-playing games.

To put it as abstractly as possible (‘cause, ya know, that’s super useful), these traditional means of representing luck aren’t actually representing luck; they’re representing the idea of luck. We have this general notion that luck has something to do with probability, something to do with happenstance, something to do with surprise, and that it’s beneficial. What happens when we map those qualities onto the typical tools of role-playing design? We get rerolls, altered target numbers, situational modifiers, roll two keep the best, and any number of other probability manipulations. These rules are very thin metaphors, almost tongue-in-cheek jokes. “Wow, it sure is lucky for your character that you have more dice! Amirite!?” This is a way of paying lip service to a nebulous sense of luck without presenting a real vision for what luck is.

It’s my stance, though, that we can no more represent a generic version of “luck” than we can represent a generic version of “the sword swing.” The act of representation will automatically impart specificity and meaning, as in the case of a reroll mechanic. We can call that reroll “luck” all we want, but if it’s only connected to dice that represent character competency, then it isn’t luck at all; it’s just character competency. If we want to represent luck, a sword swing, a magic fireball, courtly intrigue, the high jump, orkish sexual practices, cooking a good meal, or anything else, then we have to decide what those things are. We have to make declarations about how they exist in our fiction. There’s room for nuance and certain kinds of ambiguity, but we have to have fairly distinct concepts. Without a distinct concept to point at, without a solid point of reference, our representations have nothing to hang on. A representation might inadvertently align with our imaginations, but, unless we have a distinct referent, there’s no reliable way to craft our representations. We can rely on the historically accepted methods of designing role-playing rules, but I’m less than thrilled with how that tends to play out.

Which leads me to the general subject of representation in role-playing rules. I don’t intend, nor am I able, to catalog all the ways we might approach representation, but there is one idea I want to press forward: representation emerges from the structure of our rules, not from our desires for those rules. Aside from being a bit overwrought, what the fuck does that mean? As I mentioned above, representation automatically imparts meaning. Consider the almost ubiquitous case of physical damage rules. A goblin draws a rusty dagger and rushes toward you, tiny dreams of murder gleam in his eyes. In some games, this is cause for real concern. A dagger to the belly could take your character most of the way to death’s door, maybe all the way. In other games, this is cause for a good chuckle. That goblin will have to stab you like twenty or thirty times before you really feel it, so you might as well finish your beer before you deal with him. In both cases we’ve established the same fiction, goblin with a rusty dagger and such, but the implications of that fiction, what it actually means in play, are vastly different depending on the rules. We could be facing a murderous threat or a comic relief gag, and it depends almost entirely on the context established by the rules.

That might be an obvious point, but it has broad implications. If we try to insist that the goblin is a frightening foe when he is, by virtue of his abilities, actually a minor nuisance, then something about the situation will fall flat. It’s like treating a curb as though it’s a dangerous cliff. Even if we want to, it’s going to be hard to honor that arrangement. There’s something false about it, something that pits us against our own integrity. And that’s going to be the case whenever our desires for a representation clash with what the representation actually does: the deadly goblin that’s really a wimp, luck that’s really competence, a mighty wizard who can’t seem to cast a spell, a housecat capable of killing an adventurer.

Something has gone very, very wrong. But I'm getting an awesome workout for my glutes!

Something has gone very, very wrong. But I’m getting an awesome workout for my glutes!

This dissonance doesn’t make play impossible, but it does burden us in a particular way. When the rules and the fiction don’t agree about what’s true, we have to do a sort of second-order storytelling. We have to search for rationale, probably post-hoc, to make the whole experience coherent. I think of this as playing pretend about playing pretend. In the case of the goblin, we have to pretend the goblin is a real thing doing real things (the basic storytelling exercise), and then we have to pretend, contrary to what the rules tell us, the goblin is a threat (the second-order storytelling). Imagine something similar for any rule that doesn’t align with the fiction. We might have to pretend that a competency rule is a luck rule, that a punishment rule is a reinforcement rule, that a very safe rule is something risky, or that a pittance is a grand reward.

Is this kind of play wrong? I don’t know. I can imagine people enjoying it, but it also triggers a lot of warning bells for me. The whole arrangement is unstable and requires two incompatible streams of thought. We can roll along for a little while, but eventually the goblin stabs someone. Then we see he’s only rolling a d4 for damage, and the whole thing falls apart. We’ll either have to pretend way harder (in a way that further contradicts the rules or the fiction’s integrity) or admit that our play has, in some way, been false.

It’s not that our rules need to simulate a reality in any strict way, but we do need to be aware of what our rules do and how they affect the context of play. In the same way that our fiction has meaning and implications which we must engage, our rules are a source of meaning. When our rules are discordant, the meaning of our play becomes discordant, and when we have to ignore or maneuver around rules, we lose something of real value.


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Green People are People & Murderers are Murderers

So, murder hobos. You know what they look like. There’s this big, bad adventuring party, and, man, they just don’t give a fuck. There’s no threat too small to be met with unrelenting violence. There’s no enemy who can’t be utterly demonized. There’s no amount of suffering and strife that can’t be marginalized and ignored. These mother-fuckers have shit to do, and anything or anyone who gets in their way is scum to be ground beneath their boots.

I think most of us have played like this at one time or another. And damned if it wasn’t really fun sometimes. We get to run around and wreck shit with absolute abandon. Blood, guts, screaming, and fire. Always fire. What better way to solve a problem than to light it on fire?

We probably meant to do that.

We probably meant to do that.

Taking a step back, though, making some distance between myself and that fun, here’s what I’m going to say about the whole murder hobo thing: please don’t play like that. This is a request to myself, to my friends, and to everyone else who plays role-playing games. I would like you to reject that kind of play. It’s bad. Definitely bad. Maybe evil.

But I guess that’s kind of a big thing to say. Can a mode of play be morally problematic? Even evil? That might not be immediately obvious, so let me go into a bit more detail.

I’m not rendering judgment on fictional content or subject matter, not as such. Games can be as nasty and violent as they please, and there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that. We can play games where we pillage, murder, rape, terrorize, assassinate, commit acts of genocide, or mix all those together into a great, big atrocity salad. That is entirely legitimate subject matter to present in fiction. No problem there.

What I am going to render judgment on, though, is a particular way of engaging that subject matter. Put simply, we shouldn’t be flippant about ethically relevant subjects. When we unleash our murder hobos and have them lay waste to an unsuspecting world, we’re presenting ethically relevant subject matter. It’s our responsibility, as people creating and experiencing fiction, to engage that subject matter in a way that respects its importance.

In case that’s overly abstract, I’ll give you a concrete example. Let’s say our adventuring party has been hired to exterminate the local orc tribe. The game text tells us that orcs, a type of intelligent, sapient creature, are evil. Actually, it tells us they are Evil. This is a firm category distinction. Given that our adventurers are, on the whole, decent members of their society, they have no real qualms with wiping out a group of Evil creatures. The village burns and the tribe along with it, slaughtered down to the last tiny orclet. The adventurers receive their payment, and the governor who hired them rests easy.

That’s a perfectly reasonable series of events. It’s standard adventure fiction and makes for fairly engaging play. Here’s the thing, though. The adventurers, when they destroyed the orc tribe, committed a genocide. There’s no way around that. They set out to eliminate an entire group of people. Moreover, they were paid. They did genocide for hire. I don’t care if the game text says orcs are Evil. I don’t care if the adventurers were certain of the righteousness of their task. I don’t care if the orcs were armed to the teeth. I don’t care if orcs have green skin and really, really gross faces. It was a fucking genocide.

Some of them are even ruggedly handsome.

Some of them are even ruggedly handsome.

Given this fiction, we, the players, basically have two ways to engage. We can acknowledge what’s happening in the fiction, see the genocide and address it as such, or we can ignore what’s going on. And guess what, only one of those options is defensible. There’s only one responsible and ethically coherent way to engage with fiction about genocide. We acknowledge the genocide, treat it as the intensely relevant subject that it is, and make that acknowledgement an active part of our experience. If we don’t make that engagement (and here’s a potentially bold proclamation), then we are creating fiction which, at best, ignores the reality of genocide or, at worst, defends genocide as a practice. In either case, we’re doing something flatly unacceptable.

Too much? Was that completely out of proportion for a game about elves and goblins? I don’t think so, but let’s hit this from another angle. Let’s back off from nazis and orcs. Consider sexism. Consider a game whose setting features a lot of sexism. Maybe it’s a kind of pseudo-historical rendition of medieval Europe (exotic!). Women are expected to feel ashamed of their vaginas, suck all available cocks, birth a mountain of babies, and die unobtrusively (that order is prefered but not mandated). Sexism is alive and obvious.

How should we engage this fiction? Should we avoid the sexist content? Should we play enlightened characters who seek to undermine the sexism in their culture? Maybe. Those could be legitimate ways to play. But I don’t think we have to play like that. We could play characters who are utterly typical in their sexism. Or we could play as super-sexists, a bunch of assholes who wear their misogyny on their sleeves. That could also be legit. The particulars of our fiction are less important than the ways in which we frame the fiction (though there’s also plenty of reason to care about the particulars). It’s the difference between featuring content and normalizing content. We can have sexism in our fiction. There’s nothing automatically wrong with that. What would be wrong, however, is treating the sexism like it isn’t a problem. If the sexism exists without critique, explicit or implicit, then we’ve created sexist fiction.

That’s how it is for all morally relevant content. If our fiction features racism without critique, then our fiction is racist. If our fiction features transphobia without critique, then our fiction is transphobic. If our fiction features classism without critique, then our fiction is classist. Fill in the blanks with whatever ism you prefer. It’s gonna work the same every time. Featuring content without critique normalizes that content and gives it tacit approval.

This means, for better or worse, we have some obligations. As caring, sensitive, responsible, non-asshole authors, we have to find ways to interact with this content. We have to be conscious about our craft. We have to confront all those difficult isms. We have to give a shit about what we’re doing when we play. Alternately, we can try to avoid this content altogether. That’s hypothetically possible, I suppose, but I have no idea what that fiction looks like. Fiction without morally relevant content. Good luck.

So, does this mean no murder hobos? Maybe. I dunno. At the very least we can’t pretend our murder hobos are flawless heroes. We can’t ignore their awfulness. Let them be as terrible as you like, but don’t act like they aren’t terrible. That isn’t always easy, of course. We all have habits and ingrained ways of thinking. It takes effort to counteract that shit, and we’re bound to fail from time to time. We’re bound to make bad fiction sometimes. Totally sucks, but that’s just how it’s going to be. The important thing is that we’re making a real effort, that we’re doing our best to play responsibly and with integrity.

Oh, and I don’t care if your murder hobos are “ironic.” That’s bullshit. When you play that way you’re basically saying “I want to engage in shitty behavior, but I’m going to maintain an emotional distance from that behavior so I don’t feel bad about it.” There’s nothing defensible about that. It might feel better than being outright awful, but it’s still pretty awful. Don’t do it.


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So, What’s Going on Here?

Hey, you. I’m Justin, and this is my blog. Welcome. I’m glad you’re here and hope you come back regularly.

But why would you come back? Sure, this first post is all snappy, cute, and cool, but what’s going to happen here in the future? What will I write? What will you read? Will you laugh? Will you cry? Will you bleed?

Maybe some of that. Maybe all of it. Maybe none. I dunno. This will be my blog, the blog of me. I don’t have a single subject. I do have a lot of interests, though, and I’ll probably write about them all. In short: games, game design, fiction, ethics, gender politics, queer culture, feminism, skepticism, secular politics, comics, geek culture, mental health, and whatever else seems important in my head.

Are you interested in some of that stuff? Do you want to read what I write about that stuff? Great! You’re in exactly the right place.

The basic plan is to have one post every week or so. For the time being, I’m not going to publish new posts on a set day each week. My writing schedule isn’t regular enough to make that happen. When I do set a day, though, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

But for now, why don’t you check out the first actual post and see if you’re interested in what I’m doing. Again, thanks for showing up, and I hope you come back.

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