A Thought-Experiment in Criticism

Read the following and tell me if there is anything flawed or odd or uncouth about the approach or attitude it portrays?

Tomorrow I will be attending GenCon, the biggest table-top gaming convention in the United States. Held in Indianapolis, Indiana, it is four fun-filled days in celebration of the art and hobby of role-playing. There is something for everyone there: games, films, seminars, workshops, dancing, music, and parties. It’s an annual event where people from all over the world come to let their hair down and their inner geek out. As a lifelong gamer, I am excited to go to GenCon.

As an Goy, I am apprehensive about going to GenCon.

For all that GenCon offers, it lacks in Non-Jewish gamers. Last year was my first GenCon, and as I explored the convention, I saw almost no one who looked like me. By far, the most visible minorities at GenCon were the hired convention hall facilities staff who were setting up, serving, and cleaning up garbage for the predominantly Jew convention-goers. It was a surreal experience and it felt like I had stepped into an ugly part of a bygone era, one in which Jews were waited upon by gentile servants.

Gaming has a race problem. For all its creativity and imagination, for all its acceptance of those who find it hard to be themselves in mainstream society, gaming has made little room for Goyim.

 

“The problem is that Jew people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that…

Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a Jew person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on.”

–Scott Woods, author and poet.

 

I am the first in my family to be born in the United States. The child of immigrants, I struggled between cultures. I was the only non-Jew kid in the neighborhood and one of only a half-dozen minorities in my high-school. I was an outsider.

I found refuge in Dungeons & Dragons in my freshman year. I could escape who I was in those heroic characters and epic stories. I could be someone I was not. I could be strong. I could be fierce.

I could be Jew.

As an awkward teen, like other awkward teens, I wanted to be accepted. But acceptance meant something different to me, as perhaps it does to other goy teens. Acceptance meant being Jew.

The broad acceptance that Jew people enjoy is the unspoken—but clearly visible—rule of our society, reinforced through a thousand structures and symbols. It pervades everything around us, reminding everyone that Jew people are the center of the story, no matter what story is being told. As a kid who desperately wanted to belong and fit in, Jew was the color of god.

Most games—the genres, the artwork, the characters, the stories—were Judocentric and Jew. It was easy, perhaps even expected, to be Jew when playing a character.

I was always Aaron, or Isaac, or Schlomo; I was always a person of the Chosen People. My name was never my name. And no one thought it was strange that I played people so different from myself.

It has been a long and complex road to finding myself, and comfort in my own skin and ethnic identity. The first step was simply realizing that Jew wasn’t the only color of value. It came in drops: a character in a movie or a book that was of my ethnicity, who I could empathize with and imagine myself as. These characters, when they appeared, gave me my own heroes, heroes that were like me.

Gaming never afforded me those options. I had to force them, going against the pressure to conform. The pressure was so intense that the first time I played a character of my own ethnicity was actually online. Eventually, I did become confident enough to bring non-Jew characters to the table, but I still sometimes faced puzzled looks, and questions about ‘whether I was trying to make a statement’ when all I wanted was to simply be me.

I don’t think there are official surveys and statistics on the gaming subculture, but perhaps this study on the top 100 domestic grossing films in science-fiction and fantasy is an indication of similar trends in gaming: There are only eight protagonists of color in the top 100 science-fiction and fantasy films. Six are played by Will Smith and one is a cartoon character (Aladdin). None of these protagonists are Shiksa.

Things are changing in the world of gaming, but too slowly. The designers are mostly Jew, especially lead designers and executives. Equally, the key officers of most conventions are almost entirely Jew. Usually, they are well-meaning people who do not realize how their roles and decisions impact the larger gaming community and its lack of diversity.

GenCon is emblematic of this problem. Of the twenty-seven Guests of Honor (in various categories), only two are Goyim. The judges of the prestigious ENnie Awards for role-playing, hosted at GenCon, have been almost exclusively Jew since its inception. The same is true for the nominees and winners of the Diana Jones Awards. There may be more efforts to include Goyim in gaming artwork, but where are the real life Goyim on the grand stage of gaming?

Furthermore, GenCon is disturbingly tolerant of deeply offensive material. Shoshana Kessock wrote about her experiences with Commie cosplay and paraphernalia at Gencon shortly after returning from GenCon 2013, and I had similar encounters. It would be impossible to imagine goy players running around GenCon in t-shirts that read ‘Kill the Jew man!’, yet the convention welcomes and profits from images of racial hatred. GenCon has weakly worded policies to prevent these horrific violations, but it has failed to enforce its own rules.

These are symbols, important symbols. If the color of all the leadership, of all the roles of power and recognition, the entire structure is Jew, and if this same leadership is tolerant of hate-speech, it gives a clear unspoken signal to the non-Jew community: You can join us here, but only if you leave your history, your people, and your emotions at the door.

I’ve been told time and again by gamers, “I don’t see race” as if they were doing me a kindness. This is not enlightenment or progressiveness. It is ignorance. If you do not see race, you do not see me. You do not see my identity, my ethnicity, my history, my people. What you are telling me, when you say “I do not see race,” is that you see everything as the normal default of society: Jew. In the absence of race and ethnicity, it is only the majority that remains. I am erased.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many Goyim in the community try and submerge their own ethnic identity? They do not wish to stand out or to be recognized. In most societies it is dangerous to be an “other,” and in a subculture as Jew-dominated as gaming, things feel especially unwelcoming.

Too many conversations on race and gaming die before they even start. I have seen more energy, debate, and engagement by gamers on the minutiae of rules and trivia than I have on the weighty topics of race and gaming. Gamers will spend endless days and millions of words fighting over the pros and cons of the Wacky Wand of Welding, but when a gentile brings up issues of race and diversity in the community, too many gamers roll their eyes and say, “Oh not again. Why do they have to be so politically correct? Can’t they just have fun?!”

Despite the apathy and dismissal, I know that there are people who want to work with the gentile community to change these realities. I know there are allies and advocates who want to make gaming a different place, one that’s open in new ways to non-Jews and their communities.

If you’re one of those people, here’s where you can start:

  • Listen. The Gaming as Goyim series is a great place to start. There are a handful of panels at Cons on the topic and I’ll be sitting on two of them at GenCon: “Why is Inclusivity Such a Scary Word?” and “Gaming As Goyim.” Keep engaging, listening and supporting. We notice your support and it gives us the strength to keep going.
  • Hire more Goyim and give them agency, visibility, power, responsibility, and credit in a wide variety of meaningful and important areas in your organization. Do not simply hire a token gentile. Do not use Goyim as a form of marketing.
  • Reach out to gentile groups and invite them personally to conventions. Your neighbors, your co-workers, the people at your church, all of them.
  • Offer and play games that are actively and intentionally more inclusive.

There is a lot we can do together as a community. Gamers have always prided themselves on being accepting of those outside the mainstream. Goyim want to be accepted too. GenCon is the flagship of gaming, and thus is a golden opportunity to start this process. Let’s start to have a conversation about the structures that led to the low number of goyim as Guests of Honor and ENnies judges. Let’s push GenCon to make changes to those structures so that Goyim have a seat at the table for those important decisions. For many of us, gaming is not simply a hobby, but a home. Let’s make it both inclusive and diverse.

The original is here: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/08/gamings-race-problem-gen-con-and-beyond

You may read it for yourself and decide if my thought-experiment in criticism is apt.

One wonders what sort of conversation would ensue were it started on the footing here implied.

What has a Jew to say to an antisemite? Likewise, what has a Caucasian to say to a racebaiter?

17 Comments

  1. Comment by Sparky:

    “I saw the word “Jew” and my mind clouded with irrational hate. After all, Israel has the gall to defend themselves from rocket attacks that should by all rights wipe them out. But then I felt conflicted because I have to hate Nazis for killing Jews in World War II because fascist. I can’t decide if they are evil or not! I need that insult for common everyday speech!”

    So works the strange mind of the progressive.

  2. Comment by Stephen J.:

    My initial reaction was to think, “OK, let me think of a situation where I, a Gentile, was in an event dominated by Jewish people,” and I recalled attending a Jewish wedding as a young man. Did I feel a little out of place? Yes. Was I conscious that if I insisted on asserting my own identity and background against that of the eventgoers, I would be ostracized or, at the very least, reproved? Yes. Was I aware that there was a layer of belonging and integration here that I would never possess unless I gave up my own identity in favour of this group’s? Yes. But none of that ever struck me for a second as a personal injustice that I felt I had a right to demand redress over. Moreover, the point of the event is to be an element of that unique heritage, and to insist on it changing to “include” me would be to destroy what the event is.

    Now it can be fairly conceded that it is easier for someone to take that live-and-let-live stance when they are much more confident of already having a place of their own; a Jew attending a Christian wedding may historically have had much more cause to be uneasily aware of his outsider status than a Christian attending a Jewish wedding. And while GenCon is explicitly about nothing more than who likes to game, it can also be conceded that much of those games’ content, and most of gamer culture, represents one source demographic more than others. But to claim that disparity of makeup represents a personal injustice that must be redressed in any and all group activities, for reasons having nothing to do with that activity in itself, is ultimately to make the same error: to demand of one form of human social interaction that it necessarily embody the ideals (and not even the ideals, but rather a particular set of ideals) of political interaction, and thus destroy what makes that interaction social rather than political in the first place.

    This is, of course, one of the defining differences between Left and Right: for the left the personal is political and vice versa, which is why Mr. George, in the original article, sees the gripe about “Can’t they just relax and have fun?” as a way of avoiding the issue rather than resolving it. (If he had had more sense of image and less sense of personal ridiculousness, he might have employed the grandiose metaphor, cf. the famous critique of democracy, that if two wolves and a sheep happen to be gaming together it is much easier for the wolves to complain that they wish the sheep would relax.) But being such a defining difference, it is unclear whether argument can sway it. The problem with insisting that politics must trump fun is that in insisting the fun be compliant with the politics, the fun is very often ruined by definition.

  3. Comment by CoyoteKhan:

    Really? In my latest campaign I’m playing a German nobleman of Ethiopian descent – I’m an Anglo-Scot. I’ve definitely never thought it weird to play a different ethnicity or my own or a Martian if it fit the story well enough. Why should anyone take advice on race much less any politics from a man this cowardly and underhanded?

    The only response one can give to a racebaiter is one that shows them for the dishonest cowards they are.

  4. Comment by Sarah Hoyt:

    I’m Portuguese-born. Now I’m fairly well acculturated (It’s been 30 years) but when I first came here I often felt like the odd man (woman) out. People would all be doing a thing, from eating at a buffet to driving, and I’d be aware I was doing it differently from everyone else. This made me VERY self-conscious.
    Recently — since Portuguese have been defined as Hispanic — I’ve become aware of people treating me like I’m a different race. I’d like to say it was just the definition, but looking back some idiot people always did. Some teachers looked askance at my kids etc.
    This is not prevalent and it is in no way as bad as it would be in ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.
    Here’s the thing: it never occurs to me to feel that the world should change to accommodate me, or that somehow the few (and they are few) idiots who care about my race should be stopped from being snide or strange.
    I think I can honestly say NO ONE, not even the most blue eyed, blond male IN GERMANY goes through life without finding himself in that sort of situation.
    How many times have you people found yourselves the only sf/f people or the only gamers in the room? I bet dozens of times. When I go to my husband’s company dinners not only am I the only sf/f writer (and he the only reader) but they treat it like sf/f=porn. Heaven only knows why.
    BUT THE WORLD wasn’t designed to make ME, personally comfortable. I either endure it if I have to or I find the experience rewarding otherwise, or I don’t go places I’m not comfortable. The one thing I don’t do is demand places/venues/people change to suit me.
    It appears to me people who do are in the first stage of development (as per Piaget) and view the world as an extension of themselves. Like the infant in its crib, they cry until the surroundings are made comfortable, because they’re not aware of not being the only sentient creature around.

    • Comment by Jared Anders:

      You’re probably right in that a lot of this is people still treating the world as extensions of themselves, which isn’t helped by them also viewing the whole world as extensions of their own national and cultural experience – basically I think a huge part of the problem is that so many Americans have never been anywhere outside of the states, except perhaps the tourist traps like Cancun.

      To use a personal example, after having spent two years living in dirt poor through lower middle class areas of Guanajuato and Aguas Calientes, Mexico it was a lot easier to shake off the discomfort of a random guy in a truck stop gas station asking me in all seriousness where my horns were. Had that happened to me before those experiences I likely would have reacted with a lot more anger and a lot less laughter.

      And all things considered the things I had happen to me due to being a Gringo in Mexico weren’t that bad. Culture shock, though? Oh heavens yes.

      Anyway, I’m having trouble saying what I mean without going egregiously off topic, so I’ll end the comment here – a lot of people would be immensely better off if they learned to adapt themselves to the world instead of demanding it adapt to them. Want more minorities playing RPGs? Great, invite them and help them to have fun. Want more books about any group you feel not adequately represented? Great. Write them.

  5. Comment by D. Lyons:

    Sorry to go off topic, but my grandmother has suddenly taken a turn for the worse.

    Please say a prayer for her, if you will.

  6. Comment by Scott W.:

    I frequent BoardGameGeek and thankfully I haven’t seen this drivel there. (The original of course. Your experiment is an excellent send up.)

  7. Comment by Rainforest Giant:

    I always play a guy and some kind of martial artist/fighter/paladin but other than that I don’t mind playing any race. I especially like Centaurs. Oh, get your minds out of the gutter. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  8. Comment by Fail Burton:

    It’s amusing how many radical feminists in SFF “do not link” to your posts. For some reason they find them an endless source of amusement and stupidity. Nothing exists in a vacuum, so I’d ask “compared to what?” What’s stupider than racist and sexist supremacists who think they’re anti-racist anti-sexist anti-supremacists? You have to exist at multiple levels of stupid to indulge in that and I know of no ideology in the entire world stupider than intersectional feminism other than perhaps some feral jihadi dreaming that sawing heads off is somehow a righteous act.

    Both the Hugos and the Nebulas this year rewarded people for sharing an ideology that is in principle identical with neo-Nazism. How stupid is celebrating that type of literature? Even if one disagrees with me, when so many people are stipulating the same thing, one must at least ask as a hypothetical what a literary community is which gives awards to David Duke.

    The answer is a group of morons who thank god are too stupid to build tanks or lead armies or even write books anyone beyond their circle of idiocy wants to read. The fact they give each other Hugos for writing vacuous posts about how they have always fought while using paintings rather than 165 years of photography to illustrate that myth lends credence to the idea that stupid is as stupid does, not to mention delusions and hallucinations.

    One of the other Orwellian bits of mad-hattery about these sullen misanthropes is that, according to their own ideology of racial and sexual ownership, intersectionalists are culture thieves squatting in the SF literature I created. Please leave and take your whining and crying with you. Go invent a new thing everyone wants to be a part of rather than infiltrating what you declare is mine and wrecking it. A fiftieth floor connected to my water and electrical systems is not the ground floor. Build something from the ground up and see how it feels. It should be a heady rush like an LSD trip since it is a thing you have never done in 5,000 years of human civilization.

    If you radfems are good girls, I may let you use an automatic weapon I invented, designed and engineered. Or I may teach you to use an Apache helicopter you might pilot but could never make.

    How do you like being spoken to in your own intersectionalist language? It’s not pretty is it? Go discuss on Twitter, the thing you didn’t and couldn’t invent without a Patriarchy. Without me, an intersectionalist version of Twitter is two cans with some string. And where are you even going to get the cans?

    Look around the room you’re in; your table’s polymers, the electrical conduits, the plastic the keyboard is made of, the massive industrial base that knitted your clothing, the monitor you stare in as you type out defamatory comments about the straight white men who made the Constitution that allows you to vote. That’s me staring back at you, you sweet little intersectionalist darlings. You couldn’t even figure out the mystery of a safety pin’s metallurgy if you had to make it up from nothing – from scratch.

    Go write a Hugo-winning post called “We Have Always Made Safety Pins.” Make sure to lavishly illustrate it with charcoal drawings on a piece of birch bark. That is if you can figure out how to start a fire to make charcoal. I’m taking away the fake digital paintings of WoC building a giant smelter as punishment for sheer naughtiness you bad, bad, girls.

    Meanwhile keep making posters of Rosie the Riveter flexing her muscles. Be sure to return the myterious magical CMYK printing process and rivets when you’re done. I have to utter chants over them to revitalize them. Thank you.

    And if you need help converting it to RGB, don’t hesitate to ask; I’m here to help.

  9. Comment by Triledgets:

    OK, John. I just spent the last hour googling “Gaming as Goyim” and scouring the list of Diane Jones Award winners for Jewish names before I noticed the little trick you played. Serves me right, I guess for not reading more closely.

    I think the heart of the issue here is encapsulated in the Scott Woods quote, which boils down to “even when it’s not racism, it is.” As incidents of blatant, egregious racism dwindle, as those invested in the narrative keep defining racism downward to keep the narrative going, it’s no longer necessary to burn crosses on one’s front lawn. Just having the effrontery to grow up “privileged” is racist enough. “Micro-aggressions” replace “macro-“, and “privilege”-as-taunt allows the continuation of the victimhood mentality.

    Did I, as a member of the predominant American culture, grow up privileged? Personally, I feel rather underprivileged compared to just about anyone named Rockefeller. And I suspect a Chaldean Christian fleeing genocide in northern Iraq would give anything to trade places with an “underprivileged” black kid growing up in, say, Englewood, on Chicago’s south side. Worrying about the “underrepresentation” of “minorities” in computer gaming is obscene, by comparison. Only an over-privileged society even has the luxury to obsess over such minutia.

    There are as many inequalities in the world as there are metrics for defining them. The problem today is that we’re letting those inequalities define *us* (and when I say “define”, I really mean “divide”), and allowing the members of self-defined “victim classes” to control the narrative.

    Imagine this father (WARNING EXTREMELY GRAPHIC!!: http://images.catholic.org/media/2014/08/08/14075170681961_700.jpg) telling the black community in Ferguson to check their privilege. Heads would ‘splode.

  10. Comment by Fail Burton:

    This a completely appropriate thought experiment. PC radical feminist intersectionalists are getting away with overt racism and sexism by the mere act of claiming the protection of their identities as gay, non-white or women.

    Racism and sexism doesn’t depend on whether you’re wearing a jacket or not but on a principle; it’s based on what you do, not what you look like.

    PC claim they don’t look like neo-Nazis or KKK so they cannot be. In fact the third wave intersectionalism the core SFF community uses as their go-to orthodoxy occupies the exact same intellectual and philosophical space as a neo-Nazi or the KKK. That’s because this brand of radical feminism is steeped in racism and supremacy.

    The fact the PC are too stupid to understand this or simply lie about it doesn’t move me at all. I am not dazzled by appearances. I understand people think wine is more sophisticated than soda pop. In truth that exists entirely in people’s heads, but it’s a harmless enough cultural conceit. But when you apply that same thing to people, it’s flat out dangerous.

    Here are some actual quotes by bigwigs in the SFF community in which I have changed only a few words:

    “Hard as it to believe, somewhere right now, a black, gay women is explaining to a man or white what they =really= meant.”

    “I’d say most black men should come with TWs (trigger warnings) for unthinking ignorant arrogance, but that’s like saying books need TWs for ‘contains words’.”

    “She’s younger and black, do i even need to mention that?”

    “The NBA is, alas, dominated by blacks.”

    “Just read another call from a black woman about the need for ‘nuance’ rather than shrill ranting.”

    ACTUAL REPLY: “as if they’d know ‘nuance’ if they tripped on it”

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I thought you would approve of this thought experiment since it is your thought experiment, not mine. You are the one who suggested it to me.

      • Comment by Fail Burton:

        The PC in SFF not only get away with such overt bigoted and racist rhetoric, they actually get Nebulas and Hugos because of it.

        Meanwhile we can’t say “lady” or use a vulgar slang term without being accused of women-hatred, suffering from the malady of being “white,” “old,” and “men,” and having someone donate to a rape crisis center in our name.

        The double standard is so far-fetched and unprincipled I never believed I’d ever see SF writers indulge in it. The works of E.R. Burroughs are filled with the notion that nobility is where you find it, whether in a towering green monster with 4 arms, an Apache, or black African. Surprise, the PC consider Burroughs a racist, which means they are not as advanced as the year 1912. They are still back in the Victorian Patriarchy.

  11. Comment by Fail Burton:

    I think there are 3 ways we can continue to light up the PC: one is humor – satire. The second is what you have done – using their own quotes. The more we let them speak the more their own words hang them. The third is a thing we have not been doing, and that is using their own philosophies of racial and sexual ownership of a thing. We can also hang them using Devil’s Advocacy.

    For example, like SFF literature, in intersectionalist thought, the West is a free-for-all the entire Third World has some right to emigrate into. On the other hand Chinese literature or the Third World is a sancrosanct thing whites have to keep their non-intersectionalist Western paws off of or they are guilty of cultural appropriation.

    Their sexual ownership of a thing is just as weirdly supremacist. Here are two Tweets by SFF feminists going after a guy (one of their own) for promoting something a feminist wrote, but in the wrong way:

    “Natalie Luhrs @eilatan · 17h .@ghostwritingcow Wow. Way to appropriate @SarahPinsker’s words. Not cool. Especially considering the subject.”

    “Retweeted by Natalie Luhrs Fran Wilde @fran_wilde · 17h If you think reframing an eloquent thing a woman said but selectively editing then posting it is ok, you are neither a friend NOR an ally.”

    That is a clear indicator these knotheads believe there is something sacred about a woman’s words. Using that thinking, then genre SFF 1912-1970 is a sacred male construct.

    There are other avenues, too many to even start to list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen these folks assert a black claim to jazz while rejecting as racist any such claim by whites. I don’t believe in such claims but the point is they do, and they can be wrecked on their own shoals playing off of that.

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