Convergence in Gaming

Convergence in Gaming

Yesterday's post may have been a bit unfair to Euro's. Having played games like Small World I know that a number do involve direct conflict and strategy, and that far from all of them are "parallel solo" games.

Nevertheless, there is a degree of focus on economic engines and indirect conflict, if any at all, that in degree and depth is markedly different from older hobbyist games like AH wargames, the original Steve Jackson minigames, and the games TSR sold in addition to D&D like Awful Green Things from Outer Space. And even the heavy gamers who tended to play euro and euro-adjacent hobby boardgames were not typically the kind to break out Ogre, Advanced Squad Leader, Commands and Colors, etc.. Though a fair number of people would break out Memoir 44, and mini-based games like Warhammer, Warmachine, and Malifaux, even those didn't have as broad an appeal in the gaming groups I hung out in.

The economic aspect, when played reactively and strategically, can be fun, i.e., not parallel solo.

The thing is, what originally inspired the "not even once" remark from my friend was the goings-on surrounding GMT games and Scramble for Africa.

But let's back up a bit.

One of the things we've seen in the gaming community is the SJW convergence within it. The first and most thorough infiltration was arguably role-playing games, and I'd argue that it goes back to at least Vampire, the Masquerade. One of the things in the boardgaming hobby, at least in the states, is that while there are a number of RPG-only players, there is a lot of overlap with the boardgaming side of things.

The thing is that, because the wargamers tended to be a more ornery lot and less about fluffy cooperative games and non-confrontation, while a number of us wargaming types also played the Euros and general hobbyist games, very few of them played hardcore wargames. But within the last few years, they've begun to notice the non-PC nature of wargames, where people might actually play the bad guys. And where designers have unsafe opinions.

And they not only don't like people who don't hew to the usual leftist cant, but can't let go. If a person is bad, they don't want that person to be part of the public square. Drive them out of their industry and livelihood. And if they pop their head up, ban and hound them again.

Lest you think I'm kidding, miz ironic cowboy herself and others will likely be giving depositions under oath related to their ongoing drama over Bill Webb. What ongoing harassment you ask? Wellllll... Steve Jackson Games announced on April 1st that they were (no kidding) working with Frog God games to create supplements for their recently re-released The Fantasy Trip. The problem is that Bill Webb of FGG is persona non grata after allegations of sexual abuse/harassment at Paizocon a couple years back. Allegations having no charges associated with them, spread by the usual crowd of social "justice" "warriors" like the aforementioned miz cowboy her own self, who has a history of getting into "sexism" related drama. And Bill Webb and FGG have instituted changes to address the issue anyway - as if it would help - and apologize - which SJW's take as an admission of guilt.

Check out around minute 58 for some details...

Yes, in addition to the whole Vic/Anime kerfluffle, we have another victim of the allegations/point-and-screech crowd not being allowed any peace or livelihood under the community they have deemed their own. Two years later, after already getting him booted as GOH at a con, they're still trying to shun him out of anything and everything, including the opportunity to work with SJ Games. Fortunately, as mentioned in the vid above, he's lawyered up:

As Bradford Walker put it:

That's right, some of the most insufferable SJWs in tabletop RPGs are finally getting dragged into court. Beard, Harris, Bullock & Hughes of Texas are suing B.J. Hensley, Stacey Dellaforino, Jessica Price and Christopher Helton on behalf of Frog God Games. Steve Jackson Games are 100% behind FGG. All the fun I'm having watching Mark Waid all but kill himself in his suit vs. Richard Meyer, while Vic's foes do their best impression of Starscream just before Megatron bitchslaps him, will soon be had in the realm dearest to my heart: tabletop RPGs.

And, getting back to what I mentioned earlier, they've noticed real wargames, and the people that design them.

You may remember my post about IQ and an SJW rage mob that was incensed at Excalibre Games. Someone was trying to stir up a crowd because a game designer that was publishing work through Excalibre was "racist" for citing, as he put it, "science", that black people are less intelligent than white people.

2019-02-02-13_39_25--48-MeWe---The-Next-Gen-Social-Network---Brave

Yah, the same moron who ended up posting a link to the APA summary of their current position, which is "yes, on average, these differences do exist."

This is what they were trying to boycott a company over, and render a person unemployable over.

So, back to GMT. The company with which I have a love-hate relationship due to the difficulty of obtaining any good game after I've actually had a chance to playtest it. If they have what looks like a good idea, they put it on the P500 list, and if enough people commit with hard earned cash to break even, they print a bunch of copies. If the game is good - the extra copies rapidly disappear. Think of it as an early version of kickstarter.

So, they ended up placing a game called "Scramble for Africa" on the P500 list for consideration. From what I can find, as it's now been pretty scrubbed, it's basically a light, abstract 3X (explore, expand, exploit, not exterminate) based on the rush to explore and exploit Africa in the colonial era. Unlike the majority of their games, this was a lighter, euro-type game.

Things did not go well.

The short version is that people brought up "Concerns" about how the game was "problematic" because of, as they saw it, how it whitewashed and/or made light of the evils of European colonialism. As a result, GMT pulled the game off the P500 list. This means that a game that had been vetted for mechanics. art, etc., will never get to see the light of day after people had been told they can bid to buy it.

Here's a reply from them to someone I know - credit where it's due it doesn't appear to be a form letter.

Thanks for taking the time to write and share your feedback. I share your disappointment. This WAS a tough decision, and I knew when I made it that it was a "lose-lose" in the near-term. I've had numerous letters like yours in the past 24 hours (though most angrier than yours in tone), and short-term, this is clearly not going to be much fun. I share their concerns about "caving" and public censorship and and hate that we became a target of that in this instance. But the situation was more difficult than that. We've stood up against censorship of various games over the years and will do so in the future. So what was the difference this time?

In this case, certainly there was a lot of outrage directed at us, the designer, and the game from the PC crowd. But the level of that outrage/controversy wasn't really at the heart of the issue for me. It was the treatment of the game we had to deal with to face the controversy. If this were a COIN game or Labyrinth, we'd have so many ways at our disposal to make sure we address a broad spectrum of social, political, and military aspects of the conflict. Or if it were a game about a war that we marketed to our core wargame audience, very few would have issues because we understand that in wargames, we often abstract many social, economic, and political aspects to focus on studying strategy and tactics. But after some strong supporters and close friends came to us privately (which I respect and listen to WAY more than I do the online noise from people who care more about their issue than they do about GMT) and explained carefully what the big issues were with Scramble, it was clear to me, on closer inspection of the game, that the treatment (euro, 3X, family-oriented, quick-play) just didn't leave us the tools we needed to provide the kind of broader look at the subject that was needed. Without those tools, we had a eurogame that appeared (to much of the eurogamer crowd, which was the target market for the game and a market that the game needed to make its P500 #s, as we don't get a lot of support for euros from our core wargamer base) to shrug at the suffering in Africa during the period and focus on the colonial competition. So what we faced was a rising controversy that had potential to seriously hurt our overall brand and a game system that didn't give us really any good tools to work with to address the desires of the market the game was aimed at. In that situation, Tony, Andy, Rachel, and I all agreed this was the best course, and the designer concurred.

As I worked through the controversy over the past few weeks, trying to listen and understand it, I realized that in the beginning after I looked at Scramble and told Joe I thought we could sell it (that's always something that's part of our game eval, naturally), I both misread the market and didn't look carefully enough at the game treatment, It is that nexus of a "breezy, 3X, let's get the highest score, eurogame" treatment with a serious perhaps controversial subject that I should have caught (and Andy Lewis or I almost always do at that stage). Totally my mistake, and the moment I realized it I knew I had to cancel the game - because there was just no way to make minor changes that would have fixed it. It needed a complete overhaul, which would have taken months or years, during which the game would have still been on the list basically lying to our customers about what it was. I couldn't do that. So my first (private) apology was to Joe. I let him down in this case. He's a classy guy, so you'll probably never hear him say that in public, but I'm kicking myself because I should have taken a deeper dive on this before we accepted the game. At least one result of my mistake was this big controversy which was beginning to have a negative impact on some of our other designers and their games. We couldn't allow that to happen.

In the future, for whatever (comparatively few) eurogames we do, I think we're going to have to be a lot more discerning up front about topic and treatment, before we add a game to P500. Beyond that, I believe that getting right back to work - as we're already doing - on the many great historical wargames/strategy games created by our other 50+ design teams - is what's needed. This decision certainly has consequences - and part of that is that more than a few of our long-term wargame customers are varying degrees of unhappy with us right now. My belief - and hope - is that continuing our mission and producing plenty more games that our customers enjoy (starting in a month or so with C&C Medieval, Gandhi, and The Last Hundred Yards) will remind people over time of who we are and what we're about.

I hope this is helpful. Thanks again for sharing your feedback.

Best Regards,

Gene

You'll note that they decided it wasn't a good fit for the eurogame market. They explained it in more words than needed, but it boils down to them pulling the game because for the eurogame market, they discovered that the customer base can't work in historical contexts that violate current-year approved concepts. How dare they make anything but a serious wargame about behavior that is unapproved now? Kids actually might learn about real history if they like the game!

So they're going to be "more circumspect" about what future euros they put out. Topic and treatment, lest they offend. I am not entirely sure if the people at GMT think the offence being taken is justified or not.

Discussion over at BGG before the thread got locked 42 pages later....

This part was funny:

Commenting on that in other forae:

In which an RPG Yute and fake wargamer learns that what he thinks is inconceivable has already been done. I'm going to so enjoy him learning that the author of the obscenity which is the game Train was perpetrated by someone on his ideological side.

I'm not sure it will help to pull the game. A lot of core wargamers including the guy who wrote in are an ornery lot and less concerned about PC. Their shelves are filling up, and now there's one more reason to not get a GMT game. In the meantime, the SJW's that were never part of their market looked at GMT, and discovered how horribly un-current-year their lineup is.

FWIW - the youtube video where I first came across this:

Also, good for a laugh:

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.