aka – the mask slips off.

Bradford Walker pointed this… gem?… out the other day. He referred to the type as ‘fake gamer.”

Thoughts on inclusivity and the impossibility of being inclusive AND staying neutral

This post is not about the current recurring dumpster fire happening in indie gaming. Or rather, it’s not ONLY about that. This week, while all of this nonsense has been happening, I’ve also been dealing with a frustrating situation in a meatspace Magic: The Gathering group that is being taken over by Magic Bros – who are exactly the sort of dudes I initially joined this group to avoid having to play with.

So if you’re the sort of person to skip over posts about “online controversy”, I mean. Why are you following me? But also, I ask that you please sit with these thoughts a while.

1. Being inclusive means having to decide WHO TO EXCLUDE.

When you are making or managing a group space, gaming or otherwise, you are going to have to decide who you want to exclude. A lot of community organizers have this pie-in-the-sky idea that they want their space to be “safe and fun” for “EVERYONE”, but that is literally impossible.

If your space is safe and fun for racists, it is not safe and fun for PoC.
If your space is safe and fun for misogynists, it is not safe and fun for women and enbys.
If your space is safe and fun for homophobes, it is not safe and fun for queer people.

It IS NOT ENOUGH to say that you want your space to be welcoming and inclusive of women/nbs/minorities/etc without also being willing to actively define who is NOT welcome in your space.

2. Staying “neutral” is a vote for the male-dominated status quo

When you organize a space, if you opt not to take formal steps to support marginalized people in your space (IE implementing an anti-harassment policy, specifying a code of conduct, actively recruiting marginalized members and leaders, etc etc), you are siding with the male-dominated misogynist and racist status quo.

Saying that you want to stay “neutral” on “political” or “sensitive” topics sends a very clear signal to marginalized people that you will not back them up when they need support, because what you are saying is that marginalized people are not allowed to talk about their feelings.

By refusing to make a choice, you are choosing the safety and comfort of white guys over the safety and comfort of marginalized people. In other words, not making a choice of who to exclude IS ITSELF MAKING AN ACTIVE CHOICE of who to exclude.

3. What this looks like in the wild

This isn’t an issue unique to gaming. This is true of any group formed for any reason. For example,

When you allow police officers to march in the Toronto Pride Parade while in uniform, you are choosing to include police and to exclude minorities and Indigenous people whom the police violently oppress. Choosing to include minorities and Indigenous people requires excluding uniformed officers.

When your volunteer organization chooses to give power to a known missing stair and harasser, it is choosing to exclude women harassed by that missing stair and women who know about the missing stair and don’t want to be harassed. Choosing to include the victims of harassment and those who fear harassment requires excluding the missing stair.

When your company allows Nazis to freely use your platform to promote hate (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, TWITTER), you are choosing to exclude Jews, minorities, queer people, and all of those that the Nazis want to exterminate. Including Jews, minorities, and queer people requires excluding the fucking Nazis.

…but it’s also pretty fucking common in gaming. Here are some examples that I’ve personally experienced.

When your Magic league chooses to include a man who loudly, aggressively gets in a woman’s face when she has the temerity to say that she would have more fun if more women participated in the league, then makes her defend her lived experience while angrily disputing the need for harassment policies, you are choosing to exclude not only that woman, but other women who are looking for spaces to play Magic that are not overwhelmingly male and toxically masculine. Including those women requires telling the Magic Bro to behave or GTFO.

When your convention chooses not to implement a harassment policy, or adopts Wheaton’s Law (“don’t be a dick”) as their harassment policy, you are choosing to exclude women and NBs who have experienced harassment at conventions. Including women and NBs who have experienced con harassment requires excluding creepy con harassers.

When your gaming community chooses to include and promote a known bad actor who targets marginalized people, you are choosing to exclude marginalized people who have been targeted by the bad actor or who fear being targeted by the bad actor. Including those people requires excluding the guy who is known to be a bad actor.

TL;DR: If you are a community organizer, you are always choosing who you wish to exclude from your space, even if you don’t think you’re making any such choice.

I certainly wonder if the man “loudly” and aggressively getting on someones face was exaggerated somewhat because she was actually told no. I’ve watched women melt down because they weren’t given fulsome praise for a project where said praise would have been irrelevant. And hold a grudge for months over it.

It’s an utter mess of incoherent supposed thought. He’s right, they are fakes.

They certainly don’t understand turnabout is fair play.