10 things you didn’t know about rape, RPG and – ach, screw this!

A few days back, this thing made the rounds: Games sure are classy. In case you missed it, here’s the summary: Someone was selling a game module on DriveThruRPG that was named „Tournament of Rapists“. Someone else got upset about this and complained to DriveThruRPG, who… showed a remarkable inability when it comes to a) understanding the issue and b) how to handle this sort of complaint.

They got a lot of flak for this, so, after the weekend, they went into full defence mode:

Their new policy states: „If a reported title looks questionable, then we will suspend it from sale while we review its content internally, and we will speak with its publisher to determine the fate of the title on our marketplace. Our default will be to suspend titles rather than our prior default of letting titles stay public.“

They also state „We are no longer a wide-open marketplace.“

Which then made James Raggi from Lamentations of the Flame Princess fear for his income. Understandably so, as his products are quite controversial in some circles. I mean, they include walking penis demons and violence and sexual imagery. So he decided to go on a forward defence and used DriveThruRPGs messaging system (the only way to reach his customers there IIRC), to tell those who bought his stuff there how to not get screwed in the case of a pulled product.

Which in turn got someone elses panties in a bunch.

My take on this

First off: Bards and Sages Publishing is right on one thing: Pulling the Tournament of Rapists was, at that point in time, a sane thing to do for DriveThruRPG, and the wording of their policy indeed is more liberal than, say, Amazons. But the difference is that Amazon has a team that is comparatively well-schooled and professional when it comes to reacting to internet shitstorms.

DriveThruRPG has just shown that it completely fails in that regard. They completely missed the point of the initial complaint, they then tried to sorta-defend the thing, they didn’t go out and explained their points in a way that the wider audience will get that message, and then hastily set up a new policy without soothing the legitimate fears of the merchants.

And that is why James Raggi is probably right with his decision to set up precautions.

Nazis, Nippel und.. err, Facebook.

Gerade eben ging folgender Rant durch meine Timeline: Stephanie Marie von Mobilegeeks schreibt sich den Frust über all die rechten Deppen auf Facebook von der Seele – und den über Facebooks Reaktion darauf.

Facebook würde alles tun, damit Facebook ein sicherer Platz ist. Also, sicher vor nackten Brüsten und vermeintlich falschen Namen. Nicht vor gewaltbereiten Nazis und Euthanasie-Fans.

Tja, wir haben es hier mit einem klassichen Culture Clash zu tun. Und nein, damit meine ich natürlich nicht die Moschee vs Kirche Sache, die ja so vielen Dämlacken aufrichtigen Deutschen ™ so am Herzen liegt.

Sondern den Zusammenstoß zwischen den US-amerikanischen und den deutschen Anstandsbegriffen. Insbesondere dem Verhältnis zur freien Meinungsäußerung. Free Speech ist in Facebooks Herkunftsland eine heilige Kuh, während Sexualität und vor allem eben weibliche Nippel des Teufels sind. Und da Facebook natürlich die Standards des eigenen Landes für weltweit gültig erklärt, darf man sich hierzulande eben auch ungeniert als Rechten Depp outen und seinen Hass verbreiten. Solange sich das irgendwie als Meinung tarnt, wird man dort wenig bis nichts unternehmen. Schon alleine, weil der Personalbedarf für sowas (Beschwere aufnehmen, Text ansehen, reagieren, den unvermeindlichen Fallout bearbeiten) viel zu hoch ist.

Ich höre an dieser Stelle übrigens schon den Einwand: „Dann soll sich Facebook doch gefälligst endlich mal den regionalen Begebenheiten anpassen!“. Ja? Also, so rein hypothetisch, sollen die dann auch auf die Sitten und Gebräuche in z.B. Katar eingehen? Saudi Arabien? Nordkorea?

Überlegt Euch genau, was Ihr da fordert. Bis dahin bleibt: Kontra geben, solche Statements nicht unerwidert lassen, und in Deutschland strafrechtlich verfolgbare Äußerungen (konkrete Drohungen, Holocaustleugnung, Volksverhetzung) nicht Facebook sondern den zuständigen Behörden melden. Das mit der Anzeige geht übrigens ganz einfach, hier mal die Internetwache der Polizei Berlin.  (Mit https, ich bin begeistert!)

That Ashley Madison thing…

ashleyflowersOh, that Ashley Madison thing is really something that got the Internet going. And this here, that is one of the very few  actually funny reactions. The rest is either

  • explaining how those cheaters got what they’ve had coming, or
  • gleefully looking up folks and saying „gee, look what they did!“

Neither of which is particularly mature or helpful. Actually, downright unhelpful and deathly dangerous, as the case of the Saudi shows. And then there was this interestingly altered quote:

They came for Ashley Madison, and I said nothing, because I didn’t have an account. Then they came for Fetlife, and I said nothing, because I used a fake name and no pictures of myself. Then they came for OKCupid, and I said nothing, because dudebros are jerks and they deserve what they get. And then they came for my inbox…

Which gets closer, but still misses the point. The point being: When we use any service, be it on the internet or elsewhere, that service will most probably need to gather and make use of potentially private information. Otherwise it probably simply won’t work. (Have fun building a social network without any personal data in there.) And where there’s data, there will be people who want to take a look at that data. For the lulz, national security, blackmailing, finding their enemies, the reasons for this are varied.

The thing is this: We should be mad about the Ashley Madison hack. Really mad. Not because this is about people cheating on their spouses, or because there might have been blackmail involved, or.. whatever.

We should be mad that this company that got entrusted with personal data didn’t put this data into a secure place. That is what you should take away from this:

  • If you handle other peoples data – make damn sure that only legitimate people can get at that data. Do everything in your power to ensure that even if you do get hacked, people won’t be able to make use of what they find.
  • If you want other people to handle your data – make them accountable for what happens with that data. If they won’t agree to that, won’t let you in on their precautions, be aware that you could just as well make that data public right now! Because they will get hacked at some point.

Playing ViewScream

As there weren’t enough players for Haralds planned bi-weekly Labyrinth Lord game, he decided to run ViewScream instead. ViewScream, which is just now running the Kickstarter for the 2nd Edition, is a game that is explicitly designed to be played via videochat.

Rafael Chandler is surely no „Indie Author“ anymore, although his RPG products probably get lumped into that category. But he is a brilliant horror game designer if you ask me – and ViewScream, which plays on the isolation and despair of people sitting alone somewhere, reaching out to their colleagues for help, is an even more brilliant idea. The general mechanic is this: Everyone is alone, connected to the others via videochat. And everyone has at least one, maybe even more dire Emergency at hand, that is threatening their lives, and that they cannot solve by themselves. Your only hope for rescue? Someone else has to use up one of their Solutions (basically one or two sentences of technobabble that the game providesto you) and apply that to your problem.

In our game, each of us had three Solutions and two Emergencies – the kicker being, that not all of those solutions would actually work! None of your fellow players know how many Solutions you actually have, nor which of those will be successful: There are small indicators next to every Solution, telling you if they would work or not. So you pick a solution, narrate how you’d apply them, and then, more often than not, let the other players know that, alas, they weren’t working for some reason or the other… or that they were saved, because the solution did work. But the game is actually rigged in a way, that there usually are more Emergencies than workable Solutions. Enter the haggling, backstabbing, pleading and outright begging!

Yesterday, Harald threw us into some cyberpunk world, where we were just returning from what was supposed to be an easy-in, easy-out hack into some virtual world. Except it went horribly wrong, we probably had a traitor in our midst, the enforcers were on our asses, our equipment sprouted the most disturbing bugs and the clock was ticking…

About halfway through the game (which took about an hour), I realized that my character wouldn’t make it. So I let the virtual ghost that was riding my system take over and scare the bejeebus out of my fellow players, who were so eager to sacrifice me for their own sakes…

(The girlfriend was reading in the room next to me and later stated that she was on the verge of calling an excorcist to get those demons out of me.)

In the end, this was the most fun I ever had in a Hangout RPG session. The game provides custom overlays that enhance the mood, and the game mechanics are as close to freeform as you can get – while still providing enough structure and crunch to make things interesting on that angle.

The different characters are described in a gender-neutral and just vague enough way that basically everyone can fill those roles. But they are also provided with hooks and connections to each other to keep the game running and interesting. ViewScream encourages you to never leave character during gameplay, and as you never need to grab some dice or do anything that isn’t covered by the narrative, things feel very natural.

The first edition (with slightly clunkier rules) is free on DriveThruRPG, and the 2nd Edition is 10 bucks well spent on Kickstarter. If you are even remotely interested in playing a Horror game or in playing over videochat, you want to try this out!