A roleplaying game project came up on Kickstarter the other day.
For those of you who don’t know, Kickstarter is a site where an aspiring publisher of whatever product can put up their idea, pitch it to the public, and set a goal for how much money they need to produce it and release it. Members of the public may then pledge money to the project in exchange for future copies or whatever. It’s a pretty nifty system.
Anyway, this particular roleplaying game is called Heartbreak & Heroines. It’s “a fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women who go and have awesome adventures — saving the world, falling in love, building community, defeating evil. It’s a game about relationships and romance, about fairy tales and feminism.”
That last word, there, “feminism”… that’s a bit flammable on the internet. Predictably, it soon caught fire on RPG.net. Here’s the first thread. It’s a bit of a trainwreck and you may not want to actually read it, though it does contain the immortal lines “WFRPG is one of the few RPGS to acknowledge the historical reality that everyone in the medieval Arab world was a reanimated skeleton” and “For me, the weird experience has been the vast number of men who are so ardently supportive of women in gaming that they find a feminist RPG to be offensive”. There’s also a Q&A thread where the author herself comes to answer questions, and does so in a manner far more polite than I probably would have managed.
So, she pissed off a bunch of people without trying or intending to. With feminism and inclusiveness. I think there might be something wrong here, but I can’t quite put my finger on it…
As a general thing, I keep a healthy distance from arguments and flamewars like these. I mean, I’m a white, heterosexual, college-educated male from Finland. I’ve got privilege coming out of my ass. The issues do not personally touch me and the discourse around them is mostly unfamiliar to me in a way that makes me feel like I might inadvertently offend someone I don’t want to. I always feel like I’m moving on thin ice when I go there, so I generally don’t. It’s easier to stay in my comfort zone where I am always right. It’s a pretty large playing field for me.
However, this time I am willing to make an exception, and I’m pretty sure that I’m right.
See, to me there’s something fundamentally wrong about the attitude Heartbreak & Heroines encountered there. “Hubris”, they said. The author was compared to that of F.A.T.A.L. Further down the line we are presented ideas that having racial and gender equality in a medieval fantasy setting is “silly”. We also get the classic “not tolerating bigotry makes you a bigot yourself” line.
Seriously, people. I’m not saying I’m above writing extravagantly lengthy posts describing the exact depth of my hatred for this game or that, but I at least had played the game first (except in the case of F.A.T.A.L., but I think I can be forgiven for that). This one hasn’t even been entirely written yet.
So, given that the people being pissed off seem to have been in desperate need of pissing off anyway and probably secretly wanted it (see what I did there?), I can only give my wholehearted approval to Heartbreak & Heroines and Caoimhe Ora Snow. I can also give $15. Would pledge more, except it’s the con season and I’m not exactly rolling in cash right now.
I’m not saying you should do the same, mind you. I hate it when people use the “buy this or you are a chauvinist/antisemite/racist/True Finn” argument. For all I know, the game might end up being crap (though the author’s previous work seems solid enough). Just… you might do worse than pledge a few coins. Also, if they don’t reach the goal, I won’t get my copy, and then I’ll be annoyed.