This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

You recall my recent post about the “D&D With Porn Stars” blog?  Even WotC covered it!  Well, apparently there’s some OSR group called “TARGA” out there.  One of their weekly link roundups linked to the blog.  Apparently this twisted the nipples of two guys mainly, this guy (who apparently was also sad his latest brilliant blog posts weren’t included in the links) and this guy.

This had a lot of fallout, including Chgowiz pulling his blog down off the Internet totally in a fit of pique.  And the guy who was doing the link roundups left the organization.  And primary complainy guy left the organization.  And lo did Joesky speak out upon the subject.

My point isn’t that some of those involved are douchey.  It’s that organizations like this are inevitably douchey.

Some of the worst times of my gaming life have been as a result of my involvement with nonprofit gaming organizations.  I was involved with the RPGA as a Living Greyhawk Triad – that sucked.  I started a Memphis gaming group (the FORGE – still going strong!  No, I hadn’t heard of the Ron Edwards thing at the time.).  That was horrific in its early stages, when my roommate and I had endless conflicts with the demented wife of an RPGA staffer; she even raised her hand to hit my roommate once during one of her psychotic rants.  (Once we said “screw you guys” and got it going on our own it worked out fine.)  I was a officer of the Christian Gamers Guild, until the neverending power plays and schizophrenic threats drove me away.

Politics are never so vicious as when the spoils are pathetic.  It’s why bosses at nonprofits are about 25% more sleazy and awful on average (a made up but completely true statistic).   Organizations like that (and to a similar extent, the cabals “in charge” of things like RPG forum sites) inevitably devolve into a self-serving nest of narcissists and empowering cowards.

I refuse to participate in such “organizations” (a strong word for random mailing lists with self-proclaimed “Boards” of 5 or so random people that decide to waste hundreds of man-hours of time working out policies that can only alienate and never help anyone) anymore.  And I’m a lot happier.

Heck, even the RPG Blogger Network went through some of that.  Let me tell you what you need in terms of detailed power structure, unless there’s real money changing hands.

1.  One moderator/owner guy, who will be very tolerant, and generally tell everyone to just calm down and ignore it if someone’s twisting their knickers, but in extreme cases warn or ban people who are being total asshats on the forum, mailing list, or whatever.

2.  One person per real initiative (like an e-zine or whatever) who organizes/runs the initiative and includes submissions based on their sole prerogative.  Other people can step up to do another “whatever” if they disagree with that person’s vision.

That’s it.  You don’t need a “constitution.”  You don’t need a “board.”  Every single one of those you’re doing is a bunch of jacking off that will look pretty stupid to you in ten years when you’re wondering where your youth went.

On a similar note, if someone says something on a blog or mailing list or forum you don’t like – do feel free to ignore it.  Some people act like every post is a missive solely directed at them.  Unless it begins with “Dear X, you are a loser” it is not, and you can safely ignore it, let it go by, and life will go on.

This has been a public service message.  Wise up.

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9 responses to “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

  1. Well said. I agree completely.

  2. As a primary complainy guy I will say that I never intended ANY of this fallout. I slipped out of TARGA to avoid any backlash, and it happened anyway. Some things are inevitable and I believe that there were a few people ready to rage at anything that came down the pike and this was a perfect scenario to rail for or against.

    I am not happy about chgowiz leaving TARGA, but that is his decision.
    I never had a problem with the DNDWPS blog (I have commented there several times), but it doesn’t matter anymore anyway at this time. The damage is done, the OSR rolls on or doesn’t.

    In the end, I cannot be overly concerned with what people online say (although I have received a lot of support online) because I do have the full backing of the misfits who game with me, most of whom are parents.

    • Yes, well, that’s the point. It’s always arguably not anyone’s fault. But somehow that doesn’t matter to the collateral damage.

      This is a great example of a problem that would have been less of a problem without the pseudo-organization around to create senses of entitlement. If he was just posting link roundups on his blog, someone might be cranky enough to say “don’t link to the pr0n!” in the comments, and he might ignore it or might say “like it or lump it.” Problem over.

      But oh no, it’s part of the TARGA link roundup. Does that mean TARGA is “endorsing” porn? Does linking to constitute “endorsing?” I CAN’T HAVE THIS ORGANIZATION I’M BEING AGAINT THE CHILLLREN. I must speak out!

      It’s the very act of self-importance of putting together such an organization (and “joining” it, whatever that means when an org has no membership list or dues or anything) that creates an environment where this problem can exist.

      If it’s just a bunch of OSR people talking, then there’s certain release valves built into the discussion. Once it goes past “Hey let’s all talk on Dragonfoot” to “We are an ORGANIZATION” then the suck comes home to roost.

      I’m a parent too, and I know how to detect when a bunch of kids are behaving badly. What do parents do when that happens? We separate them. That’s a lot harder when they’re in a school class or soccer team together. Those groups are necessary because they have some point other than artificial cameraderie…

  3. Actually, it meant that my group had come over for the Saturday game, I was showing a new player links to the OSR, I went to the TARGA page and I thought that I wouldn’t need to screen something from TARGA. That was my mistake. The whole issue being that someone has a blog with an adult warning, which is fine, but not a six minute video hosted on another website. That was it, nothing more, nothing less.

    No big deal, the OSR is about as organized as TARGA ever was (i.e. not very, and part of that, as a founder, was my fault) and if the mighty OSR falls apart over something as small as this it never was much of a movement in the first place.

    I am going to be a rebel for International Traditional Gaming Week and run B2 with Pathfinder.

    • 1. I am really not interested in the explanations of why person X did thing Y, like I say there’s plenty of misbehavior to go around. It’s not really the point of my post.

      2. You miss the point of my post – something like the OSR, as it is NOT an organization, is much less likely to fall apart than something that is a defined and owned organization along the TARGA model (not to pick on TARGA, like I say there’s thousands of similar cabals out there on the Net and even in meatspace).

      If I slap an OSR logo on my site and declare myself old school because though I play Pathfinder mostly, I play it the way I did back with AD&D1 in middle school, people can like that or not – they can read my blog or not, link to me or not. They can come comment and say “But you’re not old school, man!” and I can tell them to “lick my scrotum,” and all is well with the universe.

      There’s no “vote on is it old school,” or “content guidelines,” or “board elections,” or “an owner who can shut down the whole thing in a fit of pique”… Movements are good, organizations – well, they’re not *bad*, but there should be something you’re getting to compensate for the hassle imposed. Something like RPGA was a pain in the ass that squeezed all us Triads and totally ignored our wishes, but they were at least producing an organized play campaign that was a meaningful good that would be hard to do without an organization. But just producing an e-zine, or jsut being some kind of fan club, does not bring any benefit that justifies inflicting the horrors of an organization upon a community.

  4. Actually, I did get your post and I was agreeing with you. By saying organized I meant that the OSR has no cohesiveness whatsoever. Neither does TARGA.

    TARGA, other than giving $350 to the Gygax Foundation (which was a very nice gesture, by the way), has really not ever done much of anything. It was a good idea on paper (or screen) that just never panned out. Good intentions just don’t make a difference. Don’t get me wrong, it is full of great people with the best of intentions (and it really is), but it is like having a race car on a gravel road, no matter what power you have behind it, you are still going nowhere fast.

    After reading the 87 replies on the TARGA blog regarding “the incident” I realize that there really is no OSR, either, therefore no cabal could represent it in the first place. Which is, of course, the nature of a DIY hobby. TARGA is not necessary and never was.

    How hard is it to make a flyer and post it somewhere? Not very. The OSR doesn’t need an organization because the OSR isn’t even really anything that you can point your finger at, describe and encapsulate everyone’s idea of what it is, or clearly define in any way.

  5. Now that was funny.
    Hey, and I appreciate you allowing my comments here, I have had mine edited out of some conversations strategically, but other people’s follow-ups are allowed. I don’t mind the debate, I don’t mind people questioning me, but people who make statements and then won’t accept the answers are just petty.

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