This is going to be a strange, possibly contentious little post in relation to most of the gaming advice given here. Bear with…

I was doing my morning cruise through the blogosphere today and came across a piece that prompted this piece. The author related a story in which they were at a gaming event in which, after their play, they realized that two of the players had quietly exited the game. Curious, the person asked a mutual friend why and was rewarded with an explanation that the mutual friend thought it was they were uncomfortable with their having been a few homosexual couples playing in the game. This inspired the author to feel put upon — “…it makes me mad, sad, and confused at the same time…”

I found the reaction to be a childish. Rather than openly offend the other players, rather than make a scene, they quietly exunt-ed stage right. All orderly and proper. More importantly, the author admitted that nobody noticed…so these people had zero impact on your life until they were accused of homophobia. I’ve noticed this is a trend in those of the community I’ve known: there is a disproportionate reaction to perceived slights. He didn’t know this was the reason, it was just the one the mutual friend assumed was the case.

Now, admittedly I’m not homosexual, but there have been plenty of them in my gaming groups over the last 30 years. And crossdressers, bisexuals, exhibitionists (really exhibitionist!), and at least one active homophobe who was too polite to say anything. Ours is an odd hobby, let’s admit it; we’re adults who get together to play pretend — it draws the requisite oddballs and that means some of it is going to be of a sexual nature. Scott, you’re not calling homosexuals “odd”, are you..? They’re a small portion of the population; by definition, they’re odd. That doesn’t signal disapproval (or approval, for that matter…how you get your rocks off is simply none of my business.)

Here is my response: Why does this guy care if they left because they didn’t want to game with gay couples? I’d have the same response if they’ve cut out because they didn’t like gingers, or they thought I was irksome (which has happened.) No matter the reason, the people either didn’t like the people or were uncomfortable with them. Ultimately, the offense lies with the offended — it doesn’t matter if they meant to hurt you or not, if you allow some slight to lodge in your amygdala, that’s your issue.

Let’s expand on that. Gaming is a hobby where you pretend to be other people. Sometimes your characters will be at odds. I’ve noted that the players who tend to prefer immersive role playing are more likely to conflate character’s motivations and conflicts with the player. And vice-versa — players that don’t like each other will often create conflict between their characters as a proxy insult fest. You see the same with romance in games; players will sometimes signal interest through their characters. But this is not always the case.

You will get different political stripes at the table. We’ve had issue where progressive-oriented players were confronted with players who didn’t buy into their worldview. There was a conservative, a few libertarians, and eventually, because the rest fo the players weren’t into Tea Party bashing, they drifted off. We all knew why they left. No one was offended (save, perhaps, the pair that scarpered.) It’s no reason to fee “gut-punched.” You’re not always going to get along with folks.

If you have problems within that particular group, you have two choices: suck it up and accept that the other player(s) aren’t going to necessarily agree with you on politics or religion, and they might not accept your lifestyle. they don’t have to. What they do have to do (and you do, as well) — is tolerate them. (There’s a lot of misunderstanding these days as to what that means: tolerance is not acceptance.) You show them respect due another person, you avoid poking each other with verbal sticks over whatever you dislike about the other person, and you have fun with the game.

A variant on this is enjoy the diversity of thought and opinion. Maybe I think progressivism is evil statism and you think government is the answer to all ills — debate it. If you have a game that’s revolving around politics and theory like that, you can make it fun to have differing opinions. For as bad as the Star Wars prequels were, I did like that every character had a different opinion on politics — even the bad guys weren’t completely unreasonable in their beliefs. Personally, this is the angle I prefer — have differences? Address them with respect and fun. It’s doable, really. You just have to adult about it.

If you can’t do that, there’s option two: leave the group. Make arrangements to play with the others you do like at another time. Don’t cause a fuss, just fix the issue.

Lastly, if you rad this and were offended, tough. There was no offense meant to anyone, so if you’re butthurt over something some half-rate blogger talking about role playing games is saying, the offense lies with the offended.

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