2007-09-15 : Frankly disgusted

A short play, by Vincent
a dramatic reenactment of some people's response to Steal Away Jordan

Some people: Waah! I'm a white guy with no balls! Won't somebody take caaaaare of me?


1. On 2007-09-16, Brennan said:

I see some of myself in that comment. I also just read the thread that I think spawned this comment, so I don't feel so bad.

I was just telling Julia, I just read a review of a biography of Toussaint Louverture, a leader of the Haitian rebellion, and I'm really inspired to run SAJ set in Haiti.


2. On 2007-09-16, Vincent said:

Steal Away Jordan is the most plainly human game I've ever played. Julia's done a remarkable thing. By problematizing (note: not victimizing) plain human accomplishments, like getting married, making a life, keeping a friend, telling the truth, she's made it so that at the end of the game I feel proud of and hopeful for my own humanity.

That it also questions your assumptions about race in the US is just icing.


3. On 2007-09-16, Gregor said:

I wonder if Julia had set the game in a fantasy desert world, put it all in a shiny box set, and side-stepped any of the human issues at hand but kept the slavery as flavour, what the reaction would have been? Oh, someone did that already and everyone thought it was great.


I'm enjoying your plays by the way!


4. On 2007-09-16, Ben Lehman said:

I want to play Steal Away Jordan, like, ten times as much now. Mainly because I want to be like "look, I, a white guy, played Steal Away Jordan and no big mean POC showed up to tell me how racist I am."



5. On 2007-09-16, Julia said:

For the record, I think white guys with balls are pretty awesome. On more than one occasion, I have found white guys with balls to be, well, kinda hot.


6. On 2007-09-16, NinJ said:


SOME PEOPLE enter Internet forum.

SOME PEOPLE: Why are you implying that I'm racist?

SOME OTHER PEOPLE: Why did you say I was accusing you of being racist?



7. On 2007-09-17, Ron Edwards said:

"And all the girls say / I'm pretty fly for a white guy!"


I worked hard on Sorcerer from early 1994 through late 1996. One question I received over and over during that time, was, "can't you just call them something besides 'demons'?"

So, Gregor: yeah.

Best, Ron


8. On 2007-09-17, John Harper said:

Ben: I predict that your desire to play SAJ will be fulfilled. Soon.


9. On 2007-09-17, Julia said:

I wish I could come out to Seattle and accuse Ben and John of...not living on the East Coast.

Whadja think I was going to say?


10. On 2007-09-17, Vincent said:

A sequel: Frankly Disgusted II, by Vincent

Some gamers on the internet: Hey, where are the women and people of color?

Julia: Hi everybody!

Some gamers on the internet: ...Yeah, could you tone it down?


I'm so angry I drove irresponsibly yesterday. Grinding my teeth and pushing my foot to the floor.


11. On 2007-09-17, Ben Lehman said:

My favorite thing is when people called Julia "militant."

Because Julia is totally a black panther. Complete with beret and machinegun.



12. On 2007-09-17, Julia said:

Yeah, I liked that, too. The only things I've ever been militant about are breastfeeding as a baby's birthright, and home birthing as the norm and not the exception. So I'm a militant earth mama.

In fact, I was actually part of the

direct link

13. On 2007-09-17, wundergeek said:

(WTF? People have called Julia militant? What are they smoking??)

Alternative to Vincent???s Sequel:

Some gamers on the internet: Hey, where are the women and people of color?

Julia: Hi everybody!

Some gamers on the internet: *yawn* Could you be a little less boring?



14. On 2007-09-17, Julia said:

Hey Vincent, my post went crazy! This is what it is supposed to say. Would you delete the one above?

Yeah, I liked that, too. The only things I've ever been legitimately militant about are breastfeeding as a baby's birthright, and homebirthing as the norm and not the exception.

In fact, I was actually part of the The Militant Breastfeeding Cult But they are almost too militant for me.

My breasts are my machine guns!


15. On 2007-09-17, wundergeek said:

(WTF? People have called Julia militant? What are they smoking??)

Alternative to Vincent???s Sequel:

Some gamers on the internet: Hey, where are the women and people of color?

Julia: Hi everybody!

Some gamers on the internet: *yawn* Could you be a little less boring?


16. On 2007-09-17, Vincent said:

(There's something really weird going on here technologically. I wonder what.)

Militant! Calling a black person militant is like calling a woman hysterical or a feminist humorless. If you do it, damn, and be prepared for what follows.


17. On 2007-09-17, wundergeek said:

*reads entirety of thread* *rolls eyes* Man. Somebody call the waaaaahmbulance.


18. On 2007-09-18, Mark Woodhouse said:

That was pretty sad. Unfortunately common, but pretty sad. I just *love* how much it is apparently the designer's responsibility to make sure the scary bad book doesn't hurt their feelings. On account of some thing some other person said sometime that isn't actually in - or germane to - the game.

Then again. Internet. Gamers. Privilege.


19. On 2007-09-18, NinJ said:

In Guy's defense, English is not his first language. I don't think he probably even knows about the Black Panthers. It was a terrible choice of words that I don't think he intended to make.


20. On 2007-09-18, Chris said:

I think I've performed this play a few times.  Though the supporting cast was eager to keep going on, I just didn't get any reaction from the audience...


21. On 2007-09-19, Emily said:

That sucks, Chris. We've got a long way to go.


22. On 2007-09-19, Vincent said:

I suspect you're right about Guy, J.


23. On 2007-09-20, Tom said:

Julia writes:
My breasts are my machine guns!

OK, see now I'm totally down with the Second Amendment and the NRA.

"See?  That's why Charleton Heston is so fanatic about it..."


24. On 2007-10-09, Judd said:

Many of the responses in that thread were horrendous and some of that was people being lame and much of it was a serious limitation of RPG forum interactions.

Here are a few things that come to my mind:

1) Just because someone is scared or uncomfortable, doesn't make them a coward.

2) It might be better, rather than to point fingers and call people who don't want to play certain games as wimps, to think about why they might feel uncomfortable with certain games, be it ice elves at the end dawn of a new age and the destruction of their beautiful world or escaped slaves.

3) It is okay not to like a game or dismiss a game outright.  It is just okay to effing do so.


25. On 2007-10-09, Julia said:

You bring up some interesting points, Judd. I want to address #2 specifically:

I want constructive feedback for my game so that I can improve it. I've received a great deal of constructive feedback, and a great deal of shitty and unhelpful feedback, much of which seems to come from people wanting to be nice, but not wanting to be honest with me. If someone says, "This game sounds so awesome, amazing, interesting, but I don't think I'd ever want to play it," I'm left wondering where I lost the person. When I see something awesome, amazing, and interesting, I want to engage it. When I've had the chance to get more from people who have said this, I have found that it sometimes stems from a white person's fear and discomfort with "getting black people wrong" or having to confront their racism. Surprise, surprise, my game's not just about that. It may be there in the subtext (Hey you, gamer who is statistically most likely white and male, come play a black slave) Those assumptions come from the reader of the game who doesn't read it without judgement, or from the person who reads his inaccurate summation of the objective of the game.

Certainly, sometimes people see amazing, awesome things, and they just want to look at them from afar. That's totally okay. Different strokes for different folks, and those folks are missing out on the amazing awesome they identified but never touched.

If the reluctance comes from someone's inaccurate assumptions about what the game is about, who the game is written for, and where they can go with the game, I want to clarify either in the text or on a forum. I need that feedback.

I am new to game design. If people want to be helpful, they can give me feedback on the design and mechanics of the game, regardless of the subject matter. If my game has been written off for reasons that aren't really accurate, I'm screwed. I get no feedback, other than some people read what's not there because they either want it to be there, or they're afraid it's actually there.

Steal Away Jordan asks a few things of the players:
To play a survivor, not a victim, to play a marginalized character in a time period that many people in the US can't seem to honestly come to terms with, and to make up a well rounded playable character. If you play a person not a stereotype, not a victim, you don't have to deal directly with that frightening time period's baggage. If that's not what people are into, so be it. Don't play my game.
I ask for similar things when people give me feedback: that you give feedback honestly, read the game with a critical eye, read what's there, don't read into it. And if you must deal with me the game designer, deal with me the game designer, not something you're afraid to offend.

My experience in dealing with some people who aren't used to speaking or dealing with people of color is that they're overly friendly, and terrified of saying the wrong thing. Lest I suddenly go from being just that hippie chick Julia to that black woman Julia whose feelings we don't want to hurt. In these instances, I am treated as a composite and often fantasy-based amalgamation of person of different ethnic descent rather than just plain old hippie chick Julia (who would much rather talk about game design than race). I experienced some of this at GenCon, even with all the positive buzz. I couldn't help feel some of that in that thread. It's incredibly frustrating, and causes me to throw tantrums and call people wusses. How do you feel when you are misunderstood, even about things you've said quite plainly, but they weren't what people want to hear?

As for point #3—By all means, but effing dismiss outright and don't add a footnote of a feeble reason why you're dismissing because you thought the game designer was a nice person. Make no assumptions about my kindness. Dismiss and move on.


26. On 2007-10-10, Judd said:

Hey Julia,

I'm going to chew on what you wrote and respond in a bit but I want to digest for a bit and get my thoughts in order.


RSS feed: new comments to this thread