This entry is going to be heavy in stream-of-consciousness writing. I will try as hard as I can to get keep this readable.
The recent revelations of long-standing issues and their impact at Wizards have left us all a bit of a wreck. Partly because we treat companies like people but also because of nostalgia and memories attached to things that are horrible.
Not unrelated to this, an Amazon truck pulled up to my front door to drop off a package and I was booting up a game of League of Legends. Everything down to where I bought food today is a minefield of moral choices when all I wanted was to hang out with my friends after spending my whole morning cleaning the kitchen.
Of Nostalgia and Knowing
I was in seventh grade when I got introduced to Magic the Gathering. It helped pass the time at lunch with my very much nerdy friends. A few years later, I would be in high school and introduced to Dungeons and Dragons, Final Fantasy, and anime. Those were good times.
I didn’t know much about TSR or Wizards of the Coast and the companies who made all of this other than the fact that they were probably white people because I couldn’t conceive of a black person who would make this. Seeing my friends usually involved poring over books or box after box of cards in different colors.
We tried burning a few. Surprisingly, it took a while.
The cards carried me through college. Friends found themselves able to open up about their inner nerd in a time when they were trying really hard to be “cool”. The cards were there as we sat playing in teams of two around a big table and laughed at some of the combos that happened or looked at a new card that came out.
I had tasted the connection and the magic of those times. I have some cards downstairs right now.
As for Dungeons and Dragons, that faded in and out until around 2017 when I was asked to DM a game for the first time. I was on fire with an idea and… well… you can read all you want about that time here.
It was my first story, but also? The first time someone said I had a story worth listening to. That I should make more games. That I should absolutely be known to more people. It’s how many people I know about now became known to me. It’s given me stories, sadness, smiles, and friends.
It gave me a new community and a home. For many people I know in that hobby, it gave them the only home they’ve ever known. It’s what a lot of my friends have done. I see them in this. I’m a whole black man in America, carving home out of hostility is… routine.
On the Other Hand
I don’t have to look through more than two tweets or Discord message and there lie those who have been downtrodden by the companies who make this content and take no responsibilities for what it’s become and who made it that way.
I saw the fires before the first spark happened and now… we’re here. People are hurt. People who hurt with them are angry. They want justice for their friends. I want justice for my friends, too. We’re here together.
They are calling for accountability – and rightly so – from the company that broke the trust of so many people that invested so much time and effort and love in them and saw them as more than a company and a product. In fury and/or fear, they’ve lit fires in the public timeline and the private DM. Trying to leverage every thing they can think of to get even the closest thing to things being made right.
Normally that means tearing everything down and making it a pyre. The grief can be dealt with later. At least, that’s how we hope it will work.
Grief and the Aggrieved
Sadness sets in. Anger bubbles up and boils over. Anxiety sets in. Bills are due. We’re two years into the game we’re in with the people I’ve built relationships with on nothing but our table time for the last two years. People who called me friend are willing to call me enemy or just unsafe. There’s no time to decide where I am in all of this and there is no room for failure.
The socials get turned off or muted for a bit. Some people get blocked. It’s all too much and all at once and all the time. People are trying to get me* to perform what caring looks like for them. I explain that I need time. They understand this in our DMs and private spaces, but not on their public timelines.
I take the brief moments of silence amid the climbing red notification numbers to figure out how to extricate myself from this. Bills are due. Projects have been assigned and I need to finish them. My casual group now needs to learn a whole slew of rules and so do I.
Do I suspend games for the time being and deprived myself of the only family I have by choice until the new system is learned? Who can I lean on to learn this in the meantime? Does anyone want to help me and maybe my players transition into the new system? Does anyone hear me screaming in the middle of all of this?
Maybe I should add this to the list of problematic things I enjoy like Harry Potter. Maybe I just allow people to call me what they want and do what they need to do; I’m going to lose people no matter what and no one seems to care about that.
Am I human to these people calling things out or am I just as much evil corporation to them as WotC and Hasbro themselves? Am I seen here?
* I’m using myself as an example. Facts are another matter.
It Is All Very Messy
There’s a lot of things tugging at people and their want to do the right thing. This isn’t some unique thing that WotC did. This is a thing that every single company that has ever existed seems to do with rare exception and something that capitalism does to everyone without exception at all.
There are people on the other end of these statements who are honestly grieving and trying to parse this out. There will be no instant jumps. There will be no instant transitions. There won’t be. Whatever we do here will be gradual.
If you ask me what my stance is, I’m going to tell you I’m not standing at all. I’m in motion. I got the Masks book and everything, but even without that? I could put D&D aside and rather easily. I don’t care and I don’t have to care. That is privilege and I know it. It is rare that I can choose to do what my morals demand on the best of days and in the most righteous of my emotions whether fury or mercy.
And for those who share those emotions, I hope they are wielded with finesse and accuracy.