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Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: xiombarg on May 12, 2004, 01:24:35 PM
In a recent discussion my my Livejournal (http://www.livejournal.com/users/xiombarg/525817.html), one of the posters mentions something regarding "scare quotes (http://www.suck.com/daily/2000/03/20/1.html)" that I think is relevant to discourse here, as a sort of a footnote.

Quote
You forget, I think, that those of us who are trained in the use of language have different ways of using it than those who only encounter it as it's used by everyone else.

They're reacting to the general use of "scare quotes," where people use quote marks to show that they don't necessarily agree with something that other people are saying, or that they think that what they're "quoting" is silly and faintly idiotic. It's quite common in political writings these days, especially in the newspapers.

The overuse of "scare quotes" as a polerizing device in other media might explain why people take exception to putting the phrase "industry" in quotes when talking about the RPG industry, and might explain why such a seemingly simple thing polarized discussion here.

It is an unfortunate fact that pollution of certain aspects of the English language may have had fallout for the Forge in the recent "hubris" blow-up.


Title: Re: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: John Kim on May 12, 2004, 03:41:08 PM
Quote from: xiombarg
The overuse of "scare quotes" as a polerizing device in other media might explain why people take exception to putting the phrase "industry" in quotes when talking about the RPG industry, and might explain why such a seemingly simple thing polarized discussion here.

It is an unfortunate fact that pollution of certain aspects of the English language may have had fallout for the Forge in the recent "hubris" blow-up.

As far as I've seen, that interpretation is correct perception of the intent.  While they may have justification for doing so, the people who use quotes around the word "industry" are stating that RPG publishers do not merit being called an industry.  If not that, then what do you think the quotes are for?  i.e. One poster simply refers to the RPG industry without using quotes, while another poster refers to the so-called RPG "industry".  They are both clearly referring to the same entities (i.e. the publishers of games like D&D, Vampire, and GURPS), but the latter is making an editorial comment about the publishers as a whole.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: greyorm on May 12, 2004, 03:52:41 PM
Gods forbid we ever have opinions, eh?


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: John Kim on May 12, 2004, 04:26:24 PM
Quote from: greyorm
Gods forbid we ever have opinions, eh?

Sure, you're perfectly entitled to think and say that RPG publishers are undeserving of being called an industry.  However, you can't then go around whining about how the RPG professionals are mistaken for taking exception to that.  And if you're going to deal out those sorts of opinions, then I also expect you to deal gracefully with opposing opinions -- like saying that you are full of hubris.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: ethan_greer on May 12, 2004, 05:14:06 PM
Holy Jesus jump-up Christ. Can we give it a fucking rest?  I mean, goddamn, people.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Asrogoth on May 12, 2004, 05:40:33 PM
And the award for efficient use of blasphemy and cursing within the smallest possible sentence goes to....


LOL...


Yea, I agree with Ethan... Maybe it's time to take a step back, give everything a rest and try to "fix" (sorry about the quotes) the problems.

;)


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 12, 2004, 07:58:40 PM
Hello,

I'd like to make a point that bears extreme reflection for people here.

When you don't understand something, ask. If you are annoyed or offended by something, it is possible that you aren't understanding it, rather than it actually being what is upsetting you. Oh, maybe it is the awful and terrible thing that would be best served by getting your dander up. But check first.

In other words, not one person has asked, "Gee, Ron, what do you mean by putting the word 'industry' in quotes?" No - instead, you read a lip-curl into my expression or a certain snobbery-gleam in my eye as I type.

I'm not in the habit of correcting impressions that I think are based on overly-hasty judgments and snap reactions; I prefer to let people live with the consequences of such behavior, regardless of its impact on me. I am emphatically not a fan of the outlook of "be aware that you might be misunderstood, and take all possible pains to avoid it." I'm instead all about, be sure of what you're reacting to, and ask first if at all possible.

There's a reason for the quotes. All you ever had to do was ask. And no, at the moment I'm not inclined to offer the reason. I'll reserve a little cooling-off period first for myself.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: M. J. Young on May 12, 2004, 08:03:55 PM
Quote from: John Kim
As far as I've seen, that interpretation is correct perception of the intent.  While they may have justification for doing so, the people who use quotes around the word "industry" are stating that RPG publishers do not merit being called an industry.  If not that, then what do you think the quotes are for?
You might be right that it is often intended that way; but I think that it is sometimes used a different way.

The problem, I think, is that many of us are on the edge of the industry. I was an early member of the Game Industry Underground list (seems to have died), but never on the "big" lists (the WZL or something like that). Ron won the Diana Jones Award, but is perceived as being an independent, an "outsider".

Being on the edge of the industry, even we ourselves aren't always certain whether we're in it our out of it. Perhaps we're sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other. But in talking of the industry as if it's something "other", we are excluding ourselves; and for those who use the term to refer to some companies, it becomes rather uncomfortable in a way for those of us whose companies and publications are excluded by that usage. It's like, what are we, chopped liver?

So the use of quotation marks could indicate that the term is being used in a really inaccurate way, to refer to a part of the whole for which there isn't a particularly good name.

For comparison, look at the movie "industry". Is Michael Moore part of it? His Bowling for Columbine is on the new release rack at my local Blockbuster, but I understand that Disney has refused to release his next movie. Most people would regard him as an independent, but as an independent whose movies have at least some mainstream distribution, is he not part of the industry? A lot of game stores have Little Fears on the shelf; is it industry?  Very few game stores carry Multiverser--but nearly all online bookstores do, and most bookstores can and will get it for you. Does that put me in the industry, or outside it? Gareth Michael Skarka once railed against me that I was nobody, because he couldn't find a single game distributor carrying my game; but my game was in far more bookstores than his.

So there is this thing called the role playing game industry, but no one really knows where its borders are, or who is in it, or who is out of it. I know it exists, but I can't define it.

I'm not one who uses quotes around it; I don't usually talk about it really--it seems irrelevant to me, most of the time. But I can understand the usage as being uncertain rather than judgmental.

--M. J. Young


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: xiombarg on May 12, 2004, 08:06:08 PM
Well, as I said in the LJ post I linked to, I only know why I put it in quotes, and certainly didn't want to presume why any other poster -- including Ron -- decided to do so.

Certainly I know I would have liked to have been asked what I meant by that rather than jumping to conclusions. I just wanted to mention a reason for said conclusions that I hadn't considered.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: M. J. Young on May 12, 2004, 08:07:52 PM
Permit me to note that I cross-posted with Ron; he may have a different reason--I've never asked, because I assumed it was non-judgmental.

--M. J. Young


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: xiombarg on May 12, 2004, 08:18:12 PM
Quote from: M. J. Young
Permit me to note that I cross-posted with Ron; he may have a different reason--I've never asked, because I assumed it was non-judgmental.

Your comments are highly relevant, however. When I mentioned scare quotes, it was because it was something I hadn't heard of that explained the reaction, rather than what I thought was actually going on. As an English major, I'm aware of all sorts of ways to use quotes. :)


Title: Re: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: John Kim on May 12, 2004, 09:20:14 PM
OK,

Upon reflection, my comments poorly timed and fanned some flames here.  Taken on their own, though, I don't think they should be terribly controversial.  Ron has been openly and indeed bluntly critical of RPG publishing over the past three decades -- it was true when he wrote "The Nuked Apple Cart" and it remains true today.  All I'm saying is that I expect that RPG industry folk who read that article or a similar posting will take exception to it -- including things like saying "so-called" and putting quotes around the word industry.  Maybe it'll also give them pause to reflect on what they're doing, and see flaws in the system.  But I think it's unreasonable to expect them to not take exception to it.  

To turn this in a constructive direction -- the question is, what are we going to do about this in the future?  i.e. If someone like Pramas takes exception and says something equally critical about the Forge, how are we going to deal with it?


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Rob Carriere on May 13, 2004, 12:12:42 AM
First, I do not know what Ron meant when he wrote ``the so-called RPG "industry"''. I assumed that it was non-judgemental simply from how the post parsed.

Second, industry, schmindustry. Yes, I know that especially American financial analysts will tell you that the water industry in their shower market was going down precipitously this morning and for a while even the soap went bearish until it was stopped by technical support at the bath tub level. Yes, I even charitably assume that makes sense to them. But beyond that limited world?

Does anybody really think it would be good if you ran a small publisher like a steel plant, or a car assembly facility, or a paint factory, or an oil rig? That's industry. A fanatical attention to process and repeatability, to assurance and certainty, to producing to tolerances that take complex equipment to even measure and to putting out exact copies of what you put out yesterday.

By industrial standards, the RPG "industry" is jaw-droppingly sloppy, inconstant and even ignorant of their performance metrics. And they should be. They're playing a very different game, where you need very different characteristics to survive and thrive. They live in markets that shift more rapidly, are less predictable and a lot smaller. They put out products where no two are ever the same. They need significant creativity for each new product, and so on. The printshop that prints up your books and boxes, hopefully they are run like an industry, but not the publisher.

SR
--


Title: Re: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: greyorm on May 13, 2004, 05:36:26 AM
Quote from: John Kim
But I think it's unreasonable to expect them to not take exception to it.

I think it's entirely reasonable for grown, mature adults to behave like...grown, mature adults. Which means taking adolescent reactionary stances, getting all steamed about some supposed blemish upon one's honor, and taking anything personally that isn't personal are right out.

Once you mix defensiveness into any discussion, you get the crap we've already seen, and can go nowhere because you then have emotional investment in your stance being right, and in not giving an inch.

So, no, I don't find it unreasonable at all.
Like I said, "Gods forbid anyone have an opinion." Now let me add the unspoken, "Because it might bruise someone else's ego."


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Andrew Norris on May 13, 2004, 08:06:24 AM
I can tell you how I read the phrase 'so-called "industry"', because to me it tapped into something that I've read numerous RPG authors say -- the fact that if you were in this just for money, it was a bad move.

Regardless of the size of your business within the field, you're not going to be rolling in money. Most people regard working in the field as being a terrible time-money gamble if you're comparing it against something like working at a large company or owning your own sandwich shop. That means that the people who are in it are passionate about what they do, and they choose to do it for reasons that are not purely monetary.

That's the type of "industry" we're talking about. Some people in other businesses would laugh out loud at the volume and margins being dealt with, and ask why anyone would want to work in this business.

And I'm sure that some people in the business would respond defensively to that assertion, but it's true. Nobody's in the roleplaying games business unless they care about "more than money". I don't think that's offensive at all.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 13, 2004, 11:49:29 AM
Lesse. What Andrew, Rob, and MJ said.

That said, I don't think that the blow up that happened was at all over the use of quotes. It had been done a lot prior to that with no problem. The context in which "industry" was used was far more telling than the quotes were.

Mike


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 13, 2004, 11:54:54 AM
Lesse. What Andrew, Rob, and MJ said.

That said, I don't think that the blow up that happened was at all over the use of quotes. It had been done a lot prior to that with no problem. The context in which "industry" was used was far more telling than the quotes were.

Mike


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 13, 2004, 12:09:19 PM
Hello,

John, you wrote,

Quote
the question is, what are we going to do about this in the future? i.e. If someone like Pramas takes exception and says something equally critical about the Forge, how are we going to deal with it?


My answer is, nothing. Or rather, no one as an individual is obliged to do anything. Speaking for myself, I simply don't see a problem.

That's because there is no "someone like Pramas." There's Chris Pramas. There is no "someone like Peter, someone like Simon, someone like Greg, someone like Rebecca." There are only people with backgrounds in publishing RPGs, who happen to participate or not to participate at the Forge. And they have no status, position, reputation, or anything else that pertains to how they should treat others or be treated here.

A given person may or may not be interested in learning what others mean and say here, and in helping them understand and improve their positions. It is profoundly important that everyone is equal in this regard, at this site. If he or she has this interest, then spiff. If not, then (eventually) ceasing to post/attend is always an option. Any participation in role-playing publishing, to any degree at all, is irrelevant to these preceding sentences. It's an important bank of information that can help others, yes, but nothing more.

When such a background becomes a source of status ("I am so-and-so, I am to be catered to") and/or an excuse to subvert the dialogues ("Any disagreement with me indicates your stupidity or dishonesty"), then wham - it's just another way to break etiquette here.

In other words, people with extensive backgrounds in publishing RPGs are not marked for special consideration, in terms of what "we" have to be careful to say or explain around them. Instead, due to that background, they are possibly at higher risk for not being able to participate constructively. I do not consider this a problem in any way - it's just another feature of all the multifarious outcomes of arriving here.

Now, if anyone considers this callous or non-constructive on my part, and instead decides that it serves some purpose to say or explain various things to people who've been involved in publishing RPGs, please feel free to do so. That's what I mean by no one being obliged to "do anything." You wanna? Go ahead.

Best,
Ron


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: GMSkarka on May 18, 2004, 12:47:25 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Instead, due to that background, they are possibly at higher risk for not being able to participate constructively.


Wow.

Just...

Wow.

If you people can't see the arrogance and hostility inherent in that, then this place has gotten worse than I had previously suspected.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: xiombarg on May 18, 2004, 01:00:08 PM
Quote from: GMSkarka
If you people can't see the arrogance and hostility inherent in that, then this place has gotten worse than I had previously suspected.

Hmmm, that seems to presume a monolithic "people" with a single opinion, which I think all these threads have shown isn't the case. Whether someone "sees" arrogance and hostility is all over the map, with a variety of nuances, which sort of puts the lie to the "cult of Ron".

I'd like to see you point back to the post that's from, though, as my Forge search-fu is failing me, here. It looks quite ominous out of context but I'd have to go back and read the original post in context to be sure what's going on there.

I think a lot of this comes down to the fact that if one has a problem with Ron's attitude, one needs to take it up directly with Ron.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Sean on May 18, 2004, 01:03:17 PM
I think there's some bad communications disconnect going on, GMS, because I know lots of people react to that kind of sentence in the same way you just did. On the other hand, I don't at all: I see exactly what Ron means, and I think he's right. I don't see it as 'arrogant' or 'hostile' to say that everyone's got equal status as a poster here, regardless of history, and that having a certain history which may lead you to expect a certain kind of treatment, which no-one reliably receives here, may make you more at risk for violating local standards of discourse.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: GMSkarka on May 18, 2004, 01:17:24 PM
There's no "communications disconnect".    The problem (and its one that has been stated by more than one person, so it's a little hard to write it off, and yet folks at the Forge seem to all the time) is that a lot of proclaimations about the industry (right down to the insulting cuteness of putting it in quotes) are flat-out wrong.

People who work in that industry, who are therefore in a position to point out that these broad pronoucements ARE wrong, are those that are claimed by Ron to be "at higher risk for not being able to participate constructively."

It seems as though "being able to participate constructively" means "swallowing Ron's positions and statements about the industry, even when you know him to be mistaken."


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 18, 2004, 01:30:06 PM
Quote
you people
I love the subtext, Gareth.

I'm not sure about inherent, but I can see how people might interpret this as hostile. On the other hand, it seems a tad ironic. If this were a site dedicated to, say, promoting Indie records, and someone from the recording industry came on the site, I rather think that the reaction would be far more extreme.

That is, the "risk" that Ron is talking about is in terms of cultural clash, I think, and is "our fault," if one has to lay blame. That is, the whole idea of indie is a rejection of the norms - even if irrational.

Take away the norms to which we can object, Gareth, and we'd be...what? Creator owned game design? Heck, I think the fact that we're discussing this as rationally as we are means that likely there's nothing Indie left about the place anymore. Not that I'm all that invested in "indie."  


Whatever you feel, note that "you people" happen to be a bunch of individuals (despite what it apparently seems to you). Those are Ron's words, take it up with him. He neither expects us to "follow" him, nor do we, despite what "you people" would like to think.

Mike


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on May 18, 2004, 01:31:39 PM
I fail to see how the subject of it being an industy or an "industry" has anything to do with roleplaying in play or design, but OK if you want to focus on that.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 18, 2004, 01:37:30 PM
Hello,

Gareth, I don't consider you to be posting in good faith in this thread. I think you are trolling and attempting to garner posts, preferably those in which the posters are losing their cool, by combining insults with virtuous hand-wringing. This is a game you play at other websites, and that dog will not hunt here.

For anyone else who's interested, tons of RPG publishers interact here with no trouble whatsoever. Many of them have offered corrections to any number of claims, mine included, with no trouble whatsoever. Some of them have accepted corrections (or new perspectives) in kind.

The passage Gareth quoted refers to the very clear, basic, and understandable principle that a site dedicated to self-publishing of X is often not going to be easily gripped by people who are dedicated to different forms of publishing. That's easily observed in music, comics, book-publishing, and whatever.

And again, as I stated above, my habitual use of quotes around "industry" is a pretty simple and basic thing. However, I'm not interested in explaining it to anyone who presumes, straight up, that it is a form of cutesy mockery; that's an exercise in futility.

Best,
Ron


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: greyorm on May 18, 2004, 02:25:46 PM
Quote from: GMSkarka
If you people can't see the arrogance and hostility inherent in that, then this place has gotten worse than I had previously suspected.

The irony, it is thick -- I mean, how do you defend being arrogant and hostile in a post condemning others for being arrogant and hostile?

Again, as I've brought up before, "Why Gamers Suck?" How dare you say gamers suck, you arrogant bastard! I'm not interested in any of your or your fanboys' apologetics, either; because you're a liar and they're just too blinded to see the truth about your behavior.

For those not with me, Gareth wrote a column on GO a long time back that dealt with the issue of why gamers suck, and he was pretty harshly critical of the traditional habits and consumer trends of most gamers.

As with my my little pseudo-rant against Gareth above, Ron's statements about the industry are all in the context, and how we choose to read (or misread) them.

Gareth chooses to see hositility and arrogance in the fact that certain people may not mesh well here because they expect a different supporting culture than they're expecting. But Ron's statement is no different than my saying most Christians probably won't feel comfortable or be able to participate constructively at Asatru gatherings (which would apparently mean I'm an arrogant, Christian-hating prick now).

Honestly, ball's in your court, Gareth: you can choose to be insulted by no one being insulted, or you can choose not to be and participate constructively (without recourse to stereotyping and insulting the posters here, please).

There's plenty of room for civilized disagreement here. I don't see Peter Adkinson or Ryan Dancey or Mike Mearls, or any of a half-dozen other industry types, running about in hysterics because Ron does or doesn't agree with them on any particular point, or has his own opinion.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: GMSkarka on May 18, 2004, 02:31:44 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Gareth, I don't consider you to be posting in good faith in this thread. I think you are trolling and attempting to garner posts, preferably those in which the posters are losing their cool, by combining insults with virtuous hand-wringing. This is a game you play at other websites, and that dog will not hunt here.


No, I wasn't trolling.  I was genuinely interested in pointing out in clear quotes why some folks hold the opinion of The Forge that they do.  Your own words were dismissive and arrogant, and that, bluntly, is hostile.

Nice attempt to cloud the issue through character assassination, though.


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: GMSkarka on May 18, 2004, 02:35:46 PM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
I fail to see how the subject of it being an industy or an "industry" has anything to do with roleplaying in play or design, but OK if you want to focus on that.


It's dismissive and insulting to people who work very hard for a meagre living.    It's the same sort of in-crowd "kewl iconoclast" BS that is present in such gems as "Micro$oft", "T$R" and "Metallicash".

We get it.  You're in the Club, we're not.  We're just the "industry".


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 18, 2004, 02:37:08 PM
You're character-assassinating me!
No you are!
No you are!

Pooh. This thread just became worthless and is now closed. All inclined to hold it up as evidence for my "inability to stand and fight" may take a number; I'd rather have that happen than see Forge space utilized for dick-swinging for one post longer.

Best,
Ron


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: greyorm on May 18, 2004, 02:44:37 PM
Edited to note my cross-post with Ron. Apologies.

Quote from: GMSkarka
I was genuinely interested in pointing out in clear quotes why some folks hold the opinion of The Forge that they do.

I suggest you might have succeeded better had you not casually insulted everyone who participates at the Forge in the same breath.

So don't give me any innocent surprise or this righteousness crap; you were just as arrogant in your "clearly pointing out" and hence just as hostile.

Quote
Nice attempt to cloud the issue through character assassination, though.

Oh, enough dick-waving already. Back to your corners, both of you. The rest of us will continue this discussion civily (and I hope everyone hears that clearly -- if you feel the need, think about the topic of the thread, and wait to post until tomorrow, because we've just entered finger-pointing circle territory).


Title: scare quotes and "industry"
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 18, 2004, 02:46:11 PM
Clearly a cross-post on that one. Raven, seems like you hit the same wavelength I did.

Closed for real.

Best,
Ron