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Author Topic: scare quotes and "industry"  (Read 10740 times)
xiombarg
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« on: May 12, 2004, 01:24:35 PM »

In a recent discussion my my Livejournal, one of the posters mentions something regarding "scare quotes" 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.
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
John Kim
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« Reply #1 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.
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greyorm
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2004, 03:52:41 PM »

Gods forbid we ever have opinions, eh?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
John Kim
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« Reply #3 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.
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ethan_greer
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2004, 05:14:06 PM »

Holy Jesus jump-up Christ. Can we give it a fucking rest?  I mean, goddamn, people.
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Asrogoth
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« Reply #5 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.

;)
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"We know what we know because someone told us it was so."
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 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
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #7 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
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xiombarg
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« Reply #8 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.
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
M. J. Young
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« Reply #9 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
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xiombarg
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« Reply #10 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. :)
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
John Kim
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« Reply #11 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?
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Rob Carriere
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« Reply #12 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
--
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greyorm
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« Reply #13 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."
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Andrew Norris
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« Reply #14 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.
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