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Author Topic: Disappointed with the Forge (re: White Wolf)  (Read 8276 times)
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« on: September 08, 2004, 06:15:42 PM »

Over the past few days there have been a series of threads offering thoughts on the new World of Darkness and, more often, White Wolf's business model and "real goals" or, really, speculations thereabout.  All of this seems to have come to a head when Malcolm Sheppard, who does regular freelance work for White Wolf, joined the discussion and began to disagree with some of the opinions being put forth.

Now, I have to say that it is at this point, reading along in the discussions, that I began to grow increasingly disappointed with Forge participants and the way they were responding to each other and dealing with their disaggreements.  Look guys, you know that the Forge is often dismissed or misunderstood as being a self-righteous place of crazy indie folks who hate "mainstream" roleplaying stuff (D&D, d20, White Wolf, etc.).  Those of us who hang here know this isn't true, but you're not setting a good example here or putting out the welcome mat.  If you have a personal bone to pick with White Wolf or Malcolm then please take it to PM or email and don't make the rest of us read through a thread with people snapping back and forth at each other.

Personally, I have had some great experiences with White Wolf games and would be very interested in having a real discussion with Malcolm or other people who've done lots of work for the Wolfies about how the company views roleplaying and its place in it, what makes their staff and freelancers get out of bed in the morning, and why they've made certain design and publishing choices.  That's hard to do if people aren't willing to listen as well as talk, if they aren't willing to be receptive to another person's point of view instead of instantly moving to argue against it or disagree.  I strongly prefer discussions to arguments and I think this one quickly degenerated into a lost opportunity, which is regrettable.
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Matt Snyder
Member

Posts: 1380


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2004, 06:24:35 PM »

Takes two sides to argue rather than discuss. I very much think that's what was going on there. There was precious little, if any, discussion going on there. People were NOT doing what this site's policies have demaned, explicitly so and lately. (sentence edited to include NOT!)

Do not post to be HEARD. Post to be understood. The threads in question went round and round because people would not acknowledge (1) what they wanted form the discussion and (2) whether they UNDERSTOOD the other side's posts. Rather, posts got louder and LOUDER as frustrations boiled ... because people did not have the agenda to DISCUSS but rather BE RIGHT.

It was bullshit. I yawned a lot.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2004, 07:00:14 PM »

Quote
Personally, I have had some great experiences with White Wolf games and would be very interested in having a real discussion with Malcolm or other people who've done lots of work for the Wolfies about how the company views roleplaying and its place in it, what makes their staff and freelancers get out of bed in the morning, and why they've made certain design and publishing choices.  That's hard to do if people aren't willing to listen as well as talk, if they aren't willing to be receptive to another person's point of view instead of instantly moving to argue against it or disagree.  I strongly prefer discussions to arguments and I think this one quickly degenerated into a lost opportunity, which is regrettable.


BL>  Strike up the conversation that you want to have.  No.  Seriously.  I'd be very interested to compare WW experiences with people.  I almost thought of starting that thread but didn't, for reasons of time.

The big bone of contention that started that whole thread was that WW was never discussed here (or, as far as I can tell, that is what started it.)  So change the initial conditions.

yrs--
--Ben
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greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2004, 08:47:05 PM »

I'm not disappointed in the Forge given this recent spate of pseudo-discussion. Certain repeated nasty comments about what "the Forge" believes or states have been made, the offender has been asked to qualify those, has thus far failed to do so (and has even gone so far as to deny he's done so), and has instead turned the discussion into how he is being maligned...and you're disappointed that the Forge hasn't rolled out the welcome mat?

I wouldn't roll out the welcome mat for someone who repeatedly made disparaging, negative comments about a group and invite them into my home all pleasant-like, and I sure don't think that's the answer here.

Frankly, I've seen a lot of reaction from a few Forge members recently that seems to me to be all about earning "cred" -- ostensibly "for" the Forge in places beyond the Forge, boiling down to overturning the image espoused elsewhere by (notably, only a few vocal individuals) of the Forge as elitist, exclusionary, dogmatic, etc.

That social cred, this "right thing to do" is apparently to be earned by becoming doormats for the critics, and letting them simply get away with things we wouldn't allow from a regular participant, because this vocal individual might say nasty things about us that make us feel (or look) bad, and then everyone might think we really are bad. Instead, we are to be walked on and be pleasant and "adult" about it.

I guess it is story time.
Many, many years ago, I was on a mailing list. This was a mailing list for Solitary Wiccan practitioners, and it was a fine, productive place for a number of years, very active and with a great deal of signal. The level of discourse and the quality of information and fellowship was spoken of highly on messageboards and other mailing lists. It was the place to go, and recommended as a great resource by non-members, if you were a Solitary practitioner.

After a while, an individual joined who had all sorts of titles, many years of practice as a Wiccan, connections with many other Wiccan leaders on-line, and who thought quite highly of herself. She also believed Solitaries weren't "real" Wiccans, which was also the subject of her first post to the list. She made certain to bring up this point in discussion repeatedly; it was used to criticize and comment about other list members, their beliefs, and their practices, on a regular basis.

I'm sure unsurprisingly to most of you, I was one of the most violently outspoken individuals, of those few who argued for it, regarding this lady's forced departure from the Solitary list because of her attitude and because she was not a Solitary (or even friendly to Solitaries).

Despite that this was a list meant for Solitaries to share experiences and spiritual fellowship, it was voted by the list elders this woman should be allowed to stay on the list, because "Wiccans are non-judgemental" and "everyone is entitled to their opinion" -- "you can just ignore her," was another catchphrase argument put forth in defense -- and as well, a few of the list elders did not want her to rush off to other lists and bad mouth our list for removal of her from it, which had been oh-so-subtly threatened through inference by her once the subject was publically discussed.

Within a couple very short months, the list completely collapsed. Wheezed, gasped a few times, and died, quite dead. "We're not banning anyone...banning sets a bad precedent," was the final word on the subject, and the list went from being the place for Solitary practitioners to meet and talk, to being a wasteland devoid of discussion and fellowship. A few notes were passed around after a half-hearted spurt marking the tail end of this saga, but sadly, the list faded completely away in a few months time.

This problematic High Priestess was very knowledgeable, respected, and opinionated; and she killed one of the finest lists for Solitary Wiccans -- not all by herself. No. The real criminals in this story were the list's elders, for letting her get away with the behavior by doing the wrong "right thing", and by doing so, ultimately doing absolutely nothing.

Right behind them in terms of blame were the list participants, who didn't speak up enough to say, "Get rid of her before she wrecks this for everyone"; mainly because most of them believed the "everyone is entitled to their opinion" line and failed to consider the consequences a disruptive individual not interested in furthering Solitary discussion or fellowship would have -- even if they were entitled to their opinions.

Now, you can all make of that story what you will, especially as it applies to the current situation, but here's my take on it:

You know, that one individual whom a viewer, at the very beginning of the zombie horror flick, knows is going to cause problems for everyone eventually, possibly/probably get most of them killed, due their attitude...and who should be shot for the good of the group. This is that lady, folks, this High Priestess; she is what would be referred to in on-line fora today as a troll.

Today I might note several Geek Fallacies at work in the above situation, particularly with the "no banning" argument, given the disruptive nature of the individual regarding the activity -- however, I'm not here to question the Forge's "no bans" policy, I'm including it to point out that I completely and utterly agree with and understand the need for harsh, asshole, unwelcoming, military moderation that ends up excluding or judging some people because of their behaviors, preconceived notions, attitudes, or whatnot.

To me, the current offender is deep into troll territory with a number of behaviors, even if there are some good points among the rest. But there is no rational discussion of a subject with a person behaving the way I see in the majority of the interaction thus far, and I don't see any other reasonable way in which to respond to the behavior than what has been done: to call the behavior, ignore it should it thereafter continue, and let whatever is going to be said elsewhere be said.

Ultimately, rolling out the welcome mat in this or similar situations once they've pissed in your doorway isn't a solution (especially if they then piss in your entryway) -- and if it is, it is a very short-term one.

Like I say, that's my take on it. Make of that what you will.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Doug Ruff
Member

Posts: 445


« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2004, 12:06:43 AM »

Hi,

This is my first post to Site Discussion, and I'm sort of hoping it will be my last for a while.

Having read the threads involved, I've come to the following conclusions:

1) During the discussion, Malcolm make some sweeping comments about indie games and their suitability for newbie players. IMHO, these comments were unjustified and it was quite right to challenge them.

2) Somewhere along the way, a line was crossed. Instead of challenging each other's comments, some of the posters were beginning to challenge each other's intellectual credentials. IM(not-so-humble)O, this isn't appropriate. I think that's the source of Jonathan's discontent.

3) Discussing 'who started it' isn't going to be fruitful. Let's allow Malcolm to state his case, and then we can address any issues we have with it. Ron has already done this in a new thread, in some detail. Why don't we give Malcolm the next say before attacking his position further?

Note: I am not a Mod, and I certainly don't claim to have the only valid opinion on what is and isn't correct behaviour at the Forge. But I don't think it should be left solely to the Mods to draw attention to potential breaches of ettiquette or policy - and I think that there were breaches, and they weren't all by Malcolm.

Can we just drop this one? I'm worried that this thread is going to degenerate into another row about the previous threads. How about we just forget about who insulted who, and move on?

Regards,

Doug
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'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2004, 10:05:49 AM »

Hi folks,

There is a fine line between expressing disagreement or disapproval, and knowing when to drop it.  It is important as a community to point out when people are dropping the ball on the courtesy and respect issue, but if someone continues to NOT listen, it does no good to keep trying to talk to them.  Obviously there will be miscommunications along the way, but usually after the second volley of "failure to communicate" I usually withdraw from discussion.

And, should I find myself unable to communicate with someone on a regular basis, I just stop trying to involve myself with discussion with them at all.  There are certain folks with whom it takes too much energy and effort to communicate the most basic of ideas("The sun rises in the east", "No it doesn't!") simply because they either enjoy arguing or don't know any other way to interact with people.

Discussion involves two sides listening and speaking.  Put time towards discussing with those who discuss, and less towards trying to "force" discussion to happen where it isn't.

Chris
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Andrew Morris
Member

Posts: 1233


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2004, 10:42:38 AM »

I'm with greyorm in this. He said what I would have, but more clearly.
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eyebeams
Member

Posts: 93


« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2004, 12:18:23 PM »

Quote from: Andrew Morris
I'm with greyorm in this. He said what I would have, but more clearly.


I wasn't aware that implicit ad hominems became valid once there was a consensus. Because greyorm is basically taking the long way 'round to call me an arrogant asshole.

I see a core of real discussion being steadily interrupted by such implicit attacks as well as moderation that discourages further legitimate discussion on a topic. And there *has been * legitimate discussion. It's just hard to follow its origin when moderation has almost destroyed a sense of conversational continuity.

I am happy to answer questions as well as I am able and chat about this and that. Discussions that include borderline abuse directed at individuals isn't what I'm interested, and I thought the community here wasn't interested in it either.

You folks know I don't buy GNS. You know I don't buy the dominant attitude toward mainstream roleplaying. If you consider my expressions of such opinions so offensive as to justify an ad hominem response, then I suggest that your priorities are skewed.
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Malcolm Sheppard
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2004, 12:20:55 PM »

Quote from: eyebeams
You folks know I don't buy GNS. You know I don't buy the dominant attitude toward mainstream roleplaying. If you consider my expressions of such opinions so offensive as to justify an ad hominem response, then I suggest that your priorities are skewed.


BL>  Yo.  I'm just curious -- what do you want out of interacting with the Forge?  How can we help you?

yrs--
--Ben
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Andrew Morris
Member

Posts: 1233


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2004, 01:31:29 PM »

Quote from: eyebeams
I wasn't aware that implicit ad hominems became valid once there was a consensus. Because greyorm is basically taking the long way 'round to call me an arrogant asshole.

Uhm...what? I agreed with him that if someone violates the reason for discussion in a particular group, that person shouldn't be tolerated as a viable participant in discussion. Why would you take this as an attack? Because, seriously, if he called you an asshole anywhere in there, I totally missed it.
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Doug Ruff
Member

Posts: 445


« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2004, 01:44:41 PM »

OK, now I'm wishing I was a mod.

Guys, seriously, can we all please drop it?

I'm sure this appears quite rude of me, but I really do not think that a group micro-analysis of what was said, how it was interpreted and how valid that interpretation was, is going to be successful.

I say that because this has become a very personal issue. Putting that issue on the boards only encourages more people to comment about it (including me - what a hypocrite!) and the whole thing will snowball out of control.

Please, trust me on this one.

Regards,

Doug
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'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2004, 03:56:10 PM »

Malcolm,

An ad hominem attack is one that attacks the speaker's personality, behavior, or appearance, in an attempt to refute his points. ie: "Malcolm claims apples taste good, but Malcolm is an ass, so apples taste awful." That is an ad hominem.

So, I'm sorry if you are offended that I am critical of your attitude. That doesn't make for an ad hominem, however. If you come into my yard and kick my dog, I'm going to admonish you for kicking my dog. ie: "Malcolm came into my yard and kicked my dog, kicking my dog was assinine." That is not an ad hominem.

If you want to make me (or Ron, or anyone) out to be the bad guy for critiquing your behavior because your behavior was poor, well, that's no one's problem but your own. It doesn't make me the bad guy, and, again, doesn't make an ad hominem.

Now, I've perfectly willing to admit that some of my comments elsewhere might have been ad hominem, but those aren't the ones we're talking about here, and if you want to take them up with me, let's take them up there. At any rate, your behavior specifically was not the main thrust of my above post.

But, if you don't believe you've behaved poorly, nor made disparaging comments towards this site and its participants as a group that are derogatory or false, or behaved in an insulting manner towards anyone, then we disagree about acceptable behaviors.

Now, recent posts on your part have done a bit to alleviate my concerns about your interactions, but you've a way to go yet before I look upon dealing with you without some wariness. Until then, I will stand by my judgement of your recent attitude and behaviors.

And finally, I'm not that complex. If I were going to call you an arrogant asshole, I'd out and call you an arrogant asshole, just like that, and get my ass moderated like nothing for it, because I'm not much of one to beat around the bush (just ask).

Ultimately, I'm with Doug on this. Let's put this issue to bed and move on, rather than dissecting it, though I would be interested in your answer to Ben's query above?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2004, 04:25:10 PM »

Come on, Rev.  Attacking someone and then agreeing to stop talking about the issue is bad net etiquette.  "I don't like you, but look I jumped behind the wall that says 'I'm done!' so you can't get me."  Take it to private email, PLEASE.  That last post was out of topic for my thread and doesn't belong here.

But look, here's a new thread where we can talk sensibly about White Wolf without degenerating into pot-shots and name-calling:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=135392

I welcome all comers who are interested in communicating and listening to what others have to say.
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eyebeams
Member

Posts: 93


« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2004, 04:26:06 PM »

EDIT: I'm done with the Rev side of things, too.

One thing I will apologize for is the fact that I have given the impression that I have contempt for the overall project of the Forge and the games that have come out of debate here. I don't feel that way at all.

Now over in Theory, I've talked about my impression of the process at White Wolf. I don't think the process is a bad one, but it has its flaws. The back and forth ensemble mode of game design, mediated by the cat-wrangling of development, can often dilute some strong central ideas. One of the reasons I've taken time to work on a game of my own it to do work that is bereft of that diluting effect. The reason I signed on my game with Prime Media is that it's primarily an author and editor driven fiction publisher, not a design house. My editor (Nick Mamatas) has a specific vision regarding the virtue of singular authorship and an unmediated, author-driven approach.

The Forge interests me because that process is at work here, and it is easy for me to see it taken to its extremity. I don't always agree with the rationale or the results, but it is interesting. In terms of specific games, I'm very taken by Sorcerer, since it's emblematic of a strong central concept that isn't affected by a dozen contributions, debates and what-ifs from other creatives.

One central question in my mind that I think the Forge can help me with is how to reconciule strong concept with my desire for a Baroque, toolkit-style implementation. I enjoy and promote drift, but want the advanatges of a strong anchor or orthodoxy. The drift I want is one that is conscious, rather than inadvertant, and supported by my basic feelings regarding the essentially dynamic, consensus driven nature of gaming that I enjoy.
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Malcolm Sheppard
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2004, 05:00:35 PM »

Quote from: eyebeams
One central question in my mind that I think the Forge can help me with is how to reconciule strong concept with my desire for a Baroque, toolkit-style implementation. I enjoy and promote drift, but want the advanatges of a strong anchor or orthodoxy. The drift I want is one that is conscious, rather than inadvertant, and supported by my basic feelings regarding the essentially dynamic, consensus driven nature of gaming that I enjoy.


BL>  Cool.  Thanks for the direct answer.  The game concept sounds intruiging.  Perhaps we will see a post in Indie Game Design soon?

yrs--
--Ben
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