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Author Topic: The bad incident at GenCon  (Read 8326 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: August 13, 2002, 09:14:40 AM »

Hello everybody,

I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Dee at GenCon. This is the guy who published Villains & Vigilantes at 17, and went on to many other games. He's one of the most enthusiastic, straightforward people in the whole business. I liked him immediately. He was enthusiastic and excited about the whole publishing-push the Forge represents, and due to some logistic hassles, he needed some space to display and demonstrate his current products.

This represents something pretty important: the attention of people who have been fighting the good fight for (a) creator ownership and input and (b) affordable products in the role-playing business for a long, long time. Another such person is Greg Porter, whom I also spent a lot of time talking with at GenCon, and I'll post more about him in another thread, some time. These folks' expertise and drive are among the most valuable resources any of us can hope for.

Jeff joined us in a big gaming-jam at my hotel room on Friday night, and he played in what was apparently the most outrageous game of InSpectres ever. (Over at my humble corner of the room playing Trollbabe, it became apparent to us that an NPC named "Ron Edwards" was causing some kind of terrible trouble at an event called "GenCon." I am given to understand that the fat guy in the Sailor Moon suit caused more stress to the PCs than the zombies, which does not surprise me.) We also discussed a lot of role-playing stuff, and he proved to be a thoughtful, interesting debate partner.

His current products represent where I think Simulationist role-playing design really needs to go: modular, affordable, powerful small packets for character and setting design. I was proud to display them at the Sorcerer table. On Saturday, I told Jeff that I wanted to emphasize all functional modes of role-playing at the Forge, not just the Narrativist stuff I had (admittedly very forcefully) advocated during the previous evening's discussion.

Then Saturday afternoon brought a disaster - arguably the one true Forge disaster of the whole con. Jeff set up a couple of binders and prepared a demo, and a fellow came to join him to play. Now, I know this person, pretty well (he's local to me). He's not a Forge member but he has played a lot of the games from here. He's also pretty aggressive and argumentative. I sat down to play too, but hopped up within a minute because the Sorcerer booth got swarmed with customers.

I missed the exchange that followed. According to Jeff, the guy immediately began to argue with him about how "narrative games" were what he wanted, and apparently he said some really insulting things. Understandably, Jeff decided to terminate his participation at the Forge booth. He was very courteous to me about it and wanted me to understand that it had nothing to do with myself or the other folks there, or with our mission as a whole.

[Jeff, if you're out there, and if you're reading this, let me know if I've misrepresented the situation in any way.]

Now for the punch-line - on Sunday, several customers showed up at the Sorcerer table, looking for Jeff's games. They'd heard he was there, they wanted the games, and all we could do was say, "We don't know."

This was the one thing that really upset me at the con. I hope everyone thinks about it.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2002, 09:43:02 AM »

That's beyond unfortunate. Wow.

Is there anything we can do to rectify the situation? Being a big fan of Jeff Dee's work, I am severely dissapointed to hear about this. I even had delusions that he might deign to join our litle comunity in earnest here. Fat chance now.

I'd ask you, Ron, who we need to string up, but from your post I assume that you intend to protect the offending individual. I understand that, I suppose. But we can't even get justice, which sucks.

The worst part is that I feel that Jeff will have gotten an opinion of the Forge that is not accurate. I would hope that we can take this lesson to heart, and ensure that we give respect where it is due in the future as well as putting forth an effort to make people more welcome. I'll start with my own rather imperfect performance.

I hope something good comes of this.

Mike
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2002, 09:55:40 AM »

Ron, I was not at all aware this happened, and I didn't get a chance to meet and talk with Jeff. Shame.

I had a similarly bothersome run-in or two with some potential Dust Devils customers. When I described the game to them and got the the "high-card narrates" mechanic, one customer gave me a flat, almost disgusted look and said, "Is this one of those storytelling games? I"m not interested in those." Yeah, I can see that. That's why you picked the game up and flipped through it nodding with interest. Right. No interest.

We tried to explain to him that, yes, one of the goals of the games was the have everyone collaborate in narration or "story," and that he really should check it out. He seemed mildly interested still, but finally said something to the effect that his group would never play it. They were "too old to change." Preferred their D&D/Rifts/GURPs and a couple more he rattled off that I've forgotten.

So I guess this was sort of the inverse of the Jeff Dee situation. I got over it. After all, Dust Devils sold out regardless. But it did give me pause about the game and about our booth in general.

By and large, the games present are asking a lot of what I keep referring to as the "traditional" gamer. And yet, on the other hand they don't require much at all to "get into." Dust Devils is 36 pages. octaNe is barely over 100. Trollbabe is basically one mechanic.

I say all this because I think it has at least something to do with how folks view the Forge site and our presence at the con (though I've only these two described incidents above to go on Con-wise). That RPG.net/Forge schism Clinton and others are  talking about today has at least some to do with this perception that we're making games that are too "far out" for folks.

I don't know what to say about it. I think it's a wrong headed of anyone to say with such derision that we're creating "one of those storytelling games." No, no no. We're creating games. It's that simple.

The trend here, pretty obviously, has been lots of narrativist design. Many active Forgers tend to play and design games that suit players who prefer that mode of play. My own Dust Devils does just that.

My hope, though, is that we see more and more games suited to all kinds of gamers, and that those games can satisfy the guy we "turned away" at the con. (There are, of course, notable examples already, like Donjon, which I think would be a big hit at the con should Clinton bring it next year.)

So, I guess I'm saying the best PR war we can fight is to keep doing what we do best -- make indie games that rock. Make games that matter, and keep that level of innovation and creativity high. There are bound to be many games that bubble up to satisfy any gamer!
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Matt Snyder
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joshua neff
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2002, 10:39:19 AM »

Damn.

You know, I wondered what happened to Jeff. He'd been hanging around & then, suddenly, poof! no Jeff. Now I know.

That pisses me off. Jeff was nothing but nice, friendly, & open-minded. (And damn, he's a really good gamer, too. That InSpectres game was brilliant.) The fact that he wants to produce cheap, playable games is, I think, incredibly important. The Forge needs people like him. (And to hear him tell it, he needs a resource like the Forge.) And that "narrativism is the wave of the future" crap is exactly why people at RPGnet get snippy when the talk about the Forge (well, one reason).

I really hope this situation can be rectified.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2002, 10:47:05 AM »

Understandably, Jeff decided to terminate his participation at the Forge booth.

Aha...that's what happened. That sucks. After counting my funds on Friday night, I'd decided I wanted Jeff's game, Pocket Universe, and its supplement. And since I'd already handed my badge over to Ron, and couldn't get back into the dealer room, I asked Matt Gwinn's friend Stork (whose real name is Eric or something) to go to the booth on Sunday, prior to our group's departure from Milwaukee, to pick them up for me.

But when he got to the booth, Pocket Universe wasn't there for sale. At that point, Matt Snyder went above and beyond the call of duty, and helped Stork track down the game for sale at another booth, so I got it. (Although one minor bummer was that the core rules didn't include the little yellow booklet of roleplaying guidelines that Jeff had included in the copies for sale at the Forge booth.) But knowing the story, now I think Matt deserves some recognition for his ambassadorship following the dust-up.

Waytago, Matt!

Paul
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2002, 02:20:40 PM »

I talked to the same guy, who harrassed me a bit about TROS' combat system and how it wasn't narrative enough. I terminated it politely, but I'm really sorry to hear that someone actually got damaged by it in some way. Darn shame.

Jeff! Come back!

Jake
who almost hit the guy, but decided that wouldn't be too christian.
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2002, 02:48:31 PM »

Let me join the list of folks who are . . . disturbed that something like this happened.  I was out of the booth at the time, or I would have been in that demo.  I'm not really familiar with Jeff or his work, but he was an *incredibly* pleasant guy to chat with Friday night and (as Ron said) his game looked exactly like the kind of thing Sim games need right now.  I wanted to see how it worked. Sigh.  Lost opportunities . . .

Back after a quick web search - Jeff's site is here .  Looks like the game is available from Wizard's Attic.  I'll be grabing it soon, along with a few other games I didn't manage to pick up at GenCon.  

Gordon
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2002, 04:32:47 PM »

I can't do much beyond echo everyone else's thoughts.

WTF.

I had the distinct pleasure of playing in the InSpectres session with Jeff and it was great for me in many ways.  I have a great many fond memories attached to Villains & Vigilantes - memories that include a now departed friend of mine - and getting to meet Jeff and play in a game with him was a privilege and an honor.  I was hoping we at The Forge would have an opportunity to further interact with and learn from him.

Hopefully we still can...

- Scott
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Jürgen Mayer
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2002, 10:14:22 AM »

Like most of us, I wasn't even aware that this happened, and it's really a shame - we had so much fun with Jeff in that InSpectres game and he was so friendly and had many interesting things to say.

I can only hope that he'll be back.
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Marco
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2002, 07:47:35 PM »

And all I can say is that sucks: he gave me the time of day happily (and we're no one). I was very impressed with him. While I wasn't at Gen Con, I'd like to have gone--meeting some of those people (and some people here) in person would have been wonderful.

-Marco8
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Doc Midnight
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« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2002, 02:32:44 PM »

Hey All,

I was at the Forge booth during Gen Con and I bought a ton of stuff from you guys. My intention was to buy stuff from guys who I have less access to than the talented Ron Edwards. All of you guys were excellent to talk to.

It's always been clear to me that the Forge folks don't all sudcribe to the same game ideology. I would expect that anyone who hung out here or talked to more than 2 of you would understand that.

I know the guy who insulted Jeff Dee. For purposes of protecting identity (which may have been one of Ron's intentions) I shall only call him..."Bill".

Now "Bill" probably wasnt born an ass. That is to say that is may not be a matter of genetics. "Bill" is however a child looking to belong to something.

I'm reasonably sure that he feels like in people from the Forge, he has found a bit of direction. He more than likely thinks that everything he's done in terms of roleplaying prior to learning about GNS, is all wrong. He clearly doesn't get that there are many ways to do this role playing game thing. GNS is about finding the style and group that fits you. This is to facilitate better overall game play.

When I first heard about the Jeff Dee incident, I thought that it was a clear case of people taking the wrong message away from some of the things they've heard or read here at the Forge but that could only mean that the Forge was all about Narrativism and damn all else. This seems to be how "Bill" thinks. "Bill is an idiot.

As near as I can tell, if there are 3 people less different in game Style than Dav Harnish, Mike Holmes, and Ron Edwards. I love the way those 3 guys exist in harmony. That means that the Forge is clearly not here to put folks down. There is no " We are better than you attitude" here.

Jeff Dee, if you're out there, these guys are fans of yours as well as your peers.

You pushed V&V out there when you were 17. Sometimes, a guy who's mentally 17 will crawl from under a Mountain Dew dispenser and feeling what it's like to be a part of the sexually active world (once removed) they may just be jerks.


They don't represent the guys at the Forge.

Come on back.

Doc Midnight
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Doc Midnight
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S.Lonergan
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« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2002, 09:35:26 PM »

... damn man ... that sucks ...
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2002, 02:16:56 PM »

Gee, that's too bad. Hopefully Jeff won't hold that one guy against the Forge as a whole.

Here's a question:
Is this "Bill" person a new Narrativist convert? That is, has he recently discovered it and he hasn't gotten over the initial "wow" yet? That kind of thing is typical of new converts and this condition can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple years, depending on the person.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2002, 02:18:43 PM »

Hey folks,

One thing I'd like to emphasize is that I wasn't present at the interaction, and none of us is fairly able to say who or what went down. Furthermore, there's no point in talking about the persons involved - despite Terry's comments, in the absence of knowing about the dialogue, it's not relevant.

Best,
Ron
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Doc Midnight
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« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2002, 07:48:11 AM »

Now Ron is absolutly correct. I was really just venting and choosing not to take the high road.

No one should really follow my lead. I head for dark places without much decorum when it comes to that sort of stuff.

Sorry folks

Doc Midnight
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Doc Midnight
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