Much of what gets written here comes about because of something I've read recently. You see, I have a Facebook problem, I spend a lot of time reading groups about games; both industry groups and various consumer facing groups about a variety of topics. I can typically count on something I read to get me to rankled that I have a strong desire to write about it.
This week, something I've been reading a decent amount about has me so rankled I've struggled to write about it.
We turned nine last week, with our official grand opening having occurred 1 MAR 2009, and in every single one of these last eight years we have participated in Free RPG Day, but as I write this I'm just not sure about about a ninth trip through that tunnel, because I feel like supporting it means fighting a troll.
(See what I did there? I'm funny, damn it.)
Last year's Free RPG Day materials included something that was so despicably disgusting that I threw it away. I didn't try to hide it away, I didn't try to put it out into the world to some group of self-selected customers, and I didn't try to make it available on the down-low. I just chucked it. I mean, honestly, the customers I'm most likely to know on a personal level would have thought it was the same misogynistic trash that I thought it was, so they wouldn't have wanted it either.
Let's get something out there, just so we're clear. I am a believer in the First Amendment, the one from which all the others flow. As a former journalist I firmly believe that people should be free to write whatever the heck they want without the interference of the government. I don't want some "higher" power to step in and censor this smut, because I feel like I'm perfectly capable of doing it myself, which I guess is what I'm considering here.
You see, in a way, I've already done it. I don't carry the game in question in any way, shape, or form. I wouldn't carry the game, because I don't believe it has any place in the family friendly environment that I've built. That is where my problem with Free RPG Day stems from. Despite the fancy sounding name, 'Free RPG Day', we pay for this stuff. We buy these kits full of product selected by someone else, and then we give them to the end consumer. I can't speak from personal experience, because I just don't know, but I hope that with the amount of money I'm paying for these kits that some of it is getting back each of the participating publishers. So, if I send $576 off for this event, how much of that money is ending up in the pocket of a company that is putting out that I consider the most despicable and lowest form of 'entertainment' in the industry?
So I'm left with numerous issues to deal with. I can continue to support Free RPG Day because of partnerships that are valuable to me; Renegade, Paizo, Goodman, and a host of others, or I can cease to support the project, and possibly do a disservice to my customers and to those partners that matter to me. Does placing this order make me complicit in the gross misogyny that is being perpetrated by this single publisher, and then foisted upon my by a single distributor?
It really does feel like it.
That's why I just can't make up my mind. I've been told that the distributor will be happy to remove the offending materials. Of course, they've made no offer to lower the price of Free RPG Day kits, nor have they made any offer to replace the offending, not family friendly, and frankly, despicable, material with anything else. So, I can pay for things I don't even receive, or I can pay for things I'll throw away.
How long can I pay for things I throw away and stay in business? I don't feel like the answer is any real amount of time.
How long can I support the disgusting behavior of certain companies and do nothing and still look at myself in the mirror?
Not that long either.
Frankly, it's time for changes in Free RPG Day. It is absolutely time for the distributor who runs this event to set down rules. It is a time of increasing inclusiveness in our stores, in our games, and in our industry. Thought must be given to the inclusiveness nature of events like Free RPG Day. They need to be family friendly, and it is time to stop giving this horrible company a place to peddle their misogynistic filth. We wouldn't stand by if it was a product attacking a racial, ethnic, or religious minority, and we can't stand by silently during this attack either.
It's time to do better, and leaders in this industry, and that includes the people responsible for Free RPG Day, must lead.