On Hack & Slash TV 2: OneBookShelf Bans A Game!

OneBookShelf bans Gamergate the card game! We talk about it and have a James Desborough stop by to talk about what's going on himself. (37 minute runtime)

But that's not all. We don't have easy questions for people. Why does James focus on making offensive and puerile games? How does James feel about Gamergate? Why doesn't James take a minute to read some terrible boxed text? What does James think about the cover art for Yoon-Suin?

Since the creation of this video, OneBookShelf has decided to ban the card game Gamergate. This is the first and only game they have banned. The full text of the ban e-mail is on my blog, linked at the bottom of the post.

Beloch Shrike https://plus.google.com/u/0/100807759232603150118/posts
Chris McDowall https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChrisMcDowallRPG/posts
Joshua Macy https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JoshuaMacy/posts
Jeffrey McArthur https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JeffreyMcArthur/posts
Ron Blessing https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RonBlessing/posts
and Special guest star
James Desborough https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JamesGrimDesborough/posts

The tweet in question:

The tweet of Fred Hicks comparing this situation to Ferguson:
Gif of tweet chain: https://archive.org/download/fredhickstweetfergusonobs/fredhickstweetfergusonobs.JPG

James Desborough's Bibliography:

Gamergate card game example:

Ways to support James Desborough

A 58 page thread about James Desborough by people who hate him, in the most unsurprising place on the internet

The origin of the bad boxed text, and even more weirdness from that module: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?148566-Example-from-the-worst-TSR-adventure-module(s)-ever-published/page2#ixzz3LQNTigLy

Suicide Prevention and Depression Awareness

If you are in a suicide crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

This video is Patreon Supported and patrons get to watch the uncut video.

The full text of the e-mail that OneBookShelf sent me as a publisher is listed below:

Dear Publishers,
We elected to ban a title from our marketplaces. Of the tens of thousands of titles that we carry, and after operating for 13 years, we have never before banned a title (other than for legal reasons). I hope those numbers make it clear this is not an action we have undertaken lightly, nor is it one we will undertake frequently, if ever again. Nonetheless, as this is the first time we’ve decided to ban a title, I thought a letter of explanation was in order.
The title in question is a card game whose theme is the Gamergate issue. The game attempted to present the issue in a satirical manner.
Normally, satirical works would be welcome on our marketplaces. However, we feel that there are situations where satire is inappropriate. For example, we do not think that a game released today that satirizes police killings of minorities in the USA would be appropriate. Regardless of how one feels about an issue like that, we feel that it is too current, too emotionally charged on both sides, and too related to real-world violence or death to make it an appropriate matter for satire.
Similarly, no matter how one feels about Gamergate, it is likewise too current, too emotionally frought, and too related to violence to be an appropriate subject for satire. Additionally, we considered that the violent element of the Gamergate issue has a basis in misogyny. For these reasons, we felt that this card game title was not welcome for sale on our site.
Note too that this is a card game, not a roleplaying game. Some may feel that if we were to ban an RPG from our marketplaces, that action would levy a significant economic penalty on that title since we have a long reach in the overall RPG market. This is not true of card games, where OneBookShelf is currently a tiny corner of the card game market. Our not carrying a card game should have minimal impact on that card game’s economic viability.
While we also considered the customer complaints on both sides of this issue (we are a business, after all, and we cannot ignore customer complaints and survive), these were not a major factor in our decision. Not surprisingly, given the gaming fanbase, many of the complaints we received were intelligently written and provided us with additional, thoughtful perspectives on the issue. Unfortunately, most customers were not in a position to review the content of the title itself and were therefore forced to be “judging a book by its cover” only.
Some publishers also complained about this title, and a few publishers let us know they would not be interested in continuing to work with us if we carried it on our store. We will not allow any publisher to dictate content policy onto any other publisher, explicitly or implicitly. If any publisher ever decides to discontinue business with us because our content policy errs to the side of being too open, rather than restrictive, then we will respect their decision to leave our marketplaces and wish them well. To be clear, no publishers’ comments had any bearing on our decision to discontinue selling this title.
Having now banned a title for the first time, we asked ourselves if we needed to establish any explicit policy for banning of future titles for reasons other than legality or production quality. Given that this is the first time such a thing has happened in 13 years, and given the difficulty of defining policies of this nature, we elected not to invest the time in creating a policy that would probably end up a poor guideline anyway. Our time is better spent getting back to retailing your titles to fans.
We carry a lot of titles on our marketplaces that some or all of the members of the OneBookShelf staff find morally distasteful (and we’re generally a pretty open-minded lot), but we find anything that smacks of censorship even more distasteful. We will continue to have a content policy that is more open than will give many of our publishers and customers comfort.
RegardsSteve WieckCEOOneBookShelf

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  1. Leftists only EVER support free thought and speech if it marches Lockstep with their GroupThink.


    1. Also Leftists frequently underestimate the POWER of Capitalization. #Capshaveaconservativebias

    2. Free speech does not mean that a company is required to sell or host something. It means that the government cannot ban it. If a company decides not to sell something because they think it will be bad for business, that seems more (economically-speaking) right wing (i.e. profit-driven free enterprise). Having said that, judging from the email at the bottom it seems to be less about business and more about their ideas about decency. Still, as they are not calling on other companies to boycott the product (at least I haven't heard they are) I would not class it as an attack on free speech.

    3. Free speech as the constitutional right, correct.

      Free speech as in the human ideal that one person should not be the gatekeeper of what others can hear or see, especially when that one person has an abundance of power, no.

      Retreating behind "Well it's not a breach of the constitution" weakens the whole stance of the argumentation against it.

      It is, however, their right to choose which products to carry and to protect their company image. The question is, was it really an independent decision, or driven in any part by the comments or implied threats of other parties?

  2. A complicated set of issues handle with nuance, nice work.

  3. I'd like to hear your thoughts on illustration styles similar to Richard Harris's ... abstract but not in quite so retro. A game illustrated in this style would be very interesting in my mind.


  4. Enjoyed hearing your thoughts on the cover. I really liked what you said about it being evocative of escaping the world and going somewhere fantastical (can't remember the exact quote). I'm bored of the quasi-naturalistic approach to fantasy art that you get in so many RPG books, and I think Matthew absolutely nailed what I wanted with this cover. As soon as I saw the piece it just put a great big smile on my face.

  5. Also the interior art is, I suppose, of a piece with this style in that it's all Matthew's work. Some of it is more concrete and some more abstract. There isn't a vast amount of art, though - I think probably 10 main pieces.

  6. What special snowflakes they are. Next thing you know, major universities will be postponing final exams to give their students some more time to block freeways and throw things at police. Oh, wait...


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