A Call to Greater Fellowship 1

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. – Acts 10:34-35

Gaming, as we have stated many times before, has the potential to be a powerful tool for good. You need look no further than our dear friends at The Bodhana Group to see that.

It also has a dark side.

If you’re unfamiliar with Saving the Game, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post. My name is Peter, and along with my co-host Grant, I do a biweekly podcast about tabletop roleplaying games and collaborative storytelling from an explicitly Christian perspective. We agree that part of the responsibility of speaking about gaming from a Christian perspective is helping the gaming community be friendly, welcoming and most importantly safe for everyone, Christian or not.

Grant and I have been progressively more disturbed by a steady trickle of stories of people who aren’t like us (white, middle-class, middle-aged men) being given the cold shoulder, mocked, and even intimidated or abused by gamers, sometimes to the point where they leave the hobby or never even give it a chance. There was a time when I didn’t really know this problem was there – to the point where I got into at least one argument about the extent of the problem a few years back.

Sadly, I’ve been shown just how limited my perspective was, and what I saw during that process grieved me deeply and made me not a little angry.

We spoke about this with Mike Perna back in Episode 66 when we addressed the topic of gatekeeping, but unfortunately, in that episode, I think we wound up mostly preaching to the choir – our listeners, when we’ve met them in person and talked to them online, have been kind, gracious folks (actually, we’re kind of counting on that, but more about that later) and not predisposed to gatekeeping.

Which is why we want to listen to and share your stories.

If you have been treated badly by gamers, or someone else in the larger hobby, we want to hear what you have to say. In hearing your story, passing it on to our listeners, and talking about it, we hope to equip our listenership to notice the warning signs of gamer abuse and intimidation and stop it before it really gets started or just plain stop it if it’s started already. And frankly, the less you’re like Grant and me, the better. We want to hear from people of different ethnic backgrounds, women, people with non-traditional sexual orientations and identities, people with disabilities, people who aren’t neurotypical, people with differing worldviews, and anyone else who has a relevant story to tell. And, if you’ll let us, we’d like to share your experiences with our community in an episode (or maybe two) we’re chomping at the bit to record as soon as we’ve got some stories to share and your permission to do so.

We’re doing this because we sincerely believe that our listeners are a good place to start changing the community from the inside out. If you want us to keep your story anonymous when we record, but still share it stripped of names and locations, we will. If you want to come on the aforementioned episode and actually talk to us about your experiences, we’d be humbled and grateful. After all, God wants everyone brought into community, and that starts with love, acceptance, and a willingness to defend those who are being mistreated or oppressed.

To contact us, you can use any of the following options. Please let us know if you don’t want us to share your story on the podcast or on social media, or if you want to remain anonymous when we do so; and if either of those are true, please use one of our more private channels.

  • The comments section below
  • Our “Contact Us” page
  • Email us at hosts [at] stgcast [dot] org
  • Twitter
  • Facebook (either as a message or on our page directly)
  • Google+

If some other means or format is better for you, of course, let us know. We want your story, and we’ll happily work with you to help you get it to us.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. – Romans 12:9-13

If you are one of our many beloved gamer doppelgangers out there, we’d like some help from you too:

1. First and foremost: If you have a friend or family member who has been through this phenomenon we’re describing, please put them in touch with us.

2. Second and only slightly less important: Start doing some research of your own into this problem. If you’ve been blessed as I have been to game with a diverse group of people since day one and then your primary internet gaming “family” is the oasis of love and compassion that is the greater Fear the Boot community, you may find it hard to believe that the problem exists, so steel yourself and start looking.

Our goal in this project is to shine some light into the darker corners of our hobby until, well, frankly, the light is normal.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

Defining “Gamer” 2

Listening to the latest bonus episode of Game Store Prophets got me thinking. (Actually, GSP usually gets me thinking, but this time it got me thinking so hard I blogged about it.) Early in the episode, it came up that there are 1.4 billion gamers worldwide. That can mean a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people. On the podcast they mention that it includes everything from people playing casual mobile games like candy crush through serious board gamers like Tom Vassel and professional League of Legends players. The term “gamer” also has an interesting connotation to outsiders as well, because to some people, it indicates gambling. It includes console gamers, PC gamers, people playing Magic: The Gathering at the local Grand Prix qualifier, every D&D group since Gygax and Arneson, and maybe even the family playing Monopoly (and trying not to let the game devolve intro fratricide).

The more precise part of me wishes there were more specific terms, but then I hear Galatians 3:28 (“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”) spoken in Derek “The Geekpreacher” White’s voice in my head and I reconsider. I think maybe having just one banner of “gamer” to sit under is like having one of “Christian” to sit under; it has the potential to unify, rather than dividing.

Still, like “Christian,” the label of “gamer” will give you some basics, but there is a tremendous amount of interesting specificity to tease out when talking to individual gamers. Before I continue, I’d like to call for comments on this one in particular. I’ve met a number of our listeners (mostly at Fear the Con) which has been a great experience, and I’d like to get to know our audience better. So in the spirit of sharing, here’s what it means to me:

Tabletop RPGs: We just put Grant’s Shadowrun game using Savage Worlds rules on hold, and I have started running a GURPS game, but I’ve also played a bunch of d20 variants, FATE, In a Wicked Age, The Trouble With Rose, Ragnarok: Fate of the Norns, and probably more than a few I’m forgetting in my day. I’ve gotten small entries published in two GURPS books and a couple of PDF d20 modern books that were made to raise money for charity after Hurricane Katrina. Most of my gaming these days is via Google Hangouts, and I’d really like to get a regular tabletop gaming group together again at some point, but for the time being, the current situation is what works with my schedule, and I also have an absolutely fantastic group, so I can’t complain too much.

Digital: I am one of those smug “PC master race” guys (no, not really – I just like tinkering and don’t have a traditional living room set-up with a TV, so console gaming would be a serious pain and is also more of an investment than I feel like making). I’ve built my own gaming PC from components several times over and I despair of even making a dent in my game library before I die, much less finishing it all. I enjoy a lot of smaller indie games and “second-tier” titles from companies like Klei. I’m a sucker for game bundles and sales, and I really enjoy games that let me take my time and think about my next move. I’m also a huge fan of story-driven RPGs like Bioware makes. The Mass Effect games are my favorite game series of all time, and I gave almost an entire weekend of vacation to Divinity: Original Sin when it came out. Most of the stuff I play is fairly “serious,” but I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll play a round of Peggle or Bejeweled every now and then, and I’ll also fire up War of Omens and Card Hunter in my browser from time to time.

Non-RPG tabletop gaming: I played Magic: The Gathering a bunch back in high school (though never competitively) and got out for a long time. I recently got sucked back in by the Duels of the Planeswalkers computer games, and now I exclusively play the Commander/EDH format (though not nearly as often as I’d like). I enjoy board games when I get the chance to play them, but unfortunately, I almost never do. (Though I have convinced my wife and parents to play Dominion with me a few times, which is a lot of fun.)

Okay. That’s me. How about you? What does “gamer” mean to you, and how do you game?

Episode 30 – Long Campaigns (with Ben Rome)

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We welcome back guest host Ben Rome, co-author of Games’ Most Wanted and Assistant Line Developer for Catalyst’s Battletech line! We discuss the 2013 RPG Podcasters’ Charity Drive and our own fundraiser for The Bodhana Group – including a rundown of all the latest prize news. Then we dive into a discussion of long campaigns, using a four-year campaign from Ben’s gaming past as a prime example. We go over the advantages and disadvantages of long campaigns compared to one-shots and mini-campaigns; how to make long campaigns work; pitfalls they might present; and problems to overcome.

Scripture: Genesis 45:24Psalm 90:12-15Galatians 4:12-13

Episode 26 – Patience (Virtues & Vices, Part 8)

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We’re back with more virtues! This time, we’re talking about the virtue of Patience, and its glosses of Peace and Mercy. As usual, we discuss and define Patience from a theological perspective, and then talk about its in-character and at-the-table uses.

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 7:8-9Hebrews 10:32-38Galatians 5:22-25James 1:19-20

Episode 22 – Morals in Stories

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Back when we recorded this episode, Saving the Game had just turned one year old! That’s pretty awesome! A big thanks to all of our listeners, old and new.

In this episode, Grant, Peter, and Branden discuss morality in storytelling: How to effectively tell stories with moral lessons without pontificating, without insulting the other players at the table, and without taking away player agency. Peter also references an episode of Extra Credits“Beyond Fun” (S5E8).

Scripture: Micah 6:8Proverbs 22:6Galatians 6:7