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March 1, 2013

Dear Reader,

Before we get to the meat of today’s correspondence, I feel obligated to report on some of the other happenings in Denver.  Not long after the last correspondence went out, I inadvertantly stumbled across a Davinci exhibit which was pretty awesome.  Plus, it was advertised as costing 14 bucks, but the guy only asked for 11.  Score!

Additionally, I learned some things about professional conferences.  Since my entire “conference” background is from large scale gaming conventions, I didn’t realize that it was inappropriate to yell out responses during what seemed like an audience-interactive speech.  They were announcing the board of NADE, and I assumed a little supportive cheering would be welcome.  However, after I yelled out “Big Money!” when the treasurer was announced, it was made clear to me that perhaps I shouldn’t be doing that.  Oh well, live and learn.  Besides, I think the dude liked it.

The various panels I went to today were quite interesting, too, especially one on using toys and games as educational tools and topics in a writing class.  For example, the panelist had her students play Go Fish and Crazy 8s, then write a compare contrast on them.  Ingenious.

Anyway, now to the topic of today’s post: authenticity.  As I’m sure you’re already well aware, both Ophelie and Rohan recently posted on these topics, both of then writing interesting responses to the situation.  I, too, have a response.

A lot was made when Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, a book sold as a memoir, was shown to be mostly fictional.  Oprah got very upset about it, for one.  Now, with Armstrong’s long campaign of blustering lies shattered around him, people are making “jokes” about whether his autobiography should be refunded, recalled, or the like.

Let me ask you this: if it turned out that I was actually a 16 year old japanese girl who had no background in education, only played WoW infrequently, and hadn’t actually played Magic: The Gathering Online or League of Legends, would that take away one iota of the feelings (I’d say pleasure or interest, but I don’t want to be let down if you correct me) you experienced when reading our correspondences?

Sure, you might feel irritated now.  I’m not even sure about that; there’s some pleasure that intellectuals feel when they’ve been duped in a light-hearted fashion.  We play tricks on each other all the time to solidify friendships.  But I digress.  My point is this: if something that you’ve enjoyed turns out to be inauthentic – fake – and you’ve come to no harm as a result (as opposed to “Oh, that lead free paint I ate was not aunthentic lead free and thus contained lead?”), then who really cares? 

And to take that a step further, if you felt no emotion about it at all, then I’d ask again: “who really cares” x2?

So what, then, motivates people to accuse others of being “posers” or “fakes?”  The same thing that motivates a lot of negative behavior (and some positive behavior): power.  Shutting people out of your group, excluding them, makes people feel and appear powerful in front of their peers.

Now, are there some dorks out there who see their buddy taking a stronger interest in his new girlfriend and, as a result, showing less interest in the dorks?  Sure.  Jealousy can certainly movitate bad behavior, too, but a lot of the publicly available attacks on “fake gamers” are far more about exclusionary power than anything else.

Shutting people out of your group implies that your evaluative powers are firing on all cylinders; that you understand what your group’s focus is better than others who were “unaware” of the fakery and, thus, are more knowledgeble while simultaneously proving loyalty by “looking out for the good” of your group.  It’s a simple, mean power play done in front of an audience.  What’s that bring us back to, then?

Good Ol' Bully Graphic, you've served me well.

Good Ol’ Bully Graphic, you’ve served me well.

Bullying, plain and simple.  Exclusion from a group is one of the most prevalent and painful form of bullying that people (particularly girls) have to deal with when they’re growing up, and here it is rearing it’s ugly, infuriating head again in an activity that’s supposed to represent a safe space, and it pisses me off.  It is a disgusting, vile attack that the audience should respond to with jeers and boos towards the bully or, at least, with an intellectual rebuttal.  As Gabe’s character on Penny Arcade says, “There is no gate.  You are not a gatekeeper.”

-Stubborn breathes in and out, composing himself-

So what to take away?  If you’re having fun doing something, then enjoy it.  If someone else is there and is in no way taking away from your fun, keep enjoying it.  If, for god’s sake, you suspect they may not be as into whatever it is you’re enjoying as you are, then stretch out a hand of friendship and find a middle ground.  Inclusion, not exclusion, is the key to survival. 

The very reason we can have gaming blogs and not have rotten apples hurled at us in public is because gaming has embraced so many new people as to become mainstream.  To act like a priest defending your religious rituals from false prophets and infidels is self-defeating.  Convert them, instead, or have a shred of humanity and find out what the outsider likes and talk to them about that for a while so they feel welcome. 


Stubborn (and unusually incensed)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2013 8:43 am

    You seem to be conflating the ideas of authenticity and inclusion. I have no argument that gaming needs to be a big tent that welcomes anyone who comes to join. Most of my concern in the blogsphere is with concepts like forced grouping and disenfranchising solo and small group players “for the good of the game”. I’ll not only join the inclusion cause but I have a stack of brochures for the front desk.

    However, authenticity is something else again. A relationship, and blogger to reader is a relationship, needs to have a level of trust. If you have decided that gender identity, or being a teacher, or a cynical SE/PM, is going to be a key element of who you are it should be who you actually are. People have the right, I’d argue the mandate, to feel outraged when that trust is betrayed. And to be clear – I don’t care if you speak through a fictional voice and present it as a fictional voice, I can develop a trust relationship with that construct (and by extension with the author’s ability to maintain the construct) but when the voice is fictional but presented as actual you have betrayed a fundamental tenet of human interaction.

    • March 1, 2013 11:08 am

      I only mean to conflate them in matters of belonging, particularly in matters of exclusion. While I certainly think you have a valid point in regards to relationships, I would argue that the level of intimacy is key in the expectation of authenticity. This is a blog on the Internet, both of which should be flags for potential authenticity problems. There is no real expectation of intimacy here, so while a breach might cause you to stop reading, it shouldn’t take away from what you got out of the relationship. In a romantic relationship, I would wholly agree with you.

      That said, I do not believe in excluding people, even those who may be participating for inauthentic reasons. A far better solution is to accept them for who they are and put forward your best side in hopes to convert their inauthenticity to authenticity. In that way particularly, I do conflate them.

      I hope that better explains my point.

      For the record, I’m not a cynic, I’m a skeptical optimist. You have to be to be in education or you lose meaning very quickly. I also don’t know what your abbreviations mean, if you’d care to elaborate.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • March 1, 2013 12:20 pm

      Systems Engineer / Program Manager – I was actually referring to myself. And I am not only cynical but things like Blizzards “welcome all griefers” open-tap system for 5.2 keeps proving me correct. Though I think that this is more a push toward forced grouping than a baffling lack of common sense.

      There are degrees of trust. What I expect in a blog vs. a relationship are indeed two different things. But if I am reading a blog with the narrow expectation (and explicit trust) that the author is speaking from experience only to learn that it’s all fiction my trust has been abused. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want that person in a game, only that the position of authenticity that formed the basis of trust has been broken and the author is no longer reliable.

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