Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Frank Mentzer & GaryCon
Point of clarification, in this post I'll be referring to the RPG hobby, industry, and community with the following acronym: HIC.
There was a vague announcement of legendary "Red Box" Frank Mentzer's guest of honor title/privileges being taken away over here on the GaryCon website.
Now, we have some answers... but even more questions with this FaceBook page (why is it always FaceBook?!?) posted, again by Luke Gygax, just a couple hours ago.
It seems to be a mix of new, additional bad behavior from Frank Mentzer, as well as, GaryCon pivoting with these times of social change.
Eventually, I'm sure we'll find out exactly what Frank Mentzer said or did that set these new events in motion. At the moment, I'm a little conflicted as to how I feel about the situation.
Like anything, social change has a positive and negative side. We've seen both in the last few years. Words like inclusion, diversity, equity, and toxicity sound great, like they're real improvements to the overall culture and gaming spaces. But they've also been wielded like a club, turning one segment of the HIC against another until the inevitable winners and losers emerge.
I've been attacked for perceived slights against "social justice." That's probably equal parts speaking my mind and speaking out against the internet outrage mob vilifying this person or that play-style or those games.
As always, we need to be careful not to throw the dragon out with the dungeon bathwater. I don't like the idea of erasing people from gaming because they've done something or been accused of doing something inappropriate or even harmful and destructive. Who among us is without sin?
But at the same time, I think we're all better off keeping the absolute worst individuals a ten-foot pole's distance away from our HIC. This begs the question, is Frank Mentzer anywhere near the same camp as Zak S? What about Jessica Price herself... where does she fall on the scale? What about myself, RPG Pundit, Grim Jim Desborough, James Raggi, or Kiel Chenier? Who decides?
Without knowing more, I'm going to err on the side of trusting Luke Gygax and attending GaryCon because I don't have all the facts, and because taking away Frank's guest of honor status is not the same as banning him from the convention, or worse, unpersoning him from the HIC. Plus, I have a feeling there's a recent indiscretion which forced Luke's hand.
To anyone who's thinking about boycotting (or simply not attending) GaryCon over this, I think it's too late in the day and we're too in the dark to do anything so drastic. Decide about next year's GaryCon when you have an entire year to weigh the pros and cons (no pun intended).
After all, I'll be there and my "problematic" attitudes and "toxic za'akier male" swagger will be in full effect. We shouldn't let politics ruin an awesome weekend of gaming.