Barf Forth Apocalyptica

barf forth apocalyptica => the nerve core => Topic started by: evilseanbot on November 26, 2012, 03:23:42 AM

Title: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: evilseanbot on November 26, 2012, 03:23:42 AM
Heya, I was curious about something:

It seems like AW is a big hit with queer people. It seems to be pretty with it for an rpg designed by what I assumed was a married hetero dude

Was this the result of intentional design decisions to appeal to those players?

For reference I am a queer lady who tries to stuff as much homo-ing out in the game as possible.

Also, its very likely this isn't a good discussion for the internet. I'd be really mostly interested in hearing Vincent's take on the subject, and if he wants other people could chime in, thats cool too
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: lumpley on November 26, 2012, 02:40:53 PM
"Pretty with it" is what I was shooting for, so, great!

Intentional design decisions, yes. To appeal to those players, but also to appeal to anybody interested in queer rights and queer issues, including me, and to maybe prod people who aren't so with it but who are interested in the game for other reasons.

There are lots and lots of queer gamers, but most games are awfully shy about sex and gender. And by "shy" I mean hostile and appallingly regressive.

Ask me more! I'll be happy to answer anything on the subject. If I don't want to answer out here in public I'll say so.

Anybody else with questions or insight is welcome too.

-Vincent
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: Yarrum on November 27, 2012, 02:55:26 AM
I was pleasantly surprised to find a game where gender and sex were pretty open. But I assumed it was because post-apocalyptic society had stopped caring about things like that. Like everyone's all, "S/he's the baddest mofo in the hardhold. Nobody's questioning hir fashion sense, or that s/he's got a girlfriend and a boyfriend."

I would like to hear from Vincent about any specific decisions that were made to be more inclusive, or force 'shy' gamers to rethink their viewpoints.
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: lumpley on November 27, 2012, 05:28:03 PM
Sure!

But first, I'm just a moderately well-informed, somewhat out-of-date sex educator, not a queer studies or gender studies dude. I may show myself to be less with it than I think! I'll cheerfully accept corrections from anybody more with it than I.

I think the obvious place to start is with the appearance options and the special moves.

Instead of choosing your character's gender, you choose gendered components of your character's appearance. This means that Apocalypse World locates people's genders in how they present themselves, not in who they are. Same with the special moves: because they're gender-indifferent, they locate people's sexual orientation in what they want and get out of sex, not in what gender(s) they're attracted to.

So that's, I dunno, a provocative enough abstraction I guess, but here's where it gets really good: in order to arrive at your own character's gender and orientation, you have to build it yourself on top of that foundation. The idea that gender and orientation are constructs, not essential components of your personhood, is baked right into character creation. Creating a character means going along with that.

This is true even if your character's straight-straight-straight. The game doesn't basically presume your character will be straight unless you decide otherwise. No accommodation or blinkered tolerance here. The game treats straightness and cis-ness as a construction, exactly the same as it treats every other orientation and gender. It says, in effect, that straight schmraight, we're all queer here. A person can be straight if that's their kink, but it doesn't signify.

I think that this is pretty rad!

But... I've taken a couple of baby steps off my secure footing here. Somebody back me up or knock me down, please! Sean, maybe?

-Vincent
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: evilseanbot on November 28, 2012, 12:54:41 AM
That all sounds pretty groovy to me.

Oh gosh I don't actually have any other questions

Oh okay here's one: Was there reason why Apocalypse World was the game that has that queer-inclusive stuff written in in a powerful way? Some sort of timing issue or coinciding with what you wanted to accomplish in AW?

I'm thinking of it in comparison to DitV. I really appreciated the handling of queer issues in DitV because it was like "These judeo-christian-ish religious people think what you are doing right now is wrong." But I don't think of it as an approach that would have the same sort of wide-appeal.
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: lumpley on November 28, 2012, 04:04:14 PM
Cool!

Timing: I suppose so! It's hard to explain.

Apocalypse World isn't about the future, of course, it's about the present. The apocalypse has already happened*, we already live in a world where the old systems have broken down and it falls upon us to create the world we hope for from the wreckage of the old. What are we going to make of it?

I read a really interesting piece on post-apocalypses and feminism I wish that I could find again. It had looked at a variety of post-apocalypses. In each, had power-based interpersonal hierarchies come to dominate, or had they broken down? And for each, which portion of the audience found it "grim" and "depressing"? The conclusion the piece reported was that straight white dudes tended to find post-apocalypses where power-based interpersonal hierarchies had broken down grim, where, y'know, women and people of color and queer people tended to find the same post-apocalypses optimistic, and considered the post-apocalypses where a dude with a gun or a "pure" vision took control and led with an iron fist to be the grim ones.

I wish I could find it again!

But so now, whenever a random internet person says that they find Apocalypse World too depressing, I kind of go, hm. That's interesting. The hardholder is a trap for those people, I think: the dude with the gun, the pure vision and the iron fist cannot possibly make it work, but has to rely on - defer to! - people with stranger vision and more subtle, more flexible social arrangements.

In this way it's pretty clearly of-a-piece with Dogs in the Vineyard, I think, but you're absolutely right about how the different emphasis between the games makes them appealing to different audiences.

Thanks for asking me about this stuff! I like to talk about it and I don't get much chance.

-Vincent

* In the first ever playtest, after a few sessions the players asked me when the Apocalypse had come. Like, 10 years from now, in (then) 2018? 20 years from now in 2028? I said that nah, I figured it had been Reagan-Bush.
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: Antisinecurist on November 28, 2012, 06:00:48 PM
The hardholder is a trap for those people, I think: the dude with the gun, the pure vision and the iron fist cannot possibly make it work, but has to rely on - defer to! - people with stranger vision and more subtle, more flexible social arrangements.

It's related, but not directly, so maybe another thread, but have you talked about this before? Can you?

I don't see it - actually, I can see how it's possible that that's what the hardholder means, but I'm not sure how it requires it.

(In general I agree with your statement, in the game and in the life! But I don't see very much of it in the hardholder.)
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: lumpley on November 28, 2012, 07:22:08 PM
Have you played a hardholder?

(Not a dismissal! I just don't want to assume you have, or assume you haven't, in my answer.)

-Vincent
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: Antisinecurist on November 28, 2012, 07:49:23 PM
I feel like I have, but if so it was quite a while ago and I've forgotten most.
I've run a few games with them, but they don't tend to be popular in the games I've played - strange enough!

So, consider as I haven't played one and am working off my reading of the book and the experience with my players.
- Alex
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: lumpley on December 05, 2012, 05:20:06 PM
Okay! So first of all, the hardholder is a dude with a plan, a gang full of guns, some walls, a vision and an iron fist. The kind of person who wants that kind of character to make the post-apocalypse non-hopeless is going to see the hardholder as a way to do it. The hardholder is attractive to this salvation-through-hierarchy player, right? The hardholder or the touchstone.

Then in play, for the hardholder to actually make her hierarchy function on her own strength, (a) she has to roll 10+ on every single wealth roll, AND (b) the MC has to present no threats that violence can't solve, AND (c) the MC has to offer no opportunities that violence can't seize. As soon as there's a threat or an opportunity that hot or weird is better for than hard and sharp, the hardholder's relying on the anti-hierarchy - the skinner, the brainer, the hocus, the savvyhead - for help.

Does this make sense? It's not that the hardholder has to represent power-based hierarchy. It's that to a player who wants power-based hierarchy to give hope to the post-apocalypse, the hardholder is a setup. In Apocalypse World, power-based hierarchy is not a good route to hope.

-Vincent
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: Antisinecurist on December 05, 2012, 05:40:57 PM
I think, were I to play a Hardholder, it'd not be as intended, and that's probably the disconnect, for me. I can see what you're saying, though, completely! It just seems strange to me.

- Alex
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: lumpley on December 05, 2012, 06:05:34 PM
Uh, no, no, that's not what I mean. Your take on the hardholder, whatever it is, is perfectly legit, perfectly "as intended."

So look. Here's Anne. She feels that what the post-apocalypse needs is a strong, ruthless leader with a gang, rules, walls, and enforced hierarchy. Which playbook looks good to her? The hardholder.

Here's Beth. She feels that what the post-apocalypse needs is a central meetingplace of ideas, supplies, and services, where people mingle and exchange to their mutual benefit in relative security, non-hierarchically, and whatever power exists, it should exist to serve this flexible collaboration. Which playbook looks good to her? The hardholder.

There are a million possible hardholders. I'm only talking about Anne, the player who wants a violence-enforced hierarchy to hold the future together. I'm NOT saying that the hardholder needs a player like Anne. What I'm saying is that a player like Anne is more likely to play a hardholder than she is to play a skinner or a savvyhead, right?

-Vincent
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: Antisinecurist on December 05, 2012, 06:39:13 PM
Alright!
I'm in total agreement, then (and have been all along, funny thing).

My phrasing in my last post can be reworded, something like "I'm not much like Anne, so seeing the hardholder from her POV threw me for a minute.", not if and whether I'm playing the hardholder "right" (as if there's such a thing!).

Now, from that angle, it seems clear and pretty interesting.

- Alex
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: lumpley on December 05, 2012, 06:47:14 PM
Excellent!

-Vincent
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: jadanol on December 10, 2012, 08:07:44 PM
Wow, this stuff about power based hierarchy and queer issues. Clueless, hetero, white guy that I am, I had always found the apocalypse as presented here to be a very exciting concept, despite its endless want and desperation. Like it had a spirit of adventure even when exploring the landfills for something to sell or eat. But I never understood why I felt that way. It has a lot to do with that line "What are you gonna make of it?"

Perhaps the post-apocalypse truly is the great equalizer.
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: Petra Bootmann on December 11, 2012, 03:39:10 PM
Hi!

I would like to ask about pronouns in AW. I was suprised to find that pronouns related to MC and characters (Angel, Chopper etc) were "she" and "her" (MC's job is = her job is). AFAIK in other games (Vampire is an exeption) written in english there were usually male pronouns as related to Game Master and "he" or "he or she" as related to characters (Fighter, Cleric).

Why you chose this solution? For me it's something different (I wasn't used to it, but I like it very much), but I'm not sure what the conventions in english are now, especially in hobby (is this breaking the tradition or choosing new conventions?).

 
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: wildeL on December 18, 2012, 10:55:59 AM
Very interesting and useful thoughts in that topic.
Also, it comes in a moment where I’m playing with my friends an Aw campaign,  which is set in a world where women are dominant and men are enslaved (literally, in many cases), and are considered merely as a lower (if not the lowest) human being.
 
I think the main idea of our setting is the fact that a guy it is intended as a totally different species from the women.
That opens up a whole lot of questions about sexuality, in a more radical way. That’s the point where I wanted to get. The “old world” gendered habits are long forgotten, or maybe I should say totally unknown. So you don’t know nothing about sex, relationships, or any other issues related to gender roles, and you will discover and create everything from the basement.
[we are just at the second session, and I’m playing a skinner not mc’ing, so I can’t tell much more about our game itself. All we know for now is that we are slaves and live in an enclave run by a matriarch.] 
Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: lumpley on December 20, 2012, 05:25:37 PM
WildeL: Interesting!

Petra: In English, the correct gender-nonspecific pronouns are "he" or "they" (depending on whom you ask). It's sort of typical in roleplaying games since Vampire to use "she" for the GM and "he" for the players.

I decided long ago to use "she" by default, just because. I've been doing it that way for as long as I've been publishing games, with the exception of Poison'd.

-Vincent

Title: Re: Vincents intentions regarding queer concept
Post by: -t- on March 04, 2013, 10:10:48 AM
Quite interesting!

I wrote my bachelor in gender studies :)

Some peculiar ideas to have in mind when thinking about the genders;

*The One gender model

Everyone is more or less male, sort of like percentage of MAN. The less percentage of man you are, the more weak and different you are, both physically and mentally. Thus women, the lesser male, was easier subjected to the devil's machinations and was easily corrupted by demonic forces. This was the usual form of perceiving gender until about 1750. I'm simplifying this, just giving the core of it.

*Two gender model

With the advent of science, experiments, the unbanning of cutting open corpses, there started to be ideas that humans are divided into two genders. The genders became very important in biology, where all sorts of living things was divided by gender. All these differences are physical, you can see them with the eye, thus they had to be universally true.
But what about the soul or the mind? This had to be examined as well! Hysteria was a mental illness that more or less only women could have, to give an example.