Sorry for the lack of updates, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. My theater show opened a little over a week ago, and I’m settling into a slightly less-than-crazy life schedule.
Last time I posted, I spoke about representation in D&D, and how awesome it was to see so many women and girls enjoying the game. I also talked about how I felt weird that my game only had two women players, next to the five men…a very one-sided ratio.
Well, a week after I had made that post, I received an email from one of my female players.
She is backing out of the game, due to some inappropriate behavior on the part of one of my male players. Now, before anyone rushes to conclusions, note that it was 0% sexual and 0% physical. Nothing horrible or illegal happened. No, this was to do with our wonderfully toxic political climate we’re all enjoying in America.
My female player in question (let’s call her Hilda, for anonymity’s sake) holds very strong moral values and opinions – it’s a trait of hers which I admire. She is not one to sit by and let things happen, to let stupidity reign. She’s an educator, and she’s very intelligent. So, because of everything happening in the government, she’s understandably enraged by each and every development.
My male player in question (we’ll refer to him as Reginald) is also strongly opinionated, and acutely aware of things that are happening in politics, but he doesn’t seem to like to choose sides. He stands on the sideline, watching carefully, and then inserts himself into political discussions on social media in order to debate the issues. He likes to get people to see the other sides of their opinions and stances, which can be an effective method of debating.
However, in Reginald’s case, playing the devil’s advocate oftentimes takes a backseat to outright poking and prodding at the people with whom he debates in order to get a reaction of some kind. And, in Hilda’s case, her refusal to accept sub-intelligent claims and arguments can get her in deep with people like Reginald…to the point where she no longer harbors any respect for them.
I can understand, though. Because, for Reginald, it’s sometimes really hard to tell if his debating is simply playing devil’s advocate, or if he is seriously stating his own opinions.
So, because of this, and some remarks that Reginald made in an argument – coupled with repeated refusals on his part to stop pestering Hilda and to stop tagging her in political posts on social media – Hilda no longer felt comfortable sitting at the game table with Reginald, and she felt she had to quit the game.
Upon discovering all of this, my heart sank. Two players of mine are now at odds with each other, and one of them doesn’t even want to play with us anymore. And why? Because Reginald wouldn’t stop commenting, arguing, and posting? I suddenly found this whole situation completely unacceptable.
This wasn’t right. Hilda was made to feel uncomfortable enough to not want to sit in the same room as Reginald because of his own actions and decisions, and so he gets to continue playing the game, while she has to sit out? No.
I made the toughest decision I’ve yet had to make regarding Dungeons & Dragons. I sent an email to Reginald telling him that, until further notice, he was not a part of our game anymore.
I don’t care that it was over political issues. I don’t care what either of my players’ opinions on the matter are. What I care about is maintaining a safe playing environment for all of my players. A place where they can come, sit down, and feel totally at ease with each other and to tell good stories. When that ease is destroyed, something must be done.
Because of his social media harassment, I had to kick Reginald.
When I made the announcement to the rest of our D&D group, I was met with sudden anger and uncertainty. Of course, Reginald did not take it well. I was afraid he wouldn’t, but tried my best to explain the why of it. Unfortunately, he has since denounced me as a friend. Two of my other players, who had recently grown to be good friends with Reginald outside of the game, were upset at me for making such a harsh decision.
I was suddenly looking at a possible collapse of the entire game.
I’ve since tried to explain my actions to the two other players who were upset at me. I care about them deeply. They’ve been my friends for a long time, and I don’t want to alienate them either. I hope they can forgive me in time, and understand where I’m coming from in creating a safe environment for everyone, and doling out the punishment for inappropriate behavior where it’s needed.
I can only hope that we can continue to play this game in peace, and that everyone still present can get along and move forward. We still have lots of stories to tell, and I don’t want to them to miss it.
To Hilda and Reginald – I’m sorry it ever reached this point. I wish I had known that things between you were getting this bad, and that I could have stopped it in time. To Reginald specifically – I’m sorry that you feel betrayed. I hope that you can be self-reflective enough to see why I did this, that it wasn’t simply because of political beliefs or opinions, that it wasn’t that you two couldn’t agree on those.
But when someone asks you to stop tagging them, and you tell them, “No,” then you’ve gone too far.