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You heard it here first! WE ALL CONDONE MURDER! Zomgosh.


I'm not sure in what universe "X is a good thing to tell stories about" does not implicitly endorse the entertainment value of X. Defending the use of rape (X) in storytelling is, frankly, revolting, and I am sorry to see you do it. A little piece of my heart died today. - willows

After all, X (murder) is a good thing to tell stories about. That implicitly endorses the entertainment value of X (murder), and thus is revolting and means murder is condoned in real life. So everyone, since murder is a regular theme in every single damn game out there, it's okay to go out and kill that highschool bully you hate so much.

Go on. You know you want to. - Morrigu, who really can't stand trolls and completely erroneous ways of thinking

(X) happens. -DarkheartOne, who is being a bit of a smartass, yes.

I'm reasonably certain that "X happens in a game" is rather seriously distinct from "telling stories about X is a good thing." Moreover, I'm not sure how many groups out there actually think it's a good thing to tell stories about murder; certainly, it's not a central focus of any game I've ever been in. Finally, if you so terribly dislike logical fallacies and "completely erroneous ways of thinking," I can't help but wonder why it is you are ignoring the very real and significant qualitative differences between combat, murder and rape. - Hapushet

I have yet to see a game which regularly involved combat and genuinely evil NPCs, yet never involved murder. If the evil Daybreak kills a few villagers to raise their corpses, if the Terrestrial commander showers your camp with arrows despite the presence of noncombatant followers, or if the local satrap withholds food from a starving village because he needs it to feed his army, murder has entered the game. Does this mean these actions are good? No. Does it mean that the ST is condoning or promoting murder? No. Does it mean that the game is more interesting than it would be if every enemy's actions were limited to challenging the party to single combat, and restricting themselves to the use of localized combat Charms to avoid collateral damage? In my opinion, almost universally. Vargo Teras
This is exactly what I meant by "'X happens in a game' is rather seriously distinct from 'telling stories about X is a good thing.'" Just because something happens in your game does not mean the game is "about" that. The game is about the PCs - it is the events in which they participate directly that carry the game's weight. If I say, "The barbarians looted and pillaged, killing and raping their way across the countryside," my game is not about looting, pillaging, raping or killing. If, on the other hand, one of the PCs is raped, or murdered for that matter, the game then becomes about that event, because the PCs feature so strongly in it. This is a non-trivial distinction. - Hapushet

The distinction between rape and murder in a game isn't a matter of whether "rape is bad", or "murder is good". You can't "legislate" it or invent overall rules for whether it goes in games or not. In order to be a sensitive and reasonable Storyteller or player, though, you have to accept that people often react extremely badly to having characters raped. Period.

It doesn't matter if you wouldn't care if it happened to you. It doesn't matter if you think murder is worse than rape. What matters is that murder -- and you can dissect our culture over and over to find the cause, but it'll still be true -- is something that 99% of the gamer culture has come to see as an acceptable ingredient in our gaming experiences, whereas rape is not. I frankly do not give a damn if you're putting rape in your games, as long as they have nothing to do with me; but I am going to tell you that if you do so without making very, very sure that it's okay with the rest of the people in your game, you are not being sensitive or reasonable, and you stand to potentially hurt someone.

It comes down to this: gaming is supposed to be fun. Obviously, this is a difficult and emotional enough issue that it could very easily suck the fun out of your game. Moreover, if you put rape in your games, you are taking a serious risk with both your relationship with the other gamers and sometimes even with their fragile little psyches. If you're willing to put the fun of the game, your relationship with the others in it and potentially their fragile little psyches at risk simply because you don't think you should have to ask them if it's okay and/or respect their wishes if they've said that it's not -- well, that's your problem, and I, for one, will leave you to it. And never game with you, ever.

To my mind, anything else said on this topic will never go anywhere; the entirety of this has been like watching two people argue over, say, whether a cyberpunk game is inherently better than a fantasy game. "Rape is okay in games" vs. "rape is not okay in games" is all a matter of emotion, not logic. All you can productively argue about is the social context surrounding that emotion, not the emotion itself.
~ Shataina

Mind you Shataina, I read your article and agreed with it a full 100%, so I hope that wasn't directed at me. However, since discussion wasn't tolerated in the other discussion and any comments not sounding off loudly with "Rape is bad!" quickly snuffed out with the witty retort of "take it toDiscussions/RapeIsGood" (a hyperbole if I ever saw one), I felt compelled to change the topic to an equally bad thing that was more condoned by society at large in gaming. That way, there can actually be some meaningful discussion on the subject of using themes that are not condonable in real life in games as plot devices. After all, I'm sure nobody here condones murder, but talking about these themes in the form of something that doesn't get as many knee-jerk reactions (murder) would be benificial to factual communication. That's all.
And let's be fair, even though brute murder is accepted by the overwhelming majority of gamers, I know quite a few who might have the same emotional baggage dragged up all over again in certain murder scenarios that they already had to deal with in the real world. -- Morrigu

Truth be told, our society (that is, modern technological societies in general, taking their influence primarily from western Europe) does glamorize certain forms of murder. Particularly vengeance. We tell a LOT of stories about it, and a lot of people do live their lives thinking that revenge is the best way to deal with it when you are hurt by someone, though it is lived on the small scale of most people's hurts. This extends even to "date movie" romantic comedies, where the plot often basically revolves around a slighted party trying to injure the offender back. Big and small, revenge is encouraged as a way of life.

Due to the influence of Christianity, another theme (which is often considered to make better stories) also exists prominently: stories which show revenge to be empty, and seek the answers to the "what now" questions the fulifillment of vengeance raises. However, the ideal situation rarely occurs, because it is difficult to make it work dramatically: ideally, according to the highest morals of our culture, it would be best to turn the evil person from his ways and make him an ally. The only story I can think of recently which pulls this off is the totally awesome movie Serenity. Watch it, you'll see what I mean. - IanPrice

I read somewhere that the Israeli army team responsible for cleanup after terrorist attacks have a low occurance of psychological trauma due to their work. This is because they can process their grisly experiences in a creative way that deals with the thoughts and feelings surrounding such things as scraping the remains of a child from all over a street. I see similar thinking in games that deal with dark sides of humanity - it's a sort of catharsis, a way to deal and dissect dark thoughts in a positive way. I wouldn't expect everyone to understand how me and my players handle things like murder or rape in our games, just like you can't expect that a terror bombing survivor would appreciate body part jokes. Still, it's necessary and can be entertaining by being part of a story that's emotionally and intellectually relevant to us. Categorically dismissing dark themes such as rape and murder in games as bad is frankly narrow-minded. Subjecting people to it against their will is a whole other thing, just as the fact that some people can't handle it. Resplendence

hear, hear. - Trithne