So I’m at Origins this week! Great convention, lots of neat people to meet, learn from, new games to try, etc. I feel bad for writing something that’s about to sound like a complaint. It isn’t really. I don’t know what it counts as, exactly. But here goes.
Sexual violence trigger warning. Sorry if this is uncomfortable to read.
Call of Cthulhu is one of my standard go-to con games because it does well in the format, and I played a couple rounds yesterday, along with a game based on the Birds of Prey TV series.
My friends and I were comparing notes after the day about the various events we’d checked out, talking about our personal stories and so-on, and a friend asked, “Hey, did you realize that every game you played in today had a rape or a rape threat?”
Whoa, actually, I hadn’t. Come to think of it, it was usually to my character, too.
And I’m not sure what was weirder about that: the fact that doing a couple rounds of horror gaming means: a couple rounds of attempted rape, or the fact that I didn’t even pick up on that pattern.
Because maybe I’m shouldering part of the psychological blame. I like to play horror games. I like to play female characters. I was wearing a skirt (at the con, in person). I was like, I dunno, askin’ for it, right?
Upon further review, I guess I’m a little disappointed, in a numbed sort of way, that I had a character who was hypnotized halfway through a game, failed a luck roll to snap out of it, and then was, essentially, out of the game for several hours, since she had no agency to act at that point. I guess it made an interesting story for others to rescue her. I guess it’s a relief that she wasn’t actually raped while in that state, as that seemed to be the purpose of it, so far as I know. But it still sorta sucked I guess.
The last round of the day, I was playing a male character, and a big bruiser type at that. Only NPCs got raped! I didn’t pick the guy on person as protection or anything; I just sort of got last-pick at that table.
Then I caught up with my blog feed and maybe it was no coincidence that this article on Kotaku and this one on Critical Damage jumped right out at me. Like: man, what’s up with the rape today? What’s up with the games and rapes, guys?
It’s kinda just something I’m gonna have to deal with, right? Well, I am dealing with it; it had to be pointed out, and that’s spooky too.
2 thoughts on “A Day of Horror Games at Origins”
Yeah, regrettably, there’s a reason that gaming is not generally on anyone’s Top Ten Most Socially Progressive Hobbies.
I’ve run games at Origins before, and I dunno, I always feel iffy about including anything quite so extreme, period. Then again, the closest I ever come to running horror is running dark fantasy, and generally not terribly dark in my hands; more often still I’m running Star Trek, and…well, I guess you could argue that the Borg are a huge rape metaphor, or something. But I digress.
My suspicion: somewhat unfortunate coincidence that you landed in just those games on that day. I personally think that any game in which a PC is hypnotized and rendered functionally unplayed for most of a session is poor GMing, though.
Yeah, it was a coincidence (if not even that, since day one was my horror day). And, to be clear, I don’t think rape is a taboo subject. Adults can explore these themes in fiction. But three in a row was weird (and uncomfortable in retrospect), and the hypnosis thing sucked. I kinda nodded off for part of that game.
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