Wednesday 9 March 2022

On The OSR And My Relationship With It

Following that last post, I want to make some things clear.
I am not going to name any names. Frankly, I'm scared of the people I'm talking about, and how they might respond to anything I say if it names them directly. Posting this is scary enough as it is. Besides, if you're plugged in, you know who I'm talking about.
Here are some things that have happened due to my involvement with the OSR.

  • I've been doxxed twice.
  • After I left an abusive relationship, I had people saying that I deserved it, and should be held responsible like my abuser was.
  • I've been called lots of slurs. A lot.
  • I've been accused of being a racist/antisemite based on... I'm not sure what. Whatever their reasoning is, it's a mystery to me.
  • I've had a lot of people try to out me as trans. Some who knew already, some who suspected.
  • I've had the fact I was stealth used as leverage against me by somebody who knew I was trans and unwilling to out myself.
  • I've seen a well-connected and well-respected writers and designers drag my name through the mud.
  • I've seen actual factual fascists given a seat at the table.
  • A friend of mine (who I'm keeping anonymous) had internet weirdos post pictures of their parents' house online because of some stupid vendetta.
  • I've seen people - a lot of people, close friends, designers I respect, people I look up to, partners - driven away from the OSR or from ttrpgs in general by the constant toxicity.
  • I've been stalked persistently.
And this is not to mention the never ending drip-drip-drip of vitriol and bitterness and spite that tinges interactions. The general unpleasantness of being around certain people, who are - for whatever reason - big players in the scene.
Here are some ways I've responded to everything above.
  • I don't play OSR games anymore. In part, that's because my tastes have shifted, but in part its because the negative associations.
  • I've locked down most of my social media fairly tightly.
  • The exception is twitter, which I basically just use for advertising and activism these days. Even there, my blocklist is fucking massive.
  • Talking about my old work is unpleasant. Stressful. Putting on a facade of positivity about something that's irrevocably tainted is stressful.
  • I've stopped generally trusting people involved with RPGs.
Is this level of toxicity unique to the OSR? No, I've seen 40k fans. But the OSR is absolutely one of the worst scenes I've been involved with (and I like black metal!). 
There comes a point where you need to stop making excuses for something that's hurting you and cut it out of your life. I hit that point about 18 months ago, and have been trying to distance myself from the OSR and my past with it since then.

That doesn't mean I don't like my old work. I'm still proud of a lot of what I made, but that's in the past and I'm not sure I'll ever be going back to that design space. I've left that shit behind now.

There's still good people in that niche, making good stuff, but that toxicity is basically like entropy at this point. It's only a matter of time before it hits their threshold too, and they leave as well. 

Finally, as a message to any of the people responsible for that shit who might be reading this:
Fuck You.