Do politics and gaming Mix? Apparrently so.

Steven Trustrum Commentary

It has been a little over ten days since the Bestiary of GOP: Grand Ol’ Predators was released and the response was about what I expected. It’s a niche product (humour) within a niche (politics) within a niche (bestiary sourcebook) within a niche maret, so I didn’t expect it to turn over huge numbers (although it probably would have done better if the GOP candidates had kept their primary running as a race a bit longer.) However, it is solidly on its way to paying for itself off and I’ll still get to enjoy its release in the meantime, and that includes watching people’s responses.

Public response to this bestiary started only a minute or so after releasing the product on OneBookShelf when I announced the product in a recently created Facebook page for RPG Industry people. Such an announcement wasn’t unusual, as other people make them there all the time, and there was nothing odd about the announcement … a “here it is, just released” sort of thing. Pretty quickly another member of the group jumped on it as “hate speech,” accused me of for treating a shrinking market (gaming customers) “like crap” and said it was “stupid” because he believed most RPG players were right wing. The result? After dropping his tirade, he basically took his ball and went home by blocking me from being able to see him or his posts on Facebook.

So, who was this icon of the gaming industry, with his finger on the pulse of the market and the product design and publishing experience to take me to school minutes after the product’s release and without having read it?

I don’t know. I’d never seen the guy’s name before. After a bit of a search I found there were some entirely self-published game products he may have put out. The only info I could find in quantity were his font designs. Thanks for the feedback!

Then there’s Yamil, who dropped by the blog long enough to comment on this earlier blog post to assure us that he has plenty of experience with left-wing nuts. Comments on the blog are always welcome, especially when the poster is totally unaware of the absence of irony in their own words, and clearly hasn’t read the product. Thanks for the feedback!

There was also some of the comments over at the Gaming Den, where there was some actual discussion about the topic mixed in with people arguing about what libertarianism is and trying to hit me with what they consider “gotcha” questions. Thanks for the feedback!

The most notable response was the need to remove the Paizo and Pathfinder trademarks and compatibility information because of the santorum monster’s special attack, “frothy foulness.” As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Paizo was very nice and professional about the whole thing, and I exchanged a few joking emails with their representative about it. Thanks for the feedback!

Then there was the closing of the product release/discussion thread on ENWorld because ENWorld doesn’t allow talking about politics (apparently even if it’s an actual product … I guess they’d better hope no one ever makes a RPG that is largely about politics then, eh?) Thanks for the feedback!

The product has also received a review from someone who has taken the time to read the product. You can find the review here. Thanks for the feedback!

I also received several emails from other game writers and gamers that were either screaming at me as a “liberal propagandist”, to asking if I’d do a Democratic product, to the few who wanted to congratulate me on my sense of humour.

So, here’s why the whole thing amused me, from font-guy’s “hate speech” freak out to Yamil’s comment on this very blog. The people I’ve seen respond this way don’t realize they’ve proven the joke in the product works. They have substantiated my reasons for writing it in the first place.

I wrote this product because, as an outsider (I’m Canadian, remember) I’ve been watching the political landscape in the US for years and scratching my head with bewilderment over the absolute insanity that goes on in American politics without anyone in the system actually being able to step back from it and collectively say “whoa, are we really all this crazy?” From the whole birth certificate fiasco, to Sara Palin, to the Tea Party, to politicians disappearing for days to visit mistresses, to sending out pictures of political penises, to the many human cartoons that were and are in the running for control of the GOP. From the outside looking in, the whole situation is a long chain of absolutely off-the-wall situations that don’t seem to end and don’t seem like the sort of thing sane people would ever tolerate from government representatives … except that they are! It’s like someone took the script from a political comedy movie and decided that’s how real life should be, and the American public goes along with it.

So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that such craziness would inspire an outsider to make fun of the whole thing. Some people have asked in forum threads and via email (including some people whose names I actually recognize) why I haven’t given the Dems the same treatment. Truth to tell, it’s because there aren’t any Dems currently in the public eye who are so incredibly outrageous as these four.

One could argue, there’s Obama. Sure, he has gone back on promises, left many of the people who voted for him disappointed, and has made some huge mistakes … but that’s politics as normal. All the “secret muslim” and birther stuff surrounding him would make for great character stats in line with this sort of product … if they were true and not fictions created by his political opponents. So who is left? Anthony Weiner? Great material if he were still in politics. Nancy Pelosi? Sure, there’s political fodder there but, again, nothing that quite remotely to cartoon-like levels. The Dems are full of idiots and liars, just like the GOP, but there aren’t currently any that jump out as so absolutely crazy and self-satirical as the GOP primary contenders.

The GOP frontrunners are a comedy goldmine currently very visible in the public eye. And that’s the joke. It’s not about the politics, it’s about the craziness these four people represent and how close they are to incredible power in spite of being walking, breathing political parodies.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a humour product, and it’s the first time Misfit Studios has released one. I had forgotten how fun they were to write, and how stepping outside the box once in a while gets the ol’ creativity pumping. The funny part for me is when I and the product are accused of trying to make a political statement (again, I’m Canadian, people!) when, without getting into too much detail, I am not someone who sits comfortably in either extreme, right or left. Some of my political views frequently shock my left leaning friends, as they do my friends on the right, so the accusation is pretty funny to myself and anyone who knows me. The inspiration for this product is purely one of utilizing the comedy that is already there.

So, here’s my closing point on this product:

It is a joke. It’s not about the politics, per se. It’s about letting four people like this progress so far in politics in a context of total seriousness. It’s about using fiction to make a very obvious joke of the material that isn’t, for one reason or another, so obvious to many people in real life. Unfortunately, if you’re offended by this product, regardless of political leaning, and think it’s an attack on a political institution, you’ve become part of the joke this product underscores instead of being one of the people who is in on the joke (Yamil and font-guy, I’m looking your way, fellas.)

That, or I just really suck at satire.