I have hesitated writing about this because some who pay attention to my blog while also knowing where I play games might know what I am talking about. This is not a post of me betraying confidence and friends, so I will keep names and some identifying details out, still, even with that. Nonetheless, I am starting to question if I should have come back.
As much as I hate to say it because I want to think the best of people, I am starting to wonder what friends I have. This server I play on has people I have met in person and may as well have real-life friends on. It is an online home for me despite the hang-ups that come with loving a game that does not always love you back, with all the baked-in colonial biases in mainstream fantasy settings. Colonial biases including racism, sexism, anti-trans, and homo/bi/panphobia, stories through only Christian lenses, ethnocentrism – all that. I work with the lore in settings and seek ways to use what is in it to make new stories and in the process, fight or minimize problematic tropes. People know I do this and I always talk about how I do it.
A recent incident has made me question what I do or if my stories are worth telling here, though. This is after months of feeling like I have no way to bring up my concerns or advocate for myself without being seen as a problem.
In short, I hate that I am also starting to wonder how valued my friendship is with people because I feel I am no equal. Why? I can have problems, and be held accountable for them. This is as should be for anyone. However, whether because of the power imbalances from some friends being administration or senior staff (and I am just a dungeon master/DM) or because of their societal privilege compared to my mixed background, I feel it does not go both ways. I have lost sleep because of old wounds being hit from deeply-rooted trauma and concerned whether I am losing a friendship to speak.
Some of the issues boil down to feeling like (feeling – I get it may not be the case) there will be an attempt to micromanage me and discredit me as someone incapable of running anything in a place I have done stories for, for years. I have made stories that some players have said were character-altering or helped them figure out who their characters really were. Yet, I feel now people in a position of influence in the server want me gone. To make an example of me because there were a few things that I will not discuss that give me that impression. They already have given me the message, whether intentional or not, that I am untrustworthy, something that a friend of mine already warned me would happen with them.
One of the latest issues that have bothered me is insinuating I am not going by lore when I have cited lore I have used in legitimate source materials. It was niche lore, and I made that very plain and clear from the start I was using this lore for a storyline in my questline posts and logs for four months. It would have been better to just say they are not recognizing the lore in question.
Even then, the part that was the real grievance for me, is the fact I was doing this for four months, keeping transparent in the logs about what I was doing, and also left disclaimers making clear that I was using a very atypical niche of lore in the source material. There were no surprises on my end, and I made that as clear. Despite this, there was no apology for the time this had gone on before I had to retcon story details.
Instead, there was a very condescending tone to the conversation with the person who gave me the feedback and a “don’t do this” like I am some child. Something that people do not appreciate from staff. Still, I would not have minded the feedback if it was given sooner, especially when they claimed this was an issue with umpteen other players and staff in the past. I had been transparent the whole time about what I was doing (or trying to be).
Some of my friends have already stopped playing or do not play as much for having this come up in different stories of their own. No one, no matter who they are, enjoys feeling like they spent time and energy on an idea that is considered obsolete. It is something I should have probably not been surprised over with that in mind, but I was trying to give benefit of the doubt. I was left disappointed this time.
One of the things that stress me out is when I feel I am wasting time on something, or have wasted time and could have been told something sooner to avoid doing that (or minimize how much of it is done). Instead, I was told right before I was finishing something. At least a few months’ worth of a questline (one plot per few weeks) could have been freed up for another project that might have survived the scrutiny of powers-that-be and the (dominantly white) gaze. Or, it would not feel like I did some lazy detail retcon to avoid people pretending none of the storyline happened.
In short, I do not like wasting time. I do not like feeling like I am treated as “not good enough” for anything when my hang-ups are no different than other staff members (or other administration, for that matter). If I am going to be reprimanded, I want to see it done to anyone else who has shown comparable faults.
Last but not least, I do not appreciate feeling taken for granted like I am disposable and like anything I offer can be disposed of without a thought. If it were not for the players in the community, and there being some stories that still need to be told, I think I would have stepped down by now. It is not a thought I enjoy, but if I am valued so little, then I should not be there. There is a novel and an article discussing some of the content of this post I could be working on, really.
The most heartbreaking part is friends are doing this to me. It is not receiving feedback or changing anything, like I said before. It is the fact I was not respected in my time, energy, and efforts with the way I was approached. I have said some of my grievances but have been given the impression going further will be dismissed as unreasonable, despite that I feel pretty invalidated right now.
A very tired,