The Alt-Right in Gaming and Outlining the Pipeline

Empathy and the Reflex of Victimhood

I don’t normally watch YouTube, but several folks on my blog roll I saw John Battle’s The Alt-Right in Tabletop Games. So I spent an hour watching the video.

I recommend watching this, and take away a couple of things:

First, the massive growth of Role Playing Games (RPGs 📖) in the last decade creates an attractive “frontier.” There are many folks who may well be wondering about other RPGs besides Dungeons and Dragons: Fifth Edition (5E 📖).

Second, the Alt-Right, or whatever chameleonic name they’re donning these days, relies on stochasticism. They don’t need direct calls to action, but instead rely on folks tapping their own anger; Anger that’s been guided by propaganda and indoctrination.

They rely on folks giving them just a bit of platform. And they’ll keep popping back up.

I’m reminded of the following from @IamRageSparkle on Twitter:

I was at a shitty crustpunk bar once getting an after-work beer. One of those shitholes where the bartenders clearly hate you. So the bartender and I were ignoring one another when someone sits next to me and he immediately says, “no. get out.”

And the dud next to me says, “hey, i’m not doing anything, i’m a paying customer.” and the bartender reaches under the counter for a bat or something and says, “out. now.” and the dude leaves, kind of yelling. And he was dressed in a punk uniform, I noticed.

Anyway, I asked what that was about and the bartender was like, “you didn’t see his vest but it was all Nazi shit. Iron crosses and stuff. You get to recognize them.”

And I was like, ohok and he continues.

“you have to nip it in the bud immediately. These guys come in and it’s always a nice, polite one. And you serve them because you don’t want to cause a scene. And then they become a regular and after awhile they bring a friend. And that dude is cool too.

And then THEY bring friends and the friends bring friends and they stop being cool and then you realize, oh shit, this is a Nazi bar now. And it’s too late because they’re entrenched and if you try to kick them out, they cause a PROBLEM. So you have to shut them down.”"

And I was like, ‘oh damn.’ and said, “yeah, you have to ignore their reasonable arguments because their end goal is to be terrible, awful people.”

And then he went back to ignoring me. But I haven’t forgotten that at all.

Watch John Battle’s video to learn of a few of those actors in the RPG scene.

Each year, I get a bit better at listening to folks; listening with empathy and humility. And what becomes visible is a common tactic of fascism; where the script flips and the perpetrator dons the mantle of victim. Who flips the script? The perpetrator, or someone giving them just a bit of platform.

You saw this with Kyle Rittenhouse shedding tears in the courtroom, and the clemency given. Or Brock Turner given extreme leniency because the legal consequences of his actions would’ve impinged upon his future. There are countless other cases.

This is a tactic deeply ingrained in the culture of the United States. I suspect the goal is to redirect or diffuse empathy from the victims to those that are committing the wrong. To wear out or confuse.

As I was raising my children, I often told them, “Be wary of those who are trying to instill fear in you. Ask what they have to gain by you acting on that fear? And what do they lose if you don’t act on that fear?”

Listen to all the folks decrying Cancel Culture, broadcast from their massive platforms. They are flipping their script to play the victim card.

But I digress, and went a bit afield of John Battle’s video. Please take the hour to watch it.