As a backer of Inverse World, I got the following announcements today and felt I had to respond:

As a backer of Inverse World, I got the following announcements today and felt I had to respond:

As a backer of Inverse World, I got the following announcements today and felt I had to respond:

To sum up the posts as I understand them, Jonathan Walton and the creators of Inverse World have amicably parted ways because of a fear on their part over a possible backlash against Jonathan over his layout work for another Kickstarter called The Misery Index (  Backers will end up getting 2 versions of the Inverse World add-on that Jonathon was supposed to write, one created by Jacob Randolph and one by Jonathan that won’t use any Inverse World IP but will contain the ideas he was planning for the book.

Now that the summary is out of the way, let me give my opinions:  I can totally understand Jacob’s worries about this. just had a 500+ post thread attacking Monte Cook and Numenera over a single monster entry that they felt was supposedly sexist.  That thread was eventually closed after it became so heated that 10 people got infractions and many others got warnings.  Now a new thread spawned with 365 posts discussing the proper way to attack games and creators for insufficient political correctness in a game.  Given that, and the the topics that the Misery Index covers, I can see full well why there would be a concern.

However, I believe in freedom of speech, not a fictional freedom from ever being offended.  I say good for Jonathan in not backing down or out of a project just because someone may not like it.  Reading over the 8 settings in the Misery Index, I think they sound very cool and original.  Sure, they are only for adults, but that’s fine, so is a lot of entertainment.  Maybe they’ll offend some people… those people should simply find another game to play.  Gamers and game creators (and anyone else) should not cower and genuflect to the Political Correctness Police IMO.  People should play games they enjoy and not play those they don’t enjoy, it’s that simple.  I hope the chilling effect of such public shaming matches on some forums doesn’t spread or deter creators from making the games they want to make.

17 thoughts on “As a backer of Inverse World, I got the following announcements today and felt I had to respond:”

  1. “Fear of a backlash” is a characterization so incorrect as to be breathtaking. They didn’t want to be associated, even indirectly, with a game that encourages roleplaying a brutal rape scene. For fun.

    Backing out because the creators feared a backlash that hurt product sales would be a small and venal motivation. To my understanding, this action was taken because Jacob Randolph and Brandon Schmelz care deeply about the hobby and don’t want to encourage the worst parts of it. By which I mean Misery Index, not Jonathan Walton’s work in general. By all reports, the discussions between the creators have been civil and amicable.

    An essential part of freedom of speech is being able to say “that thing right there is messed up”. An essential part of property rights – the rights to control one’s own creations – is being able to grant or withhold permission to derive works from that property. Nothing in this incident stifles free speech.

    edited to add: I’ve made a post on my own stream, and invite people to continue the discussion there, honoring Jonathan Walton’s request not to keep this going in here: 

  2. So it’s bad that they’re using freedom of speech to criticize someone else’s speech?  They should just stop looking at the speech they don’t like instead of being butthurt about it in public?  There is probably a lesson in here somewhere.

  3. I haven’t talked with the people involved, I’m simply going by the message sent to backers and Jonathan’s post.  Perhaps you have more information, but this was the impression I got from those sources.

    I’m glad the split has been amicable and that each will give their version of the supplement.  I’m not attacking or putting down Jacob, and I tried to make that clear.  I’m not belittling his motivations, whatever they may be, and he said he’ll do right by the backers rather than cancel the supplement, so that’s fine. 

    Freedom of speech allows one to state that they believe something is “messed up” and not to their tastes.  Massive threads filled with people trying to one-up the others in the virulence and passion of their hatred for a creator, their creation, and anything they are connected to even tangentially must be decried and where any dissenting opinion earns you an immediate banning are not “freedom of speech”, they are a witch hunt.  Their purpose is to frighten creators into toeing the line and being absolutely politically correct, and this kind of thing happens in lots of areas, not just games (see: Orson Scott Card controversy, for example).  I believe that just because someone has created a game I don’t care for is no reason to blacklist them and try to destroy them and anything else they might have ever done.  Doing that is the antithesis of free speech.

  4. Hey guys. There’s no free speech issue here. Also, the Misery Index doesn’t encourage you to act out a rape for fun. Just stepping in briefly to correct some basic facts. None of this has anything to do with Dungeon World either, so can we not have these discussions in the DW community? Personal request.

  5. I just think there’s some misunderstandings made about the Misery Index in general. The games in the index are simply there to get people talking about certain subject matter, they try not to glamorize or push an agenda at all but, I admit, on the surface it’s not easy to not look for the intention and judge at face value. 

    Personally I like how vocal Brandon is about this kind of stuff, he’s a great voice to have in the community. I just think his fervor may have kept him from objectivity. The game isn’t there to encourage roleplaying a rape, it’s there to encourage discussing it, which you find if you read through to the end of the game in question. Even if a game doesn’t treat a subject matter as properly as you think they should, I think intentions should speak for themselves as well and that people should at least be trying to make these kinds of games, even if they fail at doing so in your mind, because it leads to better games and productive discussion and does not encourage the worst parts of the hobby.

    So I get the passion and everything and I usually see eye-to-eye with Brandon on most issues, but this isn’t one of them, to be sure.

  6. Fair enough. I will update my initial comment with a link to a post on my own stream once I get home.

    Edit: Link is up, see first comment. If you wish, continue the discussion there, not here.

  7. Inverse World is a relative of Dungeon World and was talked about quite a bit here during the KS, so I figured this change was a relevant topic here.  The broader question concerns gaming and game creation in general. 

    I understood that Misery Index didn’t glorify the topics it discusses, but some folks feel those topics should never be in any game in any way, shape or form.

  8. To be clear, I know nothing about the specific situation. It’s not relevant to my concerns. I’m objecting to the idea that people should passively ignore things they feel are literally making the world worse.  It’s an oppressive idea used to suppress serious concerns and to reinforce privilege.

    Now, a bunch of people being angry together is hardly a witch hunt.  If that’s all someone faces the correct answer is to ignore it.  Anger on the internet is vastly overrated.

    Now it might turn into a boycott that matters.  (Despite knowing nothing of the situation, I’m betting against.  Anger on the internet is vastly overrated.)  A boycott is also not a witch hunt.  It’s a useful tool for changing the behavior of others.  It combines freedom of speech (to tell other people “Hey, this person or company is doing something bad, maybe we shouldn’t give them money”) with the free market (because it’s just rational market behavior to avoid a supplier who is working against one’s own interests).  If people disagree, they can just keep purchasing, so no problem there.  No one is forcing them into the boycott.  So what’s the problem?  Is it bad that people learned of something they disliked; should that speech have been suppressed?  Is it bad that people decided they were going to no longer buy those products; should they have been forced to buy them?

    The Orson Scott Card controversy is a stunning example.  The man remains a board member for an organization whose sole purpose is to to deny homosexual people equal rights.  He is working to make the world a worse place.  Some people want to pressure him to stop making the world a worse place.  Polite blog posts about how he’s wrong aren’t going to accomplish anything.  Spreading the word about what Card is doing and encouraging people to consider if they want to do business with him (however indirectly) isn’t a witch hunt, it’s an attempt at a public service.

    Ultimately you’re arguing not for freedom of speech but for freedom from consequences.  Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

  9. Alan De Smet   Do you only feel that way for boycotts and causes you support?  For instance, what if conservatives organized boycotts of any company that supports a cause they didn’t like, from gay marriage to abortion to donating to Obama and Democrats?  What if that hurt some people or companies you like and support?  Would you still say “Yep, totally valid, just freedom of speech on their part”?

    You see, freedom of speech is worthless if you only allow speech you agree with.  The true test is allowing speech you strongly DISAGREE with.  I would lose half my friends if I only chose to hang out with people I agree with politically.  I’d have to stop buying books I enjoy reading, stop listening to music I enjoy (looking at you, Springsteen!), and so on.  If I felt the need to ostracize everyone and everything I disagree with, yeah, I might have an infinitesimally small impact on their bottom lines, but the person I’m really hurting is myself.  Not only can I no longer enjoy their work because my need to “punish them” for their views outweighed my enjoyment of their other work, but I’m also hurt by shutting out half the world, reducing my communication with people of divergent opinions and lessening understanding and cooperation with others despite personal differences.  It’s by such communication that understanding grows and the ability to see other sides is fostered.  If I only ever associated with and patronized people I already agree with, there is no growth, no understanding of other views, both in myself or in those I interact with.

  10. Colter Hanna   Where would you recommend?  Jonathan disallowed comments on his post.  Inverse World’s KS page can only allow IW backers to post.  A forum won’t work because mods will forbid an honest and frank discussion of the topic. 

  11. I’m a few minutes away from finishing a post for exactly this purpose, Tom Miskey; I’ll update my initial comment with a link when it’s up. 

    Edit: Link is up, see my first comment.

  12. The National Organization for Marriage is actively encouraging boycotts against Starbucks and General Mills.  NOM’s goal is horrible.  Starbucks and General Mills deserve credit for the very behavior NOM wants to stop.  I really wish NOM would not engage in these boycotts.  But I absolutely respect their right to do so.  So, yep, totally valid, just freedom of speech on their part.

  13. I’m going to leave this post up for now, but let’s go ahead and stop commenting on it?

    I agree it’s an interesting, relevant issue, but it’s not about DW directly and doesn’t fit in this community.  I love that we want to talk about stuff like this, but let’s take it where it belongs, okay?

Comments are closed.