The whole White Wolf thing…
It has become suddenly extremely pertinent and personal. Next week we have the Bes Din Time Travelling Convention, a special event game that we have been anticipating and looking forward to for over two years, the center of our three-part summer of special events. A reporter and photographer from the Hoosier Times is coming out to do a story on us. People are building time machines. Our guest storytelling staff has been working their asses off to put this thing together.
And we found out today that all the rooms in the Union are booked for the Walden University Graduation.
With tried and true storytelling aplomb that comes from doing this shit for several years, ancientwisdom and I weighed our options and decided that the best course would be to find another venue. At 4:30 I got on the horn with the Bloomington Convention Center, and by 5:00 I was signing the contract with them for the Cinergy West Room. It’s an awesome space and we’ll be the only people in the entire convention center next Sunday. It will mean a few check-in adjustments, but the biggest added benefit is that they’re going to put “Welcome, Time-Travelling Convention” on their front marquee. The one you see when you drive down College. Woot!
Don’t ask how much it’s going to be costing us. You don’t want to know.
So, we’re going to be discussing with the guest ST staff and our own whether or not we want to up the game donation to $5 to help defray the costs, but a chunk of this space is obviously coming out of our own pockets, moreso because it’s a summer game and we’re expecting a smaller turnout. We don’t resent it. We love this game and we want it to be amazing and awesome, and we recognize that sometimes this means that the labor of love has some economic contractions. I’m actually really excited to be able to use this space, and hey…marquee! How cool is that?
But coming on the heels of the White-Wolf thing, it makes me livid.
We are lucky in many ways. We have an amazing staff, an amazing group of players, some incredibly creative people who can create wonderful sets on a shoestring budget, and usually we have access to great free locations through the IMU. All of this means that we are able to create a visually dynamic and powerfully immersive experience for our players. But even with all our resources (resources that a lot of other games don’t have), it costs some money, and the cooler the experience, usually the more costly. None of us make a profit (HA! I’ve never known a storyteller or a game that did). I know that the staff never gets reimbursed for everything that we spend, or for using up our print quotas, etc. We do it because we love it, and because we want to make the experience as cool for our players as possible. As far as I know, none of our players has ever resented the small donation we ask for in return for all the resources we put into the game.
What White-Wolf has said by issuing their statement is that they don’t care about creating cool stories or roleplaying experiences. They NO LONGER CARE (as they once did), about pushing the boundaries of gaming and role-playing. What they care about is a completely quantitative bottom line.
MET revised Laws of the Night devotes a section to the importance of game location to the success of the game, encouraging more private locations with one large open space and a selection of smaller spaces. Among their suggestions are “…museums, restaurant meeting rooms, office board rooms, night clubs…”(LotN revised, pg 239). They also suggest that you “Choose locations that complement your theme and mood whenever possible. If you want to invoke a brooding, somber mood…you shouldn’t choose the front room of a pizza parlor NO MATTER HOW INEXPENSIVE OR CENTRALLY LOCATED IT MIGHT BE” (LotN revised, pg 239, my emphasis).
White Wolf acknowledged from the beginning that putting on such events might be costly in order to do them well, and has not until this recent debacle made an issue of this. As published, the game encourages innovation and creativity on the part of the storytelling staff, and acknowledges that while, “Storytelling is the toughest gig in roleplaying,” in the end, “it’s a genuine pleasure to run a game and witness your players’ excitement and enjoyment of YOUR creative efforts firsthand” (LotN revised, pg 238-239, my emphasis). YOUR creative efforts. The storyteller’s. Not White Wolf’s. Throughout the book, White Wolf presents the storytelling process as a collaboration between the published material, the storyteller’s creative design and implementation, and the players’ reactions and innovations. What they’re saying with this announcement is that they no longer acknowledge or respect those two other vital elements.
I’m not arguing legality here. I’m not arguing whether they have the “right” to do this. What I’m arguing is that consumer ass-rape in the name of the bottom-line is NOT an ethical or admirable practice, and in fact runs counter to everything White Wolf has stood for in the past as both a company and as a storytelling organization. I am calling them hypocrites.
How the creative and innovative have fallen. Fucking autumn people. I feel ravaged.