Thursday, August 17, 2023

Three Quarters Edgy

I just ordered a book for my store from Indie Press Revolution called The Privilege of Play. It tracks the white male origins of hobby gaming from model railroading to the present, along with the discussion of how there's a denial this is the case. My grandfather recently passed, and his basement railroad was an inspiration for the family over the years. You can draw a line from my grandfather, to my fathers beloved train sets, to my own gaming. When I visit my parents next week, I'll likely compare notes with my dad on where we overlap, usually scenery painting. My son is an online gamer and we also find hobby gaming overlap in which to bond, usually strategies related to online games we share. 

When I ordered the book I wondered if anyone would be offended. I found the description intriguing, maybe challenging. Dipping my toe into the culture war certainly isn't my intent, but isn't it refreshing to be challenged once in a while? Yes, until they throw rocks, which happened recently with a triggered "customer" who didn't like we have a pride flag in the window. 

Despite rock throwing malcontents, I've found that I'm generally more conservative than my customers and staff. I think this comes from well, owning a store. Small business owners naturally engage in risk taking behavior, but successful ones intuitively know where the line is drawn. When I start to wonder if I've gone over the line, the answer, nowadays at least is, "No you haven't." 

I work within an invisible box of constraints that has allowed me to be successful. Even if I can't see the box. This isn't bragging, it's an observation, and maybe I would be more successful with a bigger or smaller box.  However, I think the box has been "right-sized" over time. There are areas within geek culture where you can push the boundaries and areas left well enough alone .. and they've changed dramatically in twenty years.

Getting back to my book, the reality of this book and all the various meta books I love to bring into my store is they sell poorly. I have a section called "Better GMing," which accounts for the slowest department amongst my role playing books. Most people just want to have fun, something important to remember. A few of us, and I know your names, also want to explore the meaning of that fun.