on Oct 2, 2007
Chainmail Bikini is now on strip #8. We’ve just finished introducing Marcus’ character, and as part of that introduction one of the other characters forcefully groped “her”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ll just have to read it or skip this.
This whole thing has caused a few people to object strongly to the comic, saying that I’m advocating “rape”. Conan’s fancy tiara, what the hell? I’ve held off responding because I didn’t want to jump in and argue with people before the jokes were finished. Now I’m writing about it here because the forums have finally cooled down a bit and I don’t want to get things riled up again. I don’t want to be a bad guest of FtB, so I’m a little more polite over there. I’m under no illusions about the impact my words will have on our detractors. Everyone has dug in at this point, but as the one who wrote the offending jokes I feel like I should step up and say something about this.
The situation depicted in the comic is actually pretty mild compared to a lot of real stories I’ve heard from players since I started writing DM of the Rings. There are players who have their characters rape (actually rape, not just grope) other player characters. They murder, torture, steal, and otherwise have fun at the expense of others. The story between Chuck and Marcus is tame in comparison. Really, what we have here is the metagame equivalent of a wedgie. We’re talking about comic characters who are themselves playing fantasy characters in a ridiculous world that none of us are meant to take seriously.
I don’t see the problem. This is a watered-down version of stupid stuff people do to each other in real games, all the time. The people who do this sort of thing deserve to be mocked in our comic as much as any other kind of gamer, if not more so. The series of jokes ended with Chuck enduring real-world violence at the hands of his victim for the actions of his pretend fantasy character. I really thought this would silence the critics, as Chuck didn’t actually harm Marcus in any way, but there are still people stamping their feet and demanding justice be done. I’m not even sure what they expect. Should Chuck endure real-world punishment for his in-game actions? Sensitivity training? Jail? Castration? Better yet, why don’t we just write a comic about a group of players who all respect one another in a friendly environment of collaborative roleplaying? Oh yeah! This sounds like a formula for comedy gold, man.
The main gripe seems to be that this series is sending the message that “rape” is “okay”. So let’s clear this up:
1) It wasn’t rape. It was, if we must ruin the joke by being explicit, a bit of boobie-grabbing.
2) It was in no way “okay”. Like everything else in the comic, this is a lesson in what not to do.
3) The perpetrator endured actual violence for his pretend actions.
4) This drama was played out between two pretend males who were pretending to be a male and female in a pretend fantasy world.
But most of all, the next time you think a webcomic is telling you its okay to rape people you should tell the people running the insane asylum you’re living in that you need more medicine.
LATER: Over in the forums, Roxysteve has charged me with racing right to the lowest common denominator.
Yeah. I actually did do that. A bit odd for the start of the comic, and not very characteristic of what’s to come, but there it is. We’re in the Screwing Around Phase of the game, before the players settle down and actually try to play.
At any rate, at least people have stopped accusing us of ripping of KotDT for once.
LATER STILL: Fair warning, some of the comments below get pretty edgy. I’m being more lax than usual, given the topic and everyone’s strong opinions.
AND FINALLY: This comment below is right on the money and has done a great deal to help me see the comic the way our critics are seeing it. Very interesting.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.