This is a guest post by William Brinkman. He was a National Assistant storyteller with the Camarilla, and worked on the Demon: The Fallen role-playing game line for White Wolf. Today he writes the satirical tabloid, The Bolingbrook Babbler. He contacted me about body shaming in a live action role-playing club, and given my utter lack of prior experience, I invited him to write instead.
For about seven years, I was a member of the Camarilla, an international live action role-playing club. In their global “chronicle,” members played modern day vampires, werewolves, and wizards. In this combination of table top role playing game and dramatic improvisation theater, the characters would either plot against each other, or fight even greater monsters. The characters had to act like monsters, for fear of becoming greater monsters.
Outside of the game, members raised money for charities and organized blood drives. My local domain would also host occasional social events where we could socialize without the pressures of the game. In addition we’d chat on the many in-character and out of character e-mail lists.
Due to the mature nature of the game, and the potential for things getting out of hand in real life, the organization enforced a strong code of conduct and stressed that all players should be respectful towards each other. It worked for the most part.
The Camarilla is now reorganized into affiliated international organizations. The United States affiliate of the club is now called Mind’s Eye Society. Many of the rules, including the Code of Conduct, have carried over.
Considering the above, I was a bit surprised when an MES blog post came to my attention. The post described an auction where players could bid for items to use in their new chronicle. Instead of bidding with money, bidding would be done with “Booyeahs.” Players earn Booyeahs by doing various tasks or reading certain books. Some of the tasks are laudable. (“5 Booyeahs – Volunteer an hour at a soup kitchen”) Some are snarky. (“20 Booyeahs – Read Smith’s ‘Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity’”)
The Personal Health Category, however, concerned me. Though well meaning, some of the tasks could be harmful to some members, or some members can’t participate due to physical limitations.
10 Booyeahs – Hike 2 miles (may be earned once per week)
While hiking is good exercise, I’m sure some members can’t walk or are not in the condition to hike or walk two miles. I don’t think it is fair to exclude them from these points.
15 Booyeahs – Quit drinking soda or beer for a month
15 Booyeahs – Quit drinking coffee or other caffeinated (non-carbonated) beverages for a month
People with high blood pressure probably should limit their caffeine intake. There are others to use caffeine to help deal with migraines. These members shouldn’t have to suffer for a few points.
Additionally, if someone is a heavy drinker, suddenly abstaining from alcohol might not be safe. This is a choice that should be made in consultation with a medical professional, not a role-playing club.
1 Booyeah – Lose 1 pound (may be earned 1 per pound, no regaining pounds for the purposes of losing them again)
This one is the most disturbing to me. Some weight loss can be dangerous, and should always be done in consultation with a medical professional. Additionally, I’m sure some members can’t or shouldn’t lose weight. Should the MES reward an anorexic member for losing weight?
Overall this category is based on a negative stereotype of role-players as out of shape and overweight. Not all members are. When I was a member, I was involved in martial arts, and I knew of other members who were as well. Some members also served in the military. One former member participates in Tough Mudder competitions. Not every member will have the body type to participate in this category.
The purpose of booyeahs may be to “to take the time to build the lives we are going to spend with ourselves and with each other,” but it currently has some problematic flaws.
It is my understanding that this policy is under review. My hope is it will be replaced with something that most members will have the opportunity to participate in.
There may have been good intentions behind Booyeah. However, like the World of Darkness setting, there are monsters in its shadow. I hope MES vanquishes them with a new policy.