Second Artist Paid For, Now We're Hoping for Advertisements
Support continues to expand for our project and as mentioned we are getting a second artist in to do us a different set of images with a more comic approach, better suited to t-shirts and the like. We can't say who it is until we seal the deal but we're really happy to have the money to put towards that. We're also going to be able to purchase the domain name we want for fully ten years and even have some left over to pay for banner ads promoting the MESSAGE on gamer websites. All new donations will go towards that now - helping us spread the word to male gamers once we go live, to come in and see what we're doing and be a part of it. Which is what really matters - making this something which millions of gamers make use of, because only then can it really help shape the gaming environment for the better!
UPDATE! or Holy Poot, We Need Stretch Goals!
Well, we can't quite believe it but we made our money and half again in just four days. That's fantastic and rest assured it will be going towards the project, and allowing us to have more time to work on the project. Right now we're talking to our artist about what we can get for more money. We're also looking into getting a second artist to do us some funny pictures or comics to go with our logos onto t-shirts and merchandise. We also want to get a much cooler video made using actual videos and trained actors. We don't have actual figures yet, but we will soon. In the meantime, we don't feel you should be discouraged from pledging us cash, we really will use it for a good cause.
In the meantime, if it reaches $1000, every pledger will get a free copy of my RPG about lady robots, Daughters of Exile, and will go into a draw to win a copy of the Dr Who RPG from Cubicle 7! Woo! Goodies!
Watch this space...
Gaming is a great hobby and it should be open to everyone. But a small but very significant percentage of gamers go out of their way to make it a hostile experience for women. Historically, gaming has always been a man's world, and we got too comfortable with that, and so that hostility towards women too often goes unrecognised and unchallenged. Worse, we often contribute to a culture that permits, protects and encourages this without realizing it, and that culture compounds the problem, both within gaming, and without.
This is a well - documented problem. Many people are talking about it on the web. Most of us agree that women deserve better, that gaming deserves better and that men can do better. Men across the net who get the point have responded to this issue in the same awesome way: calling on all men to stand against the trend. To not attack women, to call out other men who do and where possible, to not play with men who do.
The MESSAGE is an attempt to harness those inclinations into a collective effort to try to change the culture for the better.
In many countries around the world, the White Ribbon campaign has been used to rally men to stand up against domestic violence and in support of women's rights. In Australia, the football codes encourage both their players and male fans to wear the white ribbon and make a pledge to live to its principles. We think its about time gaming had its own white ribbon, of a sort. To rally the men who aren't part of the problem, so they can have a united voice, stronger and louder when combined.
We're calling it The MESSAGE - Men Ending Slurs and Sexual Attacks in the Gaming Environment. We want guys to Get The MESSAGE that that sort of behaviour is not to be tolerated, and we want them to wear a badge that tells both women and other men that they have Got The MESSAGE. Hopefully, this will raise awareness, encourage better behaviour and at the same time, allow women to identify men with whom gaming will be a less hostile experience.
How Will An e-Ribbon Change Anything?
Right now, the men who don't like this kind of thing are invisible to everyone else. That makes it hard for them to speak up against behaviour they find objectionable, because they don't know if they have any allies around them. The idea of a badge is to make those allies visible. They also raise the conversation to the forefront. If anyone doesn't know what the message means, they can be informed. This spreads further awareness about why this kind of language is problematic, even if "they don't really mean it".
It also helps women identify men who are and aren't going to make their gaming fun, without having to wait to be told to show off their breasts or told to get back in the kitchen. That could lead to such preferences also becoming more visible, and further encourage this community. If enough men and women always select their servers and players from a certain group, server providers and game companies may take notice and provide ways to make this easier. The idea is to take Wil Wheton's commandment of "don't be a dick" and help everyone who agrees find each other, and speak together, to build a less dick-y hobby.
We think it can go a long way to making things better.
(This applies to all gaming, off-line included, whether with tiny metal figures, or cards, or dice, or costumes or what have you. It all needs to be better, and we could all use a stronger united voice on making it so.)
What We Need
Setting up a program like this requires money. A wonderful artist has offered to design an awesome logo for us, to be our white ribbon. He deserves to be paid for his work. We also need money to set up the website and make it look nice, and pay for hosting and for Cafe Press merchandising and so forth. Over all, this should cost about $350. The minimum amount IndieGoGo lets us ask for is $500, and if we get that much, we can run the website longer, make it look prettier and perhaps set up some promotional stuff to send out to conventions.
What You Get
Mostly, what you get is a great program that in the long run, makes gaming environments more fun for everyone. If you spend a bit more and we get the merchandising up and running, we will send you out some to say thank you, free of any charge. The rest of you will have to buy your t-shirts when they are available.
We intend to make this work and keep it running over the long term. We're not going to set up the website and run away. Collectively, we have years of experience in both political activism and marketting and we intend to apply them fully to spread the word and get attention. We're limited only by our time and our (currently non-existent) budget. That's where you come in. Not with the time, the budget part.
Other Ways To Help
If you can't contribute, spread the word. Facebook, tumblr or twitter us. Share us on the forums of your favourite games. And don't forget to come back when we are up and sign on to say you've Got The MESSAGE. If you're sick of listening to the small percentage of gamers making our hobby look like a haven for hate, mysogyny and creepiness, help us make it better.
The MESSAGE is a project by Steve Darlington and Brion Oliver