WARNING: Copious amounts of ranting are inbound before we get to the actual game!
“This is absolutely disgusting.” the BGG people piped in, plopping this game into the Worst Kickstarter Ever thread.
“They know exactly what they’re doing and shouldn’t be supported” some redditor gave his two cents.
“The people that want to play this are probably not people I want to game with.” rasped an annoyed boardgame group member on Facebook. “A game for incels by incels” chimes in another that grievously needs a date with a thesaurus. “Let’s get that rating nice and low.” flexes yet another, probably a distant relative of that weirdo that one-starred our page when we were just starting out and wrote some gibberish to pass for a review that we’re totally not still salty about.
“Fuck it, I’m in.” over 530 backers (as of the time of writing) grinned in unison, seeing the game just about funded on Kickstarter. And you can bet I’m in like foreskin in a drunkard’s zipper...
But before we have a look at the game proper, let’s turn back the clock a tad and have a good, hard look at the boardgame community. To that end, you may remember this classic and perennially relevant piece. Well, here we are over a year later and we’re still falling back on that poignant saying…
I’ve personally been around this steaming pile of phoney smiles and fake hellos for a while, on both ends of the designer/player spectrum. Over the past few years, I've gone on to witness the absolute state of the main groups and forums that drive a good portion of the industry forward, so I feel like I can share some informed opinions on the whole thing.
Pucker up, Buttercup, we’re going in dry!
First of all, as with most industries, corporations, communities, and indeed families you may have come into contact with during your life, there are various cliques that operate within boardgaming. The faux-hierarchy we're dealing with here is driven by influencer-type content creators, which are 90% vanilla and 10% nice, that run virtually every group on Facebook. Their voices are also highly respected and sought after on the Boardgamegeek website which speaks their same, boring language (and looks like it should’ve died a violent death alongside end-of-the-world prophecies and UGGs around 10-15 years back), and they have a decent enough presence following on Twitter, too. Or so I hear, I don’t really do shitholes of that magnitude anymore.
Ok, I’m lying, I was there when Eric “I haven’t designed anything truly unique since Warhammer Invasion” Lang lost it over Socialist Monopoly, but I don’t actively dabble.
Back to it, then. It’s fair to argue that boardgaming is a family friendly endeavour that brings old and young alike to the table, and to that end the creators try to cater: they're all smiles, all business, all fun and games, and not one ounce of drama.
And while that's their prerogative, some of them employ that philosophy in the community-facing groups that they also (go figure) run, i.e. the places where a large portion of the community goes to have a chat. You know, because we’re all a big, multicultural, multi-time-zoned, multi-everything melting pot with different ideas and tastes and we can all find something or someone to chat about in this incredibly diverse hobby of ours, right? RIGHT?!
Well… these places are being run with a giant-ass twist on that philosophy: it's not enough to keep a level headed, invective-free discussion going, if it's on the haram side of things it'll eventually get locked down or even deleted - possibly along with your sorry ass.
And 'haram' covers a loooot of ground, in this case. After all, we’re on Facebook.
Anything from even slightly edgy jokes to mildly lewd depictions of miniatures (hell, Joan of Arc just revealed a damn Succubus and a couple disgruntled voices inevitably popped up, and were thankfully drowned out by cooler heads), "outdated" depictions of women, and anything in between can see you ganged up on for daring to think any of those things are ok in this progressive hobby of ours.
Why, we're supposed to be inclusive, after all! And the best way to achieve that is to first deal away with all the undesirables that may upset the thoroughly bloody boring status quo.
I'm one of those undesirables, seeing as I'm banned from a couple FB groups already and only lurk the rest of them to keep up to date with the drama. It helps pass the time on rainy days.
But don't take my word for it, especially since I won't link to any of the aforementioned groups on principle and for fear of some underhanded FB reports and subsequent bans, just have a gander at the multiple KS comments on this very project that outline the same issue:
The problem this curtailing of certain discussion threads poses is the same as general social media censorship: it prevents mature individuals in the community from gathering and freely debating these ideas inside relevant spaces. Even more level headed places like the Conan Gaming Group see the otherwise stellar modmin team rolling their eyes whenever someone types out “SJW”, no matter the context of the acronym. I get it, it’s tiresome, but there’s a discussion to be had here, MATT! So thanks for not just turning off comments, eh?
So yeah, there are a couple alternatives that have popped up, but most of the main spearheads have remained firmly set in their no-no on a wide array of games and subjects. This includes a recent plagiarism scandal that hit the community and was deftly swept under the rug one way or the other across (to the best of my banned-from-places knowledge) all mainstream info wells aside from the Board Game Exposure group.
Point being, the community is hypocritical, heavily biased, and pretty damn sick. And frankly, I'm pretty damn sick of the moral crusaders clutching pearls at every piece of art that shows more skin than a nun and every joke that’s even a little South of a Friends skit.
Shit. Nevermind, I forgot, even that’s problematic these days…
Humour is subjective, there’s no absolute truth or moral high ground on what is or isn’t allowed on the market other than the consumers’ wallets. And even when people take up pitchforks against these perceived “wrongs” like stereotypical gamer jokes for instance, I can’t help but think that it’s just a handful of delusional twats shrieking louder than the rest and ruining it for everyone.
I’ve seen what one of these can do and how they can have people panicking while working on my previous design, but more on that in another article...
So what is there to do in this case?
Well, one option would be to throw caution to the wind and mock, hyperbole, and parody the community with abandon! If only we had a game that had the balls to flash its edge in the face of these puritanic cringe barons...
A game that isn't Cards Against Humanity cause for all their raunchy Hitler/abortion/incest/yo momma jabs designed specifically for people who couldn’t think up a decent punchline if they were possessed by Robin Williams, they've already caved in to the pressure and retracted some cards that they “regretted making”...
Wait a minute. We have that!
And people are loving it, just look at these wonderful statements that kept coming as the funding kept mounting:
Enter Virtue Signal: The Game of Social Justice, from first time designer William Dalebout!
Colourful, easy to play and light-hearted in tone no matter what the dolts tell you, VSTGoSJ (quite the mouthful - that's what she said) gathers up all the toxicity present in online discourse today, dials every Social Justice archetype and behaviour up to 11, then rips the knob off and shoves it down the reeeee-ing masses’ throats. Figuratively, otherwise it would be assault, and we don’t condone that.
Some people have likened it to Illuminati, but since I haven't played that one, I'll have to say that it looks like a fast mix of Chez Geek and The Agents.
Your goal is to reach 15 points by playing various NPCs that create a network around your avatar, your own Social Justice Warrior. These NPCs have various connections that need to be linked to work together and they’re each worth a number of points based on how diverse (sic!) those connections are.
The game also has a take-that aspect, where you will be able to play micro aggressions on your opponents to stop them from establishing said connections. Microaggressions can be countered by virtue signals, which sound and feel precisely as superficial as they do when you come across them online.
All of this back and forth is further enhanced by modifier cards, events, and the special ability that each SJW possesses. We're told some are quite powerful and really screw up the other players' plans, which is ironically fitting as the SJ mob will always eat their own in the end; which is basically the whole point of the game, per one of its taglines: “The issues themselves are of little consequence, they are merely useful tools to get leverage over others.”
If it all sounds funny, thematic, or even somewhat benign, you're obviously a horrible individual and should probably go back this just to cement that fact. It does give one a chuckle to see the "spending money to own the libs" statement being thrown around as an insult towards the backers, when the repeated anger and calls for review bombing the game are a big part of what’s giving it its current exposure and positive funding trend.
I mean, since we've yet to have a good Drumpf parody, or at least one that makes any sort of noise or even funds properly, we're just gonna have to settle for this one. Woe is us!
Campaign-wise, there are updates being released on a daily basis and more gameplay details to follow.
The box holds around 200 cards that are illustrated in-house, so production seems to be centralised and controlled by a limited number of people on all fronts, which means they won’t suffer any last minute surprise and should be able to deliver on time, if not earlier from what’s been mentioned.
There are still some shipping details to be finalised once the campaign ends, in regards to how friendly the worldwide option is, but everything I’ve seen so far speaks of an honest desire to get this game in the backers’ hands as fast and simple as possible.
Bears mentioning that the designer is a filthy normie, this is his first design and first contact with the boardgaming community (get out while you still can, Will!), so there is some risk involved with that. I'm willing to take that chance, as I feel this is something we need more of in this day and age.
Worst case scenario, I’m out $40. It’s worth it for the memes alone, comedy of this quality doesn’t come cheap!
Incidentally, the game isn't just for grouchy boardgamers tired of that one gender studies student member of the gaming group that keeps scoffing at their every second sentence because of some perceived -ism: anybody who's ever had one of their memes deleted off social media, had their speech patrolled, or got banned over a dumb argument with the wrong person should find something to laugh about in this box. And for the price point, I feel like it's a fairly decent package.
So let's rack up those Pepe memes and tally our frivolous rape accusations, boys and girls and the 70+ others, after all, life's shitty enough as it is, might as well #ONK while we still can.
Thanks for reading, and have as nice a day as you deserve!
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