An international network of researchers into all aspects of role-playing games
David Millians, Editor
Paideia School, 1509 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30307 USA
LETTER FROM THE CHAIR
We’re on hiatus with our virtual panels and wrapping up the summer months, so I thought this might be a good time to provide an update on the latest advice regarding COVID-19 in the U.S.
Recently, the Center for Disease Control issued new guidelines on managing risk associated with COVID-19. Unfortunately, the CDC does not provide one simple place to understand these changes — it took me a good half hour of digging to find it, and that was only due to third-party sources summarizing the updates. To that end, I thought it’d be helpful to summarize how the CDC’s advice affects gamers:
- No more “six-foot” social distancing: The CDC has shifted the recommended six-foot social distancing to “Persons at high risk for severe illness” should “consider avoiding crowded areas and minimizing direct physical contact, especially in settings where there is high risk for exposure.” This effectively means gamers who are not high risk of exposure can game in groups around a table as they did before.
- Testing before an event is not recommended: This is old guidance from back in July of 2020, buried in an Event Planning document by the CDC. “CDC does not recommend testing all attendees and staff before allowing them to enter. Testing all event attendees and staff for COVID-19 before allowing them to enter the venue has not been systematically studied…CDC does recommend conducting health checks such as temperature screening and/or symptom checking of staff and attendees safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations.” In short, although it’s great that some conventions and venues are requiring testing just before you go in, as per the CDC “it is unknown if entry testing at event venues provides any additional reduction in person-to-person transmission of the virus beyond what would be expected with other preventive measures (such as social distancing, wearing cloth face coverings, hand washing, enhanced cleaning and disinfection).”
- Mask wearing is optional: This has been a battle in a variety of U.S. states, but the short of it is that masking is recommended for all persons indoors in public only “at high COVID-19 Community Levels.” This requires organizers to know what those Community Levels are for their county where the events are taking place. At conventions, the onus has shifted to those at-risk wearing masks vs. everyone else wearing a mask to protect their fellow attendees.
- You don’t need to clean every surface: There are still signs up at many facilities indicating that staff are cleaning the area regularly. As per the CDC, “The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low.”
- The rest of the older guidance still applies: “At all COVID-19 Community Levels (low, medium, and high), recommendations emphasize staying up to date with vaccination, improving ventilation, testing persons who are symptomatic and those who have been exposed, and isolating infected persons.”
None of this guidance is a hard-and-fast rule, and a lot of it still matters in the eyes of the public. Given that we have a significant population of at-risk gamers (which in some cases, is why they enjoy gaming over more physically active hobbies like sports), much of the older guidelines may still be relevant for convention organizers and gamers who want their events to be as inclusive as possible. But the reality is that because “there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic,” the public has long since stopped following the above guidance.
For those of us who are hosting gatherings at home indoors, it’s helpful to keep these new guidelines in mind. But ultimately those gatherings are for small enough groups that it’s worth a conversation with each individual attending. Only your group can determine what’s best for their health and comfort.
The Food and Drug Administration plans to authorize updated versions of Pfizer-BioNTech’s (for people 12 and older) and Moderna’s (for all adults) Covid boosters around Labor Day, targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants (which is responsible for nearly 90% of all new COVID-19 cases in the U.S.). Here’s hoping we can get to a point where we get a booster like the flu shot annually and can comfortably return to our favorite social activity: gaming with people in-person.
I hope you have a wonderful summer and stay safe.
Convention Review: Gen Con
By David Millians
I’m writing to you from the dawning days of my new school year, but I also had the pleasure this past month to attend Gen Con live in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the first time since 2019. About 50,000 people did the same! Everyone I encountered was so happy to be back on site, doing what we love to do, play games and talk about games. Gen Con required all attendees to have, in addition to an admissions badge, proof of vaccination, which had to be shown in order to get a yellow wristband that was checked to enter the public parts of the show. Masking was also mandated; this seemed to be observed most everywhere in the convention center and other conference rooms, but many masks came off in the other hotel spaces. All in all, a couple of layers of protection from the Covid Monsters. I have yet to hear of a big spread of Covid connected to the convention.
I gave two presentations at Trade Day, which takes place on Wednesday before Gen Con gets going in full, and I attended the several other interesting sessions. I had two topics, new games developed with kids in mind and how to choose and implement games in an educational setting. Both had interesting exchanges of ideas, and I connected with several people, who are now receiving this newsletter for the first time!
I spent the next four days running Cthulhu and Glorantha games for Chaosium, eight hours a day. I had a great time, and my players seemed to as well. I was based in one part of the convention, but it was great fun hearing everyone describe their other games and game discoveries. I was able to walk around the exhibition hall only once. It wasn’t quite as busy as 2019, but there were plenty of people, and sales looked brisk. I wish I had time to try more new games.
I saw only a small fraction of the whole show, but it was busy everywhere I went. I hope next year can be more carefree, but I hope to attend again!
FROM DAVID MILLIANS
Appelcline, Shannon (2022 Aug 16) The Top 10 Infamous RPG KIckstarter Fails. https://www.rpg.net/columns/advanced-designers-and-dragons/advanced-designers-and-dragons69.phtml. Lessons from history, business, and the creative process.
Boryga, Andrew (2022 Aug 5) For Young Kids, The Power of Play-Based Learning. https://www.edutopia.org/article/young-kids-power-play-based-learning. Guidance for elementary school and younger but applicable to all ages.
Brandon@Prestidaditation (2022 Aug 22) Choosing a TTRPG to Play with Kids. https://prestidaditation.wordpress.com/2022/08/22/choosing-a-ttrpg-to-play-with-kids. Play the game they want to play.
Carter, Chase (2022 Aug 3) Gen Con says harassers targeting marginalized attendees are not staff of volunteers. https://www.dicebreaker.com/events/gen-con-2022/news/gen-con-2022-harassment-investigation. Trolls hunt for reactions though text messages.
Carter, Chase (2022 Aug 8) ENnie Awards 2021 winners. https://www.dicebreaker.com/topics/ennie-awards/news/ennie-awards-2021-winners-rpg-thirsty-sword-lesbians. Thirsty Sword Lesbian, Root, Call of Cthulhu props, and more.
Carter, Chase (2022 Aug 11) Indiana’s relationship with Gen Con faces a rocky future in wake of state’s abortion ban. https://www.dicebreaker.com/events/gen-con-2022/news/gen-con-2022-indiana-abortion-ban-pressure. Commitments and principles.
darjr (2022 Aug 8) Gen Con Draws Over 50,000 Attendees. https://www.enworld.org/threads/gencon-2022-draws-over-50-000-attendees.690515. The big con is big once again.
darjr (2022 Aug 8) ICv2 Reports on RPGs Growth This Year. https://www.enworld.org/threads/icv2-reports-on-rpgs-growth-this-year.690516. D&D and its cousins top the action.
Hand, Elizabeth (2022 Aug 26) Dungeons & Dragons: How the company behind the iconic game lost its way. https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/2022/08/26/dungeons-and-dragons-book. Review of Ben Riggs’ Slaying of the Dragon.
Jarvis, Matt (2022 Aug 16) ‘All our RPGs start with the people’: Chris Spivey on Harlem Unbound, Haunted West and what comes next. https://www.dicebreaker.com/companies/darker-hue-studios/interview/chris-spivey-gen-con-2022-harlem-unbound-haunted-west. Interview with award-winning creator.
Jay and Katakatica (2022) Detectives Guild. https://detectivesguild.com. Interactive stories online.
Maliszewski, James (2022 Aug 12) Calling All Teachers. http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2022/08/calling-all-teachers.html. Notice from Dragon magazine, issue 41, 1980.
Maliszewski, James (2022 Aug 25) D&D Fatigue. http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2022/08/d-fatigue.html. Looking for something other than D&D and the growth of the hobby.
McGowin, Emily Hunter (2022 Aug 12) The Gospel According to Dungeons & Dragons. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/august-web-only/dungeons-dragons-fantasy-role-playing-christianity-theology.html. Character building through play.
Morrissey, Russ (2022 Aug 4) This Year’s Diana Jones Award Winner is Ajit George!. https://www.enworld.org/threads/this-years-diana-jones-award-winner-is-ajit-george.690414. Advocate for increased representation gets major recognition.
Campbell, Steph (2022 Aug 10) The unique joys and challenges of playing tabletop RPGs with kids (part 1), featuring Daddy Rolled a 1. https://www.ttrpgkids.com/2022/08/10/the-unique-joys-and-challenges-of-playing-tabletop-rpgs-with-kids-part-1-featuring-daddy-rolled-a-1. Insightful discussion of gaming with 4 year olds and tweens.
Campbell, Steph (2022 Aug 31) Making a tabletop RPG for your kid: a step by step guide!. https://www.ttrpgkids.com/2022/08/31/making-a-tabletop-rpg-for-your-particular-kid-a-step-by-step-guide. A treasure trove of advice and ideas for game development in general and for kids in particular, as well as links to their one-page planner and more resources.
Maliszewski, James (2022 Aug 31) Retrospective: Dragonlance Adventures. http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2022/08/retrospective-dragonlance-adventures.html. Changing the direction of D&D and roleplaying.
Vincentelli, Elisabeth (2022 Aug 28) A Festival That Conjures the Magic of H.P. Lovecraft and More. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/28/books/necronomicon-providence-hp-lovecraft.html. “Instead of rooting for the apocalypse, we’re rooting for sustainability and for people to radically accept each other as who we are and all move forward together.”
White, Garrett (2022 Apr 11) Video Games to Integrate into the Classroom for Gamified Learning. https://www.vanta.gg/post/video-games-to-integrate-into-the-classroom-for-gamified-learning. Video games and gamification, so tangential, but Vanta is looking at ways to coach and teach social skills within a game context, so interesting.
FROM MIKE TRSECA
Riggs, Ben (2022 Aug 28) Newly Discovered Letters Reveal D&D’s Co-Creator Asked to be put in Charge of D&D in 1997 and it Did Not Go Well. https://www.writerbenriggs.com/blog/newly-discovered-letters-reveal-dampds-co-creator-asked-to-be-put-in-charge-of-dampd-in-1997-and-it-did-not-go-well. Clumsy connections as TSR changed hands.
Tresca, Mike (2022 Aug 1) True Tales from Stranger Things: Kids on Bikes. https://www.enworld.org/threads/true-tales-from-stranger-things-kids-on-bikes.690300. Reminiscences of growing up a gamer in a less-supervised era.
Tresca, Mike (2022 Aug 8) True Tales from Stranger Things: Satanism, Strategy & Clubs. https://www.enworld.org/threads/true-tales-from-stranger-things-satanism-strategy-clubs.690291. The Satanic Panic and the series’ depiction of the Hellfire Club, the extracurricular group we all wish we’d had.
Tresca, Mike (2022 Aug 15) True Tales from Stranger Things: My Hellfire Club. https://www.enworld.org/threads/true-tales-from-stranger-things-my-hellfire-club.690301. Familiar memories and associations from game groups in the 1980s.
Tresca, Mike (2022 Aug 22) True Tales from Stranger Things: The Satanic Panic Comes to School. https://www.enworld.org/threads/true-tales-from-stranger-things-the-satanic-panic-comes-to-school.690554. Confronting those in power.
Tresca, Mike (2022 Aug 29) True Tales from Stranger Things: The Breakup. https://www.enworld.org/threads/true-tales-from-stranger-things-the-breakup.690302. Gaming groups come and go.
© Copyright 2022 by the Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games (CAR-PGa), ISSN 1071 7129. The CAR-PGa Newsletter is a monthly publication. For more information contact David Millians, Editor, Paideia School, 1509 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30307 USA, phone (404) 808-1070, fax (404) 377-3491, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Back issues are available. Contributions of material from the membership are urged, and the byline is responsible for content. Deadline is the last weekday of the month, email preferred. Permission is granted to copy anything in the Newsletter, provided we get a credit line in the publication copying it, and it doesn’t have someone else’s copyright on it. Information, including details on joining CAR-PGa, can be obtained on the Internet at car-pga.org.