Many others have written about the fall of RPGnet, a google search will bring up the horror stories. Long story short, it became infected with a very pervasive and totalitarion form of Leftwing political extremism that in later years would be dubbed "Social Justice Warriors." Moderation went from an open and honest attempt to keep order and prevent escalation of fights to a totalitarian and nonsensical attempt to ban everyone from the site that didn't go along with a very specific, extreme, and Tumblr-esque political narrative. The rules of "No personal or group attacks"were replaced with the concept of "acceptable targets." Instead of a celebration of geek culture, it became a morass of self-loathing and hatred of geeks. A mass exodus followed, many forced off and banned, as many more simply leaving for greener pastures online. The community fragmented, and many were lost. That bright, magical online geek mecca was gone, only a dream remaining of that wonderful time.
I eventually found my way to TheRPGsite as my online alternative. Run by the infamous RPGPundit, someone who managed to be banned from RPGnet well before the takeover just because of his extreme style of arguing and inability to make a point without adding a personal insult, The RPGSite was proposed as a bastion of free speech online. More than that, there was a very strict no tolerance policy for any political talk in the RPG forum. You were there to talk about gaming, or you could fuck off.
The RPGSite became a port of call for the disenfranchised former RPGnetters. We would greet newbies with the phrase "welcome to the Adult Swim," and it was a sink or swim sort of place. The Mos Eisley of rpg forums. If early RPGnet was the Wild West, The RPGsite was 1970s inner-city New York. You developed a thick skin, you learned to laugh at yourself and others, or you didn't survive.
Which is not to say all of us agreed with the extreme views of our founder. The RPGPundit had an odd personal crusade against what he dubbed "The Swine" (he idolized Hunter S Thompson in those days), what he saw as a group of pretentious elitists centerered around the Forge indy rpg forums that he was convinced were out to "destroy gaming." These views brought Pundit more than his fair share of ridicule from the regulars. But there was a begrudging respect that he held to his ideals of free speech, even when the vitriol was directed at him. He could take a punch without compromising his ideals. You could disagree with him just like any other poster, without worrying about being banned (as the infamous RPGnet phrase) "for not being a good fit for the community").
This was my new home. Not the same as my old home, but we made the best of our exile.
Then things started to change. TheRPGPundit became a political pundit. He embraced the Rightwing extremism of Breitbart and the Trump campaign. The Swine were replaced with "Leftist commies." Its hard to pinpoint exactly when things went wrong. It might have been the departure of the moderator Benoist after Pundit unprovoked and without reason called him out for attack on his blog. It may have been when The Pundit first violated his own ideals and banned a poster for disagreeing with him. But I think it was a slow decline. Pundit's political extremism became a beacon, and sooner or later the site began attracting racists. Another moderator tried to hold back the tide, and banned posters spouting white nationalist rhetoric, but then after getting chewed out by The Pundit for it, stepped down as moderator.
As time went on, I became increasingly uneasy being there. Yesterday, I finally reached the end of the line.
In response to the Berkely riots, Pundit posted a thread entitled "Every one of These Bitches Deserved it," in which he linked to one of the most odious and misogynistic blog posts this side of a Red Pill site. I don't want to encourage him with any extra vistor counts, so I'll just post some of the 'highlights':
"Why don't you fucking cunt leftists tell the whole story?"
"because you leftists are fucking pussies"
"we kicked the fucking shit out of you goddamn commie fucks"
"What option do you really have...but to punch the stupid bitch in the goddamn face?"
"Certainly, almost no woman ever deserves to be hit by a man. But this bitch sure did.
Almost no woman deserves to be called a 'stupid bitch' either, but this one certainly was,"
"I have no idea if the guy who hit her was a 'white supremacist' or not, but I know that in that moment he, and everyone who fought FOR free speech instead of for leftist totalitarian censorship and terrorism at Berkeley, is A MOTHERFUCKING HERO. "
Those were in response to this captured image (and related video) of a female protester getting punched squarely in the face:
I'll miss it, just as I miss RPGnet, or what RPGnet once was, and I don't know if I'll be looking for a new RPG forum to hang my geek hat or relegating myself to the abyss of social media. At the very least perhaps it will be less time wasted from pursuing my other projects.