Company, Conflict, and Khakis

At first glance...

Houseplant Games appears to have everything under control. We game together on a weekly (if not daily) basis, and our friends frequently spot us at Penland cafeteria or the student center on campus, chatting about existentialist philosophy and new game designs. We have even teamed up for a dodgeball tournament which we lost with flying colors. With our first Kickstarter project, the gents at HPG have had to group up and tackle each individual developmental challenge in the production of Shoudo. However, as is the case with most social circles, conflict has sprung up in far too many conversations to detail in this post. I hope this example can demonstrate the way we maintain friendships and company strength while vehemently disagreeing with each other on a smorgasbord of topics.

Conflict is all too familiar for our crew

Conflict is all too familiar for our crew


Each week we attempt to create content for our followers, friends, and family. That content ranges from our music playlists to newsletters displaying our views on life, art, and gaming. As we sat down for a company meeting one Wednesday, tired from a long day of classes and hungry for some pizza (perhaps the epitome of a college student’s existence), we stopped to discuss our artistic content. Specifically, the topic of nudity in the art we display on our site popped up as a relevant question. Collectively, we share a deep love for artistic expression and the ways culture manifests through visual and aural masterpieces.

For the sake of anonymity, I will refer to the two primary contributors to the conflict as Jimbo and Jumbo. Jumbo, our resident voice of caution, claimed that we should avoid any nudity in our content. He argued that, as a partnership, we are each associated with the content posted by other HPG partners. One thrust of his discussion was that many of our readers and viewers are little siblings and younger relatives. By relation, we should feel responsible for younger members of our audience if we include any mature content. For context, the nudity we discussed was present in a classical art painting of Greco-Roman style.

Jimbo replied that our creativity and expression should not be limited by a smaller portion of our audience, positing that the given example of questionable content is tasteful and a valuable artistic product. Therein lies the tension. A question of censorship is hardly a novel debate among human beings and philosophers alike. Even Socrates, in Book X of the tome we classics students refer to as, The Republic, discusses the risks of certain arts (specifically Homer’s poetry) in training up good citizens. He proposes a censorship of risky artwork just as Jumbo proposed a careful stance on content creation.

This rendition of Michelangelo's David gets across Jumbo's point

This rendition of Michelangelo's David gets across Jumbo's point

The argument escalated quickly, with raised voices, volatile body language, and strong stances from both Jimbo and Jumbo. The other members of the company worked to mediate this disagreement and allow for both sides to present arguments. There was a startling amount of genuine discourse between two of my dear friends who, to put it lightly, are diametrically opposed on almost every conceivable issue. With tensions still high, we wrapped up the meeting and headed to a dining hall on campus for pizza and argumentative decompression.

Did we learn any lessons from our fight for artistic expression? Perhaps. In reflection, I see a primary takeaway from this experience.

Encourage diversity within the workplace.

Diversity is a broad term, referring to all elements of the human experience. Celebrating diversity means having a coworker who is deeply attuned to the emotions of others and a complementary colleague who knows more programming languages than flavors of ice cream.

Diversity is personality, worldview, and essential characteristics that make us human. Even in a small company of six guys, our diversity gives us a broader view of our stakeholders and actions, allowing us to gain perspective and balance the type of work we do for board games and our community.