At first, I honestly couldn’t think of how that could be in any way similar. When I go back and look at when the book was written, it was October. When I look to see when I read Ascend Online, it was November. Both are documented in my blog from that time and now from a screenshot of my download history of Ascend Online. But, if that’s the case, then where could the term have come from? As soon as I heard the accusation, I changed the racial trait to something else. I didn’t want to have anything that could be misconstrued as taking someone else’s terminology.
Gaming terminology, it’s a funny thing. Character Sheets, Intelligence, Strength, Wisdom, Agility, Spirit, Luck, Leeching Weapons, Fire balls, Frost blasts, Goblins, Raiders, Orcs, Gnolls, Elves, the list goes on and on of what we are allowed to use. These terminology that we’ve taken from MMORPGs, from Dungeons and Dragons and other writers we use without a second thought. I sometimes wonder what the creators of D&D would say about that? I wonder what The Lord of the Rings author would say to the casual use of his fantasy creations? I wonder what Play to Win author, the Father of LitRPG, would say about his terms being used without his consent? Yes, I would have to say every LitRPG author has borrowed multiple terms from the Play to Win series whether they admit it or not. What would the numerous game developers say as we borrow their quest and mission formats? I’m sure it’s all okay. We twist those terms for our own use, right? Nothing wrong there. Also, they’ve been used so much, it’s hard to point the finger as to where they come from and each game has them.
I expect I had Physical Conditioning as the skill previously. A Military term you hear from soldiers in the morning chow hall line and is common in the Military. Coming back to my series to finish book three and do the corrections for the whole series two years later, I’m sure I saw the term Physical Conditioning and decided to change the trait to Military Conditioning. How could I come up with such a terminology? Good question, I mean I’ve only worked overseas for the Department of Defense for nearly a decade. I’m also an ex-soldier. Terms like Physical Conditioning, Military Standards, Military Regulations, Military Code of Conduct, Training Standards and yes Military Conditioning are not unknown to me. These are all common military jargon that I hear inside and outside of work on a regular basis.
Could it be possible that I’d read the term in Ascend Online and had used it two years later when I was going through making my corrections and tweaks? It’s quite possible. If so, there was no conscious intent to ‘borrow’ the term. More likely it comes from the normal day-to-day military jargon and I just was like, ‘hmm that sounds better’ and made the change without thinking it was a gaming term used in another person’s novel I’d read nearly two years earlier. Some might say the text is the same as the skill in Ascend Online, but having a low percent increase of defensive and hit points for a military culture is not uncommon in gaming. Similar to having an increase in intelligence and spell power/magic affinity is for a wizard culture or having bonuses in agility and concealment/stealth for a thieving society. Seriously there are so many across the board I could go on for quite a while. Not a new trope in any way.
My social media attackers would have you think that because I use the term, my entire book must be plagiarized from Ascend Online. It’s obvious, right? Not really. There is a difference between using a gaming term and plagiarizing another person’s book, world or characters. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a LitRPG genre nor would there be so many people leaving reviews that the accusation of plagiarism are wrong or so greatly exaggerated as to hold no merit. Many of these readers have clearly stated that they have read both series. They say this because they do not have an agenda unlike the small group writers in the same genre attacking me. Theses reviewers say that the stories are quite different and are no more similar than any other LitRPG story is to one another. The use of a racial term is just that, a gaming / military term. A fopa of a new writer? Possibly. The witch hunt this has been turned into? Hardly.
Even my attackers will say it’s probably a new writer’s fopa. For a group that is supposed to be accepting of new writers and one I was invited into to post my first LitRPG novel, it seems like their reaction wasn’t one of acceptance and helping a new writer traverse the rapids of being an indie writer. There was ‘no, hey you need to do such and such or this will be an issues.’ There was no path available for a simple, ‘Wow I didn’t notice that, sorry. I’ll change that to not cause any problems and thanks for the heads up.’ It was simply, you used this term with some additional fluff added and said I plagiarized someone else’s entire story which was then spammed out onto every possible media channel available to them.
I am not a social media expert. I rarely go on Facebook unless I get a message that someone is trying to contact me. I don’t have my own podcast. I do write my blog off and on and it gets uploaded to Facebook, but it’s mainly as a way to document my own experiences as an Indie Writer that will hopefully help others. Also, it’s a way now that I hear from new fans. That’s a new experience for me that has only truly began with the release of my new series.
Now that the other methods that have been tried to block my books have failed, I am being attacked by the same people on the LitRPG community sites. Why did those other methods fail? Because a gaming term is not plagiarizing someone else’s entire story no matter what my attackers would have you believe. Now though anything I say in the LitRPG groups is immediately laughed at and twisted around to change its meaning. Any defenders are immediately shouted down. Do I go hunting each different thread down to expound upon my innocents? Would it matter what I say to a group of people who are bullying me online or IRL even if what I say is true? Is there a chance to lose your temper and say something stupid that will just make the situation worse? I’m sure there is. I’ve already did it once and had to apologize to the man from Alternate Realities.
To be honest, I can’t stomach drama or flame wars. It’s not my thing. I just want to write, do my 9 to 5 job and take care of my family. For those of you who are on the outside of the drama, I only ask that you keep an open mind and make your own decision. Lastly, I’m not a fan of bullies which is a major focus of my series. I doubt that most of you are either. Judge for yourself at how this is being handle and ask yourself is this something that seems right to you? Is this how you want your LitRPG community to act towards new writers entering the genre? Or is this reminiscent of what you’d see in High School with a bunch of seniors bullying a skinny freshman entering High School for the first time who makes a social blunder that is then blown out of proportion?
This will my last blog on the topic.