Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Diversity & Roleplaying Games: My Two Cents



  As always when touching subjects like these, I say the same; You have the right to disagree with me if you want, but please read the whole thing before commenting. These are complex issues and too many people react to single sentences without the full context of a post.

  So anyway, the other day I was on Imgur and I came across a comic strip about people playing D&D. I don't even remember what the composition of the PCs were in the comic exactly, but there was at least one woman with a scarf around her head, so I'm guessing Muslim. I could be wrong, I'm really not interested in any religion. I won't even try to remember which type of headscarf it was, nor am I gonna get into the for-or-against debate about those, that's not the point. The point is that I read a cynical comment that basically stated the diversity of the players in the story seemed artificial. Someone else replied that it was actually based on the real-life gaming group the artist was in.

  That made me think about my own group for who I DM a weekly game, and I shit you not, I realized for the first time that I was the only hetero white male in my gaming group at the moment. I don't mean to say I was blind to the fact that the other players were people of color, female and/or gay, I just mean that I hadn't realized that in our group composition, I was the only 'stereotypical' gamer. So it led me to thinking about why so many gamers don't believe in the idea of a diverse gaming group. Are my friends and I the exception or the norm for gaming groups these days? I don't think we are an exception, yet it just seems like that attitude of 'actual gamers are not that diverse' does come up pretty often when these things are discussed.

  I'm pretty sure that most people who think that, don't really take a look beyond their own gaming group. I'm sure they're blind to the fact that Pathfinder is an extremely inclusive game and it outsold D&D for a good while and D&D has been doing the same. (To be fair to D&D, it was also inclusive during 3rd edition) I could be wrong though. But whatever, here's where I really drop my two cents.

  I don't fucking care if a new edition of Swords & Wizardry is done by only men, only women or a combination of men and women, or what race those who worked on the project were or who they fuck. I just want fun games. If you don't like seeing transexuals in Pathfinder books and prefer to avoid reminders that these people do exist, then just don't buy those books. If you think it's not okay for a book to only star white dudes with women as mere eye candy, don't buy those books. If you don't like something about how the RPG community is going... Create your own material! We live in an era where it's extremely easy to make your own stuff and have it put out there. For example, some guys thought RPGs lacked African-themed content, so they made their own RPG featuring that stuff. There you go! They didn't ask others to do it for them, they created what they wanted to see, and I have a lot of respect for that.

  So my request to the RPG community at large is this; Stop worrying about what others envision as being a normal rpg gaming group, wether it's a group of white men or a diverse cast out of the most politically correct tv show ever. If inclusiveness or lack of it bothers you in some books, buy other stuff. It really shouldn't bother you when right now, I can say for sure that both options are very much available in the market. I'll also be blunt and say that if the presence of people different from you bothers you, you might need to take a good look in the mirror, but I'll take this moment to admit that when I touched upon these subjects in the past, I used insults and labels towards someone I disagreed with. I shouldn't have. You don't change people's minds or help the validity of your points by insulting them and claiming that someone is intolerant should never be done casually.

  In other words, while I do applaud inclusiveness in rpg products (and see it as both the 'moral' and business-savvy way to go) I'll NEVER blame an rpg product or give it shit for not being inclusive. (I will give it shit if it goes out of its way to be intolerant though, but it's not the same thing, which is something a lot of SJWs need to learn already.) In the end, people will speak with their wallets, so let the dice fall where they may. (Ha, ha, rpg-related puns.)

  Just stop worrying already. Seriously, if you and your friends are rolling dice together and are all having fun, then RPGs are working. At the end of the day, no matter what pictures a rulebook has, the people are the table decide what their world will actually look like.