Monday, March 16, 2015

GLBT in tabletop and video games

So, I'm a little bit behind the times (a year it looks like), but I just read this article about why the gaming industry will ignore the GLBT demographic for the foreseeable future.  Per usual video gaming journalism, it's the "gaming" industry as if games can only occur on a screen.  It must be fantastic to simultaneously be so needy of your time in the limelight while using phraseology that's exclusionary in your own complaint about marginalization.  This is not the only time I've seen this--Gaming in Color comes to mind.  But at least it's director had the balls to stand up at GenCon after his screening and point out that he was now aware of what he'd done in excluding tabletop and CCG folks.

So, maybe this post is a complaint about underinclusivity.  Maybe it's  satire about identity politics.  Hell, it could be both.  What I do know is that the tabletop RPG industry does not have this problem.  5E rules famously include statements about how your character's orientation is up to you--and it's even on the character sheet!  Paizo's given us GLBT characters since their first Adventure Path.  Wrath of the Righteous even has the potential for you to end up adventuring with two gay men in a relationship and two women one of whom is an MTF transexual.  Oh!  And they are all well-developed characters and don't exhibit any tokenism.

And now, Shanna Germain of Monte Cook Games is writing a Numenera novel with "a fierce, one-handed, bisexual woman."  I haven't read any of Shanna's work before, but I'm hopeful that we will see more GLBT characters that do all the cool fantasy/sci-fi things and also get to be fully themselves in print.  You can check out some of her writing and other projects on her website.

On this note, I feel I should also raise the issue of the change.org petition related to Monte Cook Games.  I'm not going to comment on whether or not their proposed setting is somehow racist or bigoted.  Having a diverse staff before this sort of thing raises its head goes a long way towards getting them the benefit of the doubt.  Beyond that, I am going to note that they've responded to the criticism in a very mature way.  They've opened a discussion thread on the issue on Facebook and they've even linked directly to the petition.

Full disclosure: I haven't read through all of the comments.  But, to me this goes a long way to say, "We didn't think what we were doing was offensive.  We understand that it's impossible to do anything in the creative world without offending someone.  Now, we want an opportunity to find out whether or not we've offended a fringe minority or if we have some larger cultural sensitivity issues to consider."  Well, Monte Cook Games took a lot of the right steps on creativity even before this issue raised it's head, so I say we give them a little bit of slack before going to the mattresses of identity politics.  Who knows?  If they have offended a large swath of the population, they might even be responsible about it.  And if not, well, we'll have seen some people embarrass themselves on a target far less appealing than the Washington Redskins.