Roleplaying games (RPGs) are one of the most popular ways to experiment with your own stories. Unlike most computer games they are designed to be customisable. You can choose your character, your race, your skills, your weapons and your future. Playing in a group of people with a games master (GM) your characters explore a fantasy world.
But unfortunately for girls and women the fantasy worlds of roleplaying seem to share some of the worst characteristics of this one. This fantasy space is a male fantasy in which the men are armoured and the women go to battle in their underwear. For people of colour fantasy worlds are even more problematic. The glamourous “good” races like elves are typically described as whitefolk and it’s ugly conniving “bad” races like orcs and goblins who have skin tones of darker hues.
What’s worse is that many female roleplayers think there’s nothing wrong with this. One woman writes:
“Think about all of the fantasy, sci-fi, and comic book images of characters. The guys look tough and the girls look sexy. That’s how it is, and that’s how it should be.” – Misty
That’s how it is, for sure. But it’s not how things should be. If toughness is the province of one gender and sexiness the other everyone is impoverished. Imagine if the boot was on the other foot. What if the women got the armour and the men the armour: could Batman take himself seriously in the outfit Fernacular has sketched? (See more reimaginings here)
And if the sexism argument doesn’t move you what about the racism one? Are you comfortable with people of colour being portrayed as brutish monsters and white people as civilised high races? No, I didn’t think so.
Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is one of the most successful roleplaying franchises and the company that produces the game guides, Wizards of the Coast, is preparing for a new edition. A friend of mine has launched a petition to be sent to their CEO asking for artwork which reflects the diversity of the real world.
You can sign the petition here: D&D should be for everyone, not just white men.