The Ever Widening Gulf Part 3 of 3: Inclusivity Negativity

The times they are a changing folks! Our lovable hobby is under assault and it is coming from all sides. The OSR folks are being shown in negative lights, the 5E crowd is seen as to over the top and pandering. I am not here to take sides, and no I will not be bashing anyone in this rant. Sorry, I don’t do that if I can help it (I am only human after all). Nope today we are talking about inclusiveness.

I have never turned a person away from my table. For any reason. I have removed players when they became toxic by fighting with other players, and in one case an extreme hygiene issue. That is after multiple times of talking to them privately too. I try to maintain an open and friendly table no matter what the occasion.

“The Work and Dragons crew”by TomNatt is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Especially at conventions, where I have a chance to possibly pass on love of this hobby to someone else I go out of my way to be inclusive. I want this hobby to exist long after me. So I really get riled up when I hear folks supposedly preaching about inclusiveness while doing the exact opposite. Conventions being held that specifically rule out certain gender GM’s. That set standards of play based on criteria but still call themselves a public convention.

Inclusiveness is about EVERYONE being included

Look, I am not immune to the fact that our hobby is filled with older white males. So what? I mean it is not like it was a hostile takeover folks. This hobby started in the ’70s, and compared to a lot of things from that era has evolved amazingly well. At the time, culturally it only seemed to catch the notice of a select group of folks. If you spend any time at all looking at where things were culturally the explanation is easy.

Women while liberated were still very much fighting back decades of gender discrimination. Most young girls at the time were being encouraged (forced) to still consider more traditional paths. We know the plight of most minorities in that time period was even more abysmal.

None of this is right or even justified. It just is. You cannot change history folks (unless you are a very lucky archeologist). So the hobby for the longest time was carried by white males up until really the mid-’90s. Generation X ushered in a change in the face of gaming.

Changes in gaming, changes in players

“114/365 – D&D Peeps”by Photos o’ Randomness is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Games like Vampire the Masquerade, 3rd edition D&D, and Pathfinder, Savage Worlds (with imagery of women front and center and not always dressed in revealing garb) did a lot to bring women gamers in larger numbers than previously. Also, it is around this time that the dynamic really changed and our tabletops were awash with folks from all kinds of places.

For my readers outside the United States, I will apologize here. I do not know how things were in gaming overseas during these time periods. One thing did not change though. A lot of the gamers from this era were socially awkward, generally kept to themselves a lot. We were still the nerd outcasts.

Going to conventions was our chance to be around other folks that understood us. Our common ground was gaming. Gaming united us on all fronts. I do remember however a lot of the female gamers getting a lot of sex jokes and inappropriate jibes at their expense at convention tables. If you were any kind of a gentleman you would call it out right away. I do not know why sometimes folks feel like the gaming table somehow makes socially inappropriate things okay to say.

You say you want inclusiveness

So that brings me to today. Today gamers come from all over. What is even more common is to see younger gamers coming to the table. Younger gamers who unlike prior generations are not forced to hide their sexuality or gender. Sure this makes some of the older gamers uncomfortable because while it might be commonplace in Denver, it might not be for that guy that drove up from Pueblo and lives on a ranch.

A lot of our issues stem from assumptions. The older male gamer assumes the kid is going to be on their phone, or be rude. The kid assumes the old man is going to be prejudice because she is wearing an LGBTQ shirt. Maybe just because she is female. We go to the table already making preconceived notions about a person we have not given a chance.

There are a few good measures being done that may not be totally inclusive but for the right reasons. I support teaching young female gamers to be GM’s. There is a definite lack of female GM’s. Which is a real shame! I have sat in on some amazing games ran by female GM’s. In recent years inner-city youth centers have begun delving into tabletop gaming. Anything that keeps kids off the streets is awesome in my book.

What I do find problematic is the act of segregating a group of players out at a convention. How do you expect them to learn tolerance, to understand your points of view and treat you with respect if they are never given the opportunity? When you exclude someone from your game based on race, political choices, gender identity or hell for any reason at all, you are just making the problem you see with acceptance worse.

You cannot get acceptance without giving it too

I want everyone rolling dice. Laughter, cheers of victory and lamentations over defeat shared around a table are some of the best times of my life. Variety is the spice of life and doubly so at the gaming table. I will say one final thing. All this ridiculous sub moronic name-calling and accusations back and forth circling around our hobby right now is just dumb.

We are all I would assume (uh oh) intelligent people. Do we really need to jump on every dumpster fire and fan the flames? Let’s keep our hands to ourselves unless given actual permission. Maybe we really spend time thinking about the situation before we assume every kind gesture is sexual flirtation.

All of us that are older try to remember that our version of awkward in the ’80s and the 90’s was just as weird looking to folks as some things are today to us. Finally for the love of Pete can we please just try to remember we are all humans on this blue marble.

So in closing, if you love the hobby, if you love the history behind the hobby, then remember this. This hobby was created by intelligent, socially awkward individuals, who were outcasts from society. It is still played by those same outcasts and the outcasts of the current generation. We have far more in common than we realize. Keep the spirit of the hobby alive by putting your prejudices on pause and your brains open. You just might meet that new best friend!

Keep rolling them bones folks

Next up I will be analyzing Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

Thanks for reading –

Chris

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