Critical mass is hard to do

Over on her blog, Mortaine put up a very important post about how hard it is to succeed in the RPG market when you’re not a white, cis, hetero man. It’s well worth taking a moment to go read.

I was moved to comment there, and thought I should repeat my comment here:

Divider illustration of a sword

This market, like most other markets, does a terrible job celebrating those who aren’t already famous. In other words, the RPG market works to reinforce structures of power that already exist. Even now, in the midst of all these discussions of sexism in gaming, it seems that men continue to get the vast majority of the attention. Some of them are saying the right thing, but still, it’d be nice if people who aren’t so much in power could also get our day in the sun.

It’s like the player at the table who demands the spotlight all the time. Even if they’re entertaining, and even if they say nice things about all the other players, they’re still making it all about themselves. Other players deserve their time in the spotlight, too.

I’m seriously worried that all this recent talk about egality is just another marketing gimmick — a gimmick that is being used to make a lot of oppressed folks think that the structures in place are changing to meet our needs, when in actuality they aren’t. A gimmick that will disappear as soon as sales start to flatten out. And a gimmick that is being used to commodify a very honest, very important desire to right the scales.

Personally, I don’t think we’ll break out of this mode until folks with privilege (white, cis, het, men, etc.) stop dominating so much of the conversation, and so many of the business decisions. That is going to be very hard to achieve, but one way to do it is to deliberately celebrate those who don’t have so much privilege. I wish we could do that more.

I think it’s also going to take a deliberate effort on the part of those with relatively large amounts of privilege to shift the spotlight to folks who are not like them. As I so often say, being an ally means knowing when to stand up and when to stand down.

Slightly more on topic, here’s a post I made last year about resources for making games. There are a lot of cool resources out there — some completely free — that a lot of people don’t know about.

Apologies for going so many days without a post — it’s been an amazingly busy week at work. Wish I had more time to devote to this blog.

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