I read this article before arriving in Indianapolis, so I was able to ponder on it a bit as I observed the gleeful masses at GenCon enjoying themselves and having a fantastic time proudly flying their geek flags high. Little did those poor gamers realize that they were actually engaging in racist-cismale-patriarchal-micro-aggressions and invisible privilege. Luckily for us Tor.com has once again swooped in to suck the fun out of everything.
As usual, the original article is in italics and my comments are in bold. Before I get going, let me just skip ahead a bit and say that the author of this article says he wanted to have a conversation on race in gaming. Okay. Here you go. Be careful what you wish for.
First off, so you know my preexisting biases, here is my opinion on GenCon: http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/08/18/gencon-2014-report/ In short, it is friggin’ awesome.
Gaming’s Race Problem: GenCon and Beyond
Tomorrow I will be attending GenCon, the biggest table-top gaming convention in the United States. Held in Indianapolis, Indiana, it is four fun-filled days in celebration of the art and hobby of role-playing. There is something for everyone there: games, films, seminars, workshops, dancing, music, and parties. It’s an annual event where people from all over the world come to let their hair down and their inner geek out. As a lifelong gamer, I am excited to go to GenCon.
This is standard operating procedure with Tor.com articles, start out with an intro about how something everyone enjoys is great fun before they helpfully explain how it is actually horrible, and thus you should feel bad. They even did the same thing explaining how Guardians of the Galaxy hates women, minorities, and gay people. http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/08/guardians-of-the-galaxy-we-need-to-talk
As an ethnic minority, I am apprehensive about going to GenCon.
For all that GenCon offers, it lacks in minority gamers.
Huh? Not particularly, but we’ll get back to that.
Last year was my first GenCon, and as I explored the convention, I saw almost no one who looked like me.
Why? Are you physically fit?
By far, the most visible minorities at GenCon were the hired convention hall facilities staff who were setting up, serving, and cleaning up garbage for the predominantly white convention-goers.
Think about that for a moment… George is upset that the employees of the Indianapolis convention center, an establishment which is located in the downtown area of a major American city is staffed by locals who are demographically different than the masses of attendees from all over America who have the disposable income to travel across the country just to engage in their hobbies.
His problem isn’t with GenCon, it is with Econ 101, geography, and social studies.
It was a surreal experience and it felt like I had stepped into an ugly part of a bygone era, one in which whites were waited upon by minority servants.
I’m guessing George hasn’t ever eaten at any fast food restaurants in any urban area anywhere in America. Why yes, I did notice that there were African-Americans working there, but according to the 2010 census the whole city of Indianapolis is 28% black, and if I’m getting my geography right http://zipatlas.com/us/in/indianapolis/zip-code-comparison/percentage-black-population.htm , the neighborhoods around the convention center are up to 74% black.
Strangely enough, the employees are of a similar ethnic makeup when I’m at an event in Atlanta, NYC, or DC, yet when I walk around the SLC ComicCon in a city that is only 2.7% black and 22% Latino, the local employees cooking my burgers look different. LA and San Diego conventions have more Latinos working there. Gasp! You mean the local employees are people who live where the con is?
This bit would be like hosting a WorldCon in Bejing, flying there, and then getting upset that the employees of the convention center are Chinese, and how it hearkens back to the days when westerners had Chinese immigrants doing their laundry.
All that is besides the fact that these are just regular people with jobs, and if you treat them like “servants” the security will remove you from the building. If you somehow mistake people being employed by a convention center as the equivalent of house slaves in the antebellum south you may want to reexamine your notions of how things like jobs work.
Gaming has a race problem. For all its creativity and imagination, for all its acceptance of those who find it hard to be themselves in mainstream society, gaming has made little room for people of color.
I’m calling bullshit on this one. After reading this ridiculous article I was curious, and paid more attention than I normally do to what the people around me looked like over the last few days. Since I’m not a Social Justice Warrior I usually just judge individuals based on the content of their character, but this is for Tor.com, so I was on the lookout.
What did I find? All sorts of people too busy having fun to give a shit what color the person standing next to them was. Having traveled all over most of America, I saw a group of people that looked basically like America, only these were all united in their love of gaming and having a great time.
Wild ass guess, as if I’m back in the corporate world preparing a mandatory EEOC report blacks are statistically under-represented. Asians were probably over represented. On the Latinos it is hard to tell, because as we learned from NPR last week, it is hard to pick us out when we don’t wear sombreros for easy identification. http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/08/07/fisking-npr-about-latinos-in-the-movies/
Having read this on the way in, and not having paid attention last year, George made it sound lily white. It isn’t. Not even close. There were also lots of people of indeterminate ethnicity, folks like Owen who’d check the Other box, and women… Holy moly. GenCon has lots of female attendees. Maybe I’m biased because I was on the writing track for most of it and maybe aspiring writers are disproportionate, but I’d guess 70/30 male to female ratio, and considering the social stereotypes about gamers being dorky or uncool, that strikes me as pretty damned good.
I couldn’t tell you about the gay or transgender percentages because I didn’t think it was polite to ask. “Hey dude, yeah, I think X-Com is awesome too. Were you always a dude? Uh huh.” Checks box.
“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that…
Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is
another. And so on.”
–Scott Woods, author and poet.
And so on… So basically what this quote says is that everything is insidious racism somehow.
Yay. So from this premise, everybody is racist all the time, even unconsciously. Fantastic.
To those of us who actually have to function as grown-ups in society, the dictionary definition of Racism is:
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
Did I see any of that at GenCon? Nope. Zip. Zero. Everybody seemed cool.
Did I see unconscious micro-aggressions and invisible privilege? Beats the hell out of me. I’m not a mind reading Social Justice Warrior, constantly perched like a falcon, ready to swoop in to right wrongs.
I am the first in my family to be born in the United States. The child of immigrants, I struggled between cultures.
I get that. I truly do. I grew up in a Portuguese culture in a really poor dairy farming town, where the men were manly men, problems were solved with fists and the problems that couldn’t be solved with fists were dulled with beer, reading books was a waste of time that could better be spent milking cows, and D&D was for worshipping the devil.
I was the only non-white kid in the neighborhood and one of only a half-dozen minorities in my high-school.
In my school, half of us could speak English. Half of those could read.
I was an outsider.
Try being an outspoken republican at WorldCon sometime.
I found refuge in Dungeons & Dragons in my freshman year. I could escape who I was in those heroic characters and epic stories. I could be someone I was not. I could be strong. I could be fierce.
I could be white.
Whoop de fricking doo. I could be a half-orc.
As an awkward teen, like other awkward teens, I wanted to be accepted. But acceptance meant something different to me, as perhaps it does to other minority teens.
You ever notice that SJWs are always perpetually reminiscing about the wrongs they suffered in high school? Yes, you are a special snowflake, unique among all the snowflakes. How could the average gamer nerd attendee of GenCon possibly understand what it was like to be an AWKWARD TEENAGER?!
Acceptance meant being white.
The broad acceptance that white people enjoy is the unspoken—but clearly visible—rule of our society, reinforced through a thousand structures and symbols. It pervades everything around us, reminding everyone that white people are the center of the story, no matter what story is being told.
Or it could be that all of RPG gaming originated when Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax added a narrative to a war game, and war gaming was historically an upper middle class activity, so most of the original gamers were educated white males who came from that social strata. And at the time the only huge thing in fantasy was LoTR and the early game creators drew upon Tolkien’s works to establish worlds that were based on a northern European setting. Most of the first and second generation gamers worked with what they were familiar with, and being descended from western culture, there was a whole lot more western culture source material to take inspiration from. Since our hobby is a relatively recent development in American culture, it has taken a while for it to evolve from its granddaddy progenitor.
Naw… Can’t be that. It must be racism. Because obvious.
As a kid who desperately wanted to belong and fit in, white was the color of god.
Literally. Because he is very shiny.
Most games—the genres, the artwork, the characters, the stories—were Eurocentric and white. It was easy, perhaps even expected, to be white when playing a character. I was always Eric, or Gunthar, or Francois; I was never a person of color.
That just shows a massive lack of imagination on your part. My first childhood character was grey-green (and my strength was 18/00 because I cheated at character creation, but that was the perk of being the only kid at the table smart enough to figure out 2nd edition rules. THAC0!)
My name was never my name.
Trust me on this one. My parents didn’t call me Bahutarg. We named the dog Bahutarg.
(And no, that isn’t the Indiana Jones reference, I literally had a Queensland Healer I named after a PC.)
And no one thought it was strange that I played people so different from myself.
The beauty of gaming is that you can be things different than yourself if you want. I suppose you could be yourself… If you’re BORING.
It has been a long and complex road to finding myself, and comfort in my own skin and ethnic identity.
My all-time favorite character I’ve ever played for a long campaign was a samurai named Makoto. For those of you who read this blog you know I wrote up a novel worth of character journals, and I’m fairly certain I’m not Japanese.
In my current IKRPG campaign I’m playing an investigator that is a rip off of Luther, and yes, I look like Idris Elba. This week at GenCon I played Amiri the female barbarian pregen in a Pathfinder game (and killed a gelatinous cube with a shovel), and the next night I played a berserker as if I was Danny Trejo. I named him Asahino de Vagos (that’s Murder Hobo to you pasty faced gringos), I had the Lady of the Lake tattooed on my chest, and I only spoke in lines from Machete*. When we faced the boss I greeted him with Hola Motherfucker and stabbed him in the face.
How’s that for finding yourself?
* I’ll admit, when we entered the Forest of Doom, and I said “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us” that was a bit of a stretch.
The first step was simply realizing that white wasn’t the only color of value. It came in drops: a character in a movie or a book that was of my ethnicity, who I could empathize with and imagine myself as. These characters, when they appeared, gave me my own heroes, heroes that were like me.
Good for you. And the average suburban white bread kid isn’t a Halfling rouge. Play whatever makes you happy.
Gaming never afforded me those options.
Yes. It. Did. I’m 39 and even in ye olde tymes before the internet in the land of staunch Catholic “D&D and heavy metal lead to Satanism” I got my grubby little hands on sourcebooks with all sorts of different world settings. I don’t know how old this writer is, but in my teenage years Forgotten Realms had books like Dragonwall, Parched Sea, and Feathered Dragon. (and holy shit, I can’t believe I remember that!)
Not to mention settings like Dark Sun, where you could play a Mule, but who cares what race you are there, because you’re ALL GOING TO DIE.
I had to force them, going against the pressure to conform. The pressure was so intense that the first time I played a character of my own ethnicity was actually online.
In online gaming, nobody knows who anybody is, unless they say they’re a 16 year old girl then they are either an undercover cop or Melvin the Troll. This was especially true in the days before voi
ce chat, so unless this blogger is really young, he is the only person who knew what race he was. If the only person who knows what you are is you, and you’re still hung up about it, you’ve got a problem, and it isn’t what 50,000 ambivalent strangers in Indiana think.
Eventually, I did become confident enough to bring non-white characters to the table, but I still sometimes faced puzzled looks, and questions about ‘whether I was trying to make a statement’ when all I wanted was to simply be me.
It is possible that George’s game group was just made up of morons, which does happen, but considering this guy is so intellectually dishonest that he has no problem ascribing racist motives to complete strangers because of the psychological hang ups he picked up as a kid, I’m guessing the puzzled looks from his game group were probably due to “oh, what the fuck are you spun up about now, George?” more than invisible privilege or whatever it is we’re supposed to be outraged about this week.
I don’t think there are official surveys and statistics on the gaming subculture, but perhaps this study on the top 100 domestic grossing films in science-fiction and fantasy is an indication of similar trends in gaming: There are only eight protagonists of color in the top 100 science-fiction and fantasy films. Six are played by Will Smith and one is a cartoon character (Aladdin). None of these protagonists are women of color.
Yeah, already went through why that particular survey was utter crap in the link above talking about NPR. If you don’t want to click on that link, in short, as a retired auditor the stats were laughable, but I’d encourage you to read it, because poking out the obvious holes in it was pretty funny.
Things are changing in the world of gaming, but too slowly.
That’s an extremely presumptive and broad statement. Just like the definition of racism above where everything under the sun is racist, even if you’re doing things right you’re not doing them right enough. No matter what, the perpetual outrage seekers have to find something to be outraged about.
The designers are mostly white, especially lead designers and executives.
You know who becomes a game designer? Somebody who designs games. Nobody is stopping anybody of any ethnic makeup from designing games and selling them. The market of ideas is truly colorblind.
Executives are the ones who actually make money at it.
Equally, the key officers of most conventions are almost entirely white.
In my experience people who work at conventions are the ones who VOLUNTEER and actually SHOW UP. If you do a good job at this over a period of time and the other volunteers and committee members know you and trust you, then that’s when you become one of those “key officers”. That actually showing up for a few years, learning stuff, and working could be seen as discriminatory to the perpetually stupid I suppose, but just think of it as gaining XP before leveling up.
Nobody is stopping anybody from volunteering. I’m sure your local concom would absolutely love volunteers regardless of what they look like.
Usually, they are well-meaning people who do not realize how their roles and decisions impact the larger gaming community and its lack of diversity.
So, voluntary positions and positions that are filled by people who choose to go into those fields don’t have enough people who chose not to go into them… Okay then. Well, obviously somebody has to do something!
GenCon is emblematic of this problem.
I still don’t think George has established what the problem is (outside of his personal guilt and hang ups) but we’ll run with it.
Of the twenty-seven Guests of Honor (in various categories), only two are people of color.
Hold on a second… I didn’t keep my program book, but I’m betting he didn’t count me in there and I was a GoH and am legally a Person of Color (holy shit, how I fucking hate that term. It is just Colored People backwards). But of course, I didn’t wear my sombrero like NPR wanted so I wasn’t “easily identifiable”.
This is really kind of silly when you think about it. He was just complaining that there weren’t enough minority attendees… Where does George think the guests come from? This isn’t a chicken and the egg thing. Most of the guests are there because they are now interesting for some reason, but most of us started out as just regular gamers, and he was just complaining that there weren’t enough regular gamers who were minorities. Adding more minority guests isn’t going to cause minority gamers to randomly spawn into the convention.
The judges of the prestigious ENnie Awards for role-playing, hosted at GenCon, have been almost exclusively white since its inception.
The question here is how do you become a judge? I’m guessing it is related to the above bit about who becomes game designers or guests.
The same is true for the nominees and winners of the Diana Jones Awards. There may be more efforts to include people of color in gaming artwork,
Efforts? Rather than condemning and shaming people, you should be giving props and kudos to some game companies for going above and beyond what you’ve asked for. I think Pathfinder is actually the biggest selling RPG out there, and Google search what their iconic characters look like: https://www.google.com/search?q=pathfinder+iconic+characters&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=3VfzU-HZDOjMigKe_YDYAw&sqi=2&ved=0CDUQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=624
Quit awesome-shaming us, George.
but where are the real life people of color on the grand stage of gaming?
Yeah. Where are they? Rather than knee jerk assuming it is an unconscious racist plot, let’s think about where gaming and gamers came from and extrapolate out from there.
D&D started in 1974, one year before I was born. In the grand scheme of things it hasn’t been around very long. Most of the early designers were imaginative types who read high literacy things like LoTR for fun and came from backgrounds with the disposable income and free time that enabled time consuming things like war gaming. In the 1970s and 80s, what group had the most of that stuff? Suburban whites.
The designers of now were mostly the people who grew up reading and playing the stuff from that first group. And when they grew up, gaming was an unpopular dorky activity that wasn’t’ seen as cool. You know that whole stereotype of playing in the garage. Yep. Who could get away with being “uncool” in the 80s? Suburban white kids mostly, that’s who. “Uncool” in poor, rough areas was a good way to collect an ass beating. Where I lived in the 1980s I didn’t exactly brag that I liked to roll dice so my imaginary elf could sword fight an imaginary dragon. Hell, reading books was considered sissy behavior.
But I’m sure in the projects of west Baltimore or the Brick Yard of north Birmingham back then gaming was looked upon as a perfectly acceptable pastime by your peer group… Uh huh… I’m guessing this is why most of the black and Latino gamers I know around my age are the ones who grew up in the suburbs… Or after thinking on it for a minute, they were introduced to
it in that bastion of all hatey-hate-mongery that Social Justice Warriors despise so much known as the US Military. The military is lousy with gamers, and the military is real diversity, not that namby-pamby college gender studies skin-deep diversity. Gaming is a fantastic Morale Activity when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, and even if it was dorky and uncool at home, playing with your buddies when you’re otherwise stuck and bored off your ass makes a great gateway drug.
It isn’t a race thing, it is a poverty and accessibility thing. Sadly poverty and accessibility go hand in hand with race in this country. George is taking a big, complex bundle of problems made up of economics, education, and social issues and dumping in the lap of people who have nothing to do with it.
Don’t blame the gamers. Blame LBJ for his legacy of failed Great Society social programs.
Let’s face it. Gaming is really a luxury activity. You want to increase the number of gamers in any community, increase their disposable income, increase their free time, increase their literacy rates and the numbers that read for fun… Oh, but wait… George was offended earlier by the people from inner city Indianapolis simply having jobs. Never mind.
I grew up poor. My dad can barely read, but my mom liked it, romances mostly. My dad tolerated me reading westerns, because those were “tough” and our little local library, tiny as it was, was free, but it had a lot of Louis L’amour. Then one day a friend of my mom’s gave her a box of used books, and among them was the Sword of Shannara. That was my gateway drug to fantasy. Then my uncle found a used red box sourcebook for me. Then my race/sex/socioeconomic status all became irrelevant, because I could punch monsters in the face.
You want to get kids into this stuff, present them with the opportunity to create fun stories. No amount of bitching at the kids who did get the opportunities is going to right the social wrongs of the past. Guilt doesn’t create gamers. Fun creates gamers.
Furthermore, GenCon is disturbingly tolerant of deeply offensive material. Shoshana Kessock wrote about her experiences with Nazi cosplay and paraphernalia at Gencon shortly after returning from GenCon 2013, and I had similar encounters.
Just speed reading this one because of time, and I must be missing the “disturbingly tolerant” part… So out of 50,000 people there was a guy in a Nazi outfit, but it was out on the streets of the city, totally devoid of context so no idea what he was doing, or if he was playing the bad guy for some production, or who knows what, but fine, whatever, there’s a Nazi. And then some little fly by night place bought a booth that had some Nazi crap in it…
Yeah, just not seeing this as an epidemic of racism to indict the other 50,000 people, and I really hate Nazis. My grandmother’s family is from Poland and her maiden name was Byreika. I don’t think I have any relatives left there. I’m all about shooting Nazis in the face. I had an incident earlier this year where I had to physically leave a place because there was a guy there with a swastika tattooed on his face and it was taking too much of my self-control not to draw my Benchmade and cut it off.
It would be impossible to imagine minority players running around GenCon in t-shirts that read ‘Kill the white man!’, yet the convention welcomes and profits from images of racial hatred.
I think Kill the White Man is the name of the blog of a Nebula award winning writer, but hey, go for it. Normal people will sneer and avoid you, just like they do the moron with the swastika tattooed on his face.
Welcomes? Bullshit. Out of the tens of thousands of people there, somebody did something you don’t like, and you have absolutely no idea what the management did about it, if they even knew. Profits? You mean out of the hundreds of booths and millions of products, somebody brought in something obnoxious and you make it sound like a chemical company profiting off the production of Zyklon B.
GenCon has weakly worded policies to prevent these horrific violations, but it has failed to enforce its own rules.
No examples of this systematic racist failure. Just throw the allegation out there and insult GenCon. Classy.
These are symbols, important symbols. If the color of all the leadership, of all the roles of power and recognition, the entire structure is white, and if this same leadership is tolerant of hate-speech, it gives a clear unspoken signal to the non-white community: You can join us here, but only if you leave your history, your people, and your emotions at the door.
Speaking of symbols, get off your cross. There is no “clear unspoken signal” to be extrapolated out of all that straw. Nobody other than your fevered imagination told you to abandon your history, your people, or your emotions, George.
You want to know why real instances of racism are often overlooked? Because the public is the villagers and you SJWs are the boy who cried wolf. When every unconscious action or event is somehow racist, after a while we tune you out. Real racists disappear into the tall grass of micro-aggressions and invisible privilege.
I’ve been told time and again by gamers, “I don’t see race” as if they were doing me a kindness. This is not enlightenment or progressiveness. It is ignorance. If you do not see race, you do not see me. You do not see my identity, my ethnicity, my history, my people. What you are telling me, when you say “I do not see race,” is that you see everything as the normal default of society: white. In the absence of race and ethnicity, it is only the majority that remains. I am erased.
I may be guilty of uttering the words “I don’t see race” at some point but perhaps I could better rephrase it to say “I don’t give a flying fuck about your race, because I care far more about your individual actions, personality, beliefs, choices, philosophy, and culture, and in this particular case we share the same culture of Gamer. And race is an artificially limiting concept primary used by statist control freaks to keep everyone in easily managed stereotype boxes. When I notice your race it is probably the same way I’d notice if somebody was tall, short, fat, thin, bald, beautiful or ugly. Now shut the fuck up about micro aggressions because you are harshing my mellow and roll the fucking dice.”
How about that? Better?
More often than not, people are actually pretty cool, and what somebody perceives as “subconscious racist unease” is actually some well-meaning white person terrified that they might accidentally give offense and be burned at the stake by Social Justice Warriors. You want that to go away, quit screaming at these people about their white guilt and they’ll quit walking on egg shells around you.
Is it any wonder, then, that so many people of color in the community try and submerge their own ethnic identity? They do not wish to stand out or to be recognized. In most societies it is dangerous to be an “other,” and in a subculture as white-dominated as gaming, things feel especially unwelcoming.
Luckily for you, you’re talking about the Indianapolis Convention Center in 2014, not the Selma Bridge in 1965, so it seems kind of silly that you’re worried about being The Other while complain
ing about a place where people are walking around in Furry animal costumes. Furries! Unwelcome, my ass.
Stand out? Hell, when I grow out my Duck Dynasty beard I can pass for the twin brother of one of the terrorists we just let out of Gitmo. I’m 6’5” and when I was young I could bench 365 and looked it. I was genuinely scary looking enough to make normal people uncomfortable when I walked into the room. Spare me your bleating about being profiled. That is simply human beings paying attention to their surroundings, which has been genetically coded into the very foundations of our grey matter. http://monsterhunternation.com/2013/07/22/on-profiling-and-stand-your-ground/
Too many conversations on race and gaming die before they even start.
Is that because it isn’t actually a conversation, but rather you giving them a lecture? I’ll be glad to talk race issues all day with you, but for some odd reason that often seems to go something like this:
Social Justice Warrior: Let’s begin. You’re racist.
Normal Person: What? Wait. No I’m not.
SJW: Well denying it just proves it.
NP: No, really, I’ve never done anything racist at all.
SJW: Invisible privilege, subconscious micro-aggressions, cismale gendernormative fascism!
NP: What the fuck?
Here is a prediction. By me writing this fisk, the resulting “conversation” will have a handful of people who disagree with me actually argue their stance with logic and opinions, (and I truly love those) but the vast majority of dissent will be from SJWs who skimmed until offended, and then either attack me as a racist, or dismiss me because of privilege. Why yes, I have had a few conversations about race. How can you tell?
I have seen more energy, debate, and engagement by gamers on the minutiae of rules and trivia than I have on the weighty topics of race and gaming.
No shit? People who love a hobby, when gathered for that hobby, prefer to talk about that hobby rather than your personal cause? I’ve seen the exact same thing with sci-fi/fantasy fans fleeing in droves because they’re tired of getting preached at. It is funny how somebody trying to enjoy themselves doesn’t like to be repeatedly slapped in the face and insulted. They must be racists.
Gamers will spend endless days and millions of words fighting over the pros and cons of the Wacky Wand of Welding, but when a person of color brings up issues of race and diversity in the community, too many gamers roll their eyes and say, “Oh not again. Why do they have to be so politically correct? Can’t they just have fun?!”
I can only assume you brought it up in as ham fisted a manner as you did here, and started out with “Hey guys, I got baggage and shame issues from my childhood. Why are you all racists?” so I can’t imagine why they’d have that reaction to you.
Despite the apathy and dismissal, I know that there are people who want to work with the minority community to change these realities. I know there are allies and advocates who want to make gaming a different place, one that’s open in new ways to minorities and their communities.
And here we are at the end, after insinuating gamers are all racists, game companies are racists, and GenCon management loves Nazis, George gets to the useful part about actually getting more people from different backgrounds into our hobby. Way to go, buddy.
If you’re one of those people, here’s where you can start:
- Listen. The Gaming as Other series is a great place to start. There are a handful of panels at Cons on the topic and I’ll be sitting on two of them at GenCon: “Why is Inclusivity Such a Scary Word?” and “Gaming As Other.” Keep engaging, listening and supporting. We notice your support and it gives us the strength to keep going.
If con panels give you the “strength to keep going” then you really need to seize control of your life, man.
- Hire more people of color and give them agency, visibility, power, responsibility, and credit in a wide variety of meaningful and important areas in your organization.
How about companies hire the best person for the job based upon their skill, knowledge, abilities, and talents so that they can provide the best possible product to their customers?
Do not simply hire a token minority.
I’ve personally seen how this is a double edged sword of Social Justice. When they say “token minority” that often means a minority that disagrees with them or fails to fit in the proper box. They’re all about diversity as long as it is skin deep and in perfect lockstep with what they think.
Do not use people of color as a form of marketing.
Another double edged sword of Social Justice. So you’ve got an RPG. Let’s say you put some non-white looking characters on the art. You could easily be praised for this, or you could somehow anger them and be attacked for “tokenism” or “cultural appropriation”. Flip a coin. Either way, I’m sure Tor.com will run an article about how you’re racist.
- Reach out to minority groups and invite them personally to conventions. Your neighbors, your co-workers, the people at your church, all of them.
Holy crap yes. In this entire thing I finally found something I agree whole heartedly agree with!
However George left something off. After you invite them MAKE IT FUN. Sadly, SJWs can even suck the fun out of Guardians of the Galaxy, so it is up to us people who aren’t total psychopaths to invite more people, because if a regular person goes with a SJW then the whole con is going to be Diversity Panels, until the guest escapes out a window.
- Offer and play games that are actively and intentionally more inclusive.
Inclusive sounds great, but notice that he never mentioned enjoyment, entertainment, or fun. That’s because SJWs have their sense of fun surgically removed because it might interfere from their listening carefully to make sure the GM doesn’t perform any invisible micro-aggressions. Curious, I did a Ctrl F. It turns out George only used the word Fun twice. Once in describing how GenCon currently is and another in an insulting manner, in the bit about how DARE gamers rather want to have fun rather than discuss how they’re unconsciously racist.
This is the same uphill argument I’ve been making about sci-fi/fantasy fiction. Our SJWs flip out about needing more diversity in our readers, and their solution to that is being preachy, oversensitive, humorless, and obnoxious to the majority demographic. It is hard to entertain when you’re motivated by guilt and shame. I say make it fun for everybody and they flip out and call me a racist. Meanwhile my fan base makes their diversity panels look like a Klan rally. Go figure.
Oh, by the way. While wandering around the con in search of Social Justice and checking to see what color everybody was, the most diverse group of fans I saw the entire time was the line for my book signing. Suck it, WisCon and your racially segregated “safe zones”.
There is a lot we can do together as a community. Gamers have always prided themselves on being accepting of those outside the mainstream.
Furries, dude… Furries.
People of color want to be accepted too.
And nobody isn’t. So quit insulting us.
You want an example of acceptance among gamers? One of the guys I traveled with told me this story. He and another of my friends were standing in line for some GenCon activity Saturday night. He asked another dude in the booth for something, and that guy flirtatiously responded “Only if I can get your phone number.”
Now this guy is straight, and he’s being hit on by a gay man, and said gay man is also a really tall, muscular black man. Did this white gamer from North Dakota flip out? Nope. He was a little surprised, there was an awkward silence, but then he said his girlfriend wouldn’t like that much.
Now, through the lens of the Social Justice Warrior this case would be super confusing. Was my friend a victim of sexual harassment because he was uncomfortable (Cosplay does not equal Consent!), or was he homophobic for turning down the advance, or was he racist? Shit. I don’t know. This stuff is super confusing. There are so many aggressions and counter aggressions that I’m sure Tor.com could write a whole series of blog posts condemning everybody.
Meanwhile, back at GenCon on Planet Earth, all of these individuals had a laugh, and went on with their lives.
GenCon is the flagship of gaming, and thus is a golden opportunity to start this process. Let’s start to have a conversation about the structures that led to the low number of minorities as Guests of Honor and ENnies judges.
Notice, no suggestions as to who. Just a vague “you need more. Make it so”.
When my RPG didn’t make it as a finalist, it wasn’t because there weren’t enough Latino judges, it was because I’m competing against super creative products like Numenera or Deadlands. What difference does the ethnicity of the judges make?
Let’s push GenCon to make changes to those structures so that people of color have a seat at the table for those important decisions.
The world is run by those who show up, and nobody is stopping anybody from showing up. If you’ve got some suggestions for qualified judges, I’m sure GenCon would be happy to listen. But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess if George didn’t have that straw grasping example of racism it would be something else.
For many of us, gaming is not simply a hobby, but a home. Let’s make it both inclusive and diverse.
I know when I want to be inclusive I start by insinuating that 50,000 complete strangers are racists.
I think George owes GenCon and its attendees an apology.