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The TTRPG scene is too white


Representation matters. It’s a good statement, but often it’s just that… a statement and a heading made by people with often good intention. Don’t get me wrong, it’s appreciated. However when you look long and hard at some of it, it’s often done for show and to prove that they’re a great ally.
I’ve got X in my RPG and Y, so I am ticking the representation box.

Then we look at the big list of authors and contributors and so on, many of them are big names, familiar names and the overwhelming majority are white. In fact, at this point, please or offend, you could say that TTRPG still have a white-washing problem.
Don’t just tick boxes people…

R. A. Salvatore posing with drow cosplayers
Image of R. A. Salvatore with drow cosplayers. Taken from the official D&D twitter account

If you care about representation, and many of you do, we’ve seen it in the TTRPG space growing by leaps and bounds over the last few years. With great strides being made in the hiring of BIPOC and marginalised authors/artists across the RPG space. Cast a wider and further net, because there’ll still be work for the white authors in the field, the marginalised and under-represented writers won’t take all that cash away from you.
You’ll generate a better world, a more inclusive and representative world, one that is also free of the harmful stereotypes which cling to our hobby like so much detritus. We’re talking here, hiring writers who understand their culture. For example, want a steampunk Indian setting, then get some writers onboard who know India and who live there, or who have lived there. They’ll help you avoid the problems inherent in the white writer’s view of a place they might only ever have read about.

Sci-fi Africa?
Get some African artists who know the art style of that region. Cyberpunk or a world where replacement limbs are possible, hire people on who are disabled and who can act as sensitivity readers. While we’re at it, think about the role of disabled people in your world too, because they’re a part of our lives and in the TTRPG they’re woefully under-represented right now.

The pushback against the Combat Wheelchair is a good example of why this really matters, because if you’re scared of a disabled person having a way to play/enjoy D&D or any other RPG – saying that they have an ‘advantage’ because of a magic chair which can fly and aid them in combat?
Then what you’re saying is that you’re ableist and disabled people have no place in your world or ours. Frankly, that stinks, and you should know and be better.
If you can handle a cyber arm, or a cyber leg, but not a chair that can help a disabled person battle a displacer beast, then we don’t want you in our games.

The same goes for your design, how do these people fit in, what aids do they have to help them in day to day. Disability is a thing that can’t be fixed by magic, and it should not be fixed by magic. Design a world with that in mind. This is why you need people like Sara Thompson (she/they) to come aboard and help educate your design brain, show you new ways to think, and ensure that you’re being fair and fun to disabled people in the first place.
Same for queer representation as well.

As I said at the start: Representation matters, just don’t tick boxes, join us and make it matter to everyone!

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