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Why Are Most Gamers in the U.S. White and Male?

I’ve been gaming since 1987, and in that time I’ve observed that the majority of gamers, at least in the U.S., are white guys. I gave it away in the title, but the meat of this article is an open question to the gaming community:

Why are most gamers in the U.S. white and male?

We’re about to talk about race and gender on the Internet, and I believe this will be a fruitful and civil discussion. Why? Because the Gnome Stew community is well-known as one of the most intelligent, civil, and rational blog communities in the world. (Yep, a site whose masthead features three dead gnomes in a cauldron of blood is known for civil discourse — those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.)

There are over 11,000 comments on this site, spanning almost three years, and we’ve never had to ban anyone — hell, we rarely even have to remind anyone not to be a jerk. I can’t think of any better place to have a discussion about this topic.

(Like 10 Reasons Why Roleplaying Games Are a Positive Force for Kids and Adults Alike [1], this piece isn’t specifically about GMing. We stay on-topic 99.9% of the time here on the Stew, but once in a while we diverge to talk about something broader than game mastering.)


First, a few things worth mentioning:

My question isn’t intended to offend

I’m not saying that if you’re not white, not a guy, or both, you’re somehow less a part of the gaming community than white guys are. I genuinely want to know the answer to my question, and I think it’s a topic worth discussing — and which I haven’t seen discussed often enough. It seems like an elephant in the room, and while talking about elephants isn’t always fun, it’s usually worthwhile.

I’m not a scientist

I’m a writer, which is like the opposite of a scientist. My observations are based on nothing scientific, just 20+ years of noticing the gamers around me. My “qualifications” to raise this issue are that I’ve lived in four very different places (Sable, France; New York, NY; Ann Arbor, MI; and Salt Lake City, UT), grew up and went to high school in a very diverse place (NY), spent time in gaming stores all over the country, attended 11 GenCons, and I’m not an asshole.

I love that gaming is an inclusive, welcoming hobby

I’ve gamed with all kinds of folks over the years: old, young, thin, fat, suave, socially awkward, disabled, not disabled, frustratingly muscular, encouragingly wimpy — the list goes on. My gaming groups have often included a mix of women and men, whites and people of color. When I sit down with seven strangers to play in an event at GenCon, I don’t care what they look like, what gender they are, how old they are, whether they’re in a wheelchair, who they voted for — and neither do the other folks at the table. We’re all there to game.

Gaming appears to be getting more diverse

Since I attended my first GenCon (a fuzzy yardstick for this discussion that I’m going to come back to in a moment) back in 1997, I’ve noticed that GenCon is becoming more diverse across the board: There are more women and people of color attending recent cons than there were 14 years ago. Gender diversity seems to be growing faster than racial diversity, but both have gone up.

I wish gaming were more diverse

I’d love it if there were more gamers who were not white, not guys, or both in our community. There’s nothing wrong with people who are white, or guys, or both (I’m both), but diversity improves communities. I didn’t set out to choose mostly white guys to write Gnome Stew with me, I just picked folks I knew through Treasure Tables [2] who wrote well and who I trusted — but I’m cognizant of the fact that, on the diversity front, the Gnome Stew authorship is lacking.

That’s where I’m coming from and why I’m interested in this question.

Some Data

2009 U.S. demographic info [3]:

In a fictional world where:

…and gaming groups always include a GM and five players, you’d expect those five people to break down like this:

In that same fictional world, you’d expect GenCon 2010, which had roughly 30,000 attendees, to have looked like this:

GenCon is an imperfect measure, as it also draws non-tabletop RPG gamers (CCG players, anime fans, etc. who aren’t there to play RPGs) and folks from outside the U.S., and my intention isn’t to pick on GenCon — the folks who run it have no control over who attends. But it’s useful as a fuzzy yardstick that a lot of gamers, including myself, have personal experience with.

“Does your gaming group look like that?” is a less interesting question to me than “Did GenCon 2010 look like that?” Any individual gaming group will be a very, very small microcosm of the gaming community as a whole — certainly part of my, and your, experience of how gaming intersects with race and gender, but also subject to all sorts of other factors. But GenCon is big enough to take a quick snapshot and see, in a rough and anecdotal way, how the population of GenCon attendees compares to the U.S. population as a whole.

Why do all these numbers matter?

I was at GenCon 2010, and while I obviously didn’t do a demographic survey, a lot less than half of the thousands of people I saw were women, and a lot more than 63% of them were white.

That’s far from scientific, but good enough for me to think I’m on the right track about this question — “Why are most gamers in the U.S. white and male?” — being worth asking and worth discussing here on the Stew.

So, How About It?

With context, some data, and some conclusions covered, it’s time to circle back to the question. There are actually 2.5 questions here, though, not just one:

Obviously, I think the answer to the first question is yes. I don’t have an answer to the second, much more important, question.

What do you think?

78 Comments (Open | Close)

78 Comments To "Why Are Most Gamers in the U.S. White and Male?"

#1 Comment By AquaFox On February 28, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

I’m an Arab foreigner. I live in the US. I have a student visa. I also frequent a gaming student organization.

I am more of a GM than a player but I am not GMing any games this semester. The 4th ed game I’m in has six players. An arab foreigner guy (me), a black girl, three white guys and one gay white guy (if that matters). Diversity is very common place for me. Maybe that’s because I’m in a University that I can find this kind of diversity?

#2 Comment By Spitfire665 On March 1, 2011 @ 7:07 am

Something you said here, and something that keeps popping up throughout these posts that really resonates with me is motivation for playing.
And I keep going back to _Robin’s Laws of Good GM_ in my head.

In the end, all the imagery, all the grammar, all the fraternistic joking aside, if the story is good, and the table is open and accepting, then just grab an SRD (which has no imagery and no fluff to muck things up) and just play the game.

I mean, we talk about RPGs like they’re some exclusive “White male-only” club. But what I keep hearing is that it’s not the games that are exclusive. It’s the marketing. And that all falls back on whatever company pushes the product. I’ve never known a gamer who would turn someone away from a table for any reason, other than being a jerk. So, is it really RPGs that are exclusive?


#3 Pingback By RPGs General/Other D&D / RPG News for Tuesday, 1 March, 2011 – EN World: D&D / RPG News & Reviews On March 1, 2011 @ 7:19 am

[…] Why are most gamers in the U.S. white and male? Gnome Stew asks an open question to the gaming community. […]

#4 Comment By TwoShedsJackson On March 1, 2011 @ 8:13 am

Palindrome@48: Some of your comment may be related to what I wrote @20. I’m looking for more interaction between player characters, and I’m not getting it in my current all-male-but-me group. That’s a play style issue and I have a feeling that there is probably a correlation with gender. Spitfire665@21 tried to respond but seems to have jumped to the conclusion that I was talking about conflict between characters, which I was not.

BTW, I’m glad some of the commentors started talking about race — up to the midway point it was all about gender.

#5 Comment By Spitfire665 On March 1, 2011 @ 8:16 am

Sorry, I was probably not clear enough.
The example situation I described was both between characters and players.

It started with characters, but ultimately ended in a player fallout that turned out to be centered upon different expectations at the table.

I think today’s Gnome Stew post (which references your question directly) really sums up what I was trying to say nicely. You should check that out.

#6 Comment By TwoShedsJackson On March 1, 2011 @ 8:27 am

DnD101@8: I merely skimmed your wall of text the first time around and missed your little dig at Progressives and Social Elites. I have no idea who or what the latter reference means, but my own little D&D 4e group of six (and sometimes seven) is 100% Progressive in politics.

In any case, I’m fairly confident that we will be able to talk our vast network of radical feminist, gay, black, latino, native american, union-joining, hollywood-living weirdo friends from actually launching The Anti-Regular-White-Guys-Who-Just-Want-To-Pretend-To-Be-Elves-Sometimes Jihad that is currently scheduled for next Friday. We just need more time. But to be on the safe side, you might want to keep a safe distance from any and all Progressives until further notice. One hundred miles ought to be enough. I would suggest the Pitcairn Islands, but I believe they have fairly strict immigration policies.

#7 Comment By TwoShedsJackson On March 1, 2011 @ 8:35 am

Spitfire665@55 — Oh my goodness! I didn’t realize that Patrick had followed up on my comment with an entire article. Now I feel silly…

Sorry if I seem to have jumped on you. It’s just that several of my own group members interpreted my request for more inter-PC roleplaying to be about wanting more conflict, and that’s the farthest thing from my mind. In fact, I believe that the interaction I am looking for would actually result in a tighter, more cohesive party.

#8 Comment By Spitfire665 On March 1, 2011 @ 8:38 am

LOL, it’s not a problem at all. I didn’t take it that way. But i do think Patrick’s post today is spot-on.
You just gotta talk it out. It probably won’t be comfortable, but if you truly feel alienated, it’s definitely something that needs to be addressed. No one should feel that way at a table. I know when I’m GMing and I find out someone feels that way, I feel like a complete failure for not doing my part.

Maybe you should direct them to this site, too. As an icebreaker. 🙂

#9 Comment By JONATHAN JACOBS On March 1, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

Nice post Martin. I don’t have anything to add really (I mostly agree with DnD101 above) – but I do think it’s interesting that Race in RPGs must be on the brain. A few days before this post, The Grumpy Celt posted a similar post – but more towards the characters in the game being mostly all white (a reflection of the player base no doubt).

In case the other commenters / readers here are interested:


Cheers — JJ

#10 Comment By MonsterMike On March 1, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

I have nothing original to add on the subject of this discussion. However, I would like to say how refreshing it is to see a thoughtful, civil discussion on the internet about the topic of race, gender, equity, and opportunity that does not devolve into a screaming match. You should all be congratulated for being the cream of the internet crop.

I wonder how many of us have used RPGs to explore issues of racism or other forms of inequality by proxy. Has anyone ever put a tavern in their world where the barkeep refuses to serve ale to dwarves?

Naturally, the tavern would serve gnomes.
Stewed or roasted. 🙂

#11 Comment By DnD101 On March 2, 2011 @ 1:52 am

Sorry I turned off the subscription to this post because so many posts were coming through.

@Lavachild – Thanks Nick for acknowledging some fair points of my post and shining light on the recruiting part. I really feel like the game has moved far beyond the historical reference and “period” I highlighted. Though as you state RPG Culture does need much more inclusion for Women, at least without making them feel like prey. It can be quite sickening as @Clawfoot points out.

@xaktarsonis and @Cnor – You are correct Tolkien, WWI, disliked allegory. Along with the other points on no Brit Myth and borrowing, I was aware, just sloppy. My Tolkien reference was simply representing Arnesen’s suggestion to Gygax of applying Tolkienesque elements to Chainmail creating D&D. Thanks.

@Cnor – The intended definition of Social Elitist; Any who considers their own present or future perceived culture superior to another’s and seeks to destroy or change it out of existence. “I know, anyone influenced by their Ego…Most of Us” 😉

@TwoShedsJackson – My “Progressives and Social Elitists” comment was a dig though not one of much conviction. The statement is not so much directed at progressives, as Social Elitists (definition see above) that call themselves progressive. As if association with a group that actively pushes society forward justifies their own flavor of hate.

You provide an excellent example of this by suggesting, perhaps in jest, my need for distance or protection from your group of “progressive” players and your recommendation for my deportation. In a thread focused on inclusion you reveal your lack of commitment to such with haste.

Unfortunately the “progressive” group you align yourself with in your post, reference in other posts and which is highlighted today on Gnome Stew. Appears not to be as inclusive or tolerant as you outline and suggest, at the very least with the direction you or your motivations attempt to influence or direct your own game, players and perhaps others.

I have spent a great deal of my life in game shops and gaming groups so I am obviously no stranger to diversity and inclusion. Our culture is saturated with, has drawn upon and continues to propagate amongst MANY culturally “taboo subjects” of Fantasy; Demonology, Vampirism and Sexual Exploitation, of not only Women but Sex-Starved Teens and Adults as well, look no further than the cleavage in most Fantasy Art. A Conservative Bigot is not going to be happy in the Gaming Industry for very long. So I reject your indirect associations and assertions.

The “dig” along with my initial position against political rhetoric and objection to the use of “White Privilege” vs. “Environment of Origin” certainly has left my post appearing very Conservative. Though one could easily identify a Liberal narrative in “White Guys = WAR” as @Lavachild pegged, though from a different angle of making sure Asians got their due props as War Mongers. Very Nice. Cheers!

Unfortunately while objecting to, I ended up pushing political rhetoric myself. So that sucks, but it is to be expected when we discuss sensitive and politically entangled issues like gender, race and culture in our society. @tariqk – My Appologies.

So @ALL Keep it REAL and love your brother and sister gamers.

May OUR culture and all those who inhabit it today, tomorrow, and forever continue to dream, tell stories, live adventurously and recruit any and ALL possessing imagination and a desire to see worlds and realms unseen.


#12 Comment By TwoShedsJackson On March 2, 2011 @ 7:25 am

[9] – The gist of my comment was that 1) a huge percentage of RPG players are progressive, 2) non-progressives, RPG players or otherwise, have nothing to fear from progressives because we aren’t out to get them, and 3) you are surrounded by progressives and would have to go to outlandish lengths to avoid being so. I don’t know where you came up with deportation.

In any case, yes, Peace.

#13 Comment By Airk On March 2, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

I really didn’t want to get say this, and I’m almost certainly not the person who should, but DndD101 – in addition to the factual errors in your post which you have already acknowledged, there’s a lot of passive aggressive antagonism. Perhaps your “digs” were originally all in good fun, or to prove some important point, but they come off self righteous and better-than-thou.

Amidst an entirely civil thread that discusses some potentially very inflammatory issues with surprising rationality and introspection, there are three posts that stick out as antagonistic and belittling of others: Two of yours, and one when TwoShedsJackson rose to your bait. I hope this is not your intent, but I request that you try to read your posts as they would be read by people who don’t know you, so that we can avoid any more of these “digs” that are so easily misconstrued as insults. Thank you.

#14 Comment By Badjak On March 2, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

I’m a white male and I play in a group with two women, two African American men and two other white men. Also one of our group is gay.

It’s interesting that no one has brought up the Drow or Duerger, or other races that define themselves as the “dark-skinned EVIL version of” often times leads our group into some uncomfortable conversations.

There also was a hilarious moment when our DM was reading through the Dark Sun module where one of the WOTC quotes was something like “Thri-Keen love to be slaves, it fits their natural disposition…” To be honest that statement went right over my head, and then the player sitting next to me whose African American just starts laughing like crazy.

So in terms of “unpacking the baggage” there is certainty a lot in the D&D lore that could probably been seen as “unintentionally” racist. And sexist for that matter.

Last,since we were talking about hip hop (which I incidentally am a huge fan of) and cultural genres, both of the African American gamers that I play with basically got involved in D&D through Anime and video games. This actually is great because it means that the games we play tend to have a lot of cross-genre influences (Naruto ninjas hanging out in Faerun for instance) which has been a breath of fresh air for me as someone whose been playing for ten years now. It’s nice to get away from that LOTR feel for awhile.

#15 Comment By Uller On March 2, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

Why are most RPGers white and male? Why does it matter? I guess I have never in my life looked around a room full of my friends, colleagues, teammates, brothers-in-arms, etc and said “you know we are just too ” I see people. I thought that’s what MLK wanted us to see. I guess not?

Gaming is cultural just like any other entertainment activity. Look at sports. I coach youth ice hockey in university town. Our local rink fills up with Asians for public skates and free-style sessions. When it comes time for hockey tryouts or to watch a game…it’s almost all white kids (we have two asian kids out of about 80 in our association). It hasn’t got crap to do with “white privilege”. No one that I am aware of has ever denied an asian kid from playing. It has to do with white kids grow up in households where the parents have an interest in ice hockey and the asian kids tend to not…Nothing sinister, nothing wrong…people make choices and those choices are influenced by all kinds of factors.

#16 Comment By DnD101 On March 2, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

[10] – Thank you for your advice I will reflect on it when making future posts.

I do however think it is incorrect to say that I put forward “digs” plural. The only “dig”, as TwoShedsJackson originally label it, was the ‘Social Elitist’ comment which I clarified, when requested.

I also don’t think that my post should be labeled ‘un-factual’ simply on the grounds of an error in Tolkien’s Bio, his work did, and continues to, play a significant role in the inspiration for our hobby, which was my only point.

As far as asserting that I might have laid ‘bait’ for confrontation. There is no merit for that. Many posts in this thread could insight objection and negative response. Though mine, due to it’s length and style, received them.

Yes, there are at least three antagonistic posts which you point out belong to myself, TwoShedsJackson and my response to an attack directed more at myself personally than my post.

TwoShedsJackson and I clarified and acknowledged one another’s positions offered peace and moved on. @TwoShedsJackson thanks for your follow up post, reasserting your most important positions and offering closure. I do wish you and your group the best at the table.

Again, @Airk I will reflect on your advice when making future posts.

In closing, I hope it can be recognized that with the exception of my open rejection to the assertion of “White Privilege” and a flippant comment on Social Elitism my post was little more than a historical first-person perspective on the Mid-Western birth of D&D and how it shaped the past and present environment of our game, which received more, if non-committal, positive response than negative.

Truly I love D&D and ALL who play it. I simply might have left out the response to what felt like a “Blame Whitey” mentality developing early in this thread. I stuck my neck out and received what could be expected.

I will practice greater caution, though I doubt too many political/social issues of this weight will raise their heads in the general DM/GM posts regularly provided by Gnome Stew.

Be Well.

#17 Comment By Smon On March 3, 2011 @ 1:58 am

Perhaps ironically, most of the US gamers I’ve played with here in London have been either east-Asian or elite Latinos (one was an ex NASA rocket scientist!), and over half have been female.

What I would suspect is that tabletop RPGs appeal mostly to whites and east-Asians, and often the best-educated and highest-IQ among those groups. It would be interesting to see numbers of north-east-Asian origin (Korean, Chinese, Japanese) gamers compared to white gamers in the US, my suspicion is that they would be over-represented, not under-represented, compared to their share of the population. A lot of other more cerebral activities break down that way. By contrast videogamers are likely to be distributed more evenly amongst the US population, although probably skewing more heavily male, and not restricted to higher education & IQ within racial population groups either. The non-Asian minority US gamers I’ve encountered have also tended to be upper middle class and highly educated, often professionals like lawyers.

#18 Comment By Spitfire665 On March 3, 2011 @ 6:56 am

While I’d be the first to echo and support your sentiment here, I think the question is more to the degree of “is there anything in our game we love so much that is turning non-white males” away from it?

Ultimately that’s what is trying to be sussed out in this debate. As far as I can tell in reading this, there is and there isn’t. It seems there’s plenty of diversity in RPGs when those non white males who do participate look past the things that turn away everyone else.

I’ll be the first to agree that the misogynistic nature of D&D prior to and even still after the shift to 3rd edition could potentially turn away the more sensitive female potential gamer. But they’ve taken steps to get around that, and I applaud it. It’s only really through discussions like this, though, that we might be able to see things that we take for granted that might be an unintentional turn-off for non-white males. Because, as you said, we don’t see that it’s broken, so why bother tinkering to fix it?

But that’s the question at hand. IS it broken? Maybe not. But if it is, then maybe it would behoove us to do something to rectify that.

#19 Comment By Martin Ralya On March 3, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

[12] – Re: “is there anything in our game we love so much that is turning non-white males” away from it?

Yep, that’s a great rephrasing. Look at the current state of affairs in RPGs and in the hobby as a whole (or the state in the past few years), not the origins of gaming, and this question really comes into focus.

#20 Comment By Patrick Benson On March 4, 2011 @ 7:24 am

[13] – But that is completely different from what you asked. You asked “Why?” and to find the answer to that question we must look into the past to determine how the current state of affairs came to be.

Now if you are asking “How can we change most gamers in the U.S. being white and male?” then we should look at what we do that is excluding others from the hobby. But a necessary question to be asked is “Why should we change anything?”

Too often the answer to that question is the easy “Because it is the right thing to do.” That is a lazy bullshit answer. I don’t care how many movies or television shows portray a noble hero standing up for truth and justice tell us otherwise. Doing the right thing is subjective, and I won’t accept that as an answer.

If the reason to be more appealing and inclusive is to attract more potential customers to the industry, or to expand upon the ideas and concepts of game design to generate a larger variety of games with, well I think that those are real reasons to seek greater diversity. They provide incentive. They make the switch from subjective idealism to tangible benefits.

So I see know reason to give someone grief for asking the legitimate question of “Why should this be done?” It is a question that should be asked, and a question that deserves a strong answer based on reason. Tell gamers that it is the right thing to do and some will support you, but show gamers how it benefits them directly and a great deal more will respond (especially publishers).

#21 Comment By Patrick Benson On March 4, 2011 @ 7:28 am

“So I see know reason…”

Sleep. I now see a reason for sleep. My brain no worky to wells with none.

#22 Pingback By News from Around the Net: 04-MAR-2011 | Game Knight Reviews On March 4, 2011 @ 8:49 am

[…] question… Why are most U.S. gamers white and male? He raises some very interesting points here. The demographics alone are enlightening. How do we diversify the gamer population? (Though I have […]

#23 Comment By Martin Ralya On March 6, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

[14] – No, not directly my question, but I see it as a subset of the second part of my question. Anyhoo, semantics aside they’re both interesting questions (to me).

#24 Comment By Nojo On March 20, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

Check out the marketing our hobby puts out, posters, book covers, the illustrations in our game books.

Most of the game books on my shelf are full of pictures of white males acting heroic with some sexy white chicks in support.

It’s really weird in modern or SF games. I can see a fantasy version of England is going to be pretty darn white. Once you get in the modern world with global travel, games should look multi-ethnic. In SF future with centuries or more of mixing it up, we shouldn’t put out books of the amazing adventures of White Men in Space!

If we want our hobby to grow, we should change the look and feel so everybody can feel included. Not to be PC, but to add new players, new friends. To keep our hobby alive.

#25 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On April 1, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

I just stumbled across this, and found myself (a white guy) in complete agreement with this line:

“(The female panelists’) take on female characters was that it was fine for female characters to be obviously sexualized – as long as they have something else going for them. It turns out that I’m more bothered by sexual pandering than they are.”

More here: [15]

#26 Comment By Techieninja On April 18, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

Late, I know. Apologies.

Until very recently, I’ve had almost the opposite situation in my gaming crew. Out of the six of us, the only males that were in the group was one of the GMs(who has since moved away and chosen me to be his successor), and me.
The thing I noticed about our group is that all of the female characters (played by the females of our group) played traditionally more masculine characters. When we played Pathfinder; one was a bipolar ranger, one was a frightening fighter, and one was a blood-thirsty barbarian. I played a (I’ll admit it) rather delicate rogue and the other male, who happened to be playing at the time, played an intellectual druid.
This also happened, though to a lesser extent, on my first campaign when we played Exalted. The character played by the male was more intellectual than physical, and a majority of the females played, again, more traditionally masculine rolls; and even the one that took the more traditionally female roll could grow disproportionately huge wooden claws.
The demographic in these two games gave way for some very fun and interesting gameplay, and very funny mental images (one of the females played a 14 year old girl wielding a huge battle axe. It was awesome.)

#27 Comment By albertcarruthers On July 28, 2011 @ 11:45 am

I’m late coming to this discussion, but I think it’s important to note that you forgot a couple:


And I know it’s hard to gather data on things like this, but my general impression in gaming is that players (and their characters) are assumed to be heterosexual and gender-conforming. This is, as others have pointed out, a problem because it alienates people that would otherwise want to play RPGs, to use them to have fun and explore potent issues in their lives.

I once spoke with a female friend who had the impression that roleplaying games altogether (and DnD in particular) were unreflective events used to enact fantasies of physical and sexual dominance; jokes about rape were commonplace and content consisted almost entirely of violence. She spoke of feminist European games she had heard of that allowed women to explore self-confidence and power without fear of male domination or reprisal.

@Spitfire665, I think you’re right that some hobbies won’t appeal to certain demographic groups. This is especially the case when they are embedded with narratives of violence, power, and control that are repugnant to people that experience marginalization and subjugation daily.

The RPG gender/race gap isn’t about “natural” divisions between male and female players like word/number or talking/fighting. It’s about telling stories that upset people.

#28 Comment By Laraqua On February 12, 2015 @ 4:58 pm

Pathfinder has done really well, at least, to include LGBTI characters within their game. Wrath of the Righteous is a really good example of it. Hopefully it will become more and more commonplace….

#29 Comment By Laraqua On February 12, 2015 @ 4:57 pm

There are also lots of little details that really stand out to various minority groups in the games themselves. Take D&D 3.5, for example, where every race creation diety out of the major races were male except for a single female goddess who didn’t create her own race … she stole pieces from everyone else’s races to make her own.

So … those gods modelled on the half of the human population that gives birth are incapable of creating life and must steal it, while those modelled on the half of the human population that do not give birth are the more creative life giving ones?

There are *lots* of examples of issues like these that are hard to notice if you’re not directly affected by it.

I can say, however, that Pathfinder does much better with it though too many of their countries are sexist to allow women to comfortably roleplay without having to constantly be “the exception”. So while they’re more conscious of the situation, it’s also harder to ignore in the game as Brevoy, Ustalav, Cheliax, Druma, Taldor, and dwarves are all patriarchies, especially when you read the novels, and even Varisia skews toward patriarchal.

On the note of race, how many gods in these books are shown in a range of skin tones? In truth, there should be a Calistria / Heironeous for every nation. Plus, most non-humanoids in 3.5 at least that have a black and a white option (i.e. Drow) have the black option innately evil.

It’s hard to see why these taken for granted elements would be deal breakers unless you invert it. Imagine if you could very easily pick up a fantasy novel and find only one or two male characters in it. Imagine if a game line had only black characters in it. You *might* choose to pick it up out of curiosity, but would you feel truly welcome? Would you feel like it was *for* you?

It’s like how toy companies colour something pink if they don’t want boys to have it. These tribal markers tell non-majority members to stay out, but they’re so unintentional and even counterproductive so we think it can’t be real. Toy companies just want to sell toys so why cut off half the market? D&D 3.5 did make conscious efforts to include women. Yet the markers are still there and have an effect.

In the end, they reinforce the message that: “Oh, people like me can’t be heroes….” and you start to shut down and tune out.

The lack of tropes and media support for it also means that GMs tend to have more male than female NPCs, especially for bit characters and the nameless support (that army is a 1000 men strong so I guess I can’t join them then without being weird). Since your co-players are generally male as well you get to literally be an exception both in-game and out-of-game….

I’m white, so I can’t speak for people of colour, but I imagine they have a similar – if not worse – experience.