Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sexism in Role-Playing Games

And so, having avoided the latest thread concerning Palladium and Kevin Siembieda on I chanced upon a thread concerning Sexism in RPGs.

The thread, in which the original poster had requested men refrain from commenting initially so that the side of the women could be heard first, is very long. Despite the not-surprising comments and arguments from the male side of the community (many of which are fairly common arguments outside of the RPG community) there were some successful sharings of experiences which seems to be composed of the following:
    a) sexism during gameplay;
    b) sexism in the written RPG material; and
    c) sexism outside of gameplay, but within the group.

The issue of sexism is very complex, can vary in some ways from culture to culture, and -- while certainly unwelcome -- doesn't seem to have very many easy answers.

Because I feel that it's unlikely that it will be possible to impact the sexism in (a) and (c) without being able to impact the societies and communities that they're taking place in, I seem to really zero in on the question of sexism in written RPG material.

Above and beyond the issue of gender neutral language, there seems to be a concern about the 'sexiness' of the portrayal of female characters in RPG books (pictures and write-ups of NPCs and sample PCs). Interestingly, many of the concerns raised are about the unrealistic portrayal of women (yes, yes, many of the worlds of RPGs are unrealistic -- but the plausibility of the women in them need not be) and the rebuttals thereof seem to be the same concerns and arguments raised about the portrayal of women in popular media.

Could it be that possible approaches to addressing the issue of sexism in RPG books are actually similar to the approaches espoused by female writers of SF/Fantasy?

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