By: Jerry D. Grayson
I publish small independent tabletop role-playing games and have done so since 2002. Whenever the subject of diversity comes up a handful of people of color are invoked as part of the community. If the RPG industry is the Peanuts Gang, I’m the Franklin, the black guy. There is never a lot of us, and it’s usually the same people. Occasionally, a new guy will pop up, but it’s just that, a new GUY.
Where are the Black, Latina, Native American, Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern women game designers, writers, artist, and publishers?
I know that women of color play role-playing games, I see them at conventions and game gatherings. Sometimes they sit at my table and play. I know there are more than what I’m seeing, but I want to be aware of you all. I want to know you, be mindful of you, follow and support you.
With Khepera Publishing, my company, I can’t make a huge difference, but I’m willing to put money where my heart is and attempt it. I want to hire women to help write, illustrate, and design role-playing games. I want women to use what small resources and knowledge I have to springboard into the industry and make a difference. I can’t offer much, but what little I have I’m fully committed to using.
Here is my agenda for reaching out
I’m Not a Woman, But Hopefully, I Can Help.
There is an unfair power dynamic in the gaming industry that says they want diversity, but usually only old white, straight men make the hiring decisions. I want to infuse the RPG community with people that look like me and hopefully, in turn, make the landscape more inviting to people of color. I can’t do this alone, and I’m not a woman. I can assume I know what women of color like, but I’m a man, and as good as my intentions may be, I’m sure women would do it better. I want to know what women want out of the hobby, and give them an avenue to share that voice.
Representative and Creative Diversity
I not only want women of color to work in the industry, but I also want them to have a vested interest in seeing the hobby flourish. I want to see women own their own RPG publishing companies, I want them to do the hiring, and I want them to create next level games. I want more women of color to have the power to affect this industry in a meaningful way.
Through Diversity Comes Strength
It’s an axiom that’s becoming a cliché, but a good cliché. It’s the truth. The more diverse the talent and creative people we have in the industry, the better. LGTBQA+, women, and people of color are the panacea for the RPG industry. I love being comfortable, but the pitfall is that encourages a homogenous culture and ultimately stagnation. I want something new that makes me challenge my assumptions and pushes me outside my own skin. I want to change who the protagonist is in the narrative and I want to change the commonly held belief in this industry and make this industry something better than what it is.
Voice and Agency
I want to help foster a safe place for women of color to have a voice and platform to do good work and to share their opinions.
All the above are my pie in the sky ideas. I may not be the best person for the job, but I hope someone out there reaches out to help me be better and the industry too.
We cannot do it without you Women of Color.
For more information or to contact Jerry D. Grayson, please visit https://kheperapublishing.com/