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.
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