The Misogyny At The Core Of Our Hobby

I consider myself a tabletop roleplaying games fan. I have enjoyed playing RPGs for most of my life, I’ve run games myself for over 25 years and I have introduced quite a few people to the hobby. But unfortunately the roleplaying game hobby has its issues and we all need to acknowledge that there has been a huge problem with misogyny and racism especially in its early days but still to this day.

A recent Twitter post dragged the topic back into the public’s eye. It featured screenshots of two posts, one written by Gary Gygax and the other by Jonathan Tweet. As we all well know Gary Gygax is considered as one of the fathers of our hobby, while Jonathan Tweet is well known for his work on D&D 3rd Edition, 13th Age, and Over The Edge. Especially 3rd Edition and OTE had definitely quite an impact on the hobby today.

Let’s unpack Mr. Gygax’ post first. He gave his thoughts on why tabletop roleplaying games were male-dominated in the early days and his conclusion was that “most females do not play RPGs because of a difference in brain functions”. Oh boy! He also mused that it was a waste of time and effort to attempt to write games which included women as a target audience. Discussing the neuroscience behind Gygax’ claims would be well beyond the scope of this post. Let’s just say that roleplaying games are nowadays enjoyed by people of all genders. Sure, there are probably still more male RPG fans but that’s probably because people like Gygax never even bothered to see women as a target audience.

In a way it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe women just don’t enjoy a certain kind of games and then tailor your game towards a young male audience, it’s unsurprising if female gamers are not particularly interested in your product. But the best proof that Gygax’ assumption was wrong is that despite all the issues D&D had, it was still enjoyed by many female gamers. So he was obviously wrong and misogynist. Heck, the more I read about Mr. Gygax the more I get the impression he was not a very nice person. So why should we care?

For one I think uncritical praise of people like Gary Gygax is wrong. You can appreciate what he has done for the hobby even while acknowledging what he did wrong. The other thing is that a lot of his weird ideas on women (and race for that matter) made it into the game. In the process of modernizing D&D Wizards of the Coast would be well-advised to put particular care into making sure that these elements are removed.

Unfortunately some of the people who later worked on D&D shared some of Gygax ideas. Jonathan Tweet is such an example. Over the last few years he has made several racist and misogynist remarks which caused quite a turmoil especially among fans of 13th Age, a game which he designed together with Rob Heinsoo. A quote by Mr. Tweet is included in the screenshot below.

He posted these lines on his blog on Gleemax (WotC’s now defunct social site for gamers) back in 2008. I find it particularly interesting that both Gygax and Tweet mention LARP in a derogatory manner. I also find the “quality of gamer men” remark ridiculous and offensive, especially since he makes the allegation that female gamers are actually more interested in “good-looking guys” than the games themselves, which is pretty close to this whole “fake gamer girl” bullshit.

Over the last few years I have realized that looking up to “industry luminaries” is often a terrible idea. More often than not our “heroes” turn out to be terrible people. Even worse their often harmful ideologies make it into the games they created which make it hard to separate the art from the artist.

One last thing: I’ve disabled the comment feature under this post. If you want to discuss it, feel free to get in touch with me via social media.

We interrupt this blog for… #RPGaDay2020!

Like the Spanish Inquisition in a Monty Python sketch, nobody expects a post by Sunglar! If you search for my last post, it was August 5th last year, the supposed first post in a series for #RPGaDay2019, and after that nothing. The post before that was September 1st, 2018, the last post in #RPGaDay2018. See a pattern? I still say I’m a contributor to this blog, so I better fess up and write my yearly post!

If you want to avoid the sappy recap, jump ahead three paragraphs! Look for the #RPGaDay2020 image below.

I’ve been participating in #RPGaDay since 2015, five years! So much has changed. I’m a dad, I have a fantastic job, but one that requires a lot from me, when the baby is asleep I don’t want to do any writing or recording, I just want to rest. Hey, that does not mean I’ve given up on RPGs. I still play my weekly game, currently paying my 33-year-old homebrew campaign using Castles & Crusades by Troll Lord Games. I’m still active with Puerto Rico Role Players, and if we are friends on Facebook or you follow me on Twitter (@Sunglar), you’ll see me talking about RPGs and other subjects.

Continue reading We interrupt this blog for… #RPGaDay2020!

A Humble Look At “THE CREW OF ENTERPRISE”

I am interrupting my summer break to share my thoughts on a new Modiphius product today. I have to admit I haven’t really followed their line of Star Trek Adventures products for a while since my interests have been mostly focused elsewhere. Today I had an email from Modiphius in my inbox informing me that they sent me a review copy of Star Trek Adventures: Enterprise Player Characters. Enterprise is still among my favorite Star Trek series, so I had to check it out immediately.

“Star Trek Adventures: Enterprise Player Characters” or as it is called within the document “The Crew of Enterprise” is a 16-paged booklet containing the stats of the major characters from the series including stats for the NX-01 starship itself. Included are Captain Archer, T’Pol, Cmdr. Tucker, Lt. Reed, Lt. Sato, Ensign Mayweather, Doctor Phlox and last but not least Commander Shran.

The artwork included is actually pretty nice and on par with the other Star Trek Adventures products. Personally I like the style and prefer it over just using photos from the show. I’ve included an example to the right.

So is this PDF worth its $5 asking price? Definitely. Especially if you are a fan of Enterprise and want to either play your favorite characters or let them appear as NPCs. As always the PDF is available from DriveThruRPG or the Modiphius store.

I probably should mention at this point that there’s currently an awesome way to get your hands on a huge amount of Star Trek Adventures content. Over on Humble Bundle they are selling a Star Trek Adventures bundle containing the core rules, the Alpha and Beta Quadrant source books, a slew of adventures, and much, much more. The character booklets for the Next Generation and Original Series eras are also included.

With all that being said, I am still hoping for an Enterprise era source book or something from the Discovery era. Yes, I know the new series was not included in the original license deal and many people don’t enjoy it as much as I have, but I’m allowed to dream, aren’t I?

A Roleplaying Games blog

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