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To celebrate Women in Tabletop Gaming MonthPlay Without Apology interviewed with some of the very women who contribute to our communities!
Each of them also participates actively in communities both locally and abroad. It felt apt to feature them given that our advocacy for empowerment and inclusivity. Lee: Henlo, my name is Lee and one whole genderqueer living Sydney, Australia. I plan to make up for forgetting it last session by making the next one a bit special for my players!
Xrystina: Hello! Been playing and running for two years now. I normally just dabble, and I love homebrew because I can just go wild! My love for Dungeon World started with my dad and his friends.
They never shied away from letting me watch sessions, and were also fine with me reading all of their books. So, by the time I met peers who wanted to game, I was raring to try all the things out.
I can say, without hesitation, that my interest in the hobby has moved away less from it simply being stress relief and more about it being… well, survival. Developing a sense of hopefulness and optimism is a life skill. And having to face a whole lot of things we cannot readily change. Tabletop lets me challenge those perceptions, which helps me find ways to face them better as myself. And it also lets me build a better place for me and my own.
Being a GM is especially useful in this case. Safe spaces are in short stock, and are constantly besieged. Perhaps by running long campaigns that are all about letting my players explore things that would otherwise be difficult or painful to look at, and are also letting Looking for a female tabletop gamer be themselves without prejudice or fear, I can make things a little better for everyone. I was an animation student and had always been interested in TRPGs. Unfortunately a lot of my participation was dismissed. Lee: I remember being scoffed at because I went to great lengths and wrote a backstory about my character.
Not even my partner backed me up on that. Only one of the other players showed genuine interest and wanted to ask me about my fledgling Deva Cleric. The fact that both the fandom and the cast were so open and sharing a stark contrast to my introduction to the idea of TRPGs reignited my desire to play, along with the multitude of shows with a similar formula that followed.
It was a one-shot campaign I had opted to DM for a lifelong friend and my brother. From then on, I was hooked.
Managing between 6 to 8 players — initially over Skype, before shifting over to Discord — is, unquestionably, a challenge. My friends, watching Critical Roleand my thirst for escapism are my constant fuel, basically. Being female-presenting makes it difficult to find circles I am comfortable in; much less being queer and being able to explore these topics as freely as I wish to.
I volunteered, and now here I am!
I like seeing new players, and guiding them. And I see them have the time of their life when they realize they can become the charismatic rogue or anthropomorphic cat they long to be. It got me thinking about a lot of possibilities!
And how almost every day is an exercise in resisting how the world seeks to silence me or erase me entirely. Simply because I am a woman.
Or [them] assuming that I am around as an attachment to a cisgender male player. That experience made me pretty gun shy about doing tabletop roleplaying anything for several years. And that I police their fun for simply wanting them to be careful with the way they play or GM; in light of any friends or potential players of those who may be gay. We all need to responsible, even at our private tables, for our actions. To assume that we can simply retreat to our own spaces where we determine what is acceptable WITHOUT considering ethical standards as a whole is, quite frankly, the beginnings of dangerous echo chambers and precedents that affect everyone around you.
Lee: The main challenge I faced was finding the space I was most comfortable in. As an introvert it was hard to find the energy to find one, much less establish a space. But after getting involved with the first GXAustralia, the convention opened a whole lot of ro for me. Through there I managed Looking for a female tabletop gamer find many queer and inclusive spaces, not afraid to be critical of content; but also dedicated to make room for diverse stories.
Thing is, I feel mine is not a common story. That I was invited into these spaces that have allowed me to grow and explore the gaming industry as I have. It was not without its hurdles. However, it was a charmed welcome compared to most.
This is exactly what fuels my personal philosophy on inclusivity. If the people behind these spaces did not have the genuine wish to broaden the community to be more inclusive, I would not be here. Performing inclusivity serves no one. But honestly applying it is what makes for a robust gaming community. Make it so that not only Looking for a female tabletop gamer it a space safe for a person from any walk of life to walk in; but one where it is also open to criticism and constant scrutiny.
Pam: I like your point on GMs being left to be fixers.
Expecting your GM to do everything is bad taste. Xrystina: I am not meant to be the Mom Friend. But it has even come to a point where I have to go to them one by one and do the HR thing. I should just be running games. I can cater it to myself and to my friends who enjoy the representation and exposure to more stories. Maki: I love my circle of friends because they really are queer space friendly. A portion of my NPCs are queer because I am too; and it gives out so many dynamics for me to wiggle around.
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And they — my friends — are out there supporting it all. My players — some, not all — end up experimenting relationship dynamics in my campaign. A straight friend may play as a bi character, a bi friend may opt for other goals in the game. We take that for granted sometimes. Pam: Keep up the fight, but know when to take a step back and be kind to yourself.
And, never worry: you are not alone. Lee: It serves absolutely no one to maintain a pantomime of diversity.
Seek out more voices, fully appreciate the conversations that need to occur for these spaces to grow, but never at the detriment of the marginalised. Most importantly, support communities that make diversity and inclusivity their main platform.
This does not mean blind faith — true support is in healthy criticism and dialogue. Listen and engage, but know when to disengage. Not just for yourself, but for others involved too. It all starts with being heard. Maki: You must take the first step to create and write your stories and games. It takes hard work to prep a game, but by the end of the day, the pay off and the stories always make it so worth it.
Want to share your own experience as Women in Tabletop Gaming?
Let us know in the comments! Published in FeaturesGamingInterviews and Tabletop. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Noey Pico.
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