Pride Month, Charity Streaming on Gen Con TV, and Community on Discord
Happy pride, my queer family! Like many people, I found my safe space to be myself in the gaming community; I talked about this a little bit in my update from last month, but I want to dive into the importance of LGBTQ+ spaces within the gaming world and how you can help if you want to be an ally. Board games — and gaming in general — has historically been a space that’s white, straight, and male, and although we’re seeing some small shifts in that, we’ve got a long way to go.
For individuals in a position of privilege in the gaming world, it’s our job to make sure we’re making space for our LGBTQ+ community, asking questions, and educating ourselves on the barriers that LGBTQ+ folks face when they want to play — and make — games. A lot of this work happens on a small scale — you don’t need to be an industry professional to make a difference! You can help welcome LGBTQ+ folks into your games at your own table. Here’s a couple ideas for you to start:
Buy and play games by LGBTQ+ designers
There are so many talented LGBTQ+ designers in the industry who are making amazing games. Earlier this month, we went on Twitter and asked for LGBTQ+ designers to share their work and we came back with some amazing products like the Alleyman’s Tarot, Monsters of Murka (who we’re interviewing this week on TableTakes!), VISIGOTHS vs MALL GOTHS, and Loopy Lore. One of my favorite LGBTQ+–led titles is Thirsty Sword Lesbians, which successfully kickstarted last year, because what’s better than flirting, sword fights, and snappy one-liners?
If you’re not sure where to find LGBTQ+ designers, try asking your FLGS (or your reddit pals if you prefer the internet).
Make LGBTQ+ characters in your TTRPG games
If you’re a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) player or designer, you can create a richer, more realistic world by adding queer characters to your play spaces. It also makes a great opportunity to learn about how to incorporate queer characters into your narrative. This article on Tribality gives a lot of great advice on avoiding common tropes, what to do if you make a mistake, and why it’s so important to include LGBTQ+ folks in your in-character world as much as your out-of-character world.
Make your gaming spaces safer for LGBTQ+ folks
Sometimes we don’t even realize our spaces might not be safe or welcoming for LGBTQ+ folks, especially if you’re not one yourself and you don’t live in the everyday experiences of a queer individual. There are lots of ways you can ensure your game is welcoming for LGBTQ+ folks that will help your straight and cis gamers as well.
Always ask your players pronouns if you don’t know them, even if they seem to visibly identify as a certain gender — you never know the experiences of the person sitting with you and it’s a great chance to let them know that you respect their identity by asking.
Consider using a safety toolkit to ensure you’re creating a space that everyone can enjoy. A lot of folks — especially LGBTQ+ folks — use TTRPGs and board games for escapism, and it’s hard to escape if the game they’re playing might be touching upon real life trauma. There’s a lot of different options for safety tool kits, but the TTRPG Safety Toolkit is a great place to start and offers a lot of different resources for you to try.
Finally, be careful not to write about things you may not fully understand or consider removing content that may be harmful and doesn’t provide any benefits. As an example, many TTRPGs rely on themes like slavery, oppression, ableism, fantasy racism, and sexual assault in order to establish storylines. One of the best things I’ve done as a TTRPG writer is to completely banish those topics from my writing unless I am using it as an education and teaching tool.
A lot of times we will tend toward those topics because we as GMs and writers want to evoke a certain feeling — like establishing someone is truly evil, or giving an opportunity for someone to be a hero — but you can often accomplish those same feelings without using topics that are still harmful to our real-life players.
Don’t forget our BIPOC LGBTQ+ community
Our BIPOC LGBTQ+ gaming family is in a tremendously vulnerable and under-represented place in our world. In addition to all of the tips above, please don’t forget to include BIPOC queer characters and heroes, and think about choosing board games that respect the history and culture of BIPOC communitities. James Mendez Hodes put out an incredible article on playing a character of another race that I suggest everyone who plays TTRPGs or roleplays take a gander at. It’s a great educational tool with a lot of fantastic tips.
Above all else: think outside of your own experience.
The best advice I can offer to allies who want to make spaces for our queer family is to step outside of your own shoes and consider the experiences of others. Allow yourself to listen to their story, think about how you can amplify and embrace it, and let them be themselves. You never know who you are sitting beside when you join a gaming table and you have the opportunity to let someone flourish.
To my queer folks: I wish you all an amazing and uplifting Pride.
Gen Con TV Charity Week
This month of Gen Con TV’s charity week, we’re supporting the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, whose goal is to “improve the black trans human experience by overcoming violence and injustice in the world through the power, value and love of all people.” All of our shows on Gen Con TV will be accepting donations, but if you’re gonna miss us this week, you can donate here too!
We’re capping the week off with two special events: an interview during TableTakes with the team behind Monsters of Murka, a queer-focused, satirical D&D 5E setting that’s currently kickstarting right now, and a one-shot with Transplanar RPG!
Transplanar RPG is a BIPOC-led, all-trans D&D game set in a homebrew noncolonial, antiorientalist world. On Friday, they’ll be playing a one-shot of Quest RPG and there will be lots of ways for you to donate that will affect the game for our players.
I hope to see you there and I look forward to all the good we can provide the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition!
Have you been to our Discord?
Our Discord server is ramping up in preparation for Gen Con Indy and Gen Con Online! If you haven’t joined the server, consider swinging by so you can keep up-to-date, chat, and plan with other fans, pick up some advice from Gen Con veterans, or share some of your own.
I’ll be in chat along with the rest of the team as the hype continues to build for Gen Con 2021.
See you there!
*icon credit: @omoulo