I am happily taking on the mantle of RPG Guy. So, expect to start seeing more articles about role-playing here. If I become prolific enough we may give role-playing games their own category on the site. Or not. I haven’t actually discussed it with Mike yet…
Let’s start things off with a subject that has been gaining some momentum recently: Gender roles in RPG’s. Apparently some people believe that because women were oppressed during the Dark Ages they should also be oppressed in Fantasy RPG’s. The argument that I have heard for this goes something like, “to maintain realism women in game should be subservient to the men in their lives.” To be honest it made me feel a little sick just to type that last sentence. The best response to this that I’ve seen so far was to wonder how it is possible to allow for the existence of dragons, orcs, and the casting of fireball spells, but not the equality of women.
My knee-jerk response to this kind of backwards thinking is to just say, “If you can’t allow for strong female characters, or even strong female non-player characters, in your games then you need to find other misogynists to share the hate with.” I realize that this isn’t the most helpful reaction. But let me explain where this thought comes from. In my opinion, and this will seem obvious to most, games should be fun. That’s it. Games can be educational, thought provoking, catalysts of social change, but when boiled down they should be fun. If someone can’t have fun playing a game where females are just as strong, smart and self-assured as the males, then they shouldn’t be playing with people who prefer to believe that an ideal world would have females standing as equals to their male counterparts. And the same can be said for people of a less Cro-Magnon mindset. If they find themselves playing in a world that has all female characters scrubbing floors, working the oldest profession, or wearing chain-mail bikinis, and this makes them uncomfortable, they should stand up and leave.
Until very recently it was incredibly difficult to find a gaming group with which to game. This meant you couldn’t be very choosy when it came to the type and style of play. You had to put up with uncomfortable situations and/or abrasive people if you wanted to play. But luckily, we now live in the future! If you can’t find a decent group in your local area, then you can go online. We’ve mentioned a couple of online options in our podcasts, and I will write an article in the near future that will provide more detail.
It should be rather obvious that I think it is ridiculous to force historically accurate gender roles in a fantasy setting. It is saddening to be reminded that there are still people harboring sexism in the darker recesses of their souls. To my companion fun-lovers I say, be patient, try to educate, and if necessary, get up and walk away.