Archive for the ‘Gaming Culture’ Category

So, it’s been a while. In fact, it’s been a long time. But an important topic has drawn me from my blogging hiatus. It’s the topic of perceived misogyny in gaming in particular, but consumerism in general.

First, I’d like to introduce the reader to a concept that I think is very valuable to understand before we continue. It is this: Not every product, service, idea, or marketing caters to us personally, or to whatever demographic groups we may inhabit.

Pretty basic right?

Let’s have an example just to clarify.

I’m not in the market for a pickup truck. I have no real need for a pickup truck in my life. I’m not the target demographic for pickup trucks. Is it reasonable for me to expect pickup trucks to be designed to appeal to me? Wouldn’t they sell more pickup trucks if they DID design them to appeal to me? After all, if they design a product that appeals to me I might buy it, right? Designing pickup trucks to appeal to me would naturally increase their sales, right? So if we’ve established that they could sell more pickups if they market to me, then we can infer that by not marketing to me, it is evidence they do not like me or think little of me. Wait, what?

That doesn’t follow at all. (more…)


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Koplow-D20smallOk, so the D&D 30 day challenge took a bit of a hiatus. But today it’s back! And today we talk about our favorite gaming dice. This brings up a few things I’d like to talk about, things that are probably personal quirks but that perhaps some people share.  I’ll just stream of consciousness this and see what happens. (more…)

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Ranger ArtSo if you read my previous post about favorite race, it’s probably no surprise my favorite class is Ranger. As I mentioned, I’ve always gravitated towards a connection to nature and the outdoors. As a person who enjoys time in the wilderness, I’ve always fancied myself as the type that might ultimately exist as that class in a fantasy world. Even more than that, I took a career test in 8th grade (without knowing what type of test it was at the time) and based on the answers I gave to the questions, it recommended Forest Ranger as a potential profession I should look into. I had never really given that much thought at the time, but seeing those words in an official way, outside of D&D, really made me realize that I was not just imagining things. But while I enjoy Rangers and feel most “at home” in that class, I’m perfectly happy playing pretty much any class. I tend to play martial classes more than casters but otherwise, I don’t have a lot of bias one way or the other. If I play a caster, I lean more toward healer than damage dealer or arcanist.  I’ve never really been into playing characters with animal companions or with the ability to shape shift. No matter what class I play, I tend to gravitate towards ranged combat. I do love a good composite bow.

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Elf on ShelfThis is a toss up for me, between Elf and Halfling. I will probably go Elf because I play them more, but Halflings and the concept of a small, quiet race is very enticing. I think the draw to Elves is based largely on my personal perception of them as a class that is closer to the natural world. As a person who loves camping, the outdoors and animals, I’ve always felt a kinship with Elves, particularly what would later be considered Wood Elves, or Sylvan Elves. I think this is partially what draws me to Halflings as well. They feel like a race that is closer to nature.  In the same way, I’ve been less drawn to High Elves, which seemed to have almost transcended this natural relationship. This natural bent I have will probably be relevant for day 3 as well. Check back to find out and feel free to give your own answers in the comments if you feel the need. I’m always curious why people play/enjoy the races they do.

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In my cruising of the internet D&D-o-sphere I’ve started to see something popping up. That is the mention of “The D&D 30 Day Challenge.” As far as I can tell, it originated on the Polar Bear Dreams & Stranger Things blog. I read a few of the responses and thought it looked like fun. I’m not nearly as cool as the people starting this because I’m more than 2 weeks late but rather than waiting for Oct. 1, I’ll just call today Day 1. Here is the list of topics, as given by our friend at Polar Bear Dreams.30-day-challenge (more…)

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swotusI’ve been an on-again off-again reader of an OSR gaming blog called Tenkar’s Tavern for close to two years now. Erik Tankar, the proprietor of Tenkar’s Tavern came to my attention due to his blogging about ACKS or Adventurer Conqueror King System, one of my favorite rulesets based loosely on Labyrinth Lord and rewritten to create a world building end-game that previous versions of D&D always aspired to but never really achieved. Like me, he really seemed to like the game. In reading his thoughts on that ruleset, and finding them similar to my own, I realized we had many gaming ideas in common. He also commented quite postively on another ruleset close to my heart, Castles & Crusades. And thus, a bookmark was born. Over the last 2 years, I’ve read ruminations on so many aspects of the OSR. Tenkar’s Tavern really does walk the walk, supporting multitudes of OSR Kickstarters and keeping readers up to date on many of the happenings in the community and around the web.

One of those happenings was one I really thought sounded like a great idea. It was the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Blogfest. Basically, just a way to maintain momentum for the OSR in general and Swords & Wizardry in particular, the blogfest seemed like a good opportunity for me to contribute and participate in something I’ve enjoyed for quite a while now. (more…)

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Over on Sarah Darkmagic, Sarah has been highlighting the type of art she likes to see. She displays images, frequently with a focus on females, and states that she likes art that tells a story, that draws the viewer in. She mentions each piece specifically and what she finds intriguing about it. This is fantastic. This is a great example of how to better both art in general and the art of our hobby in particular. I’ve felt for a long time that the art of D&D needs to be more inclusive, something Sarah generally does a great job pointing out. A wider cross-section of people should be able to experience the art of our hobby and not feel objectified or exploited. RPG art is, in my opinion, best when it exemplifies the best aspects of the hobby, Adventure, Exploration, Devotion, Honor, Courage and a dozen other powerfully evocative states of being, all of which lend themselves to the concept of inclusivity.

So, how, as bloggers and as internet citizens do we empower artists, make our voices heard, and shine light on the idea that RPG art needn’t be oversexualized material that is appropriate only for a thin slice of viewers? I think the best way to do this is twofold.

1. Exposure

We, as bloggers, need to raise awareness. Much like what Sarah Darkmagic is doing, we need to spotlight such art so that others can experience it, to know what we’re talking about and to spread the word. We need to create a vocabulary of the art we want more of, to educate consumers of art and creators. We need to make sure that those artists who are producing material that tickles our imaginations while still being inclusive get seen.

2. Feedback

We can’t, as reasonable humans, expect artists to read minds. If we want something from them, if we want them to alter their focus or to use less exploitative imagery, we need to make our voices heard. Artists, to a certain degree, are creating art not only for themselves but for the public. Art is a medium to be shared.  If the artist is including elements they think are desirable, they can’t be blamed if no one ever tells them differently. As an artist myself, I can say definitively that I desire feedback any time my work is put forth for public consumption.  Were anyone to stifle that feedback, I would be disappointed.

This brings me to an image I saw the other day on Sarah Darkmagics blogs. It can be seen here

The Cave by ~Maretenebrae

The reason I love this image is because it has a real sense of tension. When you can see the enemies faces, but not the heroes face, it makes it easy to put oneself in the heroes shoes. That’s exactly what we do all the time in RPGs so this image starts off great. I also love the gradiant, lower left to upper right, dark brown to white and back to darkness. On a visceral level, it is simply powerful.

So where does it go wrong? When we’re talking about being inclusive and having art that is based on some semblance of believability, we shouldn’t only talk about including believable women.  It sort of weakens the entire movement. While I love what Sarah Darkmagic is doing by spotlighting the really great art that depicts women in a more dignified manner, I find it surprising that she finds it unacceptable to comment on some small issues in this piece. We like to talk about women wearing appropriate clothing for adventuring and that’s great. Sarah is pretty big on this, pointing out armor that covers breasts and whether or not too much skin is exposed. But in the case of this man, holding a white rabbit, something you’d only find in arctic conditions, she finds it undesirable to point out that he is shirtless. This man would be freezing!  One could argue the lack of shirt is representative of his exposure, both to the elements and to the enemies. But this is a subtlety that is easily abused in the case of women. Ultimately, I’m not sure the lack of shirt furthers the goals of the image. Do I love the image? Yes. Could it be more inclusive? I think so.

But when talking about inclusive art, is it wrong to say this image could be  moreso? Should a person who makes such a comment be told to go away and make their own blog?  Is it a good idea to create an “agree with me or leave” environment when it comes to furthering the goals of exclusivity?  As an artist, it’s not simply important to allow criticism, it’s vital. As long as the criticism is provided in a mature fashion, I find it hard to rationalize creating an environment where it’s not welcome. It does artists a disservice to try to shut down maturely expressed critical thought. To make reasoned critical thought unwelcome is to stifle creativity, both for the artist and the viewer. And good art should never strive to do this. I’ve not met an artist who would find this acceptable.

To sum it up, lets get together. Lets promote inclusive art and lets talk about it. Lets share our thoughts. EVEN those not everyone may not agree with. Lets do it in a mature fashion. Ultimately, I think this will benefit us as artists and as consumers of art. And if you don’t agree. Go start your own blog. 😉

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So I’ve been watching videos coming out of DDXP about the next iteration of D&D. I’ve seen activity on forums ranging from hysterical accolades to hate-filled diatribes. I’m curious if others out there are following the news. Sound out in the current Hunter’s Quarry poll.

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Ok, so the word should be out by now. WotC revealed they are hard at work designing the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons. If you missed this announcement you can check it out here. When I first read the news, I was curious and intrigued. I had been following the Legends & Lore columns of both Mike Mearls and newly re-hired Monte Cook for the last few months. I very much enjoyed their ruminations on past editions of the game, what we learned from them, and how they might impact modern design goals. The comments frequently devolved into a hot mess of hate-on-hate action but were frequently peppered with thought provoking responses. It was a heady time and a fun place to be as we all collectively speculated if these seemingly innocuous conversations had some higher purpose. It turns out they did. Hit the jump to find out how. (more…)

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This summer I decided I would try to go back and read some of those novels that looked so interesting when I was younger, but that I never had the opportunity to buy or read. These are novels that are either direct tie-ins to the D&D world, or are heavily influenced by it.  I remember seeing them on bookstore shelves, often positioned next to D&D source books and wondering if they were as good as the game I was playing. However, with limited funds at the time (most of my early D&D books were purchased with paper route money), I had to choose between game books, Dragon Magazine and D&D novels. Generally, it was the novels that got passed by. Now that I’m older and have a bit more disposable income, I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to go back and find those books that called to me but that went unanswered.  The first book in this little summer series was The Verdant Passage by Troy Denning. (more…)

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