In a political climate that involves neo-nazis, the rise of fascism, ICE, loss of healthcare, capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, global warming… are roleplaying games important?
Like shouldn’t every waking moment be about fixing what’s wrong in America right now?
Here’s the thing. When you’re making and playing roleplaying games, you are performing activism.
Stories change and affect culture
At the heart of roleplaying games is collaborative storytelling. Stories are important. When a new story becomes dominant, cultural norms shift and that’s how social progress works. Nanette, a Netflix one hour special, focuses on the power of stories that come from minorities, and how speaking your truth can be healing both to you and to culture. When we tell stories, even in roleplaying games, we have the ability to shift culture.
This is why it’s so important to examine the stories we’re telling!
Games have messages
Many roleplaying games are actively telling stories that are about overcoming and creating change. Dog Eat Dog, Kagematsu, War Birds, Night Witches, Harlem Unbound, Monsterhearts, Steal Away Jordan, A Cozy Den… these center on the stories of minorities and outsiders with the intent of educating and changing people’s perception of them through play.
When you’re playing a fae in Monsterhearts, you might not learn exactly what it’s like to be a “fairy”, but you will gain empathy for people who feel like monsters and outsiders because they’re queer teens.
There are all different kinds of activism
I can no longer march or hold signs because with fibromyalgia my body can’t maintain that kind of activity anymore. BUT I can call reps, vote, sign petitions, send money, raise awareness on social media and in person, and always speak my truth – especially to relatives and people I know who are ignorantly working against me.
Sharing games that are created by people of color, trans people, people with disabilities, people of gender minorities… supporting them, buying them – that’s activism in gaming. Especially games that spread a message of inclusion or showcase a minority experience!
You still need to have fun even when politics are hard
Playing games is FUN. People need to recharge, we can’t be activists all the time 24/7 without getting exhausted and wearing ourselves out. Spending time gaming with friends can be healing and recharging, so that you can keep fighting oppression the other six days of the week.
Roleplaying games can bring people together
Roleplaying games are a unique form of art that involves communicating with multiple humans in an interactive setting. The ability to communicate and share stories with friends is powerful. We are a community, and we grow stronger the more diverse people we have sharing their stories. Make friends, build community, change the community.
Share your truth, and some young roleplayer out there will see themselves in your work, and we’ll make the community better for it. Run games that support inclusion, and tell stories that prop up diverse voices. In roleplaying games we share the common language of storytelling, and the more we can give people tools to tell more diverse stories, the better!
What do you think about making games in today’s political climate? Are there any games you’ve played recently that have shifted your perspective on a minority group? Let me know in the comments.