I don’t feel like I’m any kind of hero for sticking it out to become a woman working fulltime editing RPGs. It’s pretty much a dream come true, and I’ve never been more accepted and respected. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I have little to add to #1reasonwhy there are so few women in gaming—I feel a bit like I lead a charmed life that way.
Nevertheless, sometimes I’m aware of a weight on my shoulders as a woman in a male-dominated field. This is all the more apparent when I look at my children who are immersed in gaming in many ways. I realize that I’m a role model whether I want to be one or not. I’d best not fuck it up.
But that’s my primary #1reasontobe—I feel like what I do matters. Sure, I’m helping people make games. But games can change the world. Really. At least they can help change culture, and that in time will change the world. It’s that glacial kind of change, the kind our grandchildren will probably benefit from more than we will, but it still matters. If we work against the culture that makes it hard to be a woman in gaming, our daughters will see that this is a field they can be part of. And it will never occur to our granddaughters that games are for boys and that women can’t be equally involved in making and playing games.
(Or that games are only for for cisgendered white people to make and play. This is absolutely not only about women. However, as a cisgendered white woman raising a cisgendered white daughter, please bear with me if that’s my primary example since it ties in with my personal experiences. But I believe that battles for equality are more alike than they are different, and as walls come down for one group, they’re at least weakened significantly for other groups as well.)
For the most part, I see an openness and inclusion in the gaming community that I’m part of that I would like to see in the world as a whole. It’s painfully clear that not everyone is like this—I’m horrified by some of the overt misogyny, racism, and homophobia that other people have experienced in gaming, shocked and saddened that there are people in the world who could possibly say such things in this day and age. In my little bubble, those people are very much the exception and that kind of thing isn’t tolerated. I don’t mean to say my peeps are saints—we get on each other’s nerves and bicker from time to time and once in awhile someone says something stupid, we all get bent out of shape, feelings get hurt, and usually there are apologies and we learn something and we move on. But for the most part, people who are part of my circles are respectful of each other. The ones who aren’t stand out as the exceptions they are.
That kind of thing is contagious. As those circles of respect widen, more people join in and learn how not to accidentally be jerks (of course, it doesn’t help the ones who are proud of being jerks, but some humans are like that). And as youngsters grow up in these circles of respect, there’s so much they’ll never have to unlearn. Inclusion will be normal to them.
So my main #1reasontobe is because I want to be part of why a gaming community is welcoming and inclusive. I want to help create games that reflect a variety of people and that any gamer can look at and picture herself or himself as part of that game in the art, in the characters we present, in the themes we explore. I want to create the gaming community where my daughter and my son will be welcomed and nurtured. I want other women to look at gaming and see me at the gaming table, in the booth selling my books, in the credits of lots of games, and I want them to feel like they won’t be alone here.
I may “just” be making games, but I also think I’m helping make a better world for my children and my grandchildren, regardless of gender, race, ability, or sexual orientation.