Gaming and the Real World
It has been really hard to get back into writing reviews for the blog. It seems like the world is spiraling out of control, and so many people are hurting. I want to help, and I have no idea what to do that will even make a dent in numerous situations.
I firmly believe in the importance of roleplaying games as a means of building empathy. We meet new people, interact with them to tell a story together, and learn to put ourselves in the place of people that we are not. This is something powerful and transformative.
But because these are games, and we are often trying to relax and tell stories that allow us to engage in escapism, roleplaying games can seem “less than” the issues that surround us. But as humans, we make art. Not all art is profound or great, but art is one of the ways we cope with the world around us.
Before I go any further, I would like to state a few things that are core to what I believe:
- Trans rights are human rights
LGBTQIA+ people deserve the right to live and love as they are moved
- Racism and white supremacy have been hard-wired into many institutions, and we need to examine how this happens
- No one should be denied human rights because they are on the wrong side of a border
- Health care is a human right
- No document created by any governing body can be more sacred that the responsibility we have to one another
- People should have autonomy over their bodies
- We have a responsibility to future generations to make sure the world isn’t in worse shape then when we found it
The challenge we face is a disingenuous arena where those that oppose the above ideas do not do so by saying they are against those ideas, but by saying they are champions of reason and caution. By changing what has always been, what if we make more problems? Things are good for a certain part of the population, what if we just make things worse for everyone? We’ve always done things this way, what if change is too dangerous?
These arguments are based on privilege. In many cases, rights we’ve seen eroded are rights that have been in place for decades. The real change is taking away freedoms that people have already realized. The real change is using the power of society to make sure that things that should be true actually are true.
Donate, protest, and contact your politicians. Let them know what you are angry about. Let them know the action you want them to take. Instead of donating to politicians, donate to people affected by recent rights upheavals. Let those politicians that hit you up for donations know that your money is going to people affected by their inaction.
Now, I’m going to advocate for something that will send a collective groan up from a portion of the gaming internet. Politics are already in your game. Make the politics in your games something you add with intentionality.
This doesn’t always mean that the player characters have to be heroes fighting against a greater evil, but let them know the flaws of the society they live in. Let them know the consequences of their actions when they don’t practice empathy.
Include LGBTQIA+ characters in your game, and let them have actual lives beyond being targeted or persecuted. Describe people with all kinds of phenotypes in your game, and don’t default to “white unless otherwise told.”
Use safety tools and collaborate with your players to make sure the topics you are introducing are introduced with care. Listen to them and practice empathy on a personal level. If you game with someone that introduces elements into the game that go against what you believe, talk about it, and don’t be afraid to realize that who you are may not be compatible with everyone you know in your gaming circles.
Most of all, model the behavior you want to see in the world. Care about others. Care about what’s right. Make the right choices even if your choices can’t make an immediate change. Apologize and learn from your mistakes. Accept the mistakes of others that truly want to learn and grow.
Be people, together. Tell stories. Have fun. Love one another.