Got your attention right? Good. Because here is my stand on an issue I will be discussing on other RPG boards in the near-future, because it's beginning to get out of line.
My wife teaches in the inner city. She teaches in a high school with 95% African American children. She is an alumni of TFA and has been hard at work trying to shorten the education gap in this school, just like all other TFA members are doing.
In a school like this, where the minorities are both lacking good education due to both their poverty level and race, they're raised in their neighborhoods learning only what keeps them surviving in the streets and are not really taught anything else.
Here is my cue --- I began a D&D Club at the school. After school, some of the students stay after to learn to play and continue playing after school. D&D is perfect. It keeps their minds engaged, aids their reading comprehension, gives them a wide imagination, helps with their math, supports teamwork, and most importantly, keeps them off streets away from the violence and drugs.
My issues --- the game, even to this day, speaks to a specific demographic beyond just "geeks" only. It specifically always seems to speak to "white geeks" only. Which is a damn shame. Since I've been playing for almost 15 years already, and barely see any progress.
For starters, the sort of advertising D&D is streamed, it's not in places where the non-white geeks would be normally exposed to. That needs to change.
Maybe if WotC, and other RPG publishers, were to reach out to the destitute areas of minorities, particularly the hispanics and blacks of our country, and entice them to , it will kill two birds with one stone. More revenue for you, since you are a corporation after all, and something to aid these kids in keeping off the streets and engaged in purely mental activities.
But my one issue was this --- the lack of racial diversity in the images of the D&D pictures. Why am I not seeing dark-skinned dwarves? Darker skinned elves? The eladrin? Even more important, the HUMANS?! I see ONE dark-skinned halfling in the 4E Player's Handbook. It looked as if she was drawn in there as an afterthought. That's it. . I see ONE sort-of Asian looking half-elf in the Paladin chapter. I continue to see this trend throughout the books and magazines. Let's not get into the fact that, well, all the dark-skinned races are considered EVIL (granted, it's more of a fantasy jet black, obsidian color, but they're not going to see a difference). Back in 3E, what did we have? A black female iconic monk and...an astral deva? Two!? Oh, and that one obscure dude in Lords of Madness, in the prestige class section.
These kids, already in an environment where they are led to believe white people lead better lives, are more educated, and represent a pinnacle of success they feel they don't belong in because they are ostracized by those very same people, see these images and it can tear them down without you even noticing. Were I a minority, and I looked through these images to get a feel for the game, I'd notice the subliminal message of "Look at these HEROIC lightskinned races." and be just as offended, especially if I ever turned to the Drow Elf or Duergar pages in another book.
Shall we go to the novels? Name one dark-skinned well known hero that's NOT Drizz't, is human or dwarf or elf (drow DO NOT count), in the Forgotten Realms novels? Any hero Chultans or Turmics? Nah. All the are caucassian, or light-skinned, it seems. Wulfgar, Bruenor, Elminster, Elaith, Mirt, Halaster, Alustriel...the list never ends. At least Dragonlance made that progress, the darker-skinned humans were a sea-faring race (both present and not a stereotype, kudos to the DL folks!). Heck, I particularly remember the guy that had the silver arm and crafted the Dragonlances for the war, a memorable character indeed.
It's silly, it's ridiculous, it's a shame, it's downright just wrong!
Step up your game, WotC, and please start to do something about it. Maybe donating to the poor, inner city schools (and I'm not saying the one I DM at, I have that taken care of, thank you very much) would help with your reputation on the matter, for one. And being more diverse with your artwork will be a BIG help in stifling the image that you only want a specific demographic to play your game!
on Aug 24, 2010 - 04:01PM