Player Alignment Shift: being chaotic good at the gaming table

This is a guest post by Lyndsay from Dragon Chow Dice Bags. Lyndsay is a gamer, a creative entrepreneur, and a friend of the site. We hope she will contribute to the site again in the future.


This article deals very specifically with feminist thought, which I don’t intend to debate here. Questions about feminism? Check out Feminism 101. Just about any question you may have will be answered there. It is also important to note that this article assumes the majority of readers to be heterosexual, cisgendered, and male as this is the majority of the D&D community. Apologies to readers who are not represented in the article. I hope the spirit of the idea shines through.

What I am trying to discuss here is how to become a Chaotic Good Roleplayer. By being chaotic good at your rolpelaying table, you can create a safe space for every player who sits down with your group. The first step is to recognize your privilege; privilege is a term used for a set of free passes given to majority groups by society–it is simply easier to get through the world and do what you like when you have privilege. Privilege is a natural weapon that most people think they’ve worked really hard to earn, but it in fact came for free. To keep it simple, consider privilege like a law that society lives by.

For the privileged player, life is relatively easy. You can joke about pretty much anything, and the jokes your friends tell aren’t hurtful to you. The other players around you with the same privilege feel the same way and laugh at your jokes too, and the games you play are mostly aimed at you. They present awesome looking characters like you, and the sexily dressed characters in the book are exactly the gender that you are attracted to. The plots of your games only need to consider your perspective. Life is grand–until someone without these attitudes enters your game and challenges your worldview, breaking society’s privilege laws. This is where you have to make a choice.

If you are a player lacking these privileges, the D&D table is still usually an okay place. People are there to have fun, after all. But for a marginalized player, the reminders that they aren’t the “normal” player of this game creep in. Jokes about raping women, for example: as someone with straight male privilege, rape is not a concern in your daily life – though male rape does happen, and is serious. For anyone else, however, rape is something that can and does happen. In fact, it is a frighteningly likely prospect – 1 in 3 women are raped. Think about that. Of all the women you encounter in your day, a third of them have been forced into these situations you find yourself joking about. D&D is not the time that anybody wants to find out that someone finds this funny.

Comments that are sexist, homophobic, transphobic or racist, even as jokes, remind marginalized players that they aren’t the normal one around here. They are disturbing, and can be frightening, angering and disappointing. They can result in these players feeling unwelcome at your table. Enough language and scenarios like this, and marginalized players will stop coming to the table.

So, let’s go back that choice you could make about players challenging your privilege. Now’s the time to go chaotic good and buck the societal laws of privilege. Like the Leverage crew, you can take your privilege and use it to teach some lessons and make your table a safe space. In feminism, this is called being an ally – someone who recognizes the difficulties that marginalized people experience and works with them. The chaotic good player has a diplomatic advantage simply by being part of the privileged group.

Chaotic good players buck their privilege and create the type of gaming table that won’t accept hurtful comments about marginalized groups of people. A chaotic good player uses their privilege to educate the players around him about behaviours and game plotlines that are alienating marginalized groups. When a marginalized player makes a comment that something isn’t acceptable because it is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., the chaotic good player considers why, and comes to their defense. There will be a strong instinct to immediately deny it – I urge you to suppress this. Rather than immediately silencing them, consider their words .

It can be hard to understand why you should put your neck out like this and be a chaotic good player. After all, these are your friends and why would you want to alienate them?

It is hard work to be someone who lacks privilege. Lacking male privilege and having geeky interests is an uphill climb, believe me. Sharing the burden by being an ally and telling your fellow players that sexist comments won’t fly at the table doesn’t just help that one player. If the other players take it to heart, it will help countless players after her.

It comes down to a question of what’s right. Do you and your friends want to be the type of people who make women feel uncomfortable, unsafe or angry at your table? Do you want gay players to feel like they should just go home, and not come back next week? Or would you like to have a gaming table which includes all of these perspectives, and makes all of these players feel safe and appreciated?

There will be times where other people at the table will say “You know what, you’re right. That joke wasn’t really funny, and I’m sorry.” But, more likely, there will be backlash. Hurtful slurs might be used to describe the marginalized player behind their back, or be directed at you. You might get into an argument with other players at your table. Tempers could flare, and people can say really hurtful things sometimes. I was once called a hairy yeti feminazi when I asked the players in my game to stop making rape jokes. Is that phrase totally ridiculous? Damn skippy it is. But when it’s coming from someone who I thought cared about my feelings and my experience of the D&D game, it hurt – because they would rather insult me into silence than stop making rape jokes. People may do this to you, but a chaotic good roleplayer can handle breaking the social law of privilege that allows for hurtful comments and taking some heat. It’s the right thing to do.

The more chaotic good roleplayers we have, the more people we can attract to our beloved pastime. Chaotic good roleplayers make the gaming table a place where gamers from all types of backgrounds feel safe expressing themselves and thrive. If privileged players have stopped you from making the gaming table safe for women, gay players, or trans players just imagine the diverse roleplay opportunity and new character concepts your group could experience if these marginalized players did feel like they could express themselves. Making the gaming table a safe space will simply make the game better. We all know that newbies are reluctant to roleplay because they’re uncomfortable. The first time a newbie comes out of their shell and takes on a character, it can be very exciting; it means they are comfortable, and a wealth of new ideas is added to your game.

I would like to credit this post on Revenge of the Feminerd: Feminist in D&D as the inspiration for what you’ve read here today. Definitely give it a read.

Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.

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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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42 Responses

  1. I have to remind myself whenever I read something like this (or watch a video reminding me not to rape anyone or begin to feel the slightest tinges of “white guilt”) that for everyone one person or group that does something like this, there are ten others that’re too happy to have people to play with to exclude anyone. Most of them would boot the rape-jokester before things got too far and would respect the wishes of anyone who expressed discomfort at the discussion or the subject matter.

    I think the table, the dice, and the characterization are great equalizers and that the gaming hobby is one of the more inclusive one out there. The “Don’t be a dick” mantra should be common sense for gamers, and in my experiences it is.

    So, while I’m all for awareness, I think this energy could be better directed toward avenues like wage discrepancy, marriage/insurance/attorney rights, and expanding the civil victories won here (meaning the western world) to the rest of the world. The game table is where everyone can get away from the real world and just have fun. It should never become a pulpit or a soapbox.

    • Well seeing as how this is a gaming blog I really don’t feel like posting anything about wage discrepancy, marriage, insurance and what not. I want to have a blog about games and interactions between people. It’s easy to tell people who feel like they are being mistreated that it isn’t happening, or that there are plenty of people out there who wont treat them that way. The truth is it happens, and it should be addressed. Common sense isn’t something isn’t as common as we all would like to think it is.
      Thanks for your comment but I think we will continue to post about games in what ever way we feel and leave the political and social commentary to blogs more focused on those issues.

    • Randy,

      I can’t get away from the real world and just have fun when people are being sexist and homophobic. I can devote attention to more than one thing at a time, and do it with ease, but Thadeous doesn’t want me to talk about that on his blog.. I want my fun to be fun time. That means changing some attitudes.

      • Surely those asshats aren’t the only game in your town. If you’re gaming with a group of people that keeps doing those things when you ask them to stop or express your discomfort, no amount of advocacy or alliance is going to change that. Change the scenery.

        Asking someone for a hand up or a hand out isn’t something you should need to do in a group of friends playing a game. More importantly, if the group is that bad, it won’t help or change anything. You’ll be dismissed when you should be the one doing the dismissing.

        • What’s wrong with attacking the problem from both sides? Both actively in your own gameing group and advocating in public and online? I think it’s weak sauce to ignore / play down public advocacy. If we want to try to teach others to make the gaming table a more accepting place for others why is that a bad thing, or even a waste of time?
          Having to leave a gaming group because one person won’t grow up and not douche out is pure suck. It’s easy to tell other people to leave their games but its another story when it happens to you.

          • Nothing wrong at all. Personally, I’d rather play the game. I do think it’s rather masochistic to remain in a group that obviously doesn’t respect you enough to honor your wishes and refrain from doing things that offend you. It has happened to me before, and it sucked, but I moved on to greener pastures and different gamers – people worth the time and energy that were worth building those relationships with.

        • Randy, I realize it’s been over a year since this conversation, and I hope you’re still following it.

          I’m really glad that you have a gaming group that doesn’t tolerate hateful, sexist, racist comments – congratulations to all of you for being accepting and polite to all your members. Perhaps the OP was “preaching to the choir” in your case; think of it instead as a call to action to continue that polite acceptance when you leave the game. Sometimes we’re admirable in some contexts but unconsciously tolerate hateful behavior in others. This is your chance to level-up – you’ve defeated the goblins of hate at your gaming table, you cleared Lv1 of the dungeon. But eventually goblins don’t earn you XPs anymore; you have to start tackling orcs and ogres to advance. Try to catch opportunities to stand up to racist, sexist, hateful comments at the bar, at the grocery store, at the bus stop. Every time you call someone out on a “rape joke” or tell a store manager that an advertising poster is offensive, you help expand the “safe zone” you created at your gaming table.

  2. Awesome, awesome post. Thanks for writing.

  3. While I can appreciate wanting to keep the game table separate from the real world, I find it very naive to think that the real world doesn’t intrude upon the game table (sometimes in unexpected ways). We all come to the table with presuppositions that can / do offend or alienate other players at the table. We should remember this.

    On a related point, a gaming group is really a collection of personal relationships. Over time, these relationships should grow as we get to know the other players at the table. If that doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps some other type of game would be a better fit for you. Part of that growth necessarily implies change in the individuals. This article is a good starting point.

    • Here here. Growth and the ability to change shows maturity. I find my self less enthusiastic about spending time at the table with players who can’t figure that out.

  4. Thanks for the reminder, Lyndsay. It’s too easy for white heterosexual males like me to see our own privilege as “normal.” I know I fail all too often.

  5. I know I’m about to offend some people. Fortunately, I don’t care. Because I want to say this: I find this offensive.

    Don’t call me to action because I have the power of the oppressor and I can turn it against my fellow oppressors. Don’t call me to action because you are female woman or gay or black or handicapped or Canadian or a Scientologist and you need an agent in the enemy camp to help you.

    Call me to action because an injustice – any injustice – is being done against a human being – any human being – and I will be there.

    I know that Lyndsay didn’t mean it that way, but it is hard not to read it that way. I’m tired of being shamed into it. I am tired of these discussions being prefaced with an explanation that there is still -ism in the world and I am part of the problem, but I can earn forgiveness by helping the oppressed. I’m tired of the implication that you have to be a part of a marginalized group to be a victim of injustice.

    I agree. This is wrong. But I didn’t do it. I keep a clean house, to the best of my knowledge. Stop reminding me that some white, straight men are assholes to non-white, non-straight, non-men. Because it turns out that some non-white, non-straight, non-men are assholes to white, straight men. And some white, straight men are assholes to white, straight, men.

    Anyone can be a victim of this shit. Anyone. And the moment anyone is a victim, it is an injustice. And that is all it should take for anyone to stand up and say no.

    • I’m sorry that this offends you so much, but I feel these topics, this one and future topics in this vein, need to be covered. It’s not about earning forgiveness, it’s not about making others feel guilt. It’s about trying to see things in a broader spectrum. We need to be able to get over our sleves and understand that there are other people in this world, people who’s experiences we don’t fully understand. We need to learn to make change and concession and not be such jerks about facing that change.
      Yeah we white males get a bad rap, but we really do have all the power. I cant abide in playing the victim card because we have to shoulder some blame. In all reality getting blamed for some of the shit that happens around us is really much better than actually having some of the shit happen to us. So I don’t feel bad when guys get pissed that they feel like they are being made to feel like a villain, suck it up, it could be a hell of a lot worse, you could be the real victim.
      I really enjoy having you as someone who reads this blog and some one I get to talk to on twitter. But I feel strongly about this, and many other issues. I will continue to bring issues like this to the table, because it’s the right thing to do.

      • I completely understand and I would never say you don’t have the right to have whatever discussions you want here. Its your site. Honestly, its big of you to let people comment freely – to agree and disagree – and to leave them here for the world to see. And I am glad that you and I (and Lyndsay) can all get riled up, let our opinions be heard, and, at the end of the day remain friends without judging.

        I don’t disagree with the spirit of the article at all, but the tone. I find it divisive. It is about drawing lines. Lines are exactly what need to be erased. I am here. Lyndsay is there. There is a line.

        I – personally – am not shouldering blame. Sorry. My conscience is clean and, if I am wrong, I will face whatever higher power for it. I will do so with my head held high. I didn’t do anything. Except be born a member of “the privileged.” Suggesting that I shoulder some of the blame because of the state of my birth is exactly the same as victimizing someone because of the state of their birth. That is a step backwards and I would call anyone who believed that I deserve to shoulder some of the blame because of my gender and skin color racist and sexist. Especially someone who has never met me and has only this communication on which to judge my character.

        If we cannot find a way to have this discussion without classifying people, drawing lines, and parsing out blame (explicit or implied) we cannot go forward.

        It is all well and good to say we need to get over ourselves and understand that we can hurt others with our words and actions; but it cheapens it a lot when the next paragraph is about how I need to suck up my offense and accept the blame. That’s just contradictory. “Its wrong to offend people, except now, I’m okay offending you.”

        The worst, worst part about it is that it is completely unnecessary. The same point can be made without specifying the marginalized and the privileged. Without making this about gender, sexuality, or disabilities. By doing that, you risk alienating at least some people who actually might listen. You risk shutting down people, like me, who can’t even read these things any more without hearing the mantra of demonetization.

        As I’ve said, I don’t allow any of this shit at my table. I’ve had some pretty ugly confrontations with those who created an uncomfortable environment. I’ve had some nasty things said about me for doing so. I’m keeping a clean house. But it cuts all ways. I’ve had to send a homosexual man packing because his forwardness with his sexuality was making others very uncomfortable and he argued he had a right to act that way. Well, unwanted flirtation is unwanted flirtation, regardless of the genders of those involved. Its called harassment. And I had to stomach a lot of crap from him for sending him away. Am I a homophobe? Some will say so. But they would be wrong. Because, in the end, it wasn’t about his sexuality. It was that he didn’t accept that he had the power to make others uncomfortable. And I’d do it again.

        I’ve defended others. I’ve lost friends. I’ve endured shit. I’ve spent long periods shopping players and groups because, frankly, there are a lot of assholes out there. When there is injustice, I stand up. And when I am behind the screen, I stop it with an iron fist. Thankfully, a lot of that is behind me now because, after many long years, I have a really solid group of players I love. But I’ve served time in the trenches and will do so again.

        So, my bile rises when the racism or sexism is turned around. When I am spoken to as a villain and asked to be a turncoat. Is that really what we want? Making a right out of two wrongs? Revenge? Aragorn refused to turn the One Ring against Sauron. He knew it had to be destroyed. The language of divisiveness is wrong, whoever is uttering it.

        • Sorry… at this point, I probably should have just posted to my own blog.

          Honestly, Thad, I don’t know why you keep trying to get me to write an article for your site. The way I write comments, I’ve pretty much already given you a solid word count. 😉

        • This is about banding us together. Privilege is a societal line that separates me from you. Blurring the lines brings us together. I’m asking people to do that, that’s why it’s called ‘chaotic good’.

          I’ve been trying on my side for years. I’ve tried to be funny, to be gentle, to get angry. The best way I’ve found is to get a dude to help. I want dudes to break the conventions of manliness and misogyny and be understanding, put themselves out there to help other gamers who have a hard time defending themselves from impropriety.

          I never said nobody would be an asshole on the marginalized side of the equation. Everyone can be assholes, but that’s not the fault of my argument. The fact that people of all stripes are assholes does not make me wrong.

          • AngryDM isn’t saying your message is wrong. He’s the exact kind of person you’re looking for in your article. He isn’t afraid to shut down people who are acting in the role of an opressor down at his table. It looks to me like his issue is the terms you are using to call people to action, and the way you’re speaking to people who you want to rally around you. People who are this “Chaotic Good” Gamer that you’re looking for don’t want to be told that they’re agents of a system of opression, nor do we want to be told we have an obligation to help because we were born a certain way. We help because it’s the right thing to do. I think a lot of guys in general would agree with the sentiment you put forward, they just don’t agree that they’re part of the problem.

            I do agree with the message of your post, and at one point I was certainly as bad as many gamers. Until a good friend talked some sense into me. Informing people that what they’re doing is hurting people is effective without telling every white male he’s part of the problem.

        • There is a wonderful song that I think really strikes to the heart of what you’re trying to say angry. It’s “Don’t call me white” by NOFX.

  6. I’ll try to keep this short, but I know I won’t 😉

    First of all, thank you for bringing up an interesting and important topic! And my sincere support in finding a supportive gaming environment where you can have fun. I hope that you find the rest of the comment encouraging rather than dismissive or an attempt to say that the problem doesn’t exist, that could not be further from the intent or the truth.

    I had a quick straw poll of the groups that I play in. Of the hundreds of combined gaming years, no one has experienced oppression to the extent that you describe. This is NOT to say that it doesn’t happen, just that it is not universal. I mean this as encouragement to keep going rather than throwing in the towel; supportive and friendly groups do exist and you’ll find them.

    From twitter comments, I understand that there are several groups in your area, of which there are some non-asshat players in each group. Have you tried to create a new group with those supportive players? If you were to actively run a great game with great people, market forces will kill off those other terrible groups. Even starting small with, say, 3 people you will slowly gain players as word spreads that this is *the* group to be part of. My main group is quite picky as to players, and it absolutely works for us – the best of other groups fold into ours.

    Essentially, the problem exists at all levels of social interaction from small groups to countries. I work for an institution that actively and knowingly discriminates against a class of worker of which I am part — foreign nationals. Example: we do not have access to the financial information about our own projects, but regular administrative assistants do if they’re US citizens. I choose to work here because the benefits outweigh the costs. I choose to live in the US, even though I’m sickened by its foreign policy and general institutionalized intolerance because the benefits outweigh the costs. In these instances I have no voice to initiate change, which at a small group level does exist and can be taken up by others. Should that not happen, then it becomes the same choice: do the benefits outweigh the costs?

    Which is to say that while I agree with The Angry DM in general, I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiment. Everyone at the table should ensure that everyone at the table (including themselves) is having a good time. That includes not being oppressed, offended, marginalized, belittled, dominated, dazed, blinded or any other negative status effect. So I end with encouragement to be pro-active in ensuring that happens, including enlisting help if possible or at the very least: “Hey, I actually don’t find that funny.”

    I realize that this sucks, but if the group is not willing to change their offensive behavior, then your only option is to get the heck out. It has taken a long time for me to realize that no gaming is better than bad gaming. Gaming with friends is a great experience, gaming with asshats is a total waste of time and energy.

    I wish you the best of luck and support in finding the right gaming environment!

  7. Great post. When it comes to the “well, I didn’t do it so I shouldn’t feel guilty” answer, I always feel like that any small feelings of guilt I might feel are far outweighed by what women go through all the time- and if the only price I have to pay is mild discomfort, I’ve still come out ahead, and it’s the LEAST I can do to try and speak up against people making a hostile environment.

  8. Excellent, excellent post. I’m 100% with you. This is something that needs to be talked about, and no one should sit by and let someone feel uncomfortable, even if they themselves aren’t made to feel uncomfortable by whatever behavior is going on.

    I think TheAngryDM has his heart in the right place, and it sounds like he is more or less the Chaotic Good player you’re talking about, not tolerating bullshit wherever it comes from. But I have to say, if you read that and felt like you were being blamed for stuff you didn’t do, you may need to examine your own issues. I

    ‘m a white male gamer, and frankly I saw nothing to be offended about at all in that article. Yes, I have a lot of privilege in this society, but that doesn’t mean I’m suddenly at fault for all of societies problems, just that I need to be aware of how my behavior effects others. It’s easy to unintentionally make others feel unwelcome or uncomfortable, or to not notice when a joke or behavior might make someone else feel uncomfortable. No one is saying that as a white male you’re to blame, just that you’re perhaps in a good position to help do something about those people who ARE to blame, sometimes a better position than those are are being marginalized.

    Fellow white males, no one is blaming you, just saying you are in a position of power in this society, and you should be aware of that, so you’re less likely to accidentally abuse that power. You should also be aware of it so you can use that position for good, and to help eliminate that power differential.

    Sure, you shouldn’t tolerate assholes of any stripe, for any reason, but the point of this article is that for some people in our society it’s sometimes very very easy to not notice, ignore, or dismiss things that might offend people in other groups, because you aren’t even aware of how things might come across to them, so you should be aware of that fact so you can be aware of that fact, and NOT do any of those things.

  9. My group never sees any jokes like those. We once had a player whose first conversation I had with him led from D&D to anime to hentai. After that conversation, the rest of us who had been there all agreed that we were very creeped out, and we told that player that we did not think he was right for our group. Another player I had once played a character who was a cannibal who would drink his enemies blood after killing them. I’m not absolutely against cannibalism in fiction, but this player treated it like a joke and it became annoying. The player is actually a very nice (if socially awkward) person, and will likely continue to game with us in the future. I’m just going to make sure his character is appropriate and fits the campaign tone.

    I agree with you that people should act respectfully, both in everyday life and during gaming sessions. Luckily, in my experience, people you describe as “privelaged” are not common.

  10. I think these issues are more related to age and maturity of specific social groups than anything inherent in playing tabletop games.

  11. This is the line that I’m having a problem with, “Of all the women you encounter in your day, a third of them have been forced into these situations you find yourself joking about. D&D is not the time that anybody wants to find out that someone finds this funny.”

    How do you go from identifying me, the white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered reader, to identifying me as the asshat joking about rape during his D&D game? Let me clear something up for you: sometimes, when a bunch of white, hetero, cisgendered, males happen to engage with one another socially, they completely FAIL to act like a bunch of reprehensible racist, sexists, homophobes.

    I’m also annoyed that you make the assumption that I, as the reader, would fail to challenge that sort of behavior, regardless of the presence or absence of a potentially marginalized person in the social gathering.

    By conflating the reader, who possesses privilege, with the jerks who abuse that privilege by being bigots, you alienate your best potential allies.

    Those of us looking to make our games more inclusive, to be the chaotic good player, mostly need help in making ourselves known to the marginalized players. How do we indicate, prior to any offensive behavior occurring, that potentially marginalized players have an ally ready to back them up, without inadvertently offending, or dis-empowering the people we’re trying to help?

    • If you don’t joke about rape then your not identified as the asshat in question. The article never claims that every reader or even most of the readers take part in these activities. It also never mentions that no one ever stops these things from happening. If you want to make your self known as an ally to players who need it then stick up for them if and when they stick up for them selves. If they ask others not to make jokes about rape, then back them up. If you know how they feel, help them out by holding the group to a standard instead of them having to do it all the time. If you already do these things then bravo, I hope that by suggesting them you don’t think I am calling you out for not doing them.

  12. 1 of 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape. At least CHECK your statistics before spouting of scaremongering statistics… It’s still incredibly high, and awful, but misrepresenting the facts can seriously devalue your argument.
    That said I don’t allow rape or rape discussions on my table, while it is certainly an adult game, with adult themes, I’m mostly comfortable with fade-to-black for even consensual sexual encounters. If rape should happen it is off-screen, and handled “tastefully” but NEVER AGAINST A PLAYER!
    It’s one thing to rail-road your players and force them through all kinds of hoops (which I detest), but doing something to their characters that they cannot help… That’s awful!
    As for marginalization, I play with intelligent people, anyone who would assume marginalization of any minority is okay will be removed from my group of friends.
    As I said it’s an adult game with adult themes and racism, discrimination, ignorance are the main driving force in my campaign, meaning my players deal with it all the time, in character and I DO allow inner-party fighting (as long as it’s not spiteful and propagates outside of the game and if it drives the story….)

    • 1 in 6 are the reported statistics, there are also studies that have shown that less than %55 of all rapes and attempted rapes go unreported due to shame, or the belief that it is a personal matter. Before you call some one out on their statistics please make sure that they have not done their home work. There are multiple sources for information and yes they don’t always match. You found one number we found another. I’m not going to let this turn into a statistical pissing match.

  13. Great post!

    Anyone who thinks that there’s some kind of zero-sum game at work here and that for you to have fun at the table means some terrible sacrifice involved for them, I wonder about that person.

  14. Keep in mind the onus is on the marginalized player to say something. If the established norms of the group are not to your liking and you don’t mention it to anyone, thinking it will change seems foolish.

    In many cases a gaming table of guys can get pretty rough. It’s the male form of bonding, insult and attack (I am generalizing here). There isn’t really anything wrong with any particular approach or dynamic as long as it works for all parties involved. I have been gaming for a long time. I have seen females come into the group and try to be just like one of the guys, and at the other extreme I have seen them try to come in and revamp the entire groups dynamics and tone.

    In the end, how you (meaning whoever the minority in question is) handle the situation will also have a lot to do with your odds of success. Trying to overbear and force new thinking into the group is not normally well received. Even IF you are in the right, that does not negate the value of employing a little tact with your approach. Sadly I have seen instances where tact was tossed out in favor of righteous indignation. While that is your choice, you reap what you sow.

    As a final comment, I agree that the issue should be about people, not a particular race, sex, belief system, ect… We joke pretty rough at most of the games I participate in. We do however have a standing rule, which we normally articulate very clearly, that if you’re uncomfortable with something all you have to do is say so and we will stop for good. If saying something is too much effort to put into it, or you’re just too timid, well then you are contributing to the problem.

  15. I read this pretty much the same way as AngryDM.

    I’m personally offended as a straight white male that the OP thinks that “we” all make jokes about rape, or at least, in her words, we consider it normal.

    Jokes about rape most certainly are NOT normal. Rape is horrific and disgusting. I’ve played with one person EVER who joked about rape and he was a crass asshat I’d never play with again. If I was ever at a table where rape was treated as anything other than a horrible act, I’d leave that table permanently.

    In my current group, I have a mature woman at my table and she’s the most provocative one there. Perhaps this is a defense mechanism to some perceived “privilege” deficit, I don’t know. I hope not. I hope it’s just who she is and we can all like or dislike it as the situation warrants. I don’t want to put her in a box and assume her every behavior is gender based reaction to lack of privilege.

    Lastly, I think you’re drastically oversimplifying your groupings of privileged and non privileged people. I think your generalizations hurt your viewpoint, or at least the situation you hope to achieve by sharing it.
    No one is immune to offense. Being white doesn’t mean you like black jokes. Being black doesn’t mean you like white jokes. Being straight doesn’t mean you like gay jokes and vice versa. You’ve put so many people in so many boxes, its almost hard to figure anything out. You create an “us” and “them” mentality that I think is incredibly counter productive.

    I say scrap the whole feminism intro and write this as a “respect the person across the table REGARDLESS of what box they fit in” and you’ll go a lot farther and get a lot more people “on your side”.

    I certainly agree that the game table needs to be an accessible place, a fun and safe place for everyone. We need to know and respect each other. This is done through communication, not “bucking the laws of privelege”. Talk to your fellow gamers. Express yourself. People will either be cool or assholes. Keep playing with the cool ones, ditch the assholes. But don’t expect people to generalize you first and foremost so that they can act “appropriately”. We’re all people and we’re all different and we all deserve to be treated with respect as individuals, rather than as generic members of demographics.

    If I were gay, or a woman, or polish, I’d never want my fellow players to silently assume that because I’m gay/female/polish they must watch certain things they say and thereby patronize me. I’d much rather they vocally share what they’re ok with and what I am and try to find a comfort zone for both of us, but communicating about it, but not by generalizing and prejudging.

    Thats my opinion.

  16. i got directed to here from the Obsidian Portal webcast, and I’m glad.

    As a different point of view (one of the people who aren’t perfectly privileged, as you so politely put it), I’ve had experience on both sides of that particular issue. I’ve had players leave a game I was in because they found out I was gay, and for no other reason. I’ve been asked to leave for the same reason. I’ve also dealt with stereotypical commentary that would probably offend pretty much anyone except those who were making it.

    One thing that I like to include in the games that I GM are story lines and plot twists and character difficulties that stretch boundaries. It isn’t because I am trying to be blatantly political about anything. I tend to mix in subjects that are real-world in nature because they deepen the experience and get people involved in the story more.

    For instance, when you find out that the female priest of the evil sect is grabbing children by night and doing horrible things to them, it intensifies the role play experience and gets my players thinking.

    Mind you, I try to make the gaming world as normal as it can be, but it is a real world too. I’m not above running a game within a game that mirrors ours, and I’m not above asking questions that might be hard to answer.

    I like having a diverse group, one who can swing with all sorts of punches. Sometimes it feels like being home again.

  17. Folks are focusing way too hard on the ‘rape jokes’ bit. Yes, that’s an extreme example, but there’s all sorts of smaller, more subtle jabs and comments that can be made that don’t trigger such a blatant response in the decent, but privileged, folks at the table. I suspect the author chose that example simply because she knew that it would help limit the number of folks claiming that she was being ‘oversensitive’.

    Furthermore, to the respondents who said, “I’d never say a rape joke at the table,” good! You’re already not part of the problem. And for those who added, “… and I’d smack down anyone who did,” even better! The author directly described you in the article–look for the paragraph where she uses the term “ally”. So you shouldn’t be reacting negatively to the article itself–apparently, you’re already an advanced student, having figured this stuff out awhile back, possibly just lacking the language the academics have come up with to describe these phenomena. You shouldn’t be posting, “It pissed me off when you talked about how guys make rape jokes,” you should be reading the whole article and saying, “Hey, awesome–I’m an ally. I’m already the Chaotic Good type she’s talking about!”

    And for those who think it’s not their job to deal with this, consider it from the concept of hospitality. (This was suggested to me by a poster on the Fear the Boot Forums, which linked to the Angry DM’s response piece.) The woman, homosexual or minority player at the table didn’t just swing in through the window on a rope, pull out a gun and demand membership to your game; they were invited, with or without an initial request on their part. Under the notion of hospitality, that invitation, and its acceptance, entail a number of mutual obligations. The guest is promising to respect the host and the other guests, and to try to make the event more enjoyable for all. The host, in turn, is promising to make the guests feel safe and secure so that they can enjoy themselves.

    If one guest is making another guest uncomfortable, it’s the host’s job to settle the matter and ensure that no one feels threatened or attacked. If the host seems to be unaware that one guest is being marginalized, then it’s the other guests’ duty to step in, either informing the host of the situation, or even intervening on the marginalized guest’s behalf.

    Now, if the marginalizing behavior is somehow so intrinsic to the group dynamic that the enjoyment of the other guests was significantly curtailed (and it’s reasonable to ask if that really is the case), then it might be wise, after the event is ended, to acknowledge that the group is a bad fit for the new person. But then you should be prepared to suck it up and own the responsiblity for that. Say, “I can’t actually guarantee this won’t happen again, and I could tell it made you so uncomfortable that you wouldn’t have fun if it did. I’m sorry.”

  18. “I agree, assholes are assholes, but your tooooooone. Your tooooone hurts my pwecious feelings! What about MY feelings, huh? What about meeeeeeee?!?”

    Bro, sometimes it isn’t about you.

  19. Hey, i’m a little late on this thread. I like this post and it’s cute. Maybe punch it up with a couple more parallels between bards/rangers and socially conscious white men.

    Anyway, I try to be pretty good as a DM on being sensitive to other perspectives, but creatively I find it difficult to write and invent from other perspectives. Most of my NPC’s are males, hell, most are humans. I need help creating interesting female NPC’s, and adding color to non-human races that’s not star-wars-trade-. One of my players has a character who’s in love with the leader of a troupe of acrobats, but I haven’t figured out a good way to develop her character further so I haven’t yet brought her back, and I feel like sending a ransom note that she’s been kidnapped is what i’m trying to avoid.


  20. Quoting Freemage: “The woman, homosexual or minority player at the table didn’t just swing in through the window on a rope, pull out a gun and demand membership to your game”

    OK, that would be freaking badass, I want that person in my group! Rope Swinging Gun Luggers welcome in my game. I think i need to play Apocalypse World now.

  21. Having been a player at the same table with Lyndsay as well as a U of Calgary author using the feminist perspective I have to agree with her.

    Unfortunately from the feminist perspective [which loosely defined is finding the holes in the world rather than in people] there is a miasma of entitlement that the privileged players feel… about anyone.

    It is true that narcissism is being removed from the DSM [psychology handbook] due to the fact that there are too many narcissists to make it a disorder. Sadly I believe that many of the above results are from that type of ‘tweeting, Ipod waving’ generation where true pain and fear have never been felt, therefore must not exist.

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