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Sheltering-in-Place: Day 94

Image of a bear poking its nose into the edge of a river. The bear is purple, with contour lines gradating from blue to red as they get farther from the river. The text on the image reads, ripples.

The text on the image reads

Ripples

In the category of doing what one is able in the face of requests for growth and change and anti-racist acts, Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) made a big announcement recently. WOTC is the gaming company responsible for my beloved Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) as well as other mainly fantasy and sci-fi games. They released a statement entitled, "Diversity and Dungeons & Dragons."

Here's an excerpt of the statement from dnd.wizards.com:

One of the explicit design goals of 5th edition D&D is to depict humanity in all its beautiful diversity by depicting characters who represent an array of ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and beliefs. We want everyone to feel at home around the game table and to see positive reflections of themselves within our products. “Human” in D&D means everyone, not just fantasy versions of northern Europeans, and the D&D community is now more diverse than it’s ever been.

Throughout the 50-year history of D&D, some of the peoples in the game—orcs and drow being two of the prime examples—have been characterized as monstrous and evil, using descriptions that are painfully reminiscent of how real-world ethnic groups have been and continue to be denigrated. That’s just not right, and it’s not something we believe in. Despite our conscious efforts to the contrary, we have allowed some of those old descriptions to reappear in the game. We recognize that to live our values, we have to do an even better job in handling these issues. If we make mistakes, our priority is to make things right.

This makes me love this game even more. 

They realized that racism was built into their system, so they are changing their system. They are also looking for continuing feedback on how to keep making anti-racist, anti-bigot decisions about the game. This matters in D&D and games like it because, in these games, called Role Playing Games (RPGs), people play the role of their character within a set of rules and parameters. If racism is built into the system of rules, parameters, character attributes, and fundamental economic systems of the various worlds, then people may be playing racist roles whether they realize it or not. 

Much of what many of us are learning right now is that we didn't even know we were being racist. Each piece of racism we remove, helps everyone. My small actions of making Black Lives Matter artwork and blog posts like this make a corresponding impact. I'm dropping anti-racism pebbles into a moving stream. Ripples happen, small as they are. It's something. 

When an entity like WOTC makes an announcement like this, it's more than a pebble making ripples for a second. It's a grizzly bear poking its beautiful, powerful nose into a river over and over, making ripple after ripple. D&D is a popular game. A ton of people play it. Changing the game to increase inclusivity and reduce bigotry on different fronts has the possibility of having lasting positive impact. 

P.S. All Black Lives Matter.