Wow. This whole thing would be a lot funnier if everyone know the background to my writing it: Nerd Nite. I signed up to give a power-point presentation at a bar in Brooklyn, and I’d been kicking these ideas around with a friend for about a year. So in about two weeks, using just the core-books for research, I whipped this talk out. I wasn’t giving the talk at a conference, but to an inebriated audience of non-gaming nerds, hipsters, and geeks in DUMBO. Did I throw in a few lines to get a laugh? Yes, that’s why it reads very informally at times. Did I really have time in the 30-minute format to discuss everything I should have? No. Did I ever expect anyone other than my friends who couldn’t make the talk to read this? Hell no – I only posted it because a few people asked me to. I was expecting to just give my Power Point show and leave it at that.
Then a friend suggested I e-mail the link to Ta-Nehisi Coates over at the Atlantic. Then I got mefi-ed. FOUR days later, I’m somehow either injecting a long-needed discussion of race into gaming, or that ass-hole intellectual dick who wants to destroy your game. Both are actually inaccurate.
I’ve had a lot of white men scoff at this point and dismiss my piece out of hand, but I have yet to hear from a woman or person of color who hasn’t at least said “yeah, that always bothered me, too.” That said, I’m very self-conscious about being the white guy in the room shouting “racism!” while the non-white players stand around and say, “um, we’ve been saying this for YEARS.”
So I was just planning on posting this and leaving it at that, but all this discussion and interest has me thinking of writing a follow up. (Hear that Matt? Prep Nerd Nite for Race in D&D: The Revenge.) There is so much left unaddressed in my talk and so many comments that keep surfacing: what about the European nature of D&D? What about Al-Qadim? Oriental Adventures? Other settings? What is the experience of D&D like for non-white gamers (obviously I’ll need some help with this one)? What about 4th edition?
I don’t know if my 15 minutes of fame have blown over, but perhaps we can use this blog to keep discussing this topic. If you just want to spew reactionary insults at me, please head over to metafilter; if you want to discuss the topic of Race in D&D, whether you agree with me or not, here’s as good a place as any.