May 2, 2012

This is how not to discuss representation of women in RPGs

As a nerd woman I'm used to being in the minority and having to fight a couple of battles here and there about how I'm represented (if at all) in my nerd spheres.  The only nerd circle I knew to not have such a disparity is Anime, but let's not touch the plethora of gender issues in the genre.

So when someone wants to discuss the complicated issue of gender representation in RPG art, there is a lot you can actually say and a lot of opinions you can have.  That's the kind of article I expect to read, an article that expresses a concrete opinion.  Not some drivel that merely states I'll draw it because I'll get paid.

Jon Schindehette's article had an opportunity to truly engage with a point of view with someone who had industry experience.  Instead, we got someone who affirmed that he draws what they're given and asking several times for a reader's opinion without asserting his own.  The reason that this is excruciatingly frustrating is that this totes itself about addressing gender in RPG art and then discusses nothing.  Not the history, not the depictions, not even a personal opinion developed from years of experience drawing for the industry (specifically the most well known series that started the hobby).

If we continue to pretend we're having a discussion, there is no resolution.  We're not even sure what the resolution is because the industry has barely ever talked about the problem.  And yes, it can be a serious problem.  I do know at least with my experience, DnD has tried to be somewhat equal, but at the same time there are plenty of other RPG publishers who have gone out of their way to not be because they "know" that they have to cater to a male audience.

What's my opinion?  I personally don't like that the usual archetype for a chick who kicks ass either has to become male in her mannerisms or becomes the incredible eye candy with a gun.  I'm tired of it.  Not all gunslinging women have their tits out, just like not all gunslinging men eat raw meat and smoke 2 foot long cigars.  I want characters to be complex, no matter what setting I'm in and what gender or color or size or whatever the heck physical aspects they are.  That would show some maturity in the industry.  It's getting there, but we do have a long way to go.

The next time that someone wants to write an article, please, for the love of the written word, actually SAY something.


  1. One of my big goals as I was writing "Cold Steel Wardens" was to provide some solid, non-stereotyped female and racial-minority characters. As a comics fan, it gets really tiresome to see the big publishers constantly push cheesecake and the "angry black man" as the only things out there.

    When I first started talking to my cover artist, I told her--"I want a woman on the cover, but make her realistic. Attractive, yeah, but she should look like she's about to kick somebody's ass." She did not disappoint. :D

  2. I think my favorite depiction of a woman in D&D is probably one I encountered in the Monstrous Compendium, of a woman with a bow unprepared for the giant skeleton that just erupted from the snow in front of her. She's an adventuring ranger who just happens to be a woman. That's it.

    Found the image via Google Images, finally...

  3. I meant to thank you for your input guys! It's nice to know other people are working toward some more gender-neutral representation of characters out there.