So. My post last week sparked some really good discussion among tabletop game creators!
Side note: It also hit the twittersphere and was inaccurately associated with video games, which it’s rather explicitly not about. As a result, I received a number of well-meaning comments from video gamers, and I just want to give a shout-out to those and let you know I heard you, and I appreciate your view, even if I chose not to engage further or de-moderate them due to being out of scope for this discussion.
The problem statement I made in that post can boil down to “new tabletop game creators are disadvantaged in the following areas, and women and minorities are especially disadvantaged for various reasons:”
- Extra People
I loved the responding blog posts, from men and women, sharing their own experiences, many of which mirrored mine. Here’s one from William Maldonado talking about his experience creating Agents of Change with a $1000 budget. Those obstacles aren’t unique to women, and it was gratifying to get multiple perspectives on these challenges.
Update (Nov 17, 2014): Golden Cobra winner Wendy Gorman sums up the importance of representation rather nicely:
Representation matters. Although I never consciously had the thought “I can’t design games because I’m a girl,” the pervasiveness of this message leaves me with no doubt that it did indeed play a role in my decisions and thoughts. I am also certain that the lack of women in the field, and the under representation of the women who ARE in the field plays into my feelings of discomfort with calling myself a “game designer.”
Below the jump, there are a bunch of links and resources and some follow-up comments on the technical and social challenges of this problem. You will definitely want to read if you are at all interested in creating tabletop games.
Technical Challenge Accepted
The best part that came out of my post, though, was that a huge number of people I respect and admire in tabletop game creation stepped forward and said “here is a problem statement. Let’s see if we can address any of these issues.” And then they responded with a flood of suggestions to address the technical challenges for “how to make and layout and publish games.”
So, here’s a round-up of just some of the excellent posts and feedback and discussion that came about due to last week’s post. I’m only posting some, because I’m leaving out responses that were private, in comments that I left in moderation, or were shared to a non-public audience (such as a Google+ circle).
- On Google+, Jason Morningstar talks about how to create a game inexpensively.
- Fred Hicks from Evil Hat talks transparently about the actual costs of making a game.
- John Sheldon presents his library of Creative Commons art.
- Epidiah Ravachol posted a year ago on how to get sponsorships through Patreon.
- John Stavropoulos has a template for writing game instructions on Google Docs.
- Daniel Solis posted about typography in game design (useful when you get to the layout stage)
And a few game publishers popped in to let me know they’re hiring or always have an open call for creators, including FASA, Onyx Path, and Growling Door. I’ve also talked with Marc Diaz Truman from Magpie Games and the Fate Codex about their guidelines and practices. Also, as mentioned in my previous post, Paizo is hiring.
This week is also Metatopia, which is an amazing, creator-led gaming convention in New Jersey. I couldn’t swing it this year, but you will see me there next year! And because he posted these publicly to Google+, I feel safe giving a round-up of Rob Donoghue’s helpful rants on Metatopia, which are relevant to anyone going to a convention where they might playtest a game (their own or someone else’s):
I also wanted to post a quick link to DriveThruCards.com, and the Game Crafter, both print-on-demand card and game publishing options for tabletop games that aren’t PDF-friendly RPGs. These are additional resources to DriveThruRPG, Lulu, and Createspace, which are all decent print-on-demand options for people who make books and game books.
Social Challenge Accepted
One of the best comments, which nearly made me cry, came from Fred Hicks in response to Jason’s post:
I’ve also mentioned to Ajit George, Whitney Beltrán, Mark Diaz Truman and others … that figuring out who is out there to ask to be a part of our work often feels like something that just can’t be done. That feeling is bullshit, of course: it can be done, so the problem is more that the resources to do it … aren’t always or even often there.
I and the others at the Hat are gonna keep working at this. I have to be realistic that it’s going to be a long haul rather than something we’ll have figured out by this time next year.
Meanwhile, the Google Analytics team tackled unconscious bias at work and this hit my feed:
Watch the whole thing. It’s long– about an hour– but definitely worth watching.
Finally, the authors for Dark Ages: Vampire (which has about a day left on Kickstarter, by the way) did a very long interview/blog post about their experiences writing a diverse, inclusive, and respectful setting for one of the most popular role-playing games out there (and certainly, among the most-played among women).
November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), during which a lot of people tackle a personal challenge of some kind, like NaSweKniMo (knit a sweater), NaSoWriMo (write a song), WoShoReMo (read 30 short stories), NaGaDeMo (design a game!) Seems like this is a perfect month for creativity and energy. Just as the time changes, just as the weather shifts, just as we’re on the cusp of all the holiday scheduling madness… this is a great time to lean back (lean out?) and take a moment to let your creative energy play.
I don’t have much else to say, except this: