I wrote the following over two years ago and I still lots of similar things happening today as I did then. I would say that there is more acceptance of diversity today which is a great thing. So, ponder it and ask yourself, what can I do to bring diversity to the gaming table?
As some of you know, I’m a convention director or serve as part of the administrative staff for several gaming conventions. That being said, I have the good fortune to meet and speak with many folks from this industry. In talking with some of these folks, I recently came across a purposed panel topic that really struck a nerve with me. The title of the panel that was proposed was entitled “Gaming as Other“. First, I felt like a total moron because I did not know what the word “other” was referring to. It was then pointed out that “other” was defined as anyone that was not a straight, white male. Besides the fact that is does not roll of the tongue easily, why would someone use the term “other”? It seems more than a little derogatory.
To me the concept of singularity (straight, white male) that is the basis for the phrase “other” really bothered me. I have gamed with, to the best of my knowledge, just about every racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and orientation that there is. I think what bothered most about the name of this panel was the idea of attempting to break barriers by creating new ones. If we keep having boundary lines drawn such as “other” we’ll never get past stereotypes and we’ll never be able to collectively embrace diversity. My other bit of heart burn with the name of the panel is that it would be confusing to con-goers. I have been part of this industry from many vantage points over the past 30 years that if it threw me for a loop, more than likely the average con-goer would be confused as well.
I would like to see diversity within the gaming community be widely and forever accepted, but if you call attention to the issue by using odd and almost derogatory terms, you do nothing but perpetuate the division between some groups within the community. A convention would be better off naming the panel more like this — “Diversity at the Table” or “Breaking the Diversity Barrier” or even “Strategies for increasing Diversity”.
It’s incumbent on us, the gamers and even convention organizers, to stomp out inequality when we see it. We are all gamers coming together for a common purpose, to game!