Standford University Professor Antero Garcia writes in a 13 page article denouncing not only Dungeons and Dragons but table top war gaming for “Perpetuating Systems of White supremacy”. He also continues by framing the gaming industry as “Dominated by White Men”. His analysis reads:
“This article takes a cultural-historical approach to analyzing how systems shape the assumptions, identities, and experiences of their users. Focusing on how the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons is built on a system of play that has grown and shifted over the course of 40 years, this study emphasizes the central role that systems play in mediating the experiences of participants. By focusing on depictions of gender, race, and power in Dungeons & Dragons—as a singular cultural practice—this study highlights how researchers must attend to cultural production both around and within systems.”
Critical theory at it’s finest. And once again the crosshairs are aimed at something that white guys like and/or excel at. Can you imagine if I wrote a 13 page hit piece analyzing how toxic it is that Honda Civic part swaps are dominated by hispanic men? I would be crucified. I don’t have an axe to grind with Javier and his tricked out Civic as long as he doesn’t roar down my street at 3am. So I wouldn’t waste my time writing that many pages for nobody to read. Mr. Garcia on the other hand is clearly Europhobic. Something as harmless and positive as D&D can’t be left alone for one reason. Yes, it is dominated by men. White men. Straight White Men. And guess what? There is nothing wrong with that. You know how I know this? I’ve been playing table top games for going on 20 years.
Now, when we set up our D&D sessions do we have a mouth swab at the door to make sure all the players are 100% pure European phenotype? Do we perform a strip search to ensure that all incoming dice rollers have the correct anatomy? Those things would be hilarious but absolutely not. My wife plays with me. My friend’s wife plays with us. Growing up, my best bud Lu was my D20 wingman. Yes, the creators and writers are overwhelmingly white guys. Yes, if you go to a convention you will walk through an ocean of husky white guys with ponytails and shirts displaying an obscure animated movie from the 80’s. But the idea that D&D is purposely excluding anyone is ridiculous. The reason that white men gravitate towards it at much, much higher rates is because it represents them. Dungeons and Dragons, as well as all other activities of this ilk are entirely rooted in European culture. The heroism, the imagery, the mythology, the storytelling and all aspects about it are directly based on European folklore both ancient and contemporary.
This is why Mr. Garcia and many others have targeted D&D. In his analysis he will explain to you that the idea of different racial attributes among Elves, Dwarves and Orcs is somehow conditioning young minds into accepting ideas of race realism and shaping them to advocate for segregation and racial violence. That’s because Mr. Garcia apparently doesn’t understand physics or biology. In what world, fantasy or not, would a 6’5″ 300lbs bipedal humanoid have the same agility as a 3′ 60lbs bipedal humanoid? How exactly would a sentient creature with a lifespan of 80 years have the same intelligence as a sentient creature who lives to 1,000 years? He didn’t even consider these clearly logical things. And it’s made obvious he has no background or research into European mythology to which the Fantasy mythos is rooted.
You know why he didn’t consider those things? Because he’s never actually played D&D. He’s never actually picked up a book with these wonderful stories of heroics and intrigue. He has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. He just saw something that was full of straight white guys, glanced through a couple of rulebooks and said “White guys like this? Let’s destroy it.” His motivations, although disguised by haughty academic newspeak were to persecute the criminal before any crime was found. Europhobic hatred plain and simple.
I usually just laugh at this obtuse made up rubbish hurled down from the ivory towers of socially removed academic pseudointellectuals. But this one rubbed me wrong. Not because he hates white guys. Which he does. But because he targeted such a positive thing for so many young men in a postmodernist world of extreme social isolation. In 2018, suicide is through the roof. Opiate addiction claims more lives than we have room at the morgue for. And the biggest demographic for these two epidemics are young white men. Table top gaming is their escape from the screens, the pressure, the loneliness and the barrage of Europhobic propaganda jammed down their throats. It gives them an opportunity to be someone else for a little while. It allows them to use their creativity whether it’s writing the backstory of their dashing thief who survived his early years as an orphan. It gives the challenge of scouring through sourcebooks, crunching numbers and developing strategies in order to dive into the pits of the Nine Hells and smite hordes of ravenous demons. Most of all it gets these young guys out from behind screens, meeting friends face to face and enjoying a positive social environment. It’s fun and positive.
You know how I know? Because that was me. It helped me through a pretty rough home life growing up and allowed me to show my friends that I wasn’t just a weird little quiet nerd. In my head was an entire universe of wonder and adventure. In a time of chaos with little direction D&D gave me an outlet that was strategy, imagination, literature, history, mathematics, culture and heritage all rolled up into an awesome night of laughter and Surge soda with friends I might’ve never had. Friends I still hang out with today and still play D&D with. Except now our wives play with us.
All thanks to the brilliance of D&D’s creator. The late great Gary Gygax. Who was a religious, straight, white guy.