I’m glad that #RPGaDay2020 has carried on the single-word prompts. It’s a refreshing change from the “questions” format still used by some challenges. This is far more inclusive, and allows people to talk about their personal tastes and preferences. We need more conversation from across the spectrum of tabletop roleplaying. Not just from the established subcultures and fans of the dominant systems, but from everyone.
For example, the questions in some challenges may as well be worded like “What is your favorite RPG and why is it D&D?”. There’s almost an assumption that RPG and D&D are synonymous inside the “community” as well is outside of it. The experiences of the person writing the questions are D&D-centric, therefore all roleplayers must be D&D-centric. If what you dig is something other than traditional fantasy, you’re going to feel left out.
While I certainly don’t shy away from mixing roleplaying and politics, there have been other challenges that reflect the inherent biases of the question-compiler. There was one a while back that asked you to describe what you’re doing to address colonialism is your game design. I don’t think that’s a bad goal, but it isn’t necessarily everyone’s goal. To imply that it should be is going to raise some hackles.
Again, there seems to be a D&D-centric vibe, although it certainly applies to systems like DoubleZero as well. It’s not a question that applies to all systems and settings, though. I would argue that games heavy on social commentary, like those based on Judge Dredd or select titles within the World of Darkness oeuvre, shouldn’t have the colonialism stripped out of them. Maybe reframed as the source of villains and obstacles, but not removed.
Reframing the Conversation
Change is good, and it’s necessary. It needs to be a factor in good game design, but it doesn’t need to be the factor. Just like it needs to be part of this RPGaDay conversation, but not so tightly focused that it makes it difficult for people to join in. Reframing not just the topics, but the formats for discussion, has the potential to open things up in a positive way.
#RPGaDay2020 – Change
RPGaDay is an annual event held each August. It asks tabletop gamers to use provided daily prompts to express something fun, interesting, and positive about the hobby. David F. Chapman (Autocratik), the award-winning game designer, created it.
About Dancing Lights Press
Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.