[Petition] Help make D&D art more inclusive

By on 25 August 2012

Forumite rabalias has created a petition calling on Wizards of the Coast to use the opportunity of D&D Next to make the art in D&D consist less entirely of white men and white male fantasies.

The text of the petition has been copied below for ease of reference. If you agree with it, please sign the petition here: www.thepetitionsite.com/522/618/587/dd-should-be-for-everyone-not-just-white-men/

Even better, please share this with your friends so more people can let WotC know that it’s time for a change.

Summary

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is the single most famous roleplaying game in the world, the route most people got into the hobby, and the flagship of the hobby. So it’s a tragedy that the game is pushing away potential fans through artwork and even game text that is overwhelmingly focused on one customer: the white male. This petition calls on Wizards of the Coast to improve this for the next edition of D&D.

  • We want to see artwork that reflects the diversity of the real world
  • As a minimum, 50% of people depicted should be female
  • As a minimum 20% should be non-white (in line with the population of the USA)

Such characters should be portrayed [edited to add:] as respectfully on average as white male characters – not just as submissive weaklings or semi-nude eye candy (e.g. chainmail bikinis)

WotC should lose the text that describes demihuman races as exclusively pale-skinned.

Please sign this petition if you agree.

More detail for the curious cat

60% of images in D&D 4th edition (specifically the DMG, PHB, PHB2 and Adventurer’s Vault) were of men[1]. On a range of measures designed to pick up on sexist depictions (active vs neutral stance, whether the character was fully dressed and whether the image was sexually suggestive) D&D scored badly, with well over a third of images hitting any given measure of sexism[1].

There was only one image of a non-white human character in the D&D 4th edition core books[2], and across the core books of all four numbered editions of D&D only two non-white human characters depicted [2,3]. Even the nonhuman races seem to be dominated by paler skin tones; looking at the playtest material for D&D Next, the nonhuman races available to play were stipulated as having skin tones consistent with a white human, with the possible exception of dwarves who are permitted to be “light brown”[4].

It’s only a fantasy. But it’s our fantasy and we can make it whatever we want. Everyone should be able to open a D&D book and not feel excluded. Wizards of the Coast are very likely saying behind closed doors “white male heroes is what our fanbase wants”. Well, then it’s up to us, as the fanbase, to tell them they’re wrong about that.

D&D Next is in development right now. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape the game. Most of the buzz has concentrated on mechanics. But there’s no reason why the game can’t take leaps forward on diversity as well.

What we are asking for

We the undersigned call upon Wizards of the Coast to make D&D Next at least as diverse as the real world. We want to see men and women of all colours in the artwork. And we want the fantasy races to reflect the full palette of human experience, too. Even though some of us are white men, we aren’t going to be put off our hobby by images of people that aren’t – in fact, just the opposite.

The USA represents the biggest market for D&D at the time of writing. As such, this petition proposes a minimum standard that reflects the demographics of the US. 50% of images containing a humanoid creature should be female, and where applicable 20% should be non-white. It is also important that these images should avoid displaying these characters as submissive or weak, or at least no more so than white males. Finally, text describing demihumans should be rewritten to make them as diverse as the people who play the game – not restricted to white skin-tones.

[1] From Anna Kreider’s article here: www.pelgranepress.com/?p=3501

[2] Robert Sullivan’s video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=utsvMDewdUA&feature=plcp

[3] Chris Van Dyke’s article here: raceindnd.wordpress.com/2008/11/18/nerd-nite-presentation-november-18th-2008/

[4] Chris Stone-Bush’s article here: www.doucheydm.com/?p=1043

About Dave McAlister

Dave has been roleplaying for over 30 years, having played and/or run most mainstream systems with the espionage genre being an early favourite. So much so that, in 1999, he started Modus Operandi. That same year he joined the Sarbreenar "Living" campaign team as their plotline controller before moving across to the Living Spycraft campaign team (as UK Regional Branch Director) in 2003. 2003 also saw the birth of UK Role Players as well as Dave's first freelance writing appointment (co-writing World Militaries and consulting on both US Militaries and Battlegrounds, all for Spycraft). Since then, Dave has concentrated on supporting the UK gaming scene. He has organised and run several small, one-day, events and was the RPG Area Manager for Gen Con UK in 2004. His current favourite systems are Dungeons & Dragons (specifically 5th Edition), Savage Worlds and Cinematic Unisystem. He has a (currently neglected) blog at dave.mcalister.org.uk and runs a D&D 5e SRD website at DnD5e.info.

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