Saturday, August 30, 2014

Diversity in Games: A Checklist

This checklist is designed to help game designers and other game facilitators to effectively identify and respond to diversity in your game. It focuses on various aspects of your game environment, including materials, teaching strategies and facilitator/player behaviors.

Game Materials

  • Are contributions and perspectives of women and cultures other than Euro-Americans integrated into game books and other game aides? 
  • Are women, ethnic minorities and people of diverse socioeconomic classes and religions portrayed in a non-stereotypical manner?
  • Do the setting materials include appropriate information about religion when religion is integral to the context of the subject?
  • Do game books or game aides focus on “famous people,” usually those of privileged class status; or are the accomplishments and hard work of poor and working-class people given equal focus and respect?
  • Do the setting materials include cultures represented by families in your school and community?
  • Are there setting materials available for limited-English-proficient players in their native languages?
  • Are teaching materials selected that allow all players to participate and feel challenged and successful?

Facilitators as Role Model—Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Am I knowledgeable about the religious, cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds of my players and people in my community?
  • In my own life, do I model respect for, and inclusion of, people who are different (religion, race, language, abilities, socioeconomic class)?
  • Do players perceive me as sincerely interested in, and respectful of, contributions made by women and the ethnic, religious, racial and socioeconomic groups that make up the country?
  • Do I know where to find resources regarding:

Š  multicultural studies?
Š  disabled/players/specific handicaps?
Š  religion?
Š  other languages?
Š  gender bias?
  •  Do I respectfully accommodate differently abled players in my game?
  •  Do I recognize and acknowledge the value of languages other than standard English?
  •  Can I recognize and constructively address value conflicts based on race, religion or socioeconomic class?

Facilitator/Player Interactions

  • Am I careful not to prejudge a player’s performance based on cultural differences, socioeconomic status or gender?
  • Do I promote high self-esteem for everyone in my game?  Do I help each participant to feel good about who he/she is?
  • Do I encourage players to understand and respect the feelings of others who are different from them?
  • Do my players see me as actively confronting instances of stereotyping, bias and discrimination when they occur?
  • Given what I ask players to talk and write about, do I avoid placing value on having money, spending money or major consumer products?
  • Do I put myself in the place of the limited-English-proficient player and ask, “How would I feel in this game?Do I make an effort to learn some words in the home languages that my limited-English proficient players speak?
  • Am I conscious of the degree and type of attention I am giving to members of each gender in game interactions? Do I have an equitable system for calling on players?
  • Do I use gender-neutral language?
  • Do I write and speak about religion, rather than teaching religion or ignoring religion altogether?
  • When writing about religion, do I

Š      place religion within historical and cultural context?
Š      Give players opportunities to include religion?
Š      avoid making qualitative comparisons among religions?
Š      avoid demanding information about the religious affiliations or beliefs of my players?

Encourage People To Be Proactive

  •  Do I encourage people to identify instances of prejudice and discrimination?
  •  Do I help my players develop proper responses to instances of prejudice and discrimination?

General Strategies

  • Do I involve other community members to help players develop greater understanding of the benefits and challenges of living in a culturally diverse society?
  • Do I inform readers of my multicultural, anti-bias design?
  • Do I support and encourage the hiring of minority facilitators and designers?
  • Do I build a secure and supportive atmosphere by creating a noncompetitive game environment?
  • Do I use opportunities such as current events to discuss different cultures and religions?
  • Do I provide players with opportunities to problem-solve issues of inclusiveness?
  • Do I use activities that demonstrate how the privilege of groups of higher economic status is directly connected to the lack of privilege of lower socioeconomic status people?
  • Do I have players examine and analyze the representation of class, race, gender, ability and language differences in media and their community?
  • Do I recognize that tracking reinforces “classism” and is counterproductive to player learning at all ability levels?
  • Do I utilize  literature to help players understand and empathize with individuals who have experienced prejudice and discrimination and to discuss important social issues?

Based on:

Matsumoto-Grah, Karen. Diversity in the Classroom:  A Checklist. U.S. Department of Education, Eisenhower National Clearinghouse, December 6, 2002 

Photo by Viewminder. Used by permission.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Unplayed Games

You have a bunch of old roleplaying games collecting dust on your shelf. You have more hiding in the attic or under your bed. You love these old games. Filled with clever worlds and pretty pictures, these games probably won't make it to your gaming table any time soon, but you can't force yourself to throw them away.
What can you do with them? Could you steal character concepts, pictures, even whole worlds and insert them in your next game, using whatever system you currently want to actually play?
If you still play these original games, good for you! More power to you. But if you doubt that you'll ever play them again, despite still loving parts of them, then join me. Let's take what we want out of those old games to make something awesome and new.
I want to start repurposing concepts and art from old games for my current home games.* Even if I simply pull out my old copies of Rifter magazine in order to find character portraits, I need to stop ignoring my old books as a gaming resource. Just because I don't want to roll with punch/fall or keep track of 0th level spells, that doesn't make these books worthless. They are filled with ideas that past-me has paid big money for. There are probably character concepts in them that I never got to play, but that I could somehow port over into my current games.
So what do you want to adapt from an old book? Are your Call of Cthulhu books just begging to be turned into a Primetime Adventures season? Do you have Heroes Unlimited characters waiting to be plugged into a FAE campaign? Can you translate your old Elven Swordsinger into an Apocalypse character?
Let me know what you come up with. My Toon character looks forward to meeting your Dogboy.

*Don't post someone else's art online without permission. Don't claim credit for someone's work. Don't steal. Seriously. Or I will send my robots of justice after you.
Image by Michael Heilemann. Used by permission.