It's Manchester Pride this weekend here in the UK. Being a Manchester-based company that supports all forms of inclusivity, Steamforged Games is celebrating and wishing everyone a safe and fabulous weekend. But Pride’s not just a date on the calendar! Here’s our PR Manager, Charlotte, writing about her experiences in the tabletop games industry.
“Now we’ve been goblins together, I feel I can tell you this…”
Those were the words that came out of my best friend’s mouth this June before telling my husband and I that she identifies as bisexual.
“Welcome to the community!” we said. “There is an *actual* welcome pack, just to warn you…” we said, before brainstorming ideas for what should go in there.
A full set of RPG dice in bisexual flag colours? Check. Pride flag Deadpool Pop Vinyl? Check. T-shirt that reads “The Gays Can Do Whatever They Want”? Of course.
As we picked out bits for her celebration pack, the spouse and I — both queer, both nerdy, both part of the same roleplaying group — got to talking about why nerdiness and queerness so often seem to go together.
There’s some clear common ground. Tabletop gaming is often misunderstood. People make all sorts of assumptions about your personal life based on the hobby alone.
In a roleplaying game group? You bet you’re going to get jokes about how you’re all dating. Into wargaming? Welcome to the quips about your assumed lack of luck in the love department.
Every day, in real life, there are so many serious issues in the world to worry about, and as an LGBT+ person, there are far more on top. Nerdy pursuits give a pretty instant escape from that, especially when everyone respects each other as an individual, and I think that’s something all gamers should be able to understand.
Since I’ve been working for Steamforged Games within the tabletop industry, I’ve seen both my straight and non-straight colleagues alike respecting people for the things they have in common, rather than shunning them for their differences. I’ve seen them celebrating LGBT+ people, giving their contributions the time and air they deserve, and boosting their content.
When I get to make announcements that we are collaborating with prominent LGBT+ folks in the tabletop scene (like Deven Rue, Ginny Loveday and Ginny Di), it’s a genuine thrill. And when I see one of our collaborators standing up for LGBT+ rights on a public platform, nothing can stop me from loudly cheering them on.
People I work with in the tabletop industry, and those I play alongside, welcome and encourage pride — not just for the month of June, not just at their local pride event, but everywhere and all the time.
That kind of community helps me feel comfortable showing up as my true self at work, which isn’t always easy to do. I can’t tell you how many jobs I had where I just didn’t talk about my sexuality, then had the most awkward moments in conversations when the subject casually came up. Someone famous would come out, a colleague would say something biphobic, and I’d step in to call out when they’d bring out the stereotypes — but I never made it clear I was talking about my own experience.
To me, being yourself without a filter seems like the most comfortable and healthy feeling a person can have. Everyone should be able to feel that way at work and in their gaming communities.
I know gaming isn’t free from unwelcoming behaviour. I’ve seen it escalate, and I’ve had to take a few breaks from social media to re-adjust and remember those loud voices are only a small number of people, and that those who matter are not on their side.
I’m used to feeling like the only person like me, and one of a tiny crop of people to notice the flavours hate comes in. Since I started working in the tabletop industry though, I know I’m not alone. I see waves of allies and other LGBT+ voices shouting back.
The people I’m working with are banging the drum in support of people like me and sending homophobes and transphobes packing. It’s glorious, and I’m incredibly proud whenever I see it.
Proud to be me, and everything that entails, and proud to be working for a company and in an industry where it’s chill to be covered in rainbows.