This month, my husband and I make our yearly visit to DunDraCon. It’s one of the biggest gaming conventions in the United States. You can find all kinds of games there. Card games. Board games. Games with miniatures. Along with my personal old addiction, roleplaying games.
I’ll never forget the moment I found ‘Vampire: the Masquerade’ on a shelf at Game a Lot in Santa Cruz, California. I’d played in a few RPGs before, but that particular book seemed to have been written just for me and for players like me. Creating a character in that universe would be like becoming one of my favorites in an Anne Rice novel. The fact that ‘Vampire the Masquerade’ referred to possible characters sometimes as ‘she’ as well as ‘he’ only made me feel even more included in this particular potential world. Just as welcoming was the sexual diversity of some of the gaming modules’ characters! Some of them had lovers of the same gender! It made me feel even more like this was a roleplaying game, which had been written for me. It had been designed for the sort of characters I wanted to create.
Alas, my experiences with other roleplayers weren’t always so welcoming. Male gamers stared at me like I was an exotic, oversexed alien when I joined in their games, just because I happened to be female. My attempts to play androgynous characters or an alternate sexuality were met with mockery. The name ‘gaming travestite’ was hurled at me with particular contempt by multiple players and one game master.
Needless to say, this attitude has made me very wary about whom I game with. At the same time, some of my closest bonds have been formed during roleplaying games. I met my husband during one. Some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met have been during roleplaying campaigns. Rhodry first came into existence during one of my favorites. He’s been with me ever since, in fact, I still use his name on Twitter, tumblr, Archive of Our Own, and NaNoWriMo. Amberwyne, Danyell, Dayell, and Leiwell were all born during roleplaying games. Rowan came to life during an Amber roleplaying game due to keeping a character journal for extra points. Yes, during that particular RPG, you were encouraged to write fanfiction! If ever an opportunity presented itself for queer Amber characters, that was one! :)
What about you, dear reader? Have you had any experiences with roleplaying games, which shaped you or your stories?