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A Table for Every Gamer...yes even the Girls

Taken from a Facebook Post from 2021:

A while back, while scrolling through Dungeons and Dragons Facebook groups there was a question by a new player that asked the group if there were any YouTube Dungeon Master Tips pages made by women that she could watch.

One of the first comments: Have you tried the kitchen?

Several other comments: Why do you need to watch a women dungeon master? Dungeons and Dragons isn't gendered.

Others: Stop being exclusionary.

Of course all these comments were made by men.

I started playing D&D in the 90s. I was beyond lucky to find a group of individuals (every last one of them men) who welcomed me in as an equal and made the game, and the room, a safe space for me. I didn't realize how lucky I was. I didn't realize how SPECIAL that was....

Until years later when I bought a game store and started promoting D&D there. After many, many years I had rekindled my love for RPGs and was in a position to share that love with other players. But when I talked to women about playing there was constant hesitancy. They had TRIED D&D with their boyfriend or in college. And they had found an experience where they were talked down to, belittled, ignored, or talked over. Or they had always WANTED to try D&D and were told it wasn't for them, or that there was no room at the table.

Men, you need to understand that this is OUR experience with the game. It has nothing to do with you. I was so lucky, and I can never thank those wonderful people who welcomed me to their table enough. They kindled a love for gaming that has literally changed my life. But now that I have a place and position to share this magical, amazing game with EVERYONE, I will make sure that women have their safe space. Yes, there will be room at my table for everyone, but there will also be times when the table is filled with women who have always wanted to learn the game but who have been shut out, or too nervous to try it in mixed company.

If you have always been the majority at a gaming table, then it's hard to see that there ever is a problem. And most times there isn't, as most people are accepting and kind. But if you are a minority, this goes for gender, race, age, orientation...your lens is very different. I've never asked for special treatment, and none of my players have either. But many of my new players don't expect equal treatment, because their experience thus far has shown them that they won't get it anyway. And this creates the wall that tells them "no, this isn't for you".

I have chosen an industry that is dominated by men. When I go to gaming open houses and trade shows I'm in the extreme minority. I have been physically brushed aside mid-question at a publisher's table so they could talk to the man that was standing behind me. It opened my eyes to how much fight it would take to be heard in my chosen profession. I was very lucky that day that a friend saw, and understood what happened, and we had a good long talk about not allowing myself to be brushed aside. It was a conversation that again changed my life. Thanks Tyler, your words that day saved a new game store owner!

It's changing, thank heavens. It's changing fast. There are more and more allies, who see us and who welcome us. They treat us as equal and don't brush us aside. I am in industry groups where others see and call out this gate-keeping on social media and in real life every day. And there are more and more women, young and old who come into my store and buy dice, the D&D starter set and a Player's Handbook and are vibrating with the excitement and love for a game I discovered 30 years ago when I played my very first time. They are breaking down those barriers and bringing more and more equality to the tables. And I will do everything in my power to make sure they never find those walls we've faced in the past.

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