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How a new generation of gamers is pushing for inclusivity beyond the table – PBS NewsHour

For decades, players of tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) have used dice, pens and paper to engage in a form of entertainment that combines collective storytelling with strategic puzzle-solving and combat simulation. Once considered a niche hobby, these types of games are experiencing a boost in mainstream visibility thanks to series like Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and the upcoming film “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.”

According to industry estimates, hobby game sales soared during the pandemic, increasing from about $1.6 billion in 2019 to over $2.6 billion in 2021. Tabletop roleplaying games saw a 31 percent increase in overall sales in 2020. In 2022, Dungeons & Dragons alone generated some $100 million to $150 million.

As TTRPGs permeate popular culture through podcasts, live-streamed internet shows and celebrity boosters, the community surrounding them is becoming more diverse. Traditionally seen as a pastime for white male suburbanites, tabletop gaming has more recently become a platform for minorities and marginalized people to tell their own stories.

“People of color and women have always been a part of TTRPG culture,” said Steven Dashiell, a postdoctoral fellow at American University who specializes in studying male-dominated subcultures. But “actual play shows” — the term for a tabletop roleplaying game performed for audiences — give them more visibility, Dashiell added.

“People of color and women have always been a part of TTRPG culture.”

Aabria Iyengar is something of a celebrity game master, or someone who facilitates TTRPG sessions for players at a table. She has appeared on many popular actual play channels, such as Critical Role and Dimension 20, as well as shows directly sponsored by Wizards of the Coast, the company that owns Dungeons & Dragons.

When playing, Iyengar said, she gravitates toward non-human characters — like elves and merfolk.

“Growing up and acculturated as ‘other’ on several axes of identity, my brain automatically defaults to that,” said Iyengar, who is Black and a member of the LGBTQ community. “Even though it is uncomfortable to be othered constantly, it is what I know and it feels right […] There’s not the trauma attached to otherization so it feels like a fun opportunity to play in ‘What if being markedly different came with fun benefits?’”

When Iyengar was new to tabletop gaming, she would often go to a local gaming store to play in community events organized by Wizards of the Coast, but she sometimes felt like an outsider in a space where most players were white men.

“Those [were] uncurated tables where things got very monoculture very quickly,” she said.

Recently, actual plays have been finding port with a new generation of gamers, many of whom come from more diverse backgrounds. Social media allows fans of these shows to form communities and organize meetups where they can play the games they watch.

WATCH: How diversity in media and entertainment affects young people

“This new guard of hobby geeks are highly aware, and if they are not directly BIPOC people, they are allies,” said Aaron Trammell, an assistant professor of informatics at UC Irvine.

But even within these gaming communities, there is some …….

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMibGh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnBicy5vcmcvbmV3c2hvdXIvYXJ0cy9ob3ctYS1uZXctZ2VuZXJhdGlvbi1vZi1nYW1lcnMtaXMtcHVzaGluZy1mb3ItaW5jbHVzaXZpdHktYmV5b25kLXRoZS10YWJsZdIBcGh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnBicy5vcmcvbmV3c2hvdXIvYW1wL2FydHMvaG93LWEtbmV3LWdlbmVyYXRpb24tb2YtZ2FtZXJzLWlzLXB1c2hpbmctZm9yLWluY2x1c2l2aXR5LWJleW9uZC10aGUtdGFibGU?oc=5

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