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Character Creation Diversity in Gaming Art

diverse people play dungeons and dragons

This is being republished, the author is: TiMar Long from the University of Houston (timar.long@mavs.uta.edu). You should really check out the full version which includes citations and charts here. Dice Bard is all about diversity at the table, and these findings back up what many people are already saying that not only are people not choosing racially diverse characters but it may be Wizards of the Coast not doing enough to promote diversity through their character art. Dice Bard’s printable miniatures seek to balance that out by providing racially diverse characters as well as male and female (and non-binary) heroes that anyone can relate to.

Popular abstract: The artwork for a role-playing game can be one of the most important aspects of the gaming experience. Artwork helps to give role-players an idea of what the world looks like in that game. It helps to inspire the kinds of characters players might want to create. Finally, art can serve as a method for determining what is and is not normal for a setting. Dungeons & Dragons was the first tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) created and as such serves as the foundation of the gaming hobby (Fine 1983; Tresca 2011; Peterson 2012). Is the artwork in Dungeons & Dragons racially imbalanced? How has the artwork changed since the beginning of the hobby? Wizards of the Coast is praised for the diversity of their new 5th Edition line, but is it truly diverse? This project seeks to find out by examining the artwork in the Players Handbook for each edition of the game. By using the theory of symbolic annihilation, I explore whether or not racial minorities are adequately represented in the artwork.

1. INTRODUCTION

The artwork for a role playing game can be one of the most important aspects of the gaming experience. Artwork helps to give role-players an idea of what the world looks like in that game. It helps to inspire the kinds of characters players might want to create. Finally, art can serve as a method for determining what is and is not normal for a setting. Dungeons & Dragons was the first tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) created and as such serves as the foundation of the gaming hobby (Fine 1983; Tresca 2011; Peterson 2012). Is the artwork in Dungeons & Dragons racially imbalanced? How has the artwork changed since the beginning of the hobby? Wizards of the Coast is praised for the diversity of their new 5th Edition line, but is it truly diverse? This project seeks to find out by examining the artwork in the Players Handbook for each edition of the game. By using the theory of symbolic annihilation, I explore whether or not racial minorities are adequately represented in the artwork. Dungeons & Dragons was chosen not only because it is the first role-playing game, but because it has experienced the most exposure to non-gamers. In addition to having produced a gaming line, Dungeons & Dra