Infinite Diversity in… You Know the Rest Right?
All right folks, I’m here to talk to you about diversity…
Don’t leave. I can see you moving your cursor away. I’m not talking about making sure you have enough female players or Black Asian Bisexual Youths. I’m talking about making your particular RP reflect its universe a little more. Don’t think it’s a problem?
I RP Star Trek. There’s a very, very disappointing trend. You’ll have a few aliens, mostly fan favorites like Vulcans and Klingons, then a whole bunch of humans. And of those humans, most are white. Now I’m pretty sure the future might not be all white people. Also, I’m pretty sure there’s more than three races in the galaxy.
But hey, what can you do?
Here’s what you can do. Take charge of your RP or Sim. Set up challenges to use other races. Bribe people. Try to recruit people who prefer alien races. Ride that wave. It’s worth it. But where to start?
The very first thing you have to do is to determine what’s common for your universe. We’ll use the big two as examples. In Star Wars, there’s a bunch of different races. If you look them up on the Wiki, you will find that some are numerous and widely spread, like Humans and Twi’leks, maybe Wookies. Others are a bit less common, maybe they live in one particular area. Some like Togruta have rather low technology levels and are mostly found offworld as Jedi. For Star Trek, the big favorite races are Vulcans and Klingons, maybe Betazoids and Trill. Once you’ve evaluated these species, try for ten to twenty for starters, then determine which are underrepresented. Don’t hesitate to factor in gender.
The big issue in universes where humans are the most numerous is that the typical player will bring along their own perspectives. So it’s natural to assume that a white player’s character, or first character at least, will reflect them and their reality. In order to combat that, we have to move beyond that inclination. We need to stop focusing on replicating ourselves, stop investing that much into our character, and take a hint from the greats.
If I had to pick just three Gods of Nerddom, they’d be Joss Whedon, Steven Moffat, and George RR Martin. What do they all have in common besides fantastic characters? Killing those characters and making us all cry like little children.
I’m not saying you have to kill your characters, but you have to look at their premise. None of them is an alien, or a woman with dragons, or a space pilot. But the fact is, all of them have written excellent characters that do not reflect their own daily life. And all of them consider those characters to be tools for a story, and not precious children who must be sheltered and nurtured.
Your characters should not all be carbon copies of yourself. Don’t hesitate to get out there and make characters wholly unlike you. Make characters who you will be afraid of, make characters you will hate. That’s as essential for the diversity of characters as their race or ethnicity is. If you make a copy of yourself in five races and two genders, it’s still just yourself. Make sure your characters are all different.
And if you’re an admin/CO/Captain, support your players. They look up to you, and you need to stand ready to help them grow. None of us should be content to remain static in ability.