How Indie Developers Can Make Efforts Toward Sensitivity and Inclusion

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Does anyone know sensitivity readers/DEI consultants who are also knowledgeable about the TTRPG scene. Ideally, someone like that might\ be better than hiring someone that has little historical context for the tropes and know how other products ran into the same issues and how they corrected for them. On the other hand, readers like that may have some trope blindness, but they should be able to probably pick out the things that might get you into trouble on Xitter than someone who has never seen a TTRPG text in their life.
There are definitely several. James Mendez Hodes comes to mind immediately
 

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Reynard

Legend
On representation - one posit I've seen seems wise that is simply about choice:

When creating a work, include characters who are of diverse backgrounds. If you are not well-versed in their community, however, do not make their presence about their background.

So, if you're a white, cis-male heterosexual author, make sure there are female characters in your work. Make sure there are LGBTQ+ characters. Make sure there are characters from various racial backgrounds. But don't make their part of the work about being female, or about what it is like to be gay in a heterosexual-dominant society, or about being black.

The first (not only, but first) step in inclusion is acknowledging presence. These people exist in your world. Normalizing that they are there, as people first and foremost, is of value.
This particularly is the kind of thing that feels both necessary and also demands the inclusion of a sensitivity reader.

I was having a conversation with a friend about a portal fantasy idea I had. Part of the mechanics of the portal fantasy was that the characters transitioning between worlds got new bodies that reflected their inner heroic true selves. I wanted to include a trans character, because I am an ally and have trans family and believe representation matters. my friend, who has a trans daughter, cautioned me against such a move because I would be speaking out of turn, as it were. His perspective is valid but I still bristled. That is exactly the kind of thing that a capable sensitivity editor (I like that term better, i think) would be helpful with.

But I have no idea how you would actually vet such a person.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
This particularly is the kind of thing that feels both necessary and also demands the inclusion of a sensitivity reader.

I was having a conversation with a friend about a portal fantasy idea I had. Part of the mechanics of the portal fantasy was that the characters transitioning between worlds got new bodies that reflected their inner heroic true selves. I wanted to include a trans character, because I am an ally and have trans family and believe representation matters.

Sure, but that means you are making the character's part of the story about their being trans, which is not what I'm talking about.
 

MGibster

Legend
Does anyone know sensitivity readers/DEI consultants who are also knowledgeable about the TTRPG scene. Ideally, someone like that might\ be better than hiring someone that has little historical context for the tropes and know how other products ran into the same issues and how they corrected for them.
All the DEI people I know are in human resources. My company just added a director level DEI person a few years back.
 

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
Does anyone know sensitivity readers/DEI consultants who are also knowledgeable about the TTRPG scene. Ideally, someone like that might\ be better than hiring someone that has little historical context for the tropes and know how other products ran into the same issues and how they corrected for them. On the other hand, readers like that may have some trope blindness, but they should be able to probably pick out the things that might get you into trouble on Xitter than someone who has never seen a TTRPG text in their life.
Hello!

Just to answer some of the questions I've seen in this thread and the one that spawned it:
I've done sensitivity reading for a few products at this point, all TTRPGs. Insofar as the idea that there is a contingent of Twitter mobs that will revolt any time your book contains a word on some list of no-nos, that's not really how it works, from really any direction. I can't speak much for the whole field, but I don't really believe that there are verboten topics in TTRPGs; in some ways they can be the safest medium for us to explore really challenging concepts and ideas. For me, the things I'm looking for are not "you can't say this", but it's more:
  • Does this representation contain any stereotypes, and are those stereotypes mis-representative?
  • Are these descriptions unintentionally loaded with unfortunate real-world aspersions? (This is the Hadozee issue)
  • How diverse is the artwork in your product?
  • Is this difficult topic suitably sign-posted? Is it appropriate for your target audience?
  • Are you comfortable with losing an audience who would be turned off by addressing this topic at all? And is it worth keeping that material in or not?
  • Are you addressing this topic with an appropriate level of care and seriousness?
There are a lot of littler things to look out for as well, but those are the main ones.

As far as qualifications, I have a graduate degree in Sociology as well as a large amount of DEI training; I assume most sensitivity consultants come from similar fields.
 

Reynard

Legend
Hello!

Just to answer some of the questions I've seen in this thread and the one that spawned it:
I've done sensitivity reading for a few products at this point, all TTRPGs. Insofar as the idea that there is a contingent of Twitter mobs that will revolt any time your book contains a word on some list of no-nos, that's not really how it works, from really any direction. I can't speak much for the whole field, but I don't really believe that there are verboten topics in TTRPGs; in some ways they can be the safest medium for us to explore really challenging concepts and ideas. For me, the things I'm looking for are not "you can't say this", but it's more:
  • Does this representation contain any stereotypes, and are those stereotypes mis-representative?
  • Are these descriptions unintentionally loaded with unfortunate real-world aspersions? (This is the Hadozee issue)
  • How diverse is the artwork in your product?
  • Is this difficult topic suitably sign-posted? Is it appropriate for your target audience?
  • Are you comfortable with losing an audience who would be turned off by addressing this topic at all? And is it worth keeping that material in or not?
  • Are you addressing this topic with an appropriate level of care and seriousness?
There are a lot of littler things to look out for as well, but those are the main ones.

As far as qualifications, I have a graduate degree in Sociology as well as a large amount of DEI training; I assume most sensitivity consultants come from similar fields.
Thank you very much for the detailed response.

How do people find you? Is it just networking, or do you advertise, or is there a "place" where folks can locate qualified sensitivity editors?
 

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
Thank you very much for the detailed response.

How do people find you? Is it just networking, or do you advertise, or is there a "place" where folks can locate qualified sensitivity editors?
It's literally just been people I know. @Sacrosanct gave me my first job, which he offered I think after we got into a huge argument on this forum somewhere, lol. From there it's been a few much smaller projects with folks I've chatted back and forth with on Twitter a few times. There are some... I guess you'd call them trade groups you could find relatively easily from Google or the like. I'd definitely still classify myself as an amateur in that sense. I don't really "advertise" much because I find self-promotion incredibly awkward but I've tried putting myself out there a bit more lately. I guess this counts as advertising?

People will specialize in different subjects; for myself that would LGBTQIA+ topics as well as mental health and disability. I would wager that most of us are well-trained enough to cover any and all topics; I'd hate to meet the sensitivity consultant who couldn't have seen the Hadozee stuff coming from a mile away, for instance; but if your product is one that primarily includes racial or cultural backgrounds outside of your own, you'd probably be better off hiring a person of color for that role. DEI trainings are pretty universal, but it's hard to deny the power of personal experiences in this field.
 

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