D&D General NPR's Code Switch Discusses Race in D&D


Moderator Emeritus

Code Switch is a National Public Radio podcast/radio show that tackles issues of race and identity. In the episode that dropped yesterday, one of the hosts introduces the other host and some producers to D&D (they play a little) and discuss the legacy and problems of race in game.

In general, the topic and tone is aimed at a more general audience than hardcore gamers, but I also think that sometimes some of the suspect things about how D&D has and does handle issues of race can be clearer to those who are new to or stand outside the game than to those of us for who its assumptions have become second nature.

One of the issues that it touches on that I found interesting is the tension between the idea that each table is going to handle issues of race differently, choosing how to address potentially problematic aspects differently (if at all) and the degree to which the essentialist ideas that have been part of the game (and fantasy) since its inception are baked into its rules in a way that might make them unavoidable. The episode also discusses how rules-lawyering and pedantry has long served to lock in ideas of race through adherence to an ideal of following the rules as written. Furthermore, the issue of gatekeeping in ways that may in the past made women and/or PoC feel unwelcome in the community or as part of specific groups is tied all into this.

Unfortunately, a 30+ minute podcast is not going to be able to go deep enough on the topic or explore it to the lengths that I would like, but it seems like a good starting place and food for thought.

Oh, and it was a pleasant surprise that one of the guests interviewed was a former colleague of mine from my graduate work, Aaron Trammel who is now Assistant Professor of Informatics, UC Irvine and Editor-in-Chief of Analog Game Studies.

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I crit!
I’d love for them to drop the live play or even do a series. What little I heard was cool. A podcast of actual play dealing with this at the table from them would be great!

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