I have to approach this very delicately. Please believe me when I say I have the very best of intentions. I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone who has been desperate for players. (Pre-Virtual TableTops, Pre-Pandemic.) I seriously debated about commenting on this, but I saw something that just made me cringe.

A couple of quick facts here. The person who posted this is as Caucasian as I am to the best of my knowledge. He’s outspoken when it comes to bigotry in gaming. He’s also got a big old pile of writing credits with WotC, Paizo, and others. I’m not going to name him specifically because it’s not worth getting trolled on Twitter.

Let’s be clear up front. I’m all for this type of call for players. Obviously this is for probably an online game and hosted privately. Maybe even an actual play podcast. If this were an ad at a game convention or some other public space, the conversation would look different. But, as-is, it’s cool. I think it’s high time we worked toward better representation and more inclusion in TTRPGs.

It’s cool to run or be in a group that includes as many BIPOC/LGBTQIA+ folx as possible. As long as someone isn’t insisting that we all run our games this way, it’s great. I’ll say it again- what works at your game with your group at your table is all good. There is no wrong way to D&D, so to speak. Games open to the public are a whole different animal, though.

What goes on in private in someone’s basement? Not my fish, not my pond. Have fun.

Would I personally ever turn a player away? Not unless I knew said person was going to be disruptive to the rest of the group in some way. I’ll run a game for ten people if I have to. I like players. I’m not saying anyone else has to do it my way.

This is not the first time I’ve seen this sort of ad for an upcoming game.

I’m kinda low key bummed because I haven’t been in a WEG D6 Star Wars campaign in many, many years. I have to admit I miss it and I’m super impressed someone decided to run it at all. But they’re good on guys that fit my description, so oh well, I guess. That’s too bad, but not the end of the world.

If I wanted to run an online game of just about anything, I could throw it together and go. I personally don’t have a VTT as a go-to or a Discord channel, etc. But I’m not completely technologically inept and could get it going if I desired. (*That day may come sooner or later.)

I’ve seen plenty of ads for games on Twitter and elsewhere that read similarly to the Star Wars group invite above. Heck, I recently saw one that said BIPOC LGBTQIA+ ONLY.  I’m not wanting into a D&D actual play group that clearly doesn’t want people with my particular appearance. That’s okay. I’m totally cool with it.

Don’t be “that one guy.”

I feel it is appropriate for “straight white guys” to know when to back off. There have been situations in the past where cishet white guys have tried to force their way into someone else’s group in the name of “inclusion.”

I’m begging you, please don’t be that guy? I’ve said it before, let people run the games they want to run for their groups, especially if they’re all female, BIPOC/LGBTQIA+. There are plenty of options for all of the “straight white guys” of the world without trying to drive an unwanted wedge into a group where clearly one is not welcome.

I know that sounds hypocritical, but it’s true. If any group wants to welcome a new player, so be it. If any group wants to turn away a player who makes them feel uncomfortable, so be it. Honestly, “straight white guys” have been gatekeeping and pushing others out for years. Now that things are changing, please let them change peacefully.

I get it, okay?

I would gladly give up my seat at a convention table for anyone who wanted it. Even if it was paid for, I’ll let someone take it. If I’m at a full table, and you want into the game- I’m the guy to talk to. Most conventions I used to attend giving up my chair means I can sneak off to a seminar, finish my notes for something I’m running, cruise the vendor room, eat, sleep, or start a pickup game. I’ve volunteered to run a second table with the same adventure if we have to. Let’s do whatever it takes to make sure people are having fun.

Yeah, straight white guys aren’t much the in crowd these days, but there are still a lot of them around in the TTRPG space and will be for a long time to come. “Straight white guys” were there when the hobby started and they’re still in charge of many game companies. Plenty of game designers and writers fall into that particular category. They have a right to be at the table, too. (*as long as it’s not exclusive.)

Please remember I said anyone. Yes, in this day and age I and many others prefer BIPOC LGBTQIA+ folx get first crack at whatever we’re doing especially in the TTRPG sphere. I would give that seat up in a heartbeat for any of these folx. However, if I’m running a game open to the public, I’m not going to leave a seat empty if I don’t have to.

Get in here. Play your character. Roll dice. Have fun. Huzzah! I will never turn someone away (*unless they’re openly disrespectful, rude, bigoted, etc.)

I understand the situation shown above is a little cozier than that. They can maybe afford to pick and choose who they want at the table. I’m mostly put off by the rather callous and flippant manner in which it was phrased. You never know everything about someone when they want to play a game. What if someone is very deeply closeted? What if someone is Pan, Poly, Sapiosexual, or only appears to be a “straight white guy.” How does a closeted white guy come across differently than a straight one at first glance? It’s not always an easy call to make.

Personally, I say everyone is welcome at my table.

This is not being said to encourage the “Gamer Gate” types or anyone else who hates on people for being who they are. I mean it when I say “EVERYONE.” And if Universe wills a seventh or eighth player wants to jump in on a full table of six, I’ll take em. (*After I faint.) POC to the front of the line. I keep extra pre-made characters around for a reason or we’ll make it work somehow. Welcome to my No Player Left Out Policy of public tabletop games.

Dungeons & Dragons is for everyone, especially now. We’re riding on the coattails of Honor Among Thieves in unprecedented times for the hobby. There is no such thing as a DM shortage as far as I’m concerned. It’s more a matter of placement and timing.

Please, no matter what the game, I’m begging everyone. If you want to help the TTRPG hobby and build the community- take as many players as can be welcomed to the table. Unless someone is being incredibly rude or disrespectful, they can have a seat at my table. Please work toward building, not closing gates.

I can only speak for myself, as always.

What works for me and my family in our TTRPG group might not work for everyone. Ultimately, it’s up to every DM/GM and group to decide who or what they will allow. I can only urge everyone to please embrace diversity and inclusion in their game. It’s up to everyone to use their own discernment beyond that.

Also, what works for home games might look a lot different than what goes on in public venues such as conventions and game stores. Imagine how cool it would be if someone randomly came up and started asking questions about the game and the DM says, “Here’s a character, why don’t you sit in for a few minutes?” Then that person goes onto become a regular player. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Most game shops and conventions have rules of conduct that must be followed. I’ve been the one to ask someone to leave before. I’d rather kick one rude bigot out the door than have ten people leave the convention because he made them uncomfortable. Or worse… (*Let’s not go there.)

It’s just easier to have fun and be kind to people. Please, just treat everyone the way you’d want to be treated. It’s about that easy. I’m not going to say, “let’s forget politics, religion, gender and sex so we can get back to gaming.” It’s not right by all of the people struggling for equality and representation in the real world. Maybe if we make the TTRPG hobby and industry a good example, the rest of the world will eventually catch on.

Thanks for coming here, though. I appreciate you. Be cool. Play character. Roll dice. Huzzah! See you tomorrow.

(Please congratulate me. I went the whole article without dropping that one specific quote from the Executive Producer of D&D.)