I lay out some thoughts on why Rivals of Waterdeep is such an important show, and how the D&D/TTRPG community is white as shit.
D&D and TTRPGs are white as shit. Top to bottom, dominated by white people. Which is weird, because I know there are so many awesome PoC in the community doing things, from creators to fans. The continued dominance by white people is fueled by past(?) racism and bias, and it’s a monster that just feeds on itself. White people know white people, and hire and play with other white people. That said, things are shifting, albeit slowly. We have a number of awesome PoC people putting in the work to show that we’re here, and deserve to be in this space. So what does this all have to do exactly with Rivals of Waterdeep?
This is about how Rivals of Waterdeep is one of those examples of PoC being out there to remind the people that say we don’t belong, do, and to affirm to other PoC who are doubting the validity of their place. It’s an all PoC stream, showing them playing and enjoying this game, after far too often being told that the game isn’t for us, explicitly or not. There is so much work to be done to help shift things in the community to a point where so much of things in the public eye aren’t dominated by one single grouping. Giving PoC a space for us, and using a popular and well known platform to do so is a great step in the process.
Racism and bigotry are alive and kicking in the world, and I can say for sure, it’s still present in the TTRPG community. I’ve seen it crop up time and again in a space proclaimed as welcoming and inclusive. I know so many PoC and others of marginalized identities have encountered it. At even the slightest mention of shifting the landscape so that marginalized voices can find a space in the community for ourselves, there are those who balk at it. Too many in the community would rather ignore what’s going on, and downplay the need for marginalized people to be able to fully see ourselves in the games and stories we play.
Rivals of Waterdeep is a pushback on these kind of people, simply by its presence in the community. It’s a show of all PoC, given a platform to be seen. PoC have always been part of the community, but our presence has been downplayed or ignored. Rivals affirms the need for inclusion, because how their story is told, is informed by identity in a way that just wouldn’t be present if presented by the “default”. Too many love new ideas, unless it’s the idea of including those outside the assumed default.
Beyond just its presence, Rivals is important because of the cast members chosen. Each works in their own ways about representation and inclusion, and help to make a better space for marginalized people. Tanya does all her hard work with I Need Diverse Games, in so many ways. Brandon helps signal boost opportunities for others to join communities that we aren’t fully seen in. Cicero, alongside Shareef, speaks regularly on the ways that black identity intersects with our entertainment interests. Carlos is constantly supporting PoC and speaking at conventions on representation. Surena speaks on the ways her identities inform and affect the way she moves through this space, and the world in general. Their presence presents alternative stories, or perspectives for things, that just doesn’t tend to be available when marginalized people aren’t included.
Rivals of Waterdeep is a great show, in so many ways. It’s a template and example, that more platforms should emulate, if they’re serious about representation and inclusion. The representation isn’t constantly trotted out, but it is a very important aspect, and in a community that something like this isn’t as present as the “default”, it’s noticeable.
If you want to support the work being done here, here’s how:
Retweeting and letting PoC know that there is a space here for them, especially those who have been hesitant to play.