The mayhem and madness of Dungeons and Dragons
June 2, 2023
The gaming industry provides multiple sources of relief, entertainment and community to those in need of a creative outlet. Both tabletop and video game spaces are typically known for being male dominated, which can make the activity seem less inclusive. However, there are plenty of women who have carved their place in both spaces and continue to help create welcoming groups for those interested in either.
One of these women is Victoria Meyers, a 20-year-old studio art major with a concentration in graphic design. While she originally started with video games, she quickly grew fond and familiar with tabletop game settings.
“Mostly, I play Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition,” Meyers said. “I also play a combination of three point five and this other roleplaying game called d20 Modern and then I’ve also played a couple one shots of a bunch of different tabletop games.”
Meyers mentioned that her kickstart into the tabletop community was not one uncommon to most people’s 2020 experience. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed her to rewatch “Stranger Things,” a show with characters and lore based in the Dungeons & Dragons (DnD) franchise, which piqued her interest in the game. Meyers also had friends who already played DnD and became more enthusiastic to get involved after hearing them speak about the campaigns they participated in.
She had not been invested in the game before, since the campaigns that Meyers initially heard seemed rather uninteresting. This was only as a result of that Dungeon Master (DM). The more Meyers got into this world though, the more she realized how fun the game is.
“It (seemed) like something that could be cool because it really helps explore your creativity and your imagination because you get to make your own character,” Meyers said. “Or if you’re the Dungeon Master, make a whole world.”
Of course, Meyers also has her own preferences when playing her favorite tabletop games. She enjoys being a DM because she gets to make Homebrew settings, in which the DM gets to create their own world, race, class, rules, etc. She especially finds that the experience of working with other players to create these stories to be very fun as well.
Meyers prefers being a player as there is less stress involved in running entire campaigns. She thinks that the most fun class to play is Rogue because of their sneaky abilities and mischievous personalities. She also finds Tieflings to have the nicest aesthetics.
“Personally, I think I do (prefer) playing tabletop games because I’m a creative person, studio major, you know?” Meyers said. “It really helps my creativity to come up with all this different stuff and I draw a lot for my campaign, specifically my character. So, it’s a really big source of inspiration.”
Meyers still likes playing video games but finds the tabletop community to be a slightly healthier environment. She notes that despite not competing in tournaments, competitive video gaming can be incredibly toxic to the point where the conflict can feel excessive and unnecessary.
“With tabletop games I find that it’s a lot more welcoming and together because whenever you enter a campaign it’s a team effort to work through everything,” Meyers explained. “Even the DM, who’s sometimes in the role of the antagonist, is also always working with the players.”
That being said, Meyers does recognize that her experiences are fairly healthier than others since she plays in familiar settings with trusted people. She has heard how difficult these spaces can be for other women in this industry.
“For tabletop games, I’ve found at least, that it’s really accepting,” Meyers said. “Granted, I have heard multiple horror stories about women who end up getting harassed or there’s a person who’s taking what’s happening in the game outside of the game. They’re trying to flirt with a character, but one player will try to flirt with another player’s character, but the player will also try to flirt with the player and just crosses boundaries and it’s just not cool.”
An article by ivint.org mentions that around 40 percent of women in gaming have “experienced some form of abuse from male gamers while playing online.” In terms of certain video game communities, there are spaces that are notorious for the sexism present in chat rooms and multiplayer settings.
“Especially in some communities where it’s like ‘Oh you’re a girl’ and suddenly it’s the only thing they care about,” Meyers said. “Or some people use the fact that you’re a girl as an insult or get really creepy, but it really depends on the game because every game will have its own community.”
For stigmas surrounding women in these spaces, Meyers mentions how different aspects of that can be fetishized or fall under stereotypes like that of the “gamer girlfriend,” in which men will make something sexual of or find women more attractive for playing video games.
“There are some people who are obsessed over ‘Oh, I want somebody who plays video games’ and it’s fair to have a preference for somebody who would share a hobby with you,” Meyers reasoned. “That’s totally cool, that’s totally normal, but some people take it too far.”
Luckily Meyers has managed to find her own community that she enjoys playing with. She also says that in her tabletop gaming experience, she has played with many women and is currently involved in multiple campaigns with them currently.
“There’s a lot,” Meyers said. “The campaign that I run is actually, most of the players are female.”
Altogether, despite this male dominated industry having certain downfalls when it comes to the sexism that it presents for women, it can still be highly rewarding for those who make their own groups and find their own niches within it. Meyers has proven this by being able to combine her friendships, her creative drive and her artistic talent in order to have fun while playing tabletop and video games.