schoolpsychnerd: (freud)
[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd
We all come to the gaming table with a variety of experiences. We don't leave our identities, and the privileges (or lack there of) associated with them, outside our gaming venue. And as we explore new worlds, new groups, or new gaming experiences, it can give us a chance to look at how we show up at the table. The two identities I think a lot about at the table are my gender (cis female) and my disability status. I would really love to hear from other gamers of a variety of identities to hear what their table experiences have been. I know there are other areas where I have privilege (particularly white privilege, cis privledge and SES privilege) that change how my other identities affect me at a particular table.

My disability is a math computation based learning disability. In the age of smartphones with a calculator at my finger tips, and a wider acceptance of calculator use by the world at large, it's impact on my day to day life is minimized. I've been known to add distance up wrong, or time, and baking can be difficult. This usually means that when I have to do math in my head, I will either be fast an inaccurate or slow and accurate. I've come a long way in my math skills from when I was identified in 7th grade and gaming has helped a lot with that. In safe environments where people will let me add things up (and help me out when we need to speed it up), gaming is good practice for me. I've developed strong narrative muscles and often have to social roll because my skills outstrip my characters. Being married to [ profile] dorchadas has also helped me learn to feel safe engaging with mechanics.

However, I haven't always had positive experiences at the table with my disability, particularly as it intersects with my gender. Because Math is Hard Y'all. Often, I became the most conscious of this stereotype when I was the only female identified person at the table. A woman isn't just bad at math on her own, she's confirming gender stereotypes. This adds to the other stereotypes about women in gaming that lead to books like this (note this is by a woman, I know not everyone thinks it's patronizing sexism enforcing gunk but that was my reaction to the book) to sell D&D to women. Women can be pigeon holed into being squishy narrativists, clerics, or the T&A/table sexual harassment object. These roles get really toxic when you add in that I am bad at math. Patience with me goes out the window, I start being told how to play my character, mocked that I'm doing it wrong, and the intelligence and gender are always to great go-to low blows.

I've been very fortunate. 97-98% of my gaming experiences have been inclusive, welcoming, and encouraging. I do pretty tightly control who I game with as a protective measure (I've gotten burned the most in situations where I don't know those I'm gaming with well). As I branch out into other game spaces, I get the chance to confront how I behave in these situations, unpack why I do it, and re-evaluate my old coping strategies.

I used to apologize for being stupid. I used to be quiet. I used to put up with a lot of crap. I used to not ask for assistance from allies. I used to reduce how much I participated in game. I used to just not play D&D (Seriously, 3.5 was a nightmare for me as a person with a computation disability). And those were good strategies at the time, they served their purpose. They are still on the table and I'm not bad if I use them, but they can be part of a tool kit instead of my only tools. I can ask questions of my gm without saying "this may sound stupid". I can tell someone it's not okay. I can be upfront about my disability if I feel safe. I can ask for help. I have so many friends who have demonstrated a willingness to tag in and used their privileged to help my voice be heard. And if I don't like a gaming environment, I don't have to stay. I don't owe an explanation, a second chance, or some guy a get-out-of-being-an-asshole-free card. Assertiveness is a form of self-care, and I think all of us who run and play in games need to ask, are we setting up a table that support this?

Date: 2016-02-16 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for being so open about your math disability and your methods of dealing with it. As you may have devised from my CoC Keepering, math is also an issue for me, and I've similarly struggled with how to handle said issues at the table.

Please always feel free to ask questions about mechanics or question my math at my table. I want all of my players to feel comfortable asking for help or expressing how they feel at any time.


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