Inspire Confidence – Staying Safe in the Gaming Community

Readers, today I had hoped to bring you Part 2 of GM resources the Bestiaries, but I can’t bring myself to write that yet. It’s no secret that this is blog focuses on inspiring people to find ways to enjoy the gaming community, help introduce new players to Pathfinder and gaming in general, promoting inclusion, and a socially forward outlet. I understand that some of our readers are not US citizens, but on a global scale the last 12-18 months has been very troubling. Today I want to talk about how we can keep ourselves and each other safe in our shared community. This is going to be hard for me, because while I am a white bisexual ciswoman who can hide below the radar, I have more friends than I can count who are People of Color, trans, LGBTQ, non-binary, non-Christian, or otherwise non-conforming. I am about to tell the people I love that hiding who they are might be their only option. That is not who or what I am or believe, I want everyone to be able to live their lives openly and honestly, however I try to be realistic and know that may not be safe now.

Today I’m going to Inspire Confidence in the only way I know how, by talking about the things that scare me and how I plan to combat those thing. When I most feel uninspired or lacking confidence, I make it up as I go and I fortify – which is the word I use now instead of “man up” because that’s a pretty sexist thing to say, I recommend using it because it sounds bold, drunken, and it makes me smile to think of being bold and drunk, whatever gets me through the day, honestly. This is a dark blog about survival in the real world. I hope you never need this information, especially at your gaming home, but I feel like I would be remiss in not giving this advice.

KEEPING YOURSELF SAFE

  1. Remember, the only person who is always looking out for you is you. Take care of yourself by doing whatever you need to do for you. This might mean, sadly, leaving a gaming group. Ideally you already have a safe table you’re gaming at, but if not, it is worth reflecting on whether or not you’re safe at the gaming site and the surrounding area. It might not be the people you game with, but rather the neighborhood or location at large that presents an unsafe environment for you.
  2. Check your local law ordinances and know what you can carry on yourself for safety. Mace/pepper spray are affordable and usually legal to have and use if you feel threatened. There are personal safety alarms and several excellent phone apps that will notify your friends/family if you don’t check in. Here’s a list of some of the best phone apps, I particularly like Kitestring but there are other others. Here’s a website that discusses how to find the right personal alarm for you. The internet is full of numerous resources, this is just a place to start.
  3. Community colleges and community centers often offer personal self-defense classes that focus on how to get away from an attacker. Remember, if they get you and can move you somewhere secluded, your chances of survival drop significantly. Fight hard and fast.
  4. Never split the party in game or real life, there’s safety in numbers. Don’t go alone to places that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Trust your gut. Always take backup.

KEEP YOUR FRIENDS SAFE

  1. Really – never split the party. There is safety in numbers, if someone asks you to walk with them to their car or one of your friends walks home, give them a ride. When I worked in stand-alone retail establishments the end of night procedure was for one person to stand by the phone and one person to exit the building, lock the door, enter their vehicle, turn it on and pull to the front door with the lights on. The inside person then set the alarm, exited the building and locked it, got in their car and started it, then both people left at the same time. Have a plan and stick to it.
  2. Identify your friends who are at risk and talk with them about how they feel you can best help them feel safe. Assume nothing but follow their lead and try to live up to their requests. There was recently a call for allies to wear safety pins, but there was also some push back on that. Being an ally means being what marginalized people need when they need it, not doing what you want and expecting people to find that comforting. If your friends find it comforting to see a safety pin as your sign of solidarity with them, wear it. If your girlfriend asks you to wear a pussy hat, wear it. Keep in mind who is the focus here – your marginalized loved one, not you, you are an ally in a cause and you should follow their lead.
  3. Be a compassionate and supportive listener. In the nicest possible way I can say this, as an ally you cannot fully understand what you’re marginalized friends are going through, but they do need you to be supportive. So, listen to them when they need to talk and be there for them. It is likely that your friends will tell you things that you will find horrible to listen to, but you need to listen, because this is their life and what they’re going through.
  4. Act when the situation arises. If your friend is in danger, act accordingly to protect them. That might mean speaking up, stepping in, calling the police, or taking action of some kind. This may be a scary thing to do, but this is your friend.
  5. Help create a welcoming and inclusive place to game safely. If you have to ask everyone to not talk politics at the table, then do that and enforce it. This is a difficult time and there are many frightened people in the world and in the US, having a place where we can share some fun and companionship is incredibly important.

We come together often to have fun and entertain one another. I have had the opportunity to play with people of every stripe. I cannot and will not give up on the gaming community and the people who want to be in it. I have said it before and I will continue to say it – There is always room for one more chair at the table, we are all enriched by inclusion.

Monica Marlowe

Monica Marlowe is the 2015 Paizo RPG Superstar. Winning the contest launched her freelance game designing career. Her winning adventure, "Down the Blighted Path" and PFS scenario "Captive in Crystal" are available through Paizo. She’s publishing additional gaming materials under Marlowe House and through 3rd party publishers. Monica is also active in the ongoing education in gender, sexual, and racial equality in the gaming community. Driven by a desire to see a more diverse gaming community, Monica has joined the Know Direction network to help and encourage all gamers, veteran and new, to find their voices. Monica lives in southwest Ohio with her husband, Andrew, and 2 children, Kate and Thomas.

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