An Unofficial Volunteer Admin’s Perspective on Equality and Inclusion

By Angie Powers (with Jae Walker)

I am an admin for the largest Pathfinder-related group on Facebook. Even though we admin are volunteers, we are all passionate about Paizo and their products. We want to support their products and the environment they create. Including everyone, in a way that is fun for everyone, is important to us.

The Pathfinder RPG Facebook Group

The Pathfinder RPG Facebook group is a very active enthusiastic group of gamers who love our hobby. We have 31,200 members. In the last 28 days, 23,700 active members posted 1,679 posts, 35,900 comments, and 92,200 reactions.  We strive to incorporate gender equality, inclusion, and diversity into our rules as a gaming group. We want to have an open and honest dialog with people. We do not feel that these are political conversations as gender equality and inclusion are human rights.

In the past, when gender and/or diversity came up, it sure felt like a free for all. I have even been muted, due to some harsh comments. Those posts quickly became dumpster fires and there were a lot of hurt feelings, leading to another group being created for female pathfinders. We want everyone to have a voice but at the same time, we do not want to alienate, to harass or pile on the victims.

Even more recently, we occasionally get accused of not caring, not being opened minded, not being fair, and/or not being impartial. In the past, we have tried to be peace keepers and let everyone express their opinions. We have evolved and adjusted. For example, we kept a thread open on consent for at least five days. In Facebook terms, that is a significant period of time. I think that was because it was regarding a publication instead of some horrible event that someone endured. Instead of trying to convince people to be on better behavior, we removed the bad players from the conversation, either by a long mute, or a ban. We no longer feel the need to pander to people. We will not be bullied or put up with excessively bad behavior for the sake of the “party”. This is called the Jeremy Clarkson effect.

Striving For Diversity

Though we strive for diversity, 89.1% of group members identify themselves as male, 9.7% female, and 1.2% custom.  I believe this is an accurate reflection of gamers in general, in the United States. Facebook definitely has its own social dynamics and adds to the general disparity. Unfortunately, sexism, bigotry, and racism are still problems for our community. I have noticed that I can say the exact same thing as one of my male cohorts and get a totally different response.  Over the years, there have definitely been some outbreaks of harassment within our community or similar gaming communities. We work at being able to discuss these situations in a way that is supportive and understanding. 

At times our group can feel very off putting to certain groups. It is always very upsetting when people accuse of us of discrimination, sexism, or racism. We as admin usually attempt to be impartial and fair to everyone.

One thing we can do is use gender neutral language. I work in an industry that was traditionally male. I had to work really hard to remember to use gender neutral language but it soon becomes habit. Linguists have taught us that people around us pick up on our language habits and incorporate them into their language. Just like slang, language evolves.

Another thing we can do is not comment on everything that we read. If the question has been answered, there isn’t much reason to keep answering the post. We do not need to criticize for the sake of criticism. We do not need to one up the situation. “If you think that was bad, let me tell you about my horror story.”  We do not need to argue with each other. Some gentle discourse back and forth is ok; especially with rule questions, but I am pretty sure no one has ever won an argument on Facebook.

I have found that intent and tone are rather difficult to interpret on the internet. Emoticons become important. I think as authors of our posts, it’s something to consider. I haven’t said things on occasion because it just sounds mean and/or defensive. Sarcasm doesn’t translate and I sometimes think I expect people to know me enough to know when I am being sarcastic. Usually, I am mistaken.

I think as readers it is as important to also step back and think about tone and intent. I have had emotional, anxious days that made anything anyone said feel like a personal attack. It’s definitely been embarrassing to find out that it wasn’t.  Sometimes we have to put on our adult knickers, and take responsibility for our own words, emotions, and actions. It’s ok to make mistakes and it never hurts to say “I apologize if I wasn’t clear.”

Remember…

Remember we do care. Gender and diversity matter to the admin as we are a diverse bunch ourselves. I am 43, have been gaming for about ten years, and am a neurodiverse pansexual cis female. I have been working in customer service for a large electric and gas company for about 15 years now.  Jae is 65, bi cis female, is a retired IT analyst, and she has been gaming since the early 80s. Her first GenCon was 1987 and she is definitely the mother of our circle. Troy is 51, cis male, with 2 wonderfully diverse children. He has been gaming for 43 years, and is a semiprofessional writer for RPGs for 22 years. He trains soldiers for a living. Perram, as you probably know, is 35, cis male, and manages this lovely site.

About Angie Powers

I have been an admin for Pathfinder RPG group for about 2 years.  I have been playing Pathfinder and PFS since 2012. It is my one true love. I have only played a dash of 3.5 and a little RuneQuest RPG. I have attended Paizo Con 2016, 2017, and 2019. I have the pleasure of assisting Jae Walker, gaming veteran and Troy Daniels, 3rd party author and gaming veteran, with admin duties and Perram of Know Direction with moderator duties.  I have been a fan of Know Direction since 2016 and fell in love with their podcasts. I have worked in customer service for 15 years in January. I work with a large utility company, in a department that specializes in renewable energy and efficiency programs. I am involved with my company’s LGBT+ group. My other hobbies include: knitting, reading urban fantasy, and mushroom hunting.

 

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