Recently, I came across this article from the Toronto Star titled “How women are taking on the world of Dungeons and Dragons.” It inspired me to reach out to many different players of D&D to hear about their experiences with the tabletop game and some of the challenges they might face. As I was reaching out, I realized that I don’t want to focus on the challenges these people have faced but rather highlight them and show that women, trans, queer and non-binary people are playing and hope that their stories inspire others to start playing.
The first person I had the pleasure to interview is with Barbara Perez Marquez, a writer & editor.
Rogues Portal: What is your background or history with the game?
Barbara Marquez: I started playing D&D in 2017 and was very attracted to it as a way for collective storytelling. I started DMing for the game in 2018 and haven’t looked back since.
RP: What do you like about playing D&D?
BM: Primarily, the ability to tell stories together. It provides a great framework for all levels of storytelling, allowing players to enjoy the game regardless of their levels of interest in roleplay.
RP: How long have you been playing?
BM: As a player since 2017, as a DM since 2018.
RP: Favourite type of characters to play?
BM: I’m really big into barbarians, though I’ve been exploring playing charming characters (usually either rangers or rogues) recently and hoping to get better at them.
RP: What are some challenges you face as a woman playing D&D?
BM: Finding resources that are inclusive and timely is still a bit challenging. For so long, D&D didn’t actively seek to be inclusive to its full potential, and now that it is, it’s a matter of playing catch up which can simultaneously deter new players due to lack of good and inclusive resources.
RP: How did D&D become more inclusive?
BM: As the rulebooks have evolved, they’ve found ways to streamline the game. By not being as encumbered by stringent rules, players are able to feel more in control of what they create. This allows for D&D to be malleable, to make sure it can fit whatever needs or ways players want to experience it. I think in the last couple of years some great strides have been made to really showcase its versatility.
RP: What are some fears or hesitations or other things you might have had that stopped you from playing or kept you away?
BM: Despite its ability to accommodate many levels of interest, I think there is still a steep accessibility hill in D&D. There are still plenty of barriers to break down to make spaces inclusive for others beyond those we usually associate with D&D. These barriers lead to a lot of unnecessary recognition benchmarks. D&D credibility is often treated as a meritocracy: “I know more rules than you,” “I’ve played longer than you,” etc. All those things should not be determining who gets to sit at the table.
RP: What are some of the barriers that need to be broken down?
BM: There’s a lot of history behind D&D, which is great in the best of cases because it means there’s a lot of material to use. However, that can also be deterring to allow newcomers to “hop in” as easily. I think that needs to be a continued focus, to make it easier to join a table and understand the ropes to hit the ground running. In addition, I think we need to continue striving towards diversity within the material itself. As more official material comes to life, it should look to have more diversity among its creators and its content.
RP: What are some steps that need be taken to make it more inclusive?
BM: I think it will be a matter of continuing to put in the work to make it more accessible, to invite new players into the game. In addition, the game’s development towards freeform storytelling will help it evolve and strengthen interest for players that before kept away due to the daunting amount of material to review.
RP: What do you love about the game?
BM: Being able to get together with others and building a story with each other is by far my favorite thing about the game. Working off each other and together to tell something nobody else has told before.
RP: What are some things you want people to know about the game?
BM: We are seeing a lot of shifts in what we think D&D is, so it’s a great time to jump in and get your hands dirty. Do not be afraid to learn on the go. There isn’t any irremediable ways to play D&D “wrong.”
RP: How would you encourage people to get into the game?
BM: Do not be scared to start your own space to play the game. Recruit those friends you’d feel most comfortable playing with.
If you are someone who identifies as a non cis male and would like to be interviewed for The Players of D&D, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.