Wednesday, March 20, 2013

LotFP Quick Primer #5

Primer #1
Primer #2
Primer #3
Primer #4

(#5 is on the blog and not G+ because it's got lots of pictures!)

LotFP Quick Primer #5: Men Versus Women

Depictions of women in gaming material (and how gamers treat women in real-life) is a frequent topic of discussion these days, and LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing seems to be frequently brought up as one of those games that gets it wrong.

One of the main sources of this belief is this Something Awful review. I'd sent the Grindhouse box set to them hoping they'd do exactly what they did - make a comedy review of the game (it's what they do) and highlight some of the art. This would give it exposure and thus attract those who like the grindhouse aesthetic and help make sure people who didn't like it knew enough to stay away.

I was extremely happy with the review and still believe it was an important step to selling the thousands of copies (yes, plural) of the Grindhouse Edition in print and PDF.

But people seem to have taken the cherrypicked art (of course they'd use the "worst of the worst" in a comedy review) used there, and looked at the "Alright, I picked this image and the next two images out because I wanted to demonstrate that as violent as this book is in general, it has a definite fascination with the violent deaths of women." line as representative of the art direction of LotFP as a whole.

For the record, men suffering violence outnumbers the women suffering violence even in SA's review by more than 2-to-1 (which goes even more lopsided in the full Grindhouse set art). All of the women suffering such violence are adventuring/competent types suffering the consequences of being adventuring types, and none are tied down/naked/crying as it happens, which is the case with some of the depictions of men suffering violence.

General guidelines for LotFP art direction include:

No "random" cheesecake. People wear the clothes that makes sense for their situation.

Racy material shall not hide or pretend to be anything other than what it is and "racy material" means more than just naked women.

All of my protagonist Player Character stand-in "iconic" characters are women. And they are never cheesecaked up.


As far as the writing goes, my own writing uses male pronouns as the singular generic standard. It's just what I'm comfortable with and always understood as "correct." Writing "he and she" and "him and her" everywhere just seems like ugly looking writing to me, and I'm not threatening to overtake Vance in beautiful prose as it is.

But this is not a constant throughout LotFP releases. Zak uses the "he and she" style writing in Vornheim, and Ken Hite assumes a woman as the generic Referee in Qelong. As with many things in LotFP, it's about the individual author's style.

In hiring freelancers, Cynthia Sheppard has done many covers and other art pieces, including the box set (and new reprint covers). Women have been involved in the art from the very beginning (the early releases' art was, cartography aside, done entirely by women), and there's been a long list of women I've worked with for art these past few years. The qualifications needed for an artist: "Is your work awesome? Can I afford you?" That's about it.

We haven't done so well having women writing material. Several women were involved in last year's crowdfunding efforts, but they didn't get funded, and there is one woman-written project in development but the completion of that one is entirely up to the author. I don't accept many product pitches (backlog is bad enough as it is and resources are stretched to the max, this being small publishing), but I'm always up for receiving pitches that fit in with LotFP no matter who it's from.

Bottom line is that LotFP is a horror game and it's going to show you horrific images and present horrific situations and they're going to involve men, women, and children and absolutely nothing is off the table.

Not even vagina monsters mounting corpses while an Englishman dressed up all Asian-like tries to look away but just can't.

(comments can be left here)