This is Audio EXP for the 30th of January 2021, and the title of this episode is ‘Girl Heroes’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #81]
I hope I’m not calling it early, but I think there’s been a victory. I remember when the phrase “girl gamer” was either used a pejorative or a tokenising dismissal.
It really shouldn’t matter, should it? It should just be “gamer”.
These days, when I see the phrase “girl gamer” it tends to be a hashtag put on content by the creator herself. Often times it is on Twitch or Tiktok. I think it’s a victory as the phrase as been captured, reclaimed and owned.
So, what about “girl heroes”? First up, let’s hope that that never becomes a phrase. I’m using it here to spark conservation about games, computer games, in which the lead character is female.
Marketing research by a bingo site shows that 2021 already has more female-led computer games than in all of 2020.
That’s not a great stat.
Between 2017 and 2018 the amount of PlayStation games with female leads halved, and while 2021 has had a better start, it still has a long way to go to get back to a few years ago.
Xbox, which tends to have fewer games, does worse in terms of ratio of male-led to female-led, but 2021 is at least on track to be the best year.
If we just look at the next-gen platforms, only 21% of Xbox Series X or S games have a female lead, and the PlayStation 5 is 22%.
There’s no genre in which there are more female lead characters than male. The top two are adventure and visual novels, and the worse are racing games and sports games. I suspect those last two are a disappointing reflection on real-life and modern broadcast entertainment.
The majority of computer roleplaying games let you pick your character but, when they don’t, it’s more than twice as likely that you’ll be playing as a man than as a woman.
Right, let’s move on to games where you have full control. It’s the end of the month, and so I’ve published the RPG Publisher Spotlight interview, and it is with Parts Per Million.
If you’re interested in solo RPGs, then Parts Per Million is a publisher to get to know. You’ll find them on DriveThruRPG.
Initially, the company was called PPM, and the founders were Peter, Paul and Marcus. Now it’s Parts Per Million as only Peter is left. It perhaps fits that Peter has gone on to build such a solid reputation for solo RPG projects, he’s done it all himself too.
There’s even a PPM Discord to check out if you’ve questions.
It’s not quite a solo-tool but dScryb caught my attention this week.
It’s a subscription site for GMs and DMs. It gives your flavour text or boxed text as they call it, to read out when you need to describe a room, NPC, item, location or something like that in a game.
There’s a free level of access, but it seems quite restrictive, and you’ll struggle to get much to say for basics like “goblin” or “sword”. Or, you can pay a monthly fee to join and get more.
It costs the same as a streaming platform, so it isn’t cheap, but if describing things is the bane of your role as the GM or is stopping you being a GM in the first place then I see the attraction. It’s also a business model that means the service will get better the more people find it useful. Why? Simply put, it’ll be able to pay writers for more content and therefore have more to give its subscribers.
It’s that subscription model again, that holy grail of the RPG income stream.
There’s a Kickstarter launched this week called Backwater: Southern Gothic Horror which is set in the southern slice of America after the apocalypse.
You can get a PDF or even a hardback of the rulebook, but it’s cheaper, at least, to begin with, to subscribe to one year of online access of the digital rules.
I think the Kickstarter looks good, I’ve not seen much coverage for it which might explain why pledges are a bit lower than I would expect but I have to wonder whether tabletop gamers are a bit wary of subscription models in the hobby.
We’re collectors and want to own our collections, and other subscription models haven’t been a fantastic success. Even Wizards of the Coast tried and failed with DDI.
But, let’s wait and see what happens. I suspect it’s a matter of When not If.
Also, let’s not be too harsh on Wizards of the Coast as I think we can use their Unearthed Arcana to illustrate what a light touch subscription model looks like.
Unearthed Arcana just happens to be free, and the company releases it as playtest content. However, it shows the graduation evolution of D&D 5, and that change over time is a strength.
The latest Unearthed Arcana is out and contains three undead player race options; the Dhampir, Hexblood and Reborn.
Each of three has many different ways that they could have been created, and I think that helps keep the races, or perhaps we should say lineages, helpfully broad.
The headline focus from the Gothic Lineages release isn’t the lineages themselves but the introductory comments on how D&D handles races. This playtest builds on Tasha and absolutely suggests Wizards of the Coast have not finished with their project to rescue D&D from some of the baggage of yesteryear.
Here Be Taverns is a free website that will generate a fantasy tavern for you at the click of a button. It will draw a map, create a menu and NPCs for you.
I’m impressed and recommend checking it out. As ever, you’ll find a link back to the transcript in the show notes, and everything mentioned in the podcast is accessible from there.
I’m not sure whether I’m impressed with the next bit of news or not. As expected, there’s a new trilogy of classic Dragonlance books coming.
New and classic may seem like an oxymoron, but in this case, it means that the classic Dragonlance characters are in the new story.
This might be impressive news because it looked, for a while, that Wizards of the Coast wouldn’t be allowing any more Dragonlance books. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman started legal proceeding to respond to that. So, on the one hand, well done to these wealthy individuals who took on an even wealthier company and won.
On the other hand, the authors roped in concerns about racism and sexism to make this happen. As I said in a previous episode, if you really believe a company as such terrible problems; would you work with them?
Well, neither author will comment further.
Okay, let’s move from that big money clash to some freebies.
The One Page Dungeon Contest for 2020 has now published the results, and it’s a tie for first place. Well done to Stephen Thompson for “Canal City Heist” and P. Aaron Potter for “The Riven Tower”.
It’s good news all around as entries have been published and you can now download 50 free one-page dungeons from the site.
The other bit of free content that made my week is the Spider Chair for Cyberpunk Red. That’s a free DLC from RTG.
In other words, this is the combat wheelchair for cyberpunk, and it’s designed by Sara Thompson, who freelances for RTG, and who designed the initial combat wheelchair for D&D that kicked a month of drama off.
I’m going to swing back to RPGs before the end of the podcast, but I want to make a quick diversion into other geeky entertainment stories.
First up, Felicia Day – of The Guild, Geek and Sundry and many popular TV shows – has narrated her first audiobook. I’m amazed that she’s not done this before. Too busy? I wonder.
The book is Rule of Cool, you can pre-order it now, and it’ll be out on Audible next month.
It’s a LitRPG story which means the mechanics of a roleplaying will be exposed to readers and perhaps characters. Day gives the example of watching your own charisma roll happening as you try to chat with someone at the bar.
Rule of Cool is a story from Matthew Seige and Day reads as Raze, a Non-Participating Citizen goblin. Yeah, an NPC goblin. You know what, today’s the last day on Audible UK in which every purchase you make is chance to win an Echo smart speaker. I’ve just decided to pre-order it myself.
The other bit of entertainment news is Godzilla vs Kong. The trailer for the movie is out. I remember movies.
To say the least; the trailer has sparked some discussion.
There’s a line in it where one of the humans speculates that Godzilla is attacking because he’s angry. What could he be mad about, they wonder.
The internet laughed. If Godzilla represents humanity’s hubris and damage to the natural environment; there’s no shortage of things for the kaiju to be angry about. It might even be quicker to list the things he’s not upset about.
King Kong’s size is the other talking point. He’s a big monkey and towers over buildings he might otherwise have climbed up. Was he always this big, if not, how did he get to this size? Or perhaps the moviemakers won’t address it all.
What do you think? There are kudos for predicting it in advance.
Now, to finish up, let’s get back to RPGs and talk about two charity bundle deals.
In the next day the Layout Level-up! bundle at Itch.io will expire. If you’re quick enough, you’ll get 67 RPGs for $20 there. Every two bundles sold puts some design software in the hands of creators. It’s a good cause.
The other bundle is a traditional Humble Bundle deal. This week the Bundle is hosting the 5th Edition Dungeon Extravaganza. There are system agnostic books in there too. Worth a quick peek, at least. Geek Native lists all the titles to save you a click.
And let’s wrap it there, keep safe, stay out of melee range and see you next week.
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