Interest in role-playing games has been on the rise since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The growing player base is stimulating discussion about why inclusive games are important and how they can help people carve out space in the real world.
“Humans are, by nature, storytellers,” he says. Lee Hibbard, colleague Marion L. Brittain’s postdoctoral studies in College of Arts, Media and Communication. “And since people were people, we found ways to entertain ourselves.”
Hibbard studies how people talk about their identities and share them with others. A lot of this comes down to storytelling, he explains. Humans love sharing stories because it’s how we connect with each other and find common ground. In video games, role-playing, and board games like Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), storytelling comes to life in an interactive way that doesn’t match movies, television shows, and books.
“Toys are a big marker of identity formation, especially for young people, because they give you the opportunity to pick up things, play with them, and try things for fun,” Hibbard says. “It’s a less risky opportunity to experiment with yourself and other people, and it’s a great way to get to know yourself.”
Interest in these types of games has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic One study Reports indicate that online searches for D&D have increased by 85% since 2020. Beyond playing the games themselves, fans spend millions of hours annually on Twitch and YouTube watching players’ adventures in these fantasy worlds. Hibbard says the growing interest and growing player base is stimulating discussion about the importance of inclusion in such places.
In the following Q&A, Hibbard discusses why inclusive games are important and how they can help people in marginalized communities claim space in the real world.
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