Gamebooks and racism

Gamebooks ought to inherently be the most inclusive medium on the planet. The hero of each story is YOU, the reader, regardless of skin colour, gender, social class, or anything else.

And yet gamebooks are a microcosm of the problems that the west in particular faces.

The fantasy tropes that have formed so much of the bedrock of this craft are ultimately inspired by British myths as a general rule, in which almost all characters are Caucasian men. But the world has changed since those myths emerged.

I’ve always been quite aware of gender when I’m writing, and in The Altimer and New Gaia I also intentionally gave particularly influential characters African names. I’d love to rest on my laurels at this point, and yet I’m aware that in Escape From Portsrood Forest I (again intentionally) dived heavily into the classic high fantasy archetypes.

I’m aware that as a white, British man it’s easy for me to wash my hands of the whole thing as if it’s not my problem, but with privilege comes responsibility and the fact that the heroes (and powerful villains) I read about as a child looked somewhat like me I’m sure built an unconscious worldview that makes me look down on other people.

So this is me saying publicly:

  • I believe that all of humanity is created in the image of God, therefore worthy of honour and celebration in its rich and complex diversity, like the intricate arrangement of different colour pixels that go together to make up a beautiful and fantastical landscape on a screen.
  • I’m aware that I hold unconscious biases, and commit to doing what I can to promote diversity through my work in every way that occurs to me (I invite suggestions at this point, by the way!)
  • I humbly challenge the rest of us – particularly white men, however difficult the label of “privileged” may be to relate to – to speak up.