Let's see the results of the Genderplay II Edition: numbers of the event, topics covered, questions still open and comments on the role-playing games tested.

Saturday 15nd June, in Bologna, the Genderplay II Edition!

After the success of the very first Genderplay, which was attended by nearly fifty people trying many interesting games, let's see i results of the Genderplay II Edition!

At the event, which started at 18pm and ended at midnight (but in the end we dragged on almost until XNUMXam!) forty participants. The numbers remained stable both at the initial conference and the subsequent role-playing game session. Many participants were faces already known from the first Genderplay, but we also had many newcomers!

The guests invited to speak at the initial conference were: Claudia Pandolfi, Giulia Cursi and Francesco Rugerfred Sedda from Women, Dice & Data, Helios Pu of Helios Games and Pietro Guermandi de The Guild.

Thanks to Francesco Rugerfred Sedda, we also have the video of the Genderplay! You find it here!

Genderplay Results: the Sagas of the Icelanders table
Genderplay Results: the Sagas of the Icelanders table

Results of the Genderplay II Edition: security at the gaming table

The 18pm conference began by talking about the event that, in recent weeks, has sparked an uproar in our community: the scene of group rape not called to an English convention, which we talked about here.

Strong topics at conventions: examples and debates

After a quick summary of the story, our guests have commented on the fact, focusing particularly on how conventions deal with difficult issues in role-playing games.

It was noted that the UK Games Expo had even organized a training course for those wishing to master by presenting the games. Therefore, anyone who proposed gang rape without first warning the players has no excuse: he ignored all the security rules for the shock value alone. Not to mention the fact that you're playing with strangers and strangers, whose background he knew nothing about.

In a second moment, however, there was talk of how in other conventions it has gone too far with emotional security. Indeed, in the world con 75, was unable to play A Home for the Old (of the story we speak here!), role-playing game created by specialists to deal with the issue of Alzheimer's. In this case, this restriction was considered excessive, since, although the game dealt with delicate and potentially disturbing themes, it would have led to specialists aware of the dangers and attentive to the safety of the players.

In fact, a fundamental thing to keep in mind, as the speakers have pointed out, is that in the role-playing game we can talk about heavy issues, but we must do it in an informed, safe and respectful way of the other players.

Security tools: x-card, session 0 and other mechanics

Our guests have, at this point, talked about the strategy with which you can maintain a safe climate during the games.

Although everyone appreciated using the X-card, it was agreed that this method is rather rudimentary, for various reasons. First, the x-card comes into play when the damage has been done, that is, when those who play have already been faced with issues to which they are sensitive and have already felt uncomfortable. And although the x-card can be a good lifesaver, breaking the flow of narration it is not always ideal. Surely though, the x-card is fundamental in fairs and when playing with strangers.

More interesting are, however, certain mechanical entered directly into the games, including LARP. These mechanics, still not particularly widespread, allow you to control more the topics covered in the role-playing game and avoid unpleasant situations at the root. For example, in the LARP Marcellos kjeller, which speaks of mafia, the players can avoid playing bloody scenes and murders that repel them by saying "Mario will take care of it". Mario, in this case, is an anonymous PNG that will do, silently, everything that the player does not feel comfortable dealing with.

Finally, the importance of session 0 as a moment of recollection in which you decide which topics to deal with (or not to address!) in the role-playing game.

Role-playing gatekeeping: when is it needed and when is it not needed?

At the end of the conference, there was talk of when it may be necessary to exclude someone from the game table. A very thorny topic in our community, as has often been seen. Unfortunately, there was not much time to explore the topic, but some interesting considerations emerged.

First, it has been noticed how safespace such as The Guild or LGBT + themed events (we talked about it here!) have allowed some people to play feeling more secure. For example, it was pointed out that, at an explicitly queer roleplaying evening in a game room, a person who frequented the place for a long time for the first time felt confident enough to reveal that she prefers to be called female, where before she had always called herself male.

Secondly, it has been reflected on how certain board or live role-playing games that deal with particularly heavy issues are not recommended for certain types of people. If you are too prone to triggers, too immature or too toxic, playing such delicate games could be a problem. Therefore, in these cases the exclusion or selection of players is a safety issue.

In general, it was agreed that the issue of gatekeeping is very complex and that we need to make a more detailed discussion on this.

The Nightwitches table!
The table of Nightwitches!

Results of the Genderplay II Edition: proven role-playing games!

After the conference, one of the best results of the Genderplay II Edition is certainly having been able to try many nice interesting role-playing games. With varying degrees of seriousness, all these role-playing games put participants in front of potentially sensitive topics. So they have been good ground for putting security strategies into practice previously discussed.

How did the two lighter and more relaxed games go?

Sexy Time Adventures, a deliberately demented and satirical game about sexist stereotypes in fantasy, yes previously decided which topics to avoid. Thanks to this initial brainstorming, all sexual references to minors were kept out of the session.

At the Big Gay Orcs table, a game that is always crazy, but potentially also very gloomy, two people used to role-playing games and two people who had never tried it. Let's hear what the facilitator of the table, Claudia Pandolfi, says:

First I asked which were the pronouns with which they preferred to speak to them (and the adhesive labels of the Guild have facilitated this moment).

BGO is a very ironic, comic game, which plays on the clichés of the macho male and the homosexual male, and I didn't consider the X-card necessary. However, before I started the session, I asked players if there were any themes that they certainly wouldn't want to touch in the game and told them that they could stop me or other people at the table at any time, for any reason.

For the duration of the session I kept playful and light tones, letting the inputs on how deeply going in the sexiest or most violent scenes came from who was playing them.

I hope the people who played with me felt safe and enjoyed themselves!

How did they go Bluebeard's Bride e Sagas of the Icelanders?

Being not really very light games, Bluebeard's Bride e Dream Askew probably need more attention. Fortunately, however, everything went smoothly.

Giulia Cursi, who was the Keeper of Bluebeard's Bride, tells about some precautions he has taken:

When I arrived at the Bluebeard's Bride table I asked the names of those present and I presented the game.

I asked if they wanted to keep things out of the game and use the X-Card. I said that being a game very much in the hands of the Keeper and dealing with heavy issues, I would have made sure not to bring up the subjects that had bothered and that I would not have gone into horrendous descriptions for free.

The X-Card was on the table but was not used.

Le plates with the guild pronouns they also made school among the players of Sagas of the Icelanders! Domenico, their master, tells:

In general, I think the session proceeded a bit slowly because I wanted to understand a little about how they were in the setting.

For safety, the players * had a genius: they had a small plate with the name and the wording of the pronoun they preferred to be used towards them.

The Big Gay Orcs table!
The table of Big Gay Orcs!

Genderplay II Edition Results: What Do We Want to See in the Future?

Surely, there is a lot more to say and think about, than what we could talk about in thehour and a half of conference.

In fact, despite the time, the conference literally flew away in the blink of an eye. There was so much to say and elaborate on that literally we could have devoted a whole day of speeches to just this topic. Unfortunately, however, our time has been limited, so Genderplay can be a good time to introduce people to these security mechanics and topics. The hope is that then people will deepen the topics dealt with independently.

So, let's see what some of our speakers have to say about the issues that we have not been able to investigate!

Francesco Rugerfred Sedda's comment: we need to talk more about security mechanics and the sense of "normalization"

We have not dealt with the discourse of fear that some have in using the safe word, therefore, use and defects should be analyzed affordances of this technique. This is a complex topic and is already being discussed in the Nordic scene.

We should then make a speech on the meaning of "Normalization" of certain themes or certain behaviors. Even very progressive and open-minded people tended to mistakenly understand "normalization" as "turning people into normal".

I would then like to talk specifically about the old posters of Broken Lands, which normalize a certain attitude, regardless of whether they are ironic manifestos. Irony is not the point of the question, the point is: what are you making normal by doing this kind of humor? Terre Spezzate's approach is replacing security in LARP with escalation mechanics the hardness with which you play. But in the meantime, they don't have mechanics that decrease the rawness of the game: they only have one pedal to accelerate and not one to brake. Unfortunately, in the meantime, in Terre Spezzate they are also rowing against the "classic" security mechanics in LARP, which unfortunately is harmful.

Finally, I think you can play games on everything, but you have to define the why and the "wherefore" these games are made. Role play can be more than just escapism. A distinction should then be made between games "serious"(Which is a term I hate, but anyway), and training / educational games. The latter are not always games played by volunteers, but often play them as school classes or for team building. It would be absolutely useful to also equip these games with safety mechanics.

For completeness, we report that we have been pointed out that the Terre Spezzate regulation actually provides for security systems to stop the game. The regulation can be read here and the safety systems are also reported in the comment by Francesco Pagliasco, visible at the end of the article.

Claudia Pandolfi's comment: interesting ideas and new reflections

This second Genderplay, even more than the first, really gave me confirmation that time is relative. There was so much to be said about safety at the gaming table, and so many interesting ideas were given by all the speakers present, that the meeting seemed very short to me, too short!

But I think this is also part of the game. Indeed, having a little taste of something intriguing, which requires cold-minded reflections and which will find its full development at a later time. Maybe at the next session with the historical group, maybe at a demo during a fair, or maybe at the next Genderplay!

But a pebble from the shoe I want to take it off, responding to the provocation on discrimination launched by Vate in conclusion to the meeting. For those who were not there, in short, Helios Pu said (I go to memory!) That it is thanks to discrimination if the human being has evolved over the centuries. So he survived what was harmful to him because he was increasingly able to recognize it, to distinguish good food from poisonous food, for example. Or, man survived by discriminating. So discrimination is not such a wrong social practice.

True, the act itself of discriminating, choosing the suitable and most appropriate reaction to distinct events, the behavior appropriate to different situations, has nothing negative. What deserves to be questioned is rather the step preceding the discriminatory act, that is the division of human beings into discriminable social categories.

Because it is easy to understand and share the reasons behind the fear of a poisonous plant. But it is not the same as grasping the need to fear and therefore discriminate against a person because they have white rather than black skin. Either because he loves individuals of the same sex as opposed to the opposite sex or for infinite other potential reasons. Because she is bald instead of having a thick head of hair, because she prefers to wear black instead of showing off different colors, because she loves jazz.

Finally, during this Genderplay the theme of gate keeping. Who knows, maybe it could be an interesting topic for the next edition?

Helios Pu's comment: proposals to improve the next editions

Unfortunately, Genderplay seemed to me too short.

Here are some of his proposals to improve it:

  • I think you need the definition of a common vocabulary. Not for sterile taxonomy but to improve the flow of communication. Both inwards and outwards. Minimum game-related vocabulary. A minimal vocabulary related to project design. Minimum vocabulary related to the LGBTQ world (of which I see that the standard for writing it changes depending on who uses it).
  • For a possible future edition I would not see a bad one much longer time span, with half an hour dedicated to collecting the written and anonymous feedback of the participants (an online survey would be better but people do it only if they receive a prize at the end) so I would say that a final GDR model leaflet in the dark could be enough. This would increase engagement and provide guidelines for the future.
  • Credo You DO NOT NEED to draw up a manifesto of intent. For the man in the street (to whom I would personally like to address) the posters are anachronistic and cloaked in a "political" aura in the most negative sense of the term.
The (sober) table of Sexy-time Adventures
The (sober) table of Sexy Time Adventures

Future projects: what will the next Genderplay be like?

Genderplay is a project organized by AICS Bologna (and in particular from David Quartucci), and as such it must always be inserted in one social utility frame. The first Genderplay, for example, was part of a project against violence against women. Otherwise, the second Genderplay is included in the Bologna summer activity review.

Belonging to these macro-projects allows the Genderplay to exist and be able to be hosted at the House of Associations of Baraccano, but it also means that, from time to time, we have to adapt to these frames. In these two editions, it was considered possible to make contained eventsat least in terms of time, since it was not known how many people would actually participate.

However, the results of the Genderplay II Edition and the first Genderplay are clear. At the first Genderplay we had almost fifty participants, despite the fact that it was a niche event. The second Genderplay attracted forty people despite the fact that it was held, unfortunately, on the same date as the fantastic Free RPG Day (which we talked about here!).

Potentially, there are numbers to organize something bigger, which lasts longer and which allows everyone to be able to discuss delicate issues with the necessary timescales. And AICS Bologna, with the collaboration of us Seekers, is planning how to do it.

With the two Genderplay we have moved the waters. We are ready to raise the bar.

Thank you all, all and all * for participating and for giving us the push to go on!