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Depictions
Dragon's-Eye View
Jon Schindehette

A couple of weeks ago I waded into the discussion of sexism in fantasy. For those who asked: I expected to get a lot of feedback. If I hadn't wanted to have a discussion about the issue, I wouldn't have addressed it at all. Now, did I address everyone's concerns? Heck no. Remember, I had promised that I was going to ask a lot of questions and ask for your feedback. I only wanted to start the conversation . . . and what a conversation it has been!

Well, I promised that I would follow up, and I try to follow through on my commitments. So here I am, bringing the conversation back around to the topic of gender depictions in fantasy. I'd like to start today's conversation with a recognition of everyone's involvement in the past discussion on sexism. It appears that a lot of you took me at my word and shared your thoughts on how genders should be depicted. I really appreciate the fact that you took your time and energy to do so. I also appreciate that most folks didn't write flaming comments to folks who took the time to express their opinions. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how we can have a discussion on the web. Crazy idea, huh? By the way, I have a pile of comments on my desk, and it's over three inches tall! I received a lot of comments!

So how do we proceed from here? Well, let me begin by telling you some cool developments. The conversations that have been happening on and around the Dragon's-Eye View articles have not gone unnoticed. They have started wonderful conversations within the walls of Wizards of the Coast as well. Those discussions have created a unified stance from the folks that are tasked with supporting this great game. We are determined to create a high standard of excellence for D&D. For me, that relates to the visual side of the house. So I will be working with you, and my partners within the walls, to create a set of guidelines that will shape the way our tabletop RPG develops.

You started the ball rolling by providing me with your input on what guidelines should be adopted. So let me start this next phase of discussion off by picking some of the guidelines you shared that I would like to see us champion. In addition, I'll probably be writing additional articles in the future to ask for additional input on the development of the guidelines.

Suggested List of Guidelines

  • Evoke the feel of the world.
  • Context matters.
  • Depict genders fairly and with equal frequency.
  • Show a variety of body types.
  • Avoid stereotypes.
  • Depictions should be appropriate to (in the setting) cultural context and roles. (Examples: armor, weapons.)
  • Realistic poses.
  • Depict a range of (in the setting) ethnicities.
  • Fewer "perfect people."

This is just a start. I'd also like to have discussions that focus on violence and gore, style consistency, and a bunch of other subjects that might work their way into these guidelines. Did I miss something that you think is important? Is there something you disagree with? Spell it out in the comments below and let me know what you think. Again, please don't use the comments section to argue with someone else's point of view. I applaud you all for doing so well with the sexism topic, and I want to see if we can repeat that experience.

In the meantime, here's a poll that asks the question about what rating you'd want to apply to D&D art if D&D art had a film rating. Think of the in-world equivalent to these ratings and decide if you'd want that in your art and at your table.

 D&D should be rated _____.  
G: General Audiences
PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
R: Restricted

Last Week's Poll Results

Which [owlbear] do you prefer?
Track 2 owlbear 1668 60.7%
Track 1 owlbear 807 29.4%
The original owlbear 158 5.8%
Other (describe in the comments section) 114 4.1%
Total 2747 100.0%

Jon Schindehette
Jon Schindehette joined Wizards of the Coast in 1997 as the website art director. In the intervening years he has worked as the marketing art director, novels art director, and creative manager. In January of 2009 he moved into the role of senior creative director for D&D. Jon is a long time D&D player (started in 1978), and currently plays in a Tuesday night game and DMs a random pick-up game for younger players. He can be found on Twitter (@ArtOrder) and at theartorder.com.
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