Genre, Gender, Race and Inclusiveness (in Tianxia)

I am browsing the book for Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade, and found a page I really like. This is always the case, because the game takes place in the imagination, but it is nice to hear it be presented up front.

Genre, Gender, Race and Inclusiveness

By default, Tianxia’s setting is more inclusive
than Imperial-era China but it still presumes a
fair amount of similarity with that period. Thus
gender roles are less defined and non-heterosexual
orientation is less polarizing, but there are still
certain vague expectations. However, this need
not be the case.

GMs can tailor gender roles, attitudes towards
sexual orientation, and social expectations based
around these factors as much as they like. Women
warriors are hardly uncommon in Tianxia as is, but
they can be made even more common if you like.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered characters
already exist and are generally accepted by many,
but their level of acceptance can match or even
exceed what we see in modern society, if desired.
Do whatever is most fun and enables play. In fact, a
fairly famous wuxia movies series, the Swordsman
Trilogy, revolves around a skilled warrior who learns
incredibly powerful martial arts, resulting in the
character switching genders from male to female as
their internal energies transform their body. So, not
only are these ideas totally fine on their own, they
are supported by the media that inspires Tianxia.

Likewise, the default Tianxia setting presumes
the vast majority of people are of East Asian
ethnicities roughly matching those of China. This
is reflected in the art, names, and other setting
elements. That does not mean you cannot populate
the Shénzhōu setting with people of all ethnic
backgrounds; in fact, it will not break anything to
make characters white, black, or even reframe the
whole setting as nothing but anthropomorphic
animals. Such changes might alter the feel of the
setting somewhat, but not necessarily for the
worse. You can find support for such ideas in the
inspirational media, with movies like Man with
the Iron Fists presenting characters of various
ethnicities. There is even another role-playing game,
Jadeclaw, where the PCs are all anthropomorphic
animals in a setting similar to Tianxia’s.

Genderqueer parenting

Oakland Local has an article about Mothership Hackermoms. I love reading about them! Since I wrote about it I’ve had a lot of interesting discussions, and there is an emerging pattern that I wanted to talk about.

When I explain why I think Mothership is a great idea, and how I have feelings of not belonging, many people immediately tell me, “There are networks for dads, too!” I am sure there are, even though I’ve never sought them out. I didn’t articulate it when I was criticizing Father’s Day, but the reason I don’t embrace being a father is because I am not a father. That is an identity that is tied to a cocktail of gender and expectations, and I don’t subscribe to it. I am also not a mother. And while we are on the subject, I have all kinds of privileges because of how I look, and despite not wanting to participate in this system, I have a responsibility to consider those who are marginalized by it.

It is difficult for me to explain why I am genderqueer, because how I feel and how I am perceived are far apart to the casual observer. I will expand on that in a future post, complete with charts (no joke!). In my daily life, I cringe when people call me dad, and I feel alienated when groups of parents split into binary gaggles of gendered roles.

I am a parent. I care for a child.

Desura; age and gender fields

I just sent this message to the Desura team.


I was wondering if someone could explain to me the decisions to have gender and age a required field to have an account.

It is of concern to me, since the only options for gender are male and female, which implies gender binary.

Also, it seems odd that one is unable to make those fields private.

I think making them both optional and being able to toggle visibility is the best practice for these kinds of sites.

So, please take a small moment to get back to me on this. I otherwise enjoy using Desura, and as a GNU/Linux gamer, it fills the void that other gaming platforms have left. I also applaud you for your DRM-free stance. I even prefer to use Desura for FLOSS games that I could install through my native package manager or I want to tell all my friends to get on here, but those fields are holding me back.

Will report back their reply. ^_^

Update (Apr 26), from Henley:

I am really not sure on the issue here, we are a game development site and a game sales site. We do not have anything other then that choice on the profile it makes little to no difference to anything else on the site aside from stats so we can better understand our community and what audience is. You can choose to make the profile public or not, in the end you cannot search by it and you cannot define a member by it.

As far as I can tell you are either Male or Female, unless you choose to change that yourself which this site does not have anything to do with. We have social aspects to our site but they are far from our main concern. If that one particular issue is stopping you from recommending this to your friends I really have no words for that.

I have a lot to reply, but I am dealing with this other thing, so it will have to wait until tomorrow or something.

Update (Apr 28), I reply:

Thanks for replying.

[quote=Henley]As far as I can tell you are either Male or Female, unless you choose to change that yourself which this site does not have anything to do with. [/quote]

I am glad you are putting that forth, and am happy to provide you with resources about gender binary. Please see I think that will provide a good starting point as to what gender means, and how you can improve Desura with this new found knowledge.

[quote=Henley]You can choose to make the profile public or not, in the end you cannot search by it and you cannot define a member by it. [/quote]

I am not sure what you mean by the “define a member”, because that is what the field currently does, but I will assume it is a technical issue you are referring to. As for the profile status, I want to point out a sensitive issue you’ve brought up. The choice I am given, if I do not fit the two choices you’ve given me, is to hide my profile. That is worrisome for two reasons.

First, it sends the message that if I don’t follow the normal values, then I should hide. I think we can all agree that isn’t what we want to encourage folks to do.

Second, it diminishes the value of the social layer built into Desura, since my profile (as I understand it) would be hidden from my friends.

With that said, as a developer, I would like to provide you with a resource on how to handle this. A core developer in the Drupal community contributed this conversation, which goes over how they modified the gender profile fields there: Note that their gender field is optional, as well.

Another notable example is from a core developer for Diaspora, and they go into great detail in describing why their gender field is a text field:

[quote=Henley]If that one particular issue is stopping you from recommending this to your friends I really have no words for that. [/quote]

I will be honest, I feel that your response was heavy handed, considering the tone I’ve tried to initiate. I understand this is a sensitive issue, and it may pull up feelings of defensiveness and misunderstanding. However, I think that if we take the time to think about the other person’s point-of-view, we can have useful and helpful conversation.

I have many friends that are gamers, and would like to use Desura, but they do not fit the options that you’ve made as requirements. Even if there is a technical reason that you cannot change the gender field to fit a modern understanding of it, I would think that it is relatively easy to allow for form validation without gender (and age, please see being required. Allowing me to opt-out from providing that information would tremendously help me personally, and allow my friends to use Desura with a minimal amount of complication.

Thanks for taking the time to read this! ^_^

I edited the blockquotes so it is easier to see my citing Henley, since my blog doesn’t use bbcode. Also, I had to edit the links in the actual posting, since I am not yet allowed to send URLs in messages (for spam prevention, a good idea). Also, I went ahead and created the links here, for convenience. Otherwise, it is the same as the message I just sent. It is my hope they will take the time to read up on those issues, and at the very least create a discussion internally as to how handle the profile fields.