For this week’s update, the Acting Staff at NISEI would like to welcome you to Real Talk™, a series of articles where we do a deep dive on each of the teams. Up first, a topic very important to the foundation of NISEI: the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Team.
FFG have left us a legacy of a diverse and inclusive game which has attracted a diverse and inclusive community. Characters who are gender non-conforming (Quetzal), transgender (Nero), people with diverse ethnicities and races (Noise, Kate, Freedom… we could go on), people with diverse sexualities (Sunny), an equal balance of male and female presenting characters… Few other games have this level of diversity in their casts. It’s a cyberpunk future where we get to see India, where top execs are just as likely to be any kind of person, where everyone is just accepted for who they are. This, obviously, does not perfectly translate across to the player base but it sets us up for success in our goal of equality, diversity, and inclusion. Representation matters, and whoever you are, you will be able to see some part of yourself in the game Android: Netrunner.
As we transition from FFG created content (both in terms of cards and community steering) to NISEI created content, it is the aim of the Acting Staff, the Selection Committee, and we hope, The Board, that we build on FFG’s foundation and continue to make Netrunner diverse, representative, and accessible. We wanted to take this opportunity to discuss and unpack some important points and provide an insight into where we are coming from.
Economic accessibility of the game will naturally increase as we move away from mandatory use of official cards and acceptance of proxies. Travel costs will be reduced as the community increasingly hosts events on Jinteki.net.
In addition there could be real life implications for having a diverse Board and staff. Typically it’s minorities who miss out on career opportunities due to structural oppression. As a voluntary, community lead endeavour, we have the chance to help people bolster their CVs and experience with opportunities which may not be easily accessible out in the real world.
Here are some questions you might have and our answers.
Why does it have to be all political, can’t we just play Netrunner? Can we not just stop arguing about this stuff and play?
Games are never free of politics. They are developed in a political society, and Netrunner especially has strong political themes throughout the plot. If you agree with something’s political content and context, you are much more likely to gloss over it and think that it isn’t political.
When someone says they don’t want to argue or get into a debate on why diversity and inclusion is important, what is meant is “I value my comfort over the comfort of the people you are trying to help” and we don’t have any patience for that.
If you like the flavour of Netrunner and the diversity of the characters, chances are good that you will like a more diverse community. If you are ambivalent about the diversity of characters, then you’re likely to be ambivalent about the demographics of the community. If you dislike the diversity in the game, well, it’s not going to change and we expect tolerance and kindness at the least.
Only sensitive snowflakes are bothered by issues of inclusion in gaming aren’t they?
By making Netrunner accessible we increase the player base and make it a better game because we have more opponents and bigger tournaments. Something is accessible if people have access to it. People have access to something if there are no barriers between them and it. Barriers can consist of a wide variety of things, from physical to cognitive to economic to perception. The Force Awakens was such a groundbreaking success because it said to little girls: you can be the space hero too. Same goes for the representation of Mexicans on mainstream media in Rogue One. Representation matters because humans need to conform – we need to see that we can do something in order to be able to do it.
It’s actually ok – more than ok! – to be nice to each other.
You’re stopping my freeze peach (saying I don’t want women in my game is my right of free speech).
Sure. You can say it. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that we have to listen to you, give you a platform, or cater to you in our events or spaces. We will use our free speech to tell you we think you’re wrong and call you out.
We will concede that in order to put a more diverse cast on the stage, the majority in play will have to make space. Yes, you will have less control of the conversation and the game and the environment in which we participate. However you don’t get to be sad about that when, if we multiplied the non straight-cis-white-male players by 10, they’d still be outnumbered practically 10-1. If you can’t cope with that, you need to go back to Primary school and learn to share.
Hey, you declined my incredibly sexed-up Chaos Theory/Hayley/Geist/Apex alt art, what gives?? Sex is just part of human nature.
OK, sure, sex is natural and a lot of people like it. Y’know what else is natural? Pooping in the corner and dying of something horribly painful before the age of thirty.
While there is certainly room for sexual topics to be addressed in the Android universe – as seen in Adonis Campaign, Eliza’s Toybox, etc. – we think FFG made a good decision in not making the game itself sexual. Sexual content makes some players uncomfortable and may drive them away. The absence of sexual content is not noted for driving people away.
I’ve never seen any of these problems, so they must be fake.
That’s really great, we’re glad you haven’t. However, some of us have never seen Australia, but we’re all pretty sure we believe the world champ when he says that’s where he’s from.
I know women/POC/disabled people who play OR I know women/POC/disabled people who aren’t bothered by any of this, so why are you making such a big deal of it?
The people you know who’s opinions you have canvassed do not represent these groups as a whole. Just because one woman doesn’t want to play doesn’t mean every woman doesn’t. Believe it or not there are are people very much like you, reader, who have no interest in Netrunner – but obviously that cannot be applied to whatever group you’re a part of as an entirety.
If someone feels marginalised, unwelcome, or oppressed in a group, they are highly unlikely to speak up about it. If someone didn’t want to come to your local meta’s meet up because they didn’t feel like they belong there, it’s probably much easier for them to just say they aren’t interested than to go into detail about why they don’t feel welcome.
If you have any questions or concerns that we haven’t covered here, please get in touch and we will do everything we can to answer. You can find us on Twitter, Stimhack, and Slack. In the future we would also like to share an article with tips and ideas on how to increase diversity and improve inclusion and equality in your meta and online spaces. If you have anything we could share with the community we’d also like to hear from you!
That’s it. You’ve made a successful run on this article. Until next time: spread this around, keep yourself jacked in, and Always Be Running.
The Weekly Sweep
- The Selection Committee continues their review of applicants for the leadership roles. The selection will be finalized by next Friday. Once appointment has been confirmed with the chosen leaders, the announcement will follow close behind!
- The Stimhack Online Cache Refresh Tournament starts on August 5th. Check out the thread on Stimhack for further details!
- Ben Schapiro and Reed Wilson have put together a Netrunner Census – a short and anonymous survey put together as a pet project from the Chicago meta. It’s just for fun to get an idea of who makes up the Netrunner community. If you are at all interested, check it out – there is even a raffle! If you have any questions, please reach out to Reed.