I intended to make this post about how dumb cred checks are, but – as I started writing – it became clear that I needed to dive into my own personal struggle with cred checks. With that foundation in place, I’ll spend some time next week discussing ways that cred checks is harming the hobby. And how we can eliminate them.
Okay. I know I’m a geek. I love RPGs. I’ve been playing them for half of my life and look forward to playing them for all of the remaining years I have left on this planet. And, if heaven is a place, I suspect I’ll be rolling dice in the afterlife. But, every time I sit down at the table, I struggle with the trueness of my devotion to RPGs a.k.a. my “cred.”
If I don’t know a rule or how a spell works, I immediately start to wonder: Do the people around me see this as proof that I’m “just a girlfriend.” Logically, I know this is ridiculous. Logically, I am aware that most people don’t think that about anyone, let alone about me. Yet, there it is. This persistent undercurrent of self doubt that whispers, “You’re not geeeeek enough to be at this table. Everyone is juuuudging you.”
I’d love to to blame it on general self-esteem issues, but – if you know me – you know I’ve got no shortage of confidence. That unrelenting stream of doubt is just not a thing.
So: Where’s it come from?
Years of being told that, because I’m a girl, I don’t know shit about games.
Back when I worked retail for WotC, I’d have dudes come in several times a week a point-blank ask me if we had someone around who actually knew about these D&D books. Um, yeah, dickface. Me.
When I run games at conventions and gamedays, I’m often treated as a novelty. I’ll admit to being a bit of an attention whore, so the occasional, “Dudes! Did you see that chick running Mutants and Masterminds back there?!” is kind of flattering. But you know what’s not? Being treated like I’m not smart enough to write and run games.
I’ve been asked if my husband made the pregens for me? If I actually wrote an adventure? Yes, jackass. I did.
Usually I can hand-wave that BS and go on with my RPG-loving life, but it catches up with me at the weirdest times. We’re playing Pathfinder right now and my character is a bard. I’ve never played a bard in 3.x, so I’ve got a lot of questions. When I have to ask, “What’s the difference between spells known and spells/day?” I get this pit in my stomach. “What if they think I’m dumb?” or “Man, I can’t ask my husband to explain it or I’m going to look like a fake.”
None of this has discouraged my love of RPGs. Instead, they’ve served to bolster my passion. It’s driven me to create #RPGchat, engage with the greater RPG community, and run all kinds of games at conventions and gamedays. And, man, with the number of women I see playing games and running games increase, I can see the tide turning.
Most importantly: Every time I play, I’m fighting off that self-doubt created by years of ridiculous cred checks and, I’m happy to report, I’m winning.