>Because clearly women don’t have adventures

>[Edited: True20 is the system behind Blue Rose, not Blue Roses.]

All right. So I’m going to shut up about Soul Calibur IV for a while and turn my sights back to tabletop roleplaying for a moment – specifically Green Ronin publishing. Green Ronin has published some pretty popular games like Mutants & Masterminds, Blue Roses, and the new Dragon Age RPG. Still, they command a much smaller piece of the RPG pie than either Wizards or Paizo.

Now, the problematic trend that Green Ronin displays with their products isn’t so much about cheesecake as it is about representation. Witness, the True20 cover – the system behind their popular Blue Rose RPG:

Check it out! She’s got clothes on! And pants! And isn’t overly sexualized! Which is great and awesome, but she’s also outnumbered three to one by male figures. And Green Ronin doesn’t really try to even the score with the covers of their True20 supplements either:


So out of 21 figures on these five covers, only 6 are women. 7 if you want to be charitable and call the ninja a woman since the gender is ambiguous. That means that women account for between just over a quarter (uncharitable) and a third (charitable) of figures on these covers. Which, for a system that touts itself as being about “adventure roleplaying” is very disappointing. So, women don’t go on adventures? (And yes the female Indiana Jones has a ridiculous case of sphere-boobs that are bigger than her head. Whatever. We’ve seen worse, so… moving on.)

It gets even worse when you look at the covers of Mutants & Masterminds products:


Out of 30 figures with a discernable gender, only 7 of them are female! That’s even LESS than a quarter! And of the seven female figures, only two of them could be called focal to the illustration – as opposed to the True20 covers where at least the female figures had equal weight with the male figures in terms of cover real estate.

Now, Green Ronin is known as a fairly “trad” publisher, and trad gaming isn’t always the friendliest place for women. But still – it’s hard not to look at these covers and get the message that these are games for telling stories about MEN. Men having MANLY ADVENTURES. Which is kind of sad. I love superheroes, and I love adventure stories, but the exclusion leaves me kind of cold here.

5 thoughts on “>Because clearly women don’t have adventures

  1. >Anna,I'm having a different reaction to these covers than you are. At least, the True20 ones.I see at least one female hero on EVERY SINGLE COVER that you linked.With True20, three covers feature women who are awesome and heroic (pirate lady, martial arts lady, robo-angel). One features a lady who's just passively sitting around (red dress). The final cover features two sexified ladies, but at least they're still both actively doing cool stuff.In those True20 covers, there are 2 scantily-clad ladies and 1 scantily-clad man.A female hero on every single cover, and an empowered badass chick more often than not. That seems like conscientious and intentional art direction, to me.Would it be more awesome if there was an even-handed mix of male and female heroes on those covers? Yes! But I think that True20 is a good example of "a step in the right direction." It seems like they're closer to the mark than most of the rpg industry.I dunno. That's what I'm seeing. I'm seeing a company whose art direction includes images of female heroes on every single cover.

  2. >Joe: True20 at least is definitely a step in the right direction. It's true that with the exception of Red Dress, I wouldn't call any of these ladies insipid or passive. However, what you have a consistent trend of under-representation across a line of products. Furthermore, there is not a single male figure on any of these covers wearing anything that I would call suggestive, while there are three female characters that I would say are showing enough skin to be called suggestive. That's certainly a far cry from other publishers, but if there's going to be sexualized characters then I'd like them to be balanced along gender lines. (And also not have big fake boobs like Female Indiana Jones) Is it as bad as a lot of other stuff out there? No. But the fact that there is a consistent trend warrants pointing out.Mutants and Masterminds is much harder to defend. Out of the five covers, only one has a female character in anything approaching a focal role – the rest have female characters in background roles only. With the True20 covers I can look at those and say "they're definitely making an effort", but I can't say that when I look at the M&M covers. Looking at them through the lens of having studied fine arts, the size and placement of the female characters on the M&M clearly indicates that women play only a very small part in fighting evil in the M&M world. Also, the characters showing the most skin on the M&M covers are female.

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