RPG Design: Race and Gender in “Agents of Change”

In May of last year, I took a look back at the photographic art in my Corporia RPG core rulebook, breaking down the numbers of people of various races and gendersAgents of Change final cover

As I mentioned then, “Unlike perhaps 99%+ of published RPGs, I wasn’t using graphic artists or painters to create new art from scratch, in which I could dictate the character model for every piece of art. Instead, to supply the art in Corporia, I relied heavily on actual photographs supplied by various micro-stock photographers around the world (often in Eastern Europe). And because it would have been incredibly cost-prohibitive for me to commission new photographs, setups, and models for each piece of art, I was limited to tracking down just the right blend of existing material from various portfolios.” The same holds true for the last Kickstarter-backed expansion, Agents of Change.

This time, however, I wanted to try to improve my previous record on both gender and race. Let’s see how I did. (Since the page counts are significantly different, I’ve converted the numbers in my last post to percentages.)

  • Corporia core rulebook
  • Men: 56.43 %
  • Women: 43.57%
  • Transgender: 0%
  • Agents of Change
  • Men: 50 % (-6.43% from previous)
  • Women: 41.67% (-1.9%)
  • Transgender: 8.33% (+8.33%)

Looks like the percentage of women (not counting men identifying as women) decreased a bit, though not as much as men – and I was able to add a new transgender character. I’d call that a slight improvement. Now let’s look at race.

  • Corporia core rulebook
  • African-American: 4.29%
  • Asian: 2.86%
  • Caucasian (best guess): 81.43%
  • Hispanic/Latin: 1.43%
  • Other: 0%
  • Unknown (fully clothed, silhouette, etc.): 10%
  • Agents of Change
  • African-American: 15.38% (+11.09% from previous)
  • Asian: 7.69% (+4.83%)
  • Caucasian (best guess): 76.92% (-4.51%)
  • Hispanic/Latin: 0% (-1.43%)
  • Other: 0% (no change)
  • Unknown (fully clothed, silhouette, etc.): 0% (-10%)

Race isn’t as well-balanced as I’d intended, but percentage-wise I suppose you could call this an improvement.

As I said last time, restricting myself by budget, by what was available/realistically possible, and by what I just thought looked cool meant that there was no way I’d be able to reach even a semblance of a perfectly diverse ideal. That’s still the case for Agents of Change, of course, since I wasn’t commissioning every new photo from scratch.

Honestly, I could have improved a few percentage points had I not removed a female Latina character and replaced her with a male Caucasian near the end of the design process, but I chose to use the piece that worked better for the look and feel of the chapter. She’ll no doubt appear in a future expansion.

So, that’s what I did, and how. I haven’t taken the time to compare my work with other published RPGs to see how the percentages stack up, though. Anyone out there know of someone that has tracked gender and race in other RPGs? If so, please let me know!

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