If you make roleplaying games, you’re creating something for people to play. To engage with, experience, and share. But something I hear frequently from women in the gaming industry is their discomfort with self-promotion. I understand that, but it’s a discomfort we have to leave behind—as women and as professionals. If you’re uncomfortable with putting yourself out there, this is an important thing to discuss with yourself and with peers who are good at it.
Tabletop games aren’t a solely static medium, and a number of fans and peers will follow the products and social media of other people making games. Whether you’re a designer, artist, writer, or project manager, your role can be improved by people knowing you. People like hiring and supporting people they know. It’s not just nepotism, it’s about knowing what they’re getting when they send you a contract.
No one can buy a game if they don’t know it exists and so self-promotion can make or break your success. I see my male peers constantly put themselves out there, seeking feedback openly, introducing themselves to audiences and to possible future employers. I see more women express doubts, fears and anxiety in public about the social aspect of being successful with their games. Same goes for their feelings about their work—doubt and fear are expressed publicly and quite often.
I’m guilty of this, too. I’m personally not an exceptionally extroverted person and I’m prone to expressing fear that I’m not competent as a freelancer. I had to be coached from doing so in public. I have a sometimes-unhelpful preference for conducting a lot of business and conversations “off list,” in private e-mail or closed door meetings. But that can make me hard to get to know, can make me look aloof, and keeps me from engaging as much with others. Neil Gaiman did a great speech addressing a graduating class at University of the Arts that touched on how freelancers get and keep work. A fan transformed it into a Venn Diagram that I find personally very useful. Being good at your work is only one part of success.
We have to talk to people, just like our male peers.
We have to be honest, communicative, and socialize when we can. That isn’t because we’re women, but because we want to succeed. All the talent and ability in the world won’t make you successful if you never show it to people. Those things also won’t get honed if you don’t get out there, get work, and learn your craft.
In my own life, I have to remind myself to exercise my ability to socialize, even when I feel bad at it. I practice not feeling guilty or shameful or weird for saying I’m good at something.
The more of us who embrace our ambitions—proudly and publicly!—and support each other to do our best and be known, the more we can break down the walls we face. The hobby world would look better with a few more doors. Introducing yourself to others is a step toward making a new one.