Sunday 10 June 2018

Time for Positive Action

I'm returning to the same theme in quick succession, but yesterday, Cavan Scott, one of the writers of the new Warhammer Adventures books for children tweeted this:
This, understandably, lead to a horrified response from a number of wargamers. Gav Thorpe's tweet basically sums it up.
While I largely agree with this, I can't agree that "this is not our community." As much as I'm sure most wargamers wish this were not the case, it has been our community for a long time.

The truth is that the wargaming industry in general, and Games Workshop in particular, has been terrible at representation. While the industry may not have actively welcomed racists and misogynists, by making almost every character white and male, they have done little or nothing to make the unwelcome. They have, in effect, created a safe space for the far-right.

The hostile response to the Warhammer Adventure series needs to lead a to a prompt response from Games Workshop that racism, misogyny and violent threats are unwelcome. Games Workshop certainly used to have a policy that anyone caught shoplifting from Games Workshop or third party retailers would be banned from all their shops and shows. They should extend this to people making hate speech. The company needs to adopt a zero tolerance approach to this.

Secondly, Games Workshop needs to take rapid steps to improve representation in its core games. They have stated that they intend to improve, but that their three year product cycle makes change slow. They need to pick up the pace. It make take time to bring new models to market, but there are things they can do more quickly.

Firstly, they should star work on a new studio army, preferably a Space Marine chapter or a collection of Stormcast Eternals, made up largely, if not exclusively, of not white characters. This is something that can be fixed at the painting stage. This new army should be featured in promotional material and in White Dwarf battle reports.

Secondly, they should take steps to introduce more female characters into their games. For a long time, official Warhammer 40,000 canon has been that all Space Marines are male. This should change. If there has to be an in universe explanation for it, then they can simply state that the new Primaris Marines can be male or female. Space Marine armour is not particularly gendered, so Games Workshop could introduce female Primaris Marines by simply producing a plastic sprue of female heads which can be used with the existing models. They already produce upgrade sprues for the major Space Marine chapters, so a sprue of female heads should not be a major challenge. They should start work on this immediately, and keep fans up to date on their progress.

There is a n opportunity for Games Workshop to push back against racism and misogyny in the wargaming community, they shouldn't miss it.