This past weekend I attended New World Magischola, a Wizard College Live Action Roleplaying game.
This past weekend I healed the feelings I’ve been having in the wake of some intense hate mail I received for fighting for disabled rights in the gaming community, and for standing up for women and their space in the gaming sphere.
This past weekend I raised my wand to protect others, made arrests, ran like hell, and connected in and out of character with people.
I’ve felt as though I didn’t belong for a while. As though fighting for disabled rights at the game table doesn’t matter. As though my place wasn’t one that was valued or wanted. A group of a few hundred people told me I was wrong.
During the beginning of our game workshops, I found myself in a room full of strangers, all of us sorted into Dan Obeah. When we started to talk about why we were in this house, what it meant to us, it was clear that we all came to it with the same feelings for justice, the same feelings for equality, and of course a love for breaking the rules.
We were asked to write the traditions of our house for our run of the game, and the two that i think you need to know for this article are as follows:
- Fuck the Rules
- Don’t Get Caught
And the fact that when we applauded, we would do so in ASL. Now, I requested this for two reasons. One of them was that being in a room full of hundreds of people applauding can set off feedback in my hearing aid, and the other is that my hands would get worn out from all the clapping I was sure we’d be doing. An out of character reason, for what was an in character suggestion: We should be a house that represents equality in all forms.
And no one argued with me about it.
By the end of the weekend, when we won the house cup, it wasn’t just the people from my house who were applauding in ASL, it was people I hadn’t met. There were people I’d not interacted with once who chose to raise their hands in the air and wave.
Me, my disabilities, my request for representation, had been acknowledged and embraced fully.
And it wasn’t just this small artefact of my house which gave me that impression. It was scenes where characters with disabilities treated me with value and as someone to watch. It was able bodied players asking me to do things like make arrests, like watch a fellow student who had been possessed. It was moments where I was entrusted with the safety of others – a thing I don’t often have the opportunity to provide in my real day to day. It was the opportunity (given to me by an NPC I know out of game) to escort the chancellor into the ball.
It was hearing a line about how being underestimated makes me better.
It was having a professor come after me to be fixed, and being able to defend myself (eloquently) over it.
I was given the gift of total inclusion.
And then the storm warning happened. The lights went out, and there wasn’t a way home by myself. I had to rely on at least 20 completely sighted strangers to get me from point a to point b in the dark, in the pouring rain.
In this, I was given the gift of acceptance. People rallied around me to help me in a moment where I was essentially unable to help myself. Though I had a flashlight, it wasn’t even to keep me safe. Though I had my white cane, it wasn’t enough. I needed others to keep me from falling flat on my face. And they did.
They held me up.
I belong here, amongst the gamers. I belong here amongst the LARPers. I belong amongst the wizards, and the Marshals.
And no one can take that away from me.
If you were at New World Magischola and we interacted, then you were a part of the healing I needed to keep writing games. You were part of the gift I needed to keep me pushing for equality and for access. When I thanked my fellow Ravens at the end of the weekend, their response was to applaud in ASL to me. And I cried. But they were tears of acceptance.
I’m back now.