Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Connor Coleman 

BA [Hons] New Media Studies

I strive on creative endeavours, I have been enraptured sharpening my chops in several mediums from working on making content for radio, film and tv, to more recent endeavours such as making a blog (which I plan to keep up long after college). I have worked on a number of projects including producing short films such as my second-year production Cereal Killer a b movie inspired horror comedy flick, radio shows recorded in house and a number of projects for Journalism that required me to go out in the world and interview a number of interesting people.

Female Representation in Dungeon & Dragons an Edition-to-Edition Examination

The project was to produce a blog centred on looking at the female experience in relation to the game Dungeons & Dragons. The project explored the different editions the game system has gone through from its first iteration in 1974 to the most recent edition released in 2014. The project explored female player's experience playing the game, the different editions portrayal of female characters and npcs both narratively and mechanically. It also investigated how characters were depicted in the game visually in official art with great attention to specifically looking at armour and the poses these characters were depicted in.

Project Objectives

The main objective of this project was to find an answer to the question ‘Has Dungeons and Dragons representation of women improved over the course of its many editions?’

This examination was divided into assessing the representation of female characters in relation to: The visual depictions, the Mechanical representation, the Narrative Representation and the inclusion of female characters.

Ultimately the goal of this research was to produce a blog composed of 3-4 articles that would be centred on the results of the examination.

Additionally, one of the four planned articles served the purpose of being an easy introduction to Tabletop Roleplaying Games (TTRPGS). As well as an introduction to the history and mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons specifically, with attention given to the popularity and representation of the current edition of the game (5th Edition).

Project Outcomes

The visual depictions of female characters: In a multitude of past editions the depiction of women heroines and prominent characters often sexualises them heavily compared to their male counterparts. This is nearly completely non-existent in the most recent edition.

Mechanical representation: In some of the earliest editions Dungeons and Dragons depictions of female player characters were disproportionately made weaker than their male counterparts in some statistics if certain player race options were chosen for them. The current edition does not have any difference in the statistics of either sex from one another.

The Narrative Representation: An important format to look at when considering how female characters are represented is to consider what female characters are introduced in adventure modules and campaign settings. Though some progress was definitely noticeable in the retelling of past editions adventures in their 5th edition iterations. Some characters such as Ireena Kolyana in the adventure Curse of Strahd still fulfilled the role of the damsel in distress or escort mission in actual play.

Female Inclusion: Through the examination of past publications including several past editions of the Player's Handbook (or equivalent) art that depicts females was used much less than their male counterparts. This illustrates that it was not just how female characters were represented but also the quantity of representation that each sex was given in these publications was not even close to equal. In comparison in the 5th edition player's handbook representations of women make up about 40% of the images.