I think Wizards of the Coast had a pinch of genius moment when they included the diversity paragraph in the new edition of D&D. Pure genius!
I don’t know if it was accidental or if it was a calculated risk, but my goodness it’s paying off!
Why do I say this? Because everyone is talking about it. People who were looking forward to D&D are talking about it. People who don’t care about D&D are talking about it. People who didn’t want to care about D&D talk about it. People who like the diversity clause are talking about it. People who dislike it are talking about it.
People are talking about D&D. The diversity clause is not the only thing they’re talking about, but it certainly is making a lot of noise.
And that’s good!
I personally believe the inclusion of that paragraph is a good idea. People argue it’s not necessary and I could agree with that. It doesn’t really make or break the game. It’s not pivotal and thus is not necessary.
I think it’s a good idea to have a reminder, though. Although plenty of people have said “this paragraph is telling us we can play the game as we have played all along”, most players, without some sort of prompting or reminder, just fall back into the binary heteronormative paradigm and leave it like that. Most people have no hidden agenda or try to avoid diversity; it’s simply that falling back into “normality” is a very easy thing to do.
Regardless, though, this is an absolutely brilliant marketing technique that’s paying dividends because there’s so little to be upset about, it’s controversial enough to be interesting and long lasting, and it’s therefore raising awareness of the game.
Whether this paragraph is necessary or not, not many people are saying it’s a bad idea. Or that it is a bad thing. I don’t think many people are complaining about the notion of having diversity in their games; people are questioning the need for the reminder more than anything else and a few are resenting they feel they’re being told how to play the game.
Either way, to come up – even if it’s been accidentally – with a means to make your audience talk about your product for a reason that’s controversial but not pernicious or a mistake… well done WOTC!
I think this is something a lot of designers out there should take note of and learn something!