Friday, July 22, 2011

Stirring the Pot: Heartbreak and Heroines (A rant)

First off, I base my knowledge off the Kickstarter page, specifically this passage:

Heartbreak & Heroines is a fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women who go and have awesome adventures -- saving the world, falling in love, building community, defeating evil. It's a game about relationships and romance, about fairy tales and feminism.

You play a fantasy heroine (or hero, if you prefer) whose heart has been broken. She's experienced some loss so great that she's taken up her sword, her tome, her staff, or her wand and walked away from her place in society -- by becoming one of its defenders, fighting back the darkness that endangers everyone.

That is all I know for certain beyond seeing some people gripe about it, or praise it. It is being dubbed as "feminism" and "empowering to women". To me it seems like a cheap gimmick and causing controversy by dubbing about "feminism". Nothing in the post makes it seem at all feminist. The rules description I saw implied a nifty dice mechanic that really doesn't make Gender important. The heartbreak and heroines bit seems an obvious throw back to D&D (much like Mazes and Monsters etc). That is fine if a bit tacky, I don't see calling it "Heartbreak and Heroines" as inherently feminist, I guess the assumption is that specifically referencing a "Heroine" rather than "Hero" is feminist. I don't myself see why "Hero" should be the assumed default. As the blurb itself states you can also play a hero, it was just picking one gender version of the term for simplicity.

So what is it about this that is "feminist"? Are women less enthralled by the motivations present in D&D and more enthralled than men by heartbreak as a motivator? I personally don't see it, it kind of seems to be enforcing gender stereotypes (Men hate emotional motivations, women don't like aggressive sport style dominance power struggles, Romantic Comedies are correct! Men like bacon and women like fruit salad!).

Now don't get me wrong, this type of game itself (the motivations etc) will appeal to a lot of people, but of both genders. It will also seem dull to a lot of people, of both genders. This could end up being a very feminist game, but thus far I am not seeing it. I see a concept for a potentially good game mind you, just nothing that actually involves gender politics. This reminds me of LotFP in some ways. Controversy as free publicity when I don't think anything really controversial really takes place.

I hope that like LotFP, it ends up as a high quality and successful product.


  1. Hi Zzarchov, thanks for the mention of H&H! Hope your game does well.

  2. Hello Kynn,

    I will be interested in seeing the finished product of your game, I hope it does well and congratulations on your kickstarter success!

  3. Why I deleted the comments:

    While there is a criminal accusation floating about, I am not a judge nor jury. I think the issue can better be described in appropriate forum. The charge is important and deserves full legal investigation, but that also means in a court of law with presumption of innocence, even for such a heinous alleged crime.

    So in short, I don't expect anyone to "keep quiet" about the issue, I do not defend anyone, but in the end this is a blog about RPG games and I hope that this issue can be aired in the proper channels.

    My apologies for anyone I have offended (and in an issue like this you always offend people).