Playing the Pronoun Game

In the wake of the whole Battlefield V issue, let me tell you a story:

In 2013 I published Vanor, a Hebrew roleplaying game that is an adaptation of Dungeon World. Hebrew is very much not a gender-neutral language. You HAVE to use either male or female pronouns and of course, the male is considered the “neutral form”.

I’ve read many discussions about the use of gendered pronouns is its effect on the readers. I wanted to find a solution that will work within the confines of proper modern Hebrew.

The decision was to use male pronouns when the book addresses the Players, and female pronouns when it addresses the GM. There was a crowdfunding for the book, which went well, and during the backer preview, one of them contacted me.

He was upset to learn that we were “pandering” to the “feminist agenda”, and if he’d known he wouldn’t have supported the project. He also asked who was the woman on the team that pushed this agenda.

This was 2013. I wasn’t as “in your face” feminist as I’m now. I didn’t want people to associate me with “feminist agenda” but I also knew I wouldn’t change my decision. This was the right thing to do.

Since then, our form of using female pronouns for the GM has become a sort of standard for independent RPG publishing in Israel. And I am also proud to be called a feminist, or an ally, and help support the cause.