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A game zine re-envisioning masculinity through the eyes of non-cisgender masculine creators.
A game zine re-envisioning masculinity through the eyes of non-cisgender masculine creators.
281 backers pledged $2,693 to help bring this project to life.

About

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Behind the Masc is a game zine using historical and cultural archetypes to re-envision masculinity through the eyes of non-cisgender masculine creators. The creators include experienced game designers and illustrators as well as newer people to the game industry. The project hopes to draw attention to indie creators in tabletop games who are still marginalized people, but can fall into the ether when it comes to representation and people campaigning for their work to be seen.  

This game zine is a collection of game materials for a variety of systems. It will be available digitally and in print as a short-run booklet with half-letter (US) size pages. 

What’s inside, and who is doing it?  

Behind the Masc will include a variety of game materials, including a new Monsterhearts skin, a Twine narrative game, and some great illustrations! Illustrations will be half-page (so one page in the zine), black and white, with a brief on the concept. Game materials will fill up to three zine pages and have a brief discussing how their design expresses their concept of masculinity.

For culturally related topics, we’ll have a sensitivity reader review the content before publication. The editor is Brie Sheldon, who is also the curator of the project and a contributor. 

Check out our contributors and some info on what they're bringing to the project:  

Eli Eaton is a trans-masculine person residing in Ontario Canada. He currently just runs and plays games, but has been dabbling with game design here and there for the past year or so. This is his first publication. His contribution to Behind the Masc will be a character skin for a PbtA game (to be determined) modeled after benign trickster characters from mythology and folk heroes. He does not have an official website, but he does most of his gaming talk on G+ and Facebook.  

Patrick Lickman is a writer and designer from Sheffield, UK. They work at a board games cafe, where they run various roleplaying projects in a variety of systems, aimed to be accessible to newcomers to the hobby. They are a Forever GM, only playing their first RPG three years after running one. They will contribute The Demi, a godlike skin for Monsterhearts 2.  

Raiden Otto is eager to be working on Behind the Masc. He is a nonbinary masc that uses he/him/his pronouns. While he is new to the video game design scene, for years he has been making art available on Instagram, Tumblr, ArtStation, and his portfolio sites. For this project, he will be creating a character concept sheet for an FtM man based in the Ming Dynasty of China with the use of Paint Tool SAI.  

Adrian Heise is a writer and generalist/narrative game designer from British Columbia, Canada. He has contributed in the past to games such as Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2, The Long Dark, and the cancelled Visceral Star Wars project. For Behind the Masc, he is producing a short interactive Twine narrative exploring the role of the "protector" as it applies to masculine-identifying queer people.  

Lemmo's contribution is the Harlequin, presented in illustration. Here's an ink draft of the work!
Lemmo's contribution is the Harlequin, presented in illustration. Here's an ink draft of the work!

 Lemmo Pew (him/he, pan/fluid/non-binary) is an artist, illustrator and game designer from Minneapolis, MN. Lem's art spans the indie gamut from self-publishing comic books and anthologies, to illustrations for independently published games and gaming websites, stretching from '99 to the present. His most current web presence is the online streaming channel, HotSoup.TV, and can be found on Twitter at @Lemmo.   

Alex McConnaughey (@variant_games) likes to design games that make your heart race, that make you laugh or shout or cry. They think games can be a great tool for learning and growth, but they mostly just try to engage the players around the table in an experience as quickly and deeply as possible. They have designed games for contests, including their first game, As We Know It, a Golden Cobra honorable mention, but last year they broke into formal (paid) design with The Imposters anthology. They’re designing a Minotaur Skin for Monsterhearts, for the obvious maze metaphor of understanding their gender and trying to navigate masculinity, as well as the role of existing solely as a challenge for someone else to conquer.  

Lawrence Gullo (He/Him) is an Illustrator, comic writer, and playwright currently developing an exorcism dating sim. He enjoys larps that generate empathy and doing D&D homebrew. He’s spoken on trans and queer topics at cons for years, including Gen Con and Flame Con. He explores the spectrum of masculine experience in the sect of male Bacchae he’s designing for Behind the Masc, serving as a spiritual origin or location in an RPG setting. Find him @hismajesty on Twitter and bashback on Tumblr.

Brie Sheldon is a queer game designer, journalist, and editor and is a genderfluid nonbinary-masculine person. They are the creator of Script Change, Let Me Take a Selfie, and a number of other small products, and have worked on larger professional projects like Firefly Smuggler’s Guide to the Rim and Bubblegumshoe. They have managed the Thoughty Blog for over 5 years and do interviews, create free games released through their Patreon, and also created Leading with Class, a leadership show teaching through games. Their passions are asking questions, selfies, and exploring exciting ideas in games. For this project, Brie is creating question pages, curating materials, doing layout and design, and filling in spaces where needed.

Tracy Barnett is a genderqueer (they/them) game designer (School Daze, Iron Edda Accelerated) and podcast producer (TheOtherCast). By working with other publishers and producing their own content, they hope to make game design and podcasting their full-time work. For Behind the Masc, Tracy will be exploring masculine physical presentation and non-traditional masculine behaviors through a D&D 5e Sorcerer you can use in your home games.

Our logo!
Our logo!

What’s the money for?  

Paying people for their work and for printing is pretty much everything. Right now, we have budgeted to pay each contributor a base of $60 for their work. The zines themselves will be half-folded 8.5”x11” sheets with saddle stitch, printed at a local printer. They will be black and white, with simple covers. Our printing goal is 200 copies.  

Shipping costs limit us to US-only shipping for now. We're exploring options for international fulfillment, so stay tuned for updates!   

We have included an emergency buffer for things like shipping failures, minor emergency reprints, and so on. There is also payment for Brie's work curating and editing the zine. Finally, the Kickstarter & Stripe fees (10%) are included in the goal.

Stretch Goals

We only have one stretch goal, and that's for $3000 - we would like to pay our contributors an increased rate. Creative workers have needs too, and the better we pay them, the better quality of work we can expect - and the work we're getting is already well-deserving of fair and generous pay. Please consider backing if you want to support marginalized creators and get a cool collection of game products!

Risks and challenges

This is our first project, so there are inherent risks there. However, it’s a small project with manageable risks and few moving parts. Some of our contributors are newer and that could result in some delays in meeting project goals, but Brie has experience in wrangling people so we are hoping they can manage it. In the case a contributor would need to drop out, we will work to fill the space with another great contributor!

Brie is a creator with disabilities, so they have some limitations. They’re aware of these risks and planned ahead for managing potential pitfalls. They'll have a support network at home to help, too.

Overall, there are definitely risks to the project that we recognize. With your support and backing, we think we can succeed and make a cool zine for people to enjoy. Give us a shot!

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Funding period

- (30 days)