Author Topic: Gaming Shouldn't be a Battle of the Sexes  (Read 937 times)


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Offline Lord Palatine

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Gaming Shouldn't be a Battle of the Sexes
« on: May 16, 2013, 11:06:46 PM »
Several years ago I was at a fantasy con in Dallas and a lady that was about to run a game had a guy tell her she needed to stand up from her chair, she could stand behind her boyfriend and watch. Its stuck with me for about 30 years now, and its something I want to see pushed out of gaming. The assumption that a female is only there because she's a girlfriend is the worst kind of sexist stereotype.

I can’t remember if it was ’81 or ’82 but my best friend Buck and I made a road trip to Dallas for a big gamer meet. I don’t think it was a “formal” con but it had some of the look and feel of the cons from those days, but I can’t remember what it might have been called, so I’ll Call it Proto-Con.

But, I digress.

We’d actually been invited up by a friend of ours for a 3-day D&D session, known in those days as AD&D and now called 1st Edition. She was (and hopefully still is) a damned fine DM and we were itching and twitching for a good weekender. So declared a road trip and made the trip, ready for a long weekend of gaming goodness, junkfood overload and possibly the occasional hangover.

Rickety old tables and folding chairs that didn’t sit quite square set the scene, that glorious low-rent funky vibe of gaming in the old days. The place had served up a pancake breakfast the weekend before as I recall and apparently some of the patrons had strained the chairs to their maximum. Breezy (the DM we showed up for) was in place and ready to go. She liked to sit in the middle of the table so she could get a better view of the players and so her stuff didn’t fall off the edges was unpacking her stuff when somebody stood beside her.

“Sorry Sweetheart,” he said in a voice more condescending than sorry, “but the chairs are reserved for players, but if you like you can stand behind your boyfriend for luck.”

At this point Buck and I were almost wrestling to be the guy that got to choke the dink first, but with a style that matched her nickname she waved us off. “The DM gets a chair too,” she pointed to her stack of books, “and if you plan on playing you’d better find one of your own, my games fill up fast.”

Dink was nothing short of a pugnacious peckerwood the entire game, arguing every call, rolling his eyes and generally making an ass of himself; but, Breezy blew it off with style and ran her game her way and let the dice do the talking. He played bold, brash and arrogant and it cost him, the dice don’t lie and he pushed the hack and slash style to the breaking point, and found himself busted and out as his character, to paraphrase ‘Heartbreak Ridge,’ “died in a loud and grotesque manner .’

He stayed close by, Breezy pointed out that the chairs were for players and we were packed in too tightly to leave an observer up front, and so he relinquished when the table cut off argument and sent him packing. He hovered and kibitzed and made a pain of himself until the end of play that day, day one, and Buck and I horse-collared him for a conversation about game etiquette.

The next two days of gaming were fairly epic, brainteasers, blood, Technicolor, carnage. In short it was all you could hope for from a great RPG session. We referred to it as the “Holy Shit!” weekend for years after. It’s been around 30 years since that weekend, and I’ve had far more lady gamers at my table over the years and on the whole I have to admit that guys that cherish the notions that they are the uber-gamers are in for a rude surprise. In games where role playing is emphasized over hack & slash women more than hold their own, but don’t get me wrong, if its time for carnage they can hold their own too.

Guys are more self conscious, and on the whole more interested in the mechanics over the substance of the game. Yes, men can (and many do) roleplay like experts, but the more memorable games at my table have all had lady players. The reason isn’t that men can’t, but when you get a lot of guys together there’s a tendency to focus on the game, and ladies are normally more into playing their character than playing the game. There’s a difference.

Players, don’t be shy about tapping into your inner actor, if you want to play a game there’s things like magic, all system and no roleplay. Its an RPG, not an rpG. If people roll their eyes as you play in character you can chalk it up to their own lack of confidence. And ladies, don’t worry about being one of the guys. You need all types at the table to make gaming great and if everyone is playing the same then nobody is thinking.

There is no superior gender when it comes to roleplaying. One of the strangest gaming groups I belonged to was a fairly even mix of football players and drama students. The jocks played a lot like you’d expect, they didn’t want to look ‘sissy’ in front of the other jocks, and they stared at the drama gals like they were from Mars (or is that Venus) when they chewed the scenery, complete with Shakespearean colloquialisms. Eventually everyone sort of met in the middle, but for a while there is was touch and go for a while there. By the way, a 90 pound drama student played the best tank I’ve ever seen, she went into Richard III mode and it was game on.

Thankfully it’s been a while since I’ve sat at a table with a gaming chauvinist, but they are still out there mixed with the min-maxers and munchkins and the rest of the gamers styles of the pantheon. Look at the money that some gaming companies are ignoring as they ignore female gamers. Magic: the Gathering comes again to mind. Go to a Magic tourney and it’s a sausage fest, and that short-sightedness alienates ½ of the available cash in this country. Picture double the money in magic tournaments, that takes serious cash to ridiculous new heights. Sadly, you have to pitch money to gaming companies to get them to listen.

As always, your mileage may vary but when you get right down to it gaming only wins when we all play. What was that? What happened to the Dink? I’m really not sure, he stormed off and never came back after somebody shoved his head into a toilet. Men can be such Neanderthals.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 12:36:07 PM by Lord Palatine »


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