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Why Not?        Posted by:  A. M.
2/19/99    03:38 PM

Does anyone have any theories about why there aren't more women gamers? I've heard a few, and I think most of them may have some truth in them.

Of course, back in 1988, I had to deal with an acquaintance telling me that the reason I couldn't get female players for a LARP I was running at his school but had had no trouble recruiting women at my school was that 'The gamers at [his school] have the wrongs sorts of girlfriends.' I didn't buy it then, and I don't now.

I very much doubt that there's anything inherent in women that makes them dislike gaming. I suspect that some don't like finding themselves the only wonman (or girl) in a group of men (or boys). It can be very lonely when you're the only one. I've been harrassed by other players, and I've had other players afraid to talk to me for fear that I, an alien creature, might react in some horrible way.

There's also the way that games are marketed. Most (if not all) types of gaming originated as activities for adolescent males. It's only been the last few years that I've seen games that really thought about female players or characters. (I remember having one GM practically turn green when I told him that my newly married character was going to need birth control...)

Any way, there's lots of reasons. What're your picks?

Well...        Posted by:  M. W. in response to Why Not?
3/4/99    10:26 AM

Okay, marketing is definitely a problem. It *is* getting better, however, and is honestly worse in the area of computer and console RPGs than in tabletop gaming.

Another problem comes from the historical settings of many games. Let's face it - if you're playing Call of Cthulhu in the 1920s (or worse, the 1890s), there just aren't many options for a female character. And I've had GMs for fantasy games insist that a female fighter in a medieval setting is simply not realistic. Not to mention White Wolf's historical games... And most male GMs do not want to deal with feminine hygeine supplies, birth control, pregnancy, the possibility of rape, and all the other difficulties that go with a female character in the party. And while you can play a male character, this is both more difficult for you and confusing for the other players.

Another problem is groups that tend to concentrate on rules mongering and hack and slash, which is not what most women are interested in. Women tend to prefer character interaction and development as the focus of the campaign, rather than killing enemies. When a woman's first exposure to roleplaying emphasizes things that bore her (like rules permutations), she tends to leave and never come back.

Medieval Problems        Posted by:  A. M. in response to Well...
3/4/99    08:36 PM

When I created my own fantasy setting for the GURPS campaign I usually run, I decided to put in something to deal with the problems of women in a medieval setting. (I've studied enough history to know that there are reasons for the restrictions on women in medieval settings.)

Anyway, I decided that on this world only 30% of the population (male and female) is fertile. Any person who is not fertile can pursue pretty much any occupation, but fertile men and women both labor under a lot of restrictions.

We didn't deal a lot with the resulting social dynamic because the party set out for wilderness territory pretty early on. The fact that the player group started off with more women than men did, however, mean that we discussed a lot of topics that wouldn't have come up in a 'normal' game.

(I gave the people playing non-fertile female characters the option to purchase a 5 pt. advantage: Does not menstruate. Most of the female players (the men were oddly silent) seemed to feel that I could have reasonably charged 10-15 pts. and still have it be a bargain...)

The low fertility rate gave me an excuse to bump up certain types of medical know-how in the setting which let me avoid a lot of diseases and infections that should be in a medieval setting.

Re:  Medieval Problems        Posted by:  M. W. in response to Medieval Problems
3/5/99    10:53 AM

Not a bad idea, unfortunately, many male GMs don't bother to try to help their female players in this way. What I've never understood is when you're playing a fantasy setting where people can cast fireballs, fight dragons, etc., why do we have to abide by the society strictures of the real medieval period anyway? We don't use medieval medicine - there are healing spells. And why is there never that handy birth control spell or the no menstruation spell? If all medicine is magical and they can even raise the dead, why can't they handle these simpler matters? If we're in a realistic medieval setting, okay, but if it's fantasy, well...

If we ignore them...        Posted by:  A. M. in response to Re:  Medieval Problems
3/6/99    02:45 PM

My husband claims that from the point of view of male gamers and GMs these are all issues that are assumed to be taken care of somewhere off screen that can be completely ignored and shouldn't be discussed by nice people. (He calls it his 'People don't use the bathroom on Star Trek rule.')

Basically, if my husband is to be believed, there are methods to deal with all of these difficulties. They just don't get mentioned because they're not relevent to the plot. Since I've never had a GM talk about the difficulties of not having toilet paper in a medieval setting (or heard a player ask), I guess I can understand it to a certain extent. It's the sort of thing that people get embarrassed talking about, and guys get *really* embarrassed when women start talking about this sort of thing.

Ignorance        Posted by:  J. R. in response to Re:  Medieval Problems
5/25/99    08:28 AM

I would have to agree with the 'off the screen' idea. But also, let's not forget that in the male-dominated world of rping, specifically, gming, the (male) gm would usually be terribly embarassed (sp!!) to deal with it. Part or most of this embarassment stems from sheer _ignorance_; they know so little about it. Even if you give us a break and say, 'well, you could only understand _this_ much since you don't have them,' most guys would still flunk a quiz, even married ones.

My idea:  conflict        Posted by:  J. R. in response to Why Not?
5/25/99    08:34 AM

You touched on what I believe is the answer.

>Another problem is groups that tend >to concentrate on rules mongering >and hack and slash, which is not >what most women are interested in. >Women tend to prefer character >interaction and development as the >focus of the campaign, rather than >killing enemies.

Most folks have heard of the supposed differences in the way male and female brains develop. Well, one of those differences is a taste for conflict. I think this is the reason. That is also reason for the even fewer number of women who play computer games such as Doom or Starcraft. Also, from reading what I have of this forum, this would also seem to point to why most women players are WW players: though capable of combat, these systems stress conflicts that are resolved in other ways.

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