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Author Topic: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis  (Read 13836 times)
chadu
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« on: May 05, 2004, 01:36:25 PM »

(see also my livejournal post at http://www.livejournal.com/users/chadu/119466.html)

Recently, I had a very pleasant phone conversation with Paul Czege, author of My Life With Master.

Amongst numerous threads of discussion re: the gaming industry, games as they are played, and personal pontification (on both sides of the phone line; in the good way, mind you), we traded interesting anecdotes about the playtests of our games -- his MLwM and my Dead Inside. (Go buy a copy of each; they make great, er, Mother's Day gifts. . . yeah, that's the ticket!)

Paul was telling me about something his gf's character did in the playtest; it's his story to tell, but let me assure you it was pretty creepy.

This got onto a tangent about women gamers, and I idly mentioned that one of my two personal playtest groups for DI was composed mostly of women (3 female and one male, plus me, a male GM), and that it was a different sort of gaming experience, even compared to the other playtest group (2 guys, long-time members of my gaming group).

This led to a discussion about observed female play styles, general play styles, barriers to entry for newbies, interesting newbies in an RPG, interesting fans in a new RPG, and the value of marketing-advertising-demos-word of mouth. Paul mentioned how gratified he was about all of the "actual play" threads re: MLwM in various fora; I whined loudly amount the relative lack of spontaneous discussion and comment on DI and how I wish threads would crop up on various messageboards and/or in the comments sections of places like here, RPGnet, Game Review, and RPGNow (though I am truly, madly, deeply honored by all the excellent reviews DI has received).

Paul mentioned that my playtest anecdote(s) could make an interesting and commentable thread on the Forge, if I take some time to write it up and do some analysis of why I felt the game was different when mostly women made up the group. I said I'd try to analyze my memories and impressions, and allow them to cohere for a day or so before posting.

The ladies in question were:
B: My wife. Gamed a little with her ex-husband, whose issues and playstyle really killed her (mild to start with) interest in gaming. However, she "speaks gamer" and understands the gist of my RPG ramblings. She played an activist character who broke her soul.

E: Utter newbie to gaming. Played an idealized, fictionalized version of herself, whose soul had been stolen as a child.

R: Long-time gamer and LARPer, from Vampire to Champions. Favors "bruiser girls" (her word), but played a shy, nervous girl who had been born without a soul.

(The guy in this group, ER, played against type, too -- instead of a combat monster, he played a portly middle-aged psychologist who had lost his soul by giving too much of it to his clients.)

Rationale behind chargen: B wanted an active, athletic character who really believed in something which then bit her on the ass. E had no preconceived notions and just went with the flow. R & ER told me they both wanted to explore the moral (and possibly therapeutic, though I'm not advocating the game as a therapy tool) aspects of the Dead Inside setting.

In all cases, chargen took 10 minutes or less, across the board, as we stepped through the process as a group. Then we were ready to play.

And the play experience was different and interesting.

The core concept of DI is "you've lost your soul -- what are you going to do about it?"

In the male-only group, the guys stayed on target, moving very linerarly to acheive their goal of ensoulment. In the mostly-female group, they moved in curves, kind of "straying" from the go-go-go and sightseeing. . . but when the situation merited it, they came together and crashed down like a tidal wave. (Luckily, the adventure design structure I advocate in the book -- typified in the Intro Scenario -- can easily support both of these styles.)

ASIDE: Hmmm. This strikes me as an interesting analogy with types of martial ares -- the straight strikes of karate  vs. the looping strikes of kung-fu. Intriguing.

In both groups, the players were very pleased with the game. But the difference between their play experience intrigued me. So I've thought about the situation off and on. I eventually chalked it up -- rightly or wrongly -- to differences in the way that men and women in my experience tend to play RPGs. (This is a gross generalization, I know. But bear with me.)

Now, there are plenty of "Women in Gaming" articles out there I've read. . . most written by women. They often give what I think are falsely-gendered general gaming stylistic issues (in terms of gaming style: while common knowledge asserts that "women like deep-immersion, character-based roleplaying," I've seen numerous posts from women who love to hack 'n slay.)

All the differences I've seen with women in gaming vs. men in gaming are mild tendencies. Many male gamers display the following traits, too, just as many women do not display them:

* On the average, women spend more time on roleplaying/developing their character's character and backstory and motivations and less on (and note the emphasis) worrying about their stats, skills, and capabilities.

* Many women gamers seem slightly more amenable to intentionally exploring personal (that is, their own) psychological/sociological aspects via a PC than most men gamers. (Specifically absent from this element is the unintentional psychological displays and issues that crop up amongst both men and women gamers; the stuff that makes you go "WTF? Ick!" I'm also excluding meta-game interpersonal issues here.)

* Women gamers -- again, in my experience -- tend to require a strong in-game social or character context for character motivation; mission-based goals in the absence of such context ("clear that dungeon!" or "save that prisoner that you don't know for some money rather than personal reasons") are apparently less interesting.

* A woman's PC will tend to relate to all aspects as the setting (often socially) as characters rather than "game tokens" or "faceless obstacles." This includes scenery and equipment.

* Female gamers are often more concerned about all (or a very high majority) of a group having buy-in to what their objective is.

* A group of women gamers' PCs can sometimes seem to get sidetracked from the plot unfolding, because they tend to get caught up with the issues mentioned above (roleplaying the character, backstory, context requirements, buy-in requirement, social relation to everything). To a goal-oriented male gamer, this often appears to be "dithering": it's not. It's engine-revving.

* When a group of women's PCs "stop dithering"/"get revved up," they move like lightning and thunder, operating with strong context- or character-based drives to succeed, social/personal relation to setting (this time, it's personal), group buy-in, and remarkable amounts of teamwork.

So, I talked about these issues and my thoughts as to why this difference exists, with my playtesters and with other gamers male and female.

Here's some additional info gleaned from informants and my experiences:
* Women tend to be more pragmatic with their time. While many men seem to see "game night" (be it RPGs or Poker) as its own reward, its own event, even if it's relatively slow and plodding -- this could be related to the restricted number of low-impact, friendly social venues for men.  

* Women gamers desire more intense situations, with a minimum of pointless or slow spots. Be in "hack and slay" or "courtly skullduggery," to justify the time spent (see above), the game has to be worth it. If it's dull, it's off the schedule.

* System doesn't matter, except if it helps enhance the enjoyment of a game. If the System gets in the way, slows down play, or produces weird-ass -- or worse, dull -- results, this is bad, because you're wasting the woman gamer's valuable time. If the system adds to the experience, speeds up play, and produces interesting or exciting results, then System is a bonus.

* Content and Style matter. If a woman gamer doesn't like the content or style of a game, then due to the above points (wasting time, desired value), the game is a loss. While I know men who will play a game whose Content or Style they hate becuase of the cool System, no woman I've talked to would do this.

* For newbies of any sex and many current women gamers, the shorter the chargen time, the better. This builds on all of the above points: a long chargen wastes time, is generally lacking in the character aspects that women prefer, is the System getting in the way, and dilutes the vibe and interest in the Content and Style.

* For newbies of any sex and many current women gamers, the shorter the session time, the better. This relates directly to the time for value bullets above. A twelve-hour marathon session better be damned well-worth it, in terms of the opportunity costs being paid to do so.

PRELIMINARY WILD-ASS GENERALITIES TIME: Men are all about structure; women are all about content.

So, I throw that out and look at it, and it doesn't look right, based on my personal experiences in gaming and GMing. I ponder further and come up with this:

REFINED WILD-ASS GENERALITIES TIME: Men are all about imposed, external structure; women are all about organic, internal structure.

Again, let me qualify: I know men who play like this, and women who don't. Many of these things are simply tendencies. Lord only knows if they're indicative of biological, psychological, or socio-cultural differences between all us XXs and us XYs.

Personally, given the above stuff, I fit in the middle in my personal playstyle. I'm either a male gamer who digs more intense character stuff than the norm, or a very goal-directed female gamer.

To sum up: People are people. Gamers are gamers. Averages just show tendencies, the middle of the bell curve; everything's a spectrum. But in general, women gamers want more bang for their buck in a game.

Comments, thoughts, refutations, and sor forth requested.


CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2004, 02:02:12 PM »

Not this again.

Every once in a while the men drag out the "women in RPGs want X" threads. It's been my experience that:

A. The men know no more about what women want in RPGs than they know about what women want in general. Meaning almost nothing.

B. The threads are always brought up in terms of how women are different. Note how all of your initial comments were about women before you started making your analysis. This assumes some standard baseline for men, and that women need to be analyzed as special cases.

C. Women are individuals, and no analysis of this sort is going to do any good at all.

D. Apparently from your analysis I am a woman. But if you've ever seen or met me, you know that this is distinctly not the case - I'm about as male as one can get (I offer the lack of hair on my head as a good example).

I don't want to rain too hard on anybody's parade, but this has been done before, and usually just ends up pissing off the women - which I can understand. So please just refer back to those old threads if you want to re-experience the pain.

That said, I'm not a moderator, and feel free to abuse yourself at your own lesiure. I, OTOH, will be giving this thread as wide a berth as I can should it continue to garner responses.

Bye,
Mike
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chadu
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2004, 05:16:05 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Not this again.


Yeah, I expected this sort of response. Hell, I had it myself.  But...

Quote
B. The threads are always brought up in terms of how women are different. Note how all of your initial comments were about women before you started making your analysis. This assumes some standard baseline for men, and that women need to be analyzed as special cases.


. . .I see where you're going here, and I'm not saying that you're necessarily wrong.  (Indeed, as I noted towards the end of my post, I personally fit the "female gamer" profile I outlined quite well -- except that I'm slightly more goal-oriented than interaction-oriented.)

But your point about "women need to be analyzed as special cases" is well taken. In theory, I think this sort of compartmentalization based on sex is terrible; in practice, from what surveys have been done of gamerdom (I'm thinking of the WotC survey here), women gamers are a small minority in the hobby. In that regard, and especially for analysis purposes, I think it's okay to treat them as a special case.

I agree that the personal bias (i.e., being male) of the person doing the analysis (i.e., me) has more to do with this than any Platonic definition of a gamer. I did try to use "gamer" as a gender-neutral term.

Additionally, I'd like to point out that for both groups I was using the same system, setting, and scenario. Both playtest groups were run within the same time frame (alongside other unrelated RPG sessions). And the difference between the two groups method of approach was strikingly different -- in my opinion, "more different" than any other two groups in my past experience.

Perhaps my attribution of this difference to a female-majority group is specious. But it seems compelling to me.

Quote
C. Women are individuals, and no analysis of this sort is going to do any good at all.


For the first part of your sentence, I'd say "all people are individuals," which is true. I disagree that analysis of this sort would do no good at all. In sociological terms, general cases can be seen to operate en masse where they don't at the individual level. It's like how you can have a roomful of people with an average height of 5'8", but no one in the room is actually 5'8".

Quote
D. Apparently from your analysis I am a woman.


As am I, as noted above, or at least an androgene (in the original post).

Quote
But if you've ever seen or met me, you know that this is distinctly not the case - I'm about as male as one can get (I offer the lack of hair on my head as a good example).


You've never met a bald woman? I have. :)
 
Quote
I don't want to rain too hard on anybody's parade, but this has been done before, and usually just ends up pissing off the women - which I can understand.


I can dig that too, except -- and this is the very trenchant part -- a large part of this analysis is information related to me by women (both those involved, and those commenting on the anecdote). If women want to be pissed off about the assertions made in the earlier post, I'm afraid that alongside your humble servant, they'll have to take it up with my female informants.

Quote
That said, I'm not a moderator, and feel free to abuse yourself at your own lesiure. I, OTOH, will be giving this thread as wide a berth as I can should it continue to garner responses.


That is, of course, entirely your right. I think it's unfortunate that you'll be avoiding it, because I think it'd be interesting to hear any further thoughts you might have during the course of the thread. Alas.

Sincerely,

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2004, 07:34:28 PM »

I have concerns with whether you'll be able to make useful general statements about the "statistical woman", but for different reasons.

Women do not, generally, play alone.  And the one thing I am quite confident of, from past experience, is that the presence of women in a game has subtle but far-reaching effects on how the men play.

Men cast women into roles that are hard to escape (mediator, voice of reason, etc.)  Women cast men into roles the same way.  We all react both to perceived expectations and to our own desire to present an acceptable self-image.  No man (nor woman neither) is an island.

So if you're observing only the ways in which your game is different with grrl-gamers in the mix, and then attributing that to "females play differently" you may be missing a whole fascinating landscape of human interaction.
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Ben O'Neal
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2004, 08:40:39 PM »

Yes this topic has been done before many times, but guess what? I missed them all. And I enjoy conversing about this sort of stuff, more than merely reading what other people have said in dead topics. So fuck it, I'm gonna converse.

Quote
A. The men know no more about what women want in RPGs than they know about what women want in general. Meaning almost nothing.

This ^, coupled with this:
Quote
B. The threads are always brought up in terms of how women are different. Note how all of your initial comments were about women before you started making your analysis. This assumes some standard baseline for men, and that women need to be analyzed as special cases.

...makes for some very interesting reading. From A, we have the premise: Men don't know shit about women; and from B, we have: It's bad to assume women are different.

Call me crazy, but if we don't know shit about women, but do know about ourselves (collectively as men), then is it not entirely reasonable to assume that women are, indeed, different? For surely if they were similar to ourselves, we would be able to use our knowledge about ourselves to predict their behaviour as accurately as we can predict our fellow males' behaviour, and in turn, would be entirely justified in discussing it. Is it not also reasonable to discuss women from a male perspective, as this is the only perspective we can be trusted to use? What perspective would be better? We can't use a female perspective, because we are not females, nor are we qualified to speak on their behalf (due to us knowing fuck all about them). Should we invent an imaginary non-gender and speak from it? If so, how could this be achievable without combining both male and female perspectives, but lacking the female perspectives, we would be left with only the males', and thus we are back where we started.

W. If A and B are both true, then men don't know shit about men (false)
X. If A is true and B is false, then we don't know about women, but it's still fine to discuss women
Y. If A is false and B is true, then we do understand women, but cannot discuss women (illogical)
Z. If both A and B are false, then we do know shit about women and we can discuss them.

Both W and Y must be discarded, which leaves us with X and Z. The only difference between them is the truth of A. Z is perhaps optimistic, and X is very pessimistic, but in both cases, we can conclude that it is perfectly acceptable to discuss the gaming tendencies of women.

In conclusion, males have no choice but to use themselves as a standard baseline from which to compare women, just as women have no choice but to use themselves as a standard baseline from which to compare men. To do otherwise is to presuppose access to the very knowledge we are trying to analyse.

Quote
C. Women are individuals, and no analysis of this sort is going to do any good at all.

As chadu mentioned, we are all individuals, and such a statement asserts that the foundation of psychology is non-existant, and thus all information gained about the human condition is meaningless.

Quote
I don't want to rain too hard on anybody's parade, but this has been done before, and usually just ends up pissing off the women - which I can understand.

Whilst I can't claim priviledged access to the inner workings of any female who gets pissed off at such discussions, I would assume from my knowledge that what would be most likely to piss women off is the assumption that they are different to men, which is directly contradictory to modern feminism. Although I haven't seen him around in a while, Doctor Xero was/is a champion of modern feminism, which makes it very clear that all men and women differ only in sexual organs. Being a psychology student, and currently working on an essay explicitly dealing with the biological and neuropsychological differences between the genders, I cannot stress enough the fact that males and females are fundamentally different in many ways, and sometimes the difference is extreme.

Another plausible reason for women getting pissed off at discussions of their play styles by men could concievably be the perception that the generalisations made in such discussions do not fit them, and thus are reflecting negatively on them. Such a reaction is perfectly understandable, so long as you understand how a generalisation can be taken personally. But of course, generalisations aren't meant to be taken personally, they are merely rules of large-scale observation.



I will chip in my own experience with the female gamer in my current group (not the only girl I've played with, only the most recent), and what I have gained from discussions with her and her boyfriend (my best friend, and another player in my group) about his success with her playing in his games. Basically, his experiences with her as a gamer practically mirror mine.

-It does seem that the longer any session runs, the lower her interest falls, regardless of action.

-Any moments where the excitement lapses, such as necessary gaps between encounters or action, or when the spotlight falls exclusively on someone else, she loses interest, either picking up her cross-stitch or sometimes leaving the room.

-She does tend to enjoy other people exploring their character's personalities more than they themselves report.

-Contrary to what chadu reported, she seems to be uninterested in getting "sidetracked", and prefers to just get to the point.

-On most other points that chadu bought up, I would agree. It seems she really doesn't care much for the system rules, regardless of what they are or let her do, so long as they let her get involved in a good scenario.



So basically I've found the same sorts of things with girl gamers. My sisters are similar to what overall has thus far been described, but obviously vary on the individual observations.

[disclaimer]In closing I have two things to say:

1. As chadu mentioned, all observations are necessarily of a small sample, and thus are only accurate within a range. Any given individual may be outside of that range. Generalisations are not affirmations, and are only definitively accurate for those specifically observed.

2. I don't think I would be wrong in assuming that chadu is with me on this, but no observation of mine carries with it a value judgement. Any percieved value judgement on the behalf of a reader is either projection or misinterpretation of my (possibly mispresented) meaning. [/disclaimer]
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2004, 08:53:13 PM »

I'm not sure how we can piss off 'the women' when they're individuals and not a gestalt, or how we can understand they'd be pissed off if we know nothing about 'them' (even though they aren't a 'them', they've been stated as individuals).

Can we get off the cringe wagon? Yes, too many times women have been studied as if they are some sort of robots that do X when you push button Y. Yeah, that's crap. Wow.

Basically the video game industry has been looking into getting more female gamer, so they've been trying to find out what games they like. This isn't so they can define women as robots...they want the cash-ola, da money, da loot that is untapped from a certain significant demographic.

This post seems to start with the same idea: Tapping a significant demographic for more players.

So: How can we turn this information into a tool to gouge out more players from this rich demographic?
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chadu
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2004, 09:40:10 PM »

Quote from: TonyLB
Women do not, generally, play alone.  And the one thing I am quite confident of, from past experience, is that the presence of women in a game has subtle but far-reaching effects on how the men play.


So long as you agree that the reverse is true ("the presence of men in a game has subtle but far-reaching effects on how the men play"), I'll agree with you. I'd even go so far as to say "the presence of new players in a game has subtle but far-reaching effects on how the current players play."

Quote
We all react both to perceived expectations and to our own desire to present an acceptable self-image.  No man (nor woman neither) is an island.

So if you're observing only the ways in which your game is different with grrl-gamers in the mix, and then attributing that to "females play differently" you may be missing a whole fascinating landscape of human interaction.


No doubt, and good point. I'm perfectly willing to accept your statement in general, in a limited fashion. However:

1. I'm a big one for "being myself," and am such with all my friends, male or female, and indeed, as often as possible. (About the only times I strongly clamp down and censor myself is at the day-job, to keep things on a professional level.)

2. Everyone in the female-majority gaming group has been friends for some years; we've just never gamed together before. Also, there was no additional shift in our interrelations and interactions save that which could be explained by roleplaying a character. So, if I altered my expressed self-image in their presence in the game, it's the same alteration I perform in their presence (and have been doing it for a very long period of time) when we're not gaming.

3. I made a conscious attempt to run both playtest groups in the same GMing mode -- trying to keep the voice characterizations, the presentation and amount of information, the pacing of scenes, the response to character actions, etc., consistent. The intent at the time was to nail down a decent, standard presentation that would translate well to the page and be a solid text for a GM to use (and embellish or refine) as an intro adventure. Invariably, no plan survives contact with actual play, and I found myself providing elaborations in description and characterization depending upon areas of PC focus and interest -- just as I did for the all-male group. But starting from the baseline state, the areas of embellishment were strongly different for each group. Again, that may be a function of:
* Simply being a different group,
* Being a group that was half-composed of newbies/semi-newbies to one extent or another, or
* Being a group that was mostly women.

As I've played with several different groups in my experience, some of which had many newbies, and this experience was even more variant that those, I decided to explore if the last option was the reason for the shift in play.

It occurs to me that another bullet point could be "being a group that was strongly composed of adult newbies" as a possibility. Hmmm. Must ponder that.

Anywho, to get back to your point -- yes, what you say is a possibility. However, given this particular situation, I think it's unlikely. But it's still a valid and useful point to raise.

Thanks!

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

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chadu
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2004, 09:52:12 PM »

Quote from: Ravien
Whilst I can't claim priviledged access to the inner workings of any female who gets pissed off at such discussions, (snip)


Just FYI, all: I'd like to take this opportunity to point out -- since I'm unsure if I adequately explained this -- that a decent number of my general assertions on what women tend to want in game were either taken directly[ from comments from several women, or synthesized from those comments and my observations. Please see the LiveJournal post and it's comments that top my initial post here.

I just wanted to make sure that was understood.

Quote
Another plausible reason for women getting pissed off at discussions of their play styles by men could concievably be the perception that the generalisations made in such discussions do not fit them, and thus are reflecting negatively on them. Such a reaction is perfectly understandable, so long as you understand how a generalisation can be taken personally. But of course, generalisations aren't meant to be taken personally, they are merely rules of large-scale observation.


Exactly. Thank you.

Quote
-Contrary to what chadu reported, she seems to be uninterested in getting "sidetracked", and prefers to just get to the point.


At least two of my informants matched up with this "get to the point" mode you're talking about, but then immediately qualified it by saying something like "but I play like a guy." And please take into account that they both said this before I nailed down my generalizations on male/female playstyles.

Quote
2. I don't think I would be wrong in assuming that chadu is with me on this, but no observation of mine carries with it a value judgement. Any percieved value judgement on the behalf of a reader is either projection or misinterpretation of my (possibly mispresented) meaning.


Personally, I didn't read any, nor was I making any value judgements in my initial post. If it appears that I was to anyone out there, then I apologize for my failure to communicate my lack of desire to assigning relative value to male or female playstyles. I'll try harder next time.

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

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chadu
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2004, 10:00:14 PM »

Quote from: Noon
This post seems to start with the same idea: Tapping a significant demographic for more players.


Exactly. Thank you.

Quote
So: How can we turn this information into a tool to gouge out more players from this rich demographic?


Well, I had vaguely thought about some of these issues ("what women tend to like in games") in the wayback when writing DI. Of course, I was conceptualizing it more as "what newbies tend to like in games" at the time. (And frankly, I think I'm sliding back that way, somewhat. Still, the noticeable differences between my previous gaming experiences with newbies in the group, all-newbies in the group, all-male groups, female-minority groups, and a female-majority group are yet provocative enough for me to continue to feel that there is a distinct social dynamic created by more women playing  than men that is different from the other examples.)
 
But that's just my feeling and impression. I could be unconsciously skewing the memories.

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

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xiombarg
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2004, 05:59:56 AM »

I think this thread would be better in Actual Play -- really, it's about Chad's personal experience in running his game. The generalizations are just gravy, and admittedly based on a small amount of data.

That said, generally, I find this thread interesting, tho I don't have much to add. I agree that it's more about the subtle interaction between male and female than it is about "women in general". My understanding is that all-female groups (i.e. no men present) act differently if even just one male is added to the mix.

I agree that one can't generalize too much -- women are people first, as it were, and people vary -- but our society does impose gender roles socially and this has an effect on how men and women interact socially. And given that roleplaying is largely a social activity, it makes sense that gender makes a difference. Heck, isn't that half the point of Ron's Sex and Sorcery?

All that said, there's a gender-unrelated nit I want to pick:

Quote from: chadu

* System doesn't matter, except if it helps enhance the enjoyment of a game. If the System gets in the way, slows down play, or produces weird-ass -- or worse, dull -- results, this is bad, because you're wasting the woman gamer's valuable time. If the system adds to the experience, speeds up play, and produces interesting or exciting results, then System is a bonus.

Um, Chad, doesn't this amount to "System doesn't matter, except when it does"?

Women or no women, you've underlined here why system does matter, in that it can get in the way of or enhance the type of fun the group is trying to have. Whether or not women want to have different types of fun than men or not, it's generally true that system makes a difference in terms of that fun, for good or ill.

In fact, System is content -- in that it generates results, as you mention. It generates content for the game. So to say system doesn't matter undercuts your point about women and content. (Tho I think that's pretty generic -- men like content, too, just arguably different content.)
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2004, 07:04:43 AM »

Perhaps I was too hasty. Still, more bullets, however:

A. Women are different from men. I never said otherwise or even implied it.

B. While, yes, women seem to be a minority in RPG play, no annectodal evidence from as small a sample as indicated is going to say anything empirical about women as a group. Neither women who play RPGs now, much less women in general.

C. Psychology or other social sciences probably do have relevant things to say about this. See Ron's book Sorcerer & Sex for a well thought out discussion of such matters of not only individual gender at the table, but how mixing affects play.

D. Even with Ron's work, I've seen no advice ever that comes close to being as efficatious in getting women to play RPGs as this: treat women with the same respect you treat everyone playing and they'll be as attracted to play as everyone else. It's a social activity first. As long as they feel comfortable with the people, then what you do in the game comes a distant second in importance.

E. Not all women get pissed off about this stuff, most of them just ignore it. Some do try to participate in a positive manner as well, but in general that doesn't seem to help too much other than to re-establish what we all know: that women are individuals. Likely you'll get many women coming on here and telling you how they don't fit your profile. Given that annecdottal evidence and yours and mine, chadu, that'll more than overturn your other annectodal evidence.

F. Like I've said, this has all been worked out before. Not using the search engine to discover the previous information, and then posting to a thread like this when you've been told that it exists only makes you look assinine.

To whit, here are some typical examples for those who claim that they don't have the mental facilities or time to learn how to use the search engine:
Depiction of women in gaming in general
The effects of Cheescake
Trollbabe and Feminism
Trollbabe and Femininity
Cross Gender Play Issues
More Cross Gender Play Issues
Even More Cross Gender Play Issues
Gender Bias In RPG Texts
Feminism in Game Design
Romantic Partners who Game
Gender Pronouns
"Adult" RPGs
Roleplaying and Dating
Taste Issues
Women and The Forge
Male Dominance in RPGs

Many threads on Sex and Sorcery:Sex and Sorcery Preview
Do a search for a lot more discussion there.

Dear to my heart: Universalis and Gender

And perhaps most importantly:
Sexism in Gaming
Combating Sexism in Gaming
Designing Settings for Female Players
Designing Text for Female Players

This is what I found without trying hard, or without stretching at all to include them. Each of these threads has important things to say about the gender issue.

Now, if there's something useful to be said after reading all of that, then great, I'm all ears. Color me skeptical.

Mike
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2004, 07:22:03 AM »

Quote from: xiombarg
Quote from: chadu
* System doesn't matter, except if it helps enhance the enjoyment of a game. If the System gets in the way, slows down play, or produces weird-ass -- or worse, dull -- results, this is bad, because you're wasting the woman gamer's valuable time. If the system adds to the experience, speeds up play, and produces interesting or exciting results, then System is a bonus.

Um, Chad, doesn't this amount to "System doesn't matter, except when it does"?

I think the system-mattering behavior in this case *might* be more like a very-pervy/transparently-vanilla distinction, and more generally some care less about the system in particular than its play. Some do find a pleasure in Exploration of System itself (in all its crunchy detail) while other players see it as just a potentially obstructionist means to an end.
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chadu
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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2004, 07:35:18 AM »

Quote from: xiombarg
I think this thread would be better in Actual Play -- really, it's about Chad's personal experience in running his game. The generalizations are just gravy, and admittedly based on a small amount of data.


If a mod wants to move it there, that'd be cool.

Quote from: xiombarg
All that said, there's a gender-unrelated nit I want to pick:

Quote from: chadu

* System doesn't matter, except if it helps enhance the enjoyment of a game. If the System gets in the way, slows down play, or produces weird-ass -- or worse, dull -- results, this is bad, because you're wasting the woman gamer's valuable time. If the system adds to the experience, speeds up play, and produces interesting or exciting results, then System is a bonus.


Um, Chad, doesn't this amount to "System doesn't matter, except when it does"?

Women or no women, you've underlined here why system does matter, in that it can get in the way of or enhance the type of fun the group is trying to have.


Yes. But let me clarify: I think System matters most at the very high and the very low ends of enjoyment curve, and matters least in the middle bulgy bit of the curve.

So, you either don't think of the System really at all, it enhances your fun greatly, or it actively interferes with your fun.

Does that make sense?

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

Atomic Sock Monkey Press

 Available Now: Truth & Justice
chadu
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« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2004, 07:56:08 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Perhaps I was too hasty. Still, more bullets, however:

B. While, yes, women seem to be a minority in RPG play, no annectodal evidence from as small a sample as indicated is going to say anything empirical about women as a group. Neither women who play RPGs now, much less women in general.


To be honest, nothing anyone says here is going to say anything empirical about gamers as a group. We don't have the tools or the information -- they closest we as a hobby have ever got is the WOtC survey from a few years ago.

I see this -- what we're doing here -- as a point of departure for discussion, not a statement ex cathedra. "Here is my current opinion and thinking; let's talk about it. . ."

Quote
C. Psychology or other social sciences probably do have relevant things to say about this. See Ron's book Sorcerer & Sex for a well thought out discussion of such matters of not only individual gender at the table, but how mixing affects play.


I recently read Sorcerer & Sex about six weeks ago. I found it interesting, but not the last word on the subject.

Quote
D. Even with Ron's work, I've seen no advice ever that comes close to being as efficatious in getting women to play RPGs as this: treat women with the same respect you treat everyone playing and they'll be as attracted to play as everyone else. It's a social activity first. As long as they feel comfortable with the people, then what you do in the game comes a distant second in importance.


Oh, I totally agree with this. About the only alteration I'd make is that folks should examine the level of respect they treat everyone around the table with. I mean, it does no good to treat a new player like crap, just becuase you treat everybody like crap, right?

Personally, I think that's one of the biggest aspects that drives away newbies (after rules complexity) -- intrapersonal sniping and lack of respect.  

Quote
E. Not all women get pissed off about this stuff, most of them just ignore it. Some do try to participate in a positive manner as well, but in general that doesn't seem to help too much other than to re-establish what we all know: that women are individuals. Likely you'll get many women coming on here and telling you how they don't fit your profile. Given that annecdottal evidence and yours and mine, chadu, that'll more than overturn your other annectodal evidence.


And, for my part, that's all to the good. I want to hear all sorts of anecdotes.  

Quote
F. Like I've said, this has all been worked out before.


Respectfully, I disagree. I don't think the issue has been worked out (in the sense of solved or understood completely). But that's my opinion.

Quote
Not using the search engine to discover the previous information, and then posting to a thread like this when you've been told that it exists only makes you look assinine.
(snip list)


How do you know I haven't looked at previous information? I didn't say either way, you'll notice.

Since you've brought it up, and since I say as much above, I have read several, but not all, of the threads you cite. And, for the most part, I feel the issues involved haven't been worked out to my satisfaction. Thus, I post my thoughts and discuss them with folks like you.

Additionally, I am sharing a personal experience of mine that I found interesting, in the hopes that others would find it so as well.

Frthermore, I am coming to the conclusion that there seems to be a stronger relation between what I'm seeing as "women gamer style" and what I'm seeing as "newbie gamer style" than I had otherwise supposed. And I'm qualifying my statements and asking for comment so as to refine the concepts and my own thoughts, as well as sharing what might be a valuable insight.

Lastly, I'm interested in exploring RPG Theories for supporting entry-level play, in the interests of increasing my own sales and strengthening the hobby.

Quote


BTW: These two I seem to have missed, and will read them without delay.

Quote
Now, if there's something useful to be said after reading all of that, then great, I'm all ears. Color me skeptical.


All right. You're skeptical-colored. Now your pants don't match your shirt.

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

Atomic Sock Monkey Press

 Available Now: Truth & Justice
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2004, 07:59:27 AM »

Hey everyone,

Check out at least a few of those threads Mike listed, please. There's a lot of work there, and it would really be a crying shame if this discussion didn't benefit from it.

Best,
Ron
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