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Author Topic: Mechanical Gender Differences III (I'm Embarrassed)  (Read 12774 times)
Thuringwaethiel
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2004, 04:22:12 AM »

More on-topic this time.. I've given pretty much thought to the issue (sex/gender based stat difference) and this is my current "solution" to the problem. I've worded the example according to the system I'm most familiar with, MERP:

"Males and females of Middle-Earth are somewhat unlike, as they are in today's world. In a normal case, a male character gets a +10 bonus to his Strength, and +5 both Constitution and Intelligence. A female gets +10 Intuition and +5 Agility and Presence. However, because PC's (and some NPC's) are anything but your average yoke, feel free to distribute that +20 however you wish (and GM approves). The average distribution is just it, an average. Use it as an guideline or when creating somewhat normal NPC's."

(BTW, if someone wonders why the free +20, the answer is simple: if you use the basic MERP stat rolls, most of your characters will suck big time.)

So, the basic solution: define the gender-based stats, use them with NPC's, but allow the PC's to diverse from them if they want an extraordinary character. If you want, you may add some quirks to the most abnormal (woman with high strength might be huge in size, man with high empathy could be easier target to seduction or pleas). Should work in any system and genre, with little work of course.
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Ben O'Neal
Member

Posts: 294


« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2004, 04:48:47 AM »

Quote
You contradict yourself. Limbic system identifies gender, and does not affect mathematics. True. "Math brain" work maths, and does not affect gender. So how can you say the "math brain" is masculine? It doesn't have anything to do with gender or sex. (While there is statistical relevance, the mathematical abilities do not indicate gender on individual level. Nor does f ex empathy; males can be nurturing without being feminine, and women can be cold and still 'girly'.)

What? I didn't contradict myself. the BSTc is important in gender identification. NOT in gender per se. Also, the terms: "masculine" and "feminine" when dealing with neuropsych refer to changes that are found more commonly in males than females and vice versa, not that they are found solely in one gender or the other. The "math brain" you refer to would be a masculine trait, due to its increased occurance in males, not because it defines males.

Quote
It's about that part of brain that alone can be masculine or feminine (or neither, or both).

And which part would that be?


-Ben
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2004, 05:16:10 AM »

Yeah, but the point still stands: you can't sit down and play with orcs because, oh crap, they get this intelligence penalty...

You can give a dwarf +2 to Strength, and a half-orc -4 to Intelligence and no one bats an eye. But the minute you make a case about male and females being different (even though they really provably ARE, physically and psychologically), everyone goes apeshit and it's sexist, the person daring to note it is psychologically disturbed, and etc.

That is, no one complains about the intelligence penalty for orcs, but make a penalty (or bonus) gender based, and suddenly everyone's undies are all twisted around.

I note the mechanics under discussion are modifiers which do not say "men ARE stronger than women" or "women ARE more socially adept than men" (which would be sexist), only that all things considered, statistically, a man has a better chance of being physically stronger, a woman a better chance of being more socially adept. And thus the only thing these modifiers will affect in play will be the upper levels of ability (frex: a perfect female athlete will not reach the same strength as a perfect male athlete).

The randomization of the actual scores will ensure that not every man is strong, nor every woman social...nor will individual women be weaker than men, or individual men less social than women. Individuals will remain, and you will have women stronger than men, and men more socially adept than women. You'll have female athletes who can kick the asses of most men, and even a sizeable portion of the assess of male athletes as well.

The only place the modifier will really, actually, truly affect things is in the overall statistics (averages) across a large group. But, like I said, point that fact of statistical difference out with game mechanics and suddenly you're a pariah among the orcs...I mean people, since no one would have peeped if the original question had been about race (or rather "species") based modifiers in a game.

I doubt Ben would have been cursed at and psychologically cross-examined, either. Male lions tend to be stronger than female lions, so generate their strength scores with a +2. No one blinks. Human males tend to be stronger than human female, so generate their strength scores with a +2. Listen to the furious screams of inequity!

I have a theory: if Ben's modifiers had nothing to do with the Strength score, there'd be much less fuss. I propose there is a subconsicious association of "strength" with "ability to do things," and thus any game which boosts a particular person or group's Strength score compared to another individual or group (let alone penalizing the other group) is viewed as painting that individual or group as "less capable" but not just physically -- thus, giving women a negative Strength modifier or men a positive modifier is tantamount to calling women "weak" in not just a physical sense, stirring up all sorts of negative stereotypes, which are what is actually being reacted to.

I mean, seriously, do you hear anyone ANYONE complaining that men are shortchanged by these rules? "Not social enough?! EGADS! That BASTARD!" It's all, "Oh, that's so sexist! So chauvanistic! How dare you give men a bonus women don't get?" Well, screw that, maybe it's really phallogystic (or whatever the opposite of misogynistic is).

Or more seriously, maybe it's just a reaction to the perception of "inequality" that modifiers create -- since our culture pounds into our heads that everyone, especially men and women, are equal, and can do everything the other can do, the idea is poisoned that things can be inequal and not have it be a "better than" and "lesser than" value judgement.

The whole reaction is ultimately foolish based on the simple fact that the same arguments used as to why it "isn't realistic" or "shouldn't be done" are never applied to assigning modifiers by race.

It's so obviously political when you take a step back.

In fact, hey, how's this, I refuse to consider gender-based modifiers a problem until I see a real thread filled with the same sort of vicious response to race-based modifiers. So, come on folks, lets see you get your steam on about those damn elven intelligence bonuses! And how about until then, you're all a bunch of racists.

(Please, someone label me a sexist jerk now, and totally fail to get my point.)
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
xiombarg
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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2004, 06:10:17 AM »

Raven, I totally grok your point.

You know why I don't like racial modifications? I don't see the point. They don't seem to add much to the game experience for most designs. They're boring. Ditto gender modifications.

That said, as Dana implied, in a Gamist RPG like D&D 3.x, this is part of your min-maxing choices, so that's cool. And for a largely Gamist RPG I could be cool with gender modifiers for the same reason, assuming that there was a benefit to being female as well as a disadvantage. In that case, it becomes not unlike choosing between an orc and an elf.

Frankly, my issue with the gender modifiers in Ben's game isn't that they're there, but he won't explain what purpose they serve. "It's interesting" isn't a real answer, because obviously it interests him, or it wouldn't be in the game in the first place. "It's realistic" isn't an answer, because there are a lot of things a game can seek "realism" on -- there has to be a reason one chooses to emphasize one form of realism over another. "It's one thing I want to explore" isn't an answer, because it begs the question: "Why do you want to explore that, and not something else?"

To use Ben's extreme example, I can explain why all of my games feature characters with arms and legs that can walk: Because most humans have arms and legs and can walk, and I want people to be able to identify with their characters somewhat. (Tho most of my games allow people to play a differently-abled character if they really like.)

But you can't use that explanation for the gender modifications -- I don't see how having a strength bonus to my male character helps me, as a male, identify with the character, because personally, I'm a geek and I'm not very strong, I don't identify with strong males at all. My wife is stronger than me.

Also, I'd say 99% of all people agree that the average person has arms and legs. I'm not sure 99% of all people agree that men are stronger than women. Whether you think those people who don't believe men are stronger than women are wrong is irrelevant -- they're going to balk while reading the game. So, there has to be a reason you're willing to exclude such people.

I mean, if Ben could give an answer similar to my reasoning for D&D above, I could help him with his game more, because I'd understand what he's trying to do, and why. As it is, I'm left scratching my head.

That said, there is a small fallacy in the argument about orcs. Orcs aren't real. There aren't any real orcs around to get justifiably upset if I'm playing an orc in a terribly stereotypical way.

However, some people feel awkward playing a character that isn't the same gender. Frankly, given the way race is in America, I'm uncomfortable playing, say, an Afro-American male in a game set in modern America, since I have no idea what it's like to grow up as a black man in America, regardless of whether there is a "Playing Basketball" or "Funky Dancing" bonus (or anything similarly stereotypical) for playing a black man or not in the game.

I have this problem becaues Afro-American males are real, just as women are real. Orcs aren't real, so it's less of an issue. Sure, I don't know what it's like to grow up as an orc, but I can make it up and not worry so much that I'm wrong.

Admittedly this is a highly Sim priority on my part, but I think that's why even highly Gamist games like D&D shy away from gender differences, as the "embarrassment factor" that this thread refers to means that players might not be comfortable making the optimal Gamist choice for social reasons. Now, Ben's response is "don't play the game, then," and there's something to that, but it leads right back to the "why" issue: Why exclude these players from your game? What are you trying to achieve?

For the record,  I have the same issue with Mongrel. I don't understand what Ron is trying to do with the gender-based mechanics, there. I don't a priori oppose them as sexist -- and ditto for Ben's game -- but I can't evaluate the mechanics until I understand the purpose. Again, to use Ben's extreme example, it's much easier for me to figure out why games feature humans with arms and legs, and to evaluate the purpose the mechanics have in assuming they exist, becuase that's a much more baseline and less contentious issue. I don't have to examine evidence, I can just use my own arms and legs as a model. ;-D
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2004, 06:42:26 AM »

Quote
In fact, hey, how's this, I refuse to consider gender-based modifiers a problem until I see a real thread filled with the same sort of vicious response to race-based modifiers. So, come on folks, lets see you get your steam on about those damn elven intelligence bonuses! And how about until then, you're all a bunch of racists.


Most important point: Elves are generally asumed not to exist. There is no perpetuation of social injustice against any real-world party when elves are assigned a +1 Dexterity and -1 Strength.

Second most important point: in-game assumptions are often such that elves are a separate species from humans. That's different from what "race" means in the real world.

You want to create a game where white people get +2 intelligence? You bet I'll speak up.
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2004, 07:02:17 AM »

Quote
So when I watch a sitcom that portrays all male characters as incompetent, insensitive, and stupid, like... I dunno, Everybody Loves Raymond... then it is my "responsibility" to start a public outcry?


"Public outcry" is different from "make your voice heard."

But yes, if you think that show or any other show causes harm, then you should say something about it. Maybe someone will make a compelling argument against what you perceive, maybe not.

I think in the case of middle-class white males being portrayed boorishly, there's not a long history of discrimination being fed, so most people who watch the show don't have much reason to take that seriously.
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Maarzan
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2004, 08:08:58 AM »

Quote from: xiombarg

You know why I don't like racial modifications? I don't see the point. They don't seem to add much to the game experience for most designs. They're boring. Ditto gender modifications.

You donīt see the difference between a troll and a hobbit and the different problems that arise for each of them. This explains something.

Quote

Frankly, my issue with the gender modifiers in Ben's game isn't that they're there, but he won't explain what purpose they serve. "It's interesting" isn't a real answer, because obviously it interests him, or it wouldn't be in the game in the first place. "It's realistic" isn't an answer, because there are a lot of things a game can seek "realism" on -- there has to be a reason one chooses to emphasize one form of realism over another. "It's one thing I want to explore" isn't an answer, because it begs the question: "Why do you want to explore that, and not something else?"


I think the exerps I have seen from Benīs game show clearly that he is quite interested to create a RPG where society seems real and its elemnts are believeable and fit together and that he has put thought in many facets of game life to add realism. Itīs unimportant if he succeeded or not. He has shown that it is not just a question of gender. And points dealing with the characters that the player will play is a good start for realism to, because it will be the first to influence play. I donīt think that he needs more justification, if he ever needed one.
Calling names for creating rules that donīt fit into ones (warped) view of the world on the other hand ... .

Quote

So, there has to be a reason you're willing to exclude such people.


A person that has just shown that it isnīt willing to fit into the created world, leaves hints that it is ruled by some self esteem or reality problems and willing to include them into the game and is calling for the mind police to press ideologic themes is a bomb waiting to explode during the game. This should be reason enough.

If on the other hand a person would have talked to Ben about certain effects of his rules that are probably not quite right - without drowning the sensible part with the flame thrower- he would be quite happy to change rules if the arguments are convincing. It would only help to achive his goal of a better world emulation which is quite a task for a single person and thus quite endangered for errors.

But with all the postings when dealing with gender modifications and for example never a mentioning about how most systems overvalue high attributes and thus hurt any character concept with more average attributes or neglect that training is a big must to realize the higher attribute I guess it isnīt the resolution or quality of the rules but the political agenda that fuels the flames.

Besides- one pet of mine is games that strive to emphazese that men and women are totally equal in their gameworld and then include amazons that rebel against mens tyranny.

 
Quote from: dana

Me and my double major in math and physics gets real tired of hearing about how girls are "obviously" not as good at math and science as boys are.


While INT rules that end with differing limits arenīt what I have read about men/women distributions of it your major is of no relevance to the discussion. Suppose that (AD&D base) an INT of 13 is needed to study math you could have get away with a imagined modificator of -5 and still be a valid AD&D mathematican. Same goes for female warriors in a real AD&D game. The allowed 18.50 should be quite enough to enlist.
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AnyaTheBlue
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2004, 08:11:32 AM »

Ben,


Quote from: Ravien

Quote from: Dana
Gender dimorphism is pretty complicated stuff. There are obviously genetic components, but there are also hormonal, developmental, anatomical, and sociological components (male and female cultures are different, for example) to it all. It doesn't cleave into two neat categories, as much as we all like to pretend that it does.

Actually, hormones are controlled genetically (excepting circumstances such as HRT, but even then, the hormones can alter gene expression and it becomes about genes again), anatomy is genetic (excepting things like getting your arm cut off), and development is always in a social context... so basically we can lump things into the two categories: Nature and Nurture, or Biology and Environment (which I prefer). Neither can exist without the other, and neither ever acts alone.


As it happens, no, hormones aren't 'controlled genetically', at least not in the way you seem to be suggesting.  It is entirely possible to take two people who have an identical genetic structure, but to have had one experience some hormonally related developmental event which causes significant developmental differences in the resulting person's biology.

Anatomy, too, is not entirely genetic.  The genetic information is a set of blueprints.  There are a bunch of construction workers working off that blueprint, but there are all sorts of mistakes of communication and signalling that can be made, completely unrelated to the individuals genetic makeup, resulting in the wrong stuff being built at the wrong time or in the wrong place.

Nature and Nurture are not the clean-room seperated categories you seem to prefer.

Neither nature nor nurture provides a deterministically determined destiny.
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Dana Johnson
Note that I'm heavily medicated and something of a flake.  Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
Halzebier
Member

Posts: 216


« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2004, 08:15:26 AM »

I think that gender modifiers help to reinforce genre.

More importantly, I think that the cliche that women are weaker than men is reinforced by the majority of action- and suspense-oriented genres, including 'weak' ones.

(For the purposes of this post, I define a weak genre as one which does not require much suspension of disbelief. Hitchcock's thrillers are a relatively weak genre, i.e. quite 'realistic', whereas Hong Kong action flicks are a strong one, i.e. 'over the top'.)

(Nevermind that all sorts of other genre conventions might be in place. Hitchcock's movies are notorious for humiliating cool blondes, but seen out of context - i.e., his body of work -, this does not tax our SOD too much.)

(My terminology - genre, realistic, weak/strong, cliche - is on shaky ground here and I'd be grateful if someone provided better terms.)

*-*-*

I'm sure the following examples for physical struggles between men and women will seem familiar:

(1) The heroine gets hysterical (another cliche) and the hero folds her into his arms to calm her while she ineffectually beats at his chest.

(2) The hero grabs the heroine and kisses her. She struggles, to no avail. (Afterwards, she will either slap him or kiss him in turn.)

(3) The heroine tries to kill the hero (or the villain) with a knife etc. He grabs her wrist and forces her to drop the weapon.

If the situation turns out differently, it's considered a surprise and is usually exaggerated (i.e., she applies a judo-throw when he tries to kiss her) rather than handled realistically (e.g., she pushes against him and after a few moments he gives up, embarrassed).

*-*-*

What's more is that these kinds of situations are by no means rare, they happen all the time because the battle of the sexes is a major topic.

Hence, a gender modifier for strength would seem to be spot-on for some strong, action- or suspense-oriented genres, e.g. Swords & Sorcery (which usually features agile female warriors at best).

Moreover, such a modifier would not seem particularly out of place for most weak, action- or suspense-oriented genres - including most fantasy genres.

Which genre, if any, do you consider _Eclipse_ to be, Ben?

Regards,

Hal
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greyorm
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« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2004, 10:35:07 AM »

Quote from: Matt Wilson
There is no perpetuation of social injustice against any real-world party

(sigh)

There is no perpetration of social injustice against women by giving them a bonus men don't get (social), or men a bonus women don't get (physical), especially one that doesn't even affect them all as individuals, only as a statistical group and which is representative of the real-world reality of differences between men and women as statistical groups.

Quote
You want to create a game where white people get +2 intelligence? You bet I'll speak up.

And what if I created a game where African-Americans get a +2 intelligence?

I'd put money on it being praised as an enabling, multi-cultural experience, rather than racist tripe. Ultimately, the foundation of these reactions is the same crap we ran into in the whole discussion about race a few months back ("Black orcs?! The horror! It's racist! Racist!").

As I said, politics.
Or more correctly: it's cultural reactionism, based on years of immersion and conditioning to cultural memes. I test my own responses here, and "white people getting a +2 Int" causes both and internal emotional and external physiologic reaction than does "black people getting a +2 Int."

We're sensitive to inequality against certain groups, because it is such a part of our cultural landscape, and that sensitivity bleeds over in to any subject dealing with that group. Unfortunately, it often causes over-compensation.
Quote
Elves are generally assumed not to exist...

Quote from: xiombarg
Orcs aren't real. There aren't any real orcs around to get justifiably upset if I'm playing an orc in a terribly stereotypical way.

While an excellent point...that we are speaking about species which do not actually exist, and there's no room for someone to be offended by this...the problem is that the differences between men and women DO exist in the real world. I cite the following:

    o Men and women think differently, MRIs show their brains function differently on a fundamental level of processing data (and even perception thereof differs).
    o Psychology has long held that women create, maintain, and categorize social structures in their communities differently than men do.
    o Male and female athletes are in different categories because they cannot be compared physically to one another.[/list:u]
    Men and women
are different in a number of areas of daily function, not just appearance, and have different capabilities at the ends of various scales. Yet some folks scream like they've been burned with fire if you dare to point these differences out, or (gods forbid) actually define them in the context of game mechanics.

Matt, when you deny this fact by trying to claim that a modifier to a strength score is unreasonable, that it is continuing or supporting social injustice -- and further, that you are solely focused on the female aspect of the situation, rather than the inequality created by women recieving a bonus where men do not (because you can't tell me there's any perceived social injustice against men being catered to here), tells me right where all this opposition is really coming from.

Because the modifiers aren't sexist, as established in my last post, and if they are, they're sexist both ways (despite the absolute focus on "how girls feel about it")...so all I can do is call "projection" right here in this discussion, from a number of posters (an issue we've apparently been dealing with alot recently).

After all, it isn't as though women are being written off or written up with an unequal (ie: lesser status) treatment, here. It's a representation of noted differences in function applied at a basic level.

Women can't be "weaker" in this system because you aren't rolling anything different for them -- roll up enough characters and, statistically, the female characters will fill a lower end of the scale than will males. Yes. But if that's "sexist" then someone needs to have a chat with the universe and its obvious misogynistic agenda.

And to again note this point: how it is expressing "social injustice (towards women)" and the inequality towards men is just completely forgotten, since, apparently, men being worse socially isn't a big deal or sexist -- but regardless paints this picture of misogyny towards women, where these mechanics somehow paint men as up on a pedestal and women as being treated unfairly. Well, that's all bullshit. Utter crap that isn't even present in the material being discussed. Knee-jerk reactionism. Politics.

So, please answer this: what sort of mechanical effect(s) detailing the real differences between men and women, phsyiologically and psychologically, would you be comfortable with?

(Note, however, if your answer is "none" then I can only judge, for myself, that the problem is not with the depiction of a real world data point, but your reaction to it and your own cultural biases.)
Quote
"It's realistic" isn't an answer, because there are a lot of things a game can seek "realism" on -- there has to be a reason one chooses to emphasize one form of realism over another.

I disagree. I think realism can be, and often is, its own point. That said, given that the choices of what to model are abstract, the choice of realism for its sake becomes muted and can be questioned.

But ultimately, when you get down to it, it's a non-issue. It's another data point used to build characters based on factors that differentiate the various types from each other (including social, genetic, wealth, etc). Does it HAVE to be something more? No.

Here's my question to you: is it realistic NOT to include these modifiers? To assume that men and women are exactly the same, with the same capabilities, and then create them as such in a game, do that the game reality is seriously skewed from what we know to be true?

Quite honestly, I begin to get the feeling that while GNS may have helped us all overcome good/bad judgements about play style and system, we haven't quite figured out behavior regarding judgements beyond that.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
John Harper
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« Reply #25 on: May 13, 2004, 11:12:53 AM »

Raven and Ravien:

Matt is not arguing that men and women are the same. He never says that, and he doesn't imply it. Men and women are different. We all agree. Let's grant that as a fact and quit "arguing" about it. No one is disagreeing on this point.

Now, how are they different? Brain waves, hormones, muscle mass, endurance, I.Q. score... there is an awful lot of statistical data out there that you can reference. A given study might indicate that the "average" man is stronger than the "average" woman, for a particular type of lift, among a certain population, from a certain sample size. Is that indicative of every woman and every man, everywhere, always? Certainly not.

See, no one is arguing that the data you cite is wrong. The data from a given study is probably accurate. The bugaboo with statistics is the conclusion that one draws from the data. Science is pretty rigorous when it comes to this kind of thing.

The people that did the weight-lifting study, for example, would never presume to say that their experiment indicates men are stronger than women. They would say that, for this population sample-size, with this lift technique, at this social/nutrutional level, among people willing to participate in the study, men were stronger on average. Extrapolating out from that data to every person everywhere at any time is simply bad science. It's not "realistic" at all.

If pointing to real-world science is your entire reason for including these mechanics in your game (as Ravien claims again and again) then your resolution scale is going to have to become very fine, indeed. Because the science you're using as justification for your system refers to very specific tests, conditions, and subjects.

A simple, broad attribute like "Power" just won't do. The strength studies tested certain techniques of weight-lifting. Your stat will have to be split out into Bench Press, Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Leg Press, at least -- with appropriate modifiers for each based on the statistics available. And that's just for weight lifting. What about hitting power? That's certainly part of your Power attribute, but striking power isn't tied directly to weight-lifting strength. How do we know that men have an advantage here? Where's the data?

As you can see, this quickly gets very complex. Using real-world data to inform your RPG is a fine way to design a game (it's not to my taste, but I wouldn't say it's "wrong") but it's useless if you use very specific data to model very broad mechanics. This same principle applies to the Social bonus for women in the system. I'm not singling this out as a sexist issue because the flaw (IMO) lies at a more basic level of statistical interpretation.

To summarize: Using very specific and controlled data to inform very broad and generalized mechanics is counter to your aim of being realistic. To truly support the real world data you've chosen to reference, the system must reflect the parameters of that data in a meaningful way.
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John Kim
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« Reply #26 on: May 13, 2004, 12:00:20 PM »

Quote from: greyorm
  While an excellent point...that we are speaking about species which do not actually exist, and there's no room for someone to be offended by this...the problem is that the differences between men and women DO exist in the real world. I cite the following:
    o Men and women think differently, MRIs show their brains function differently on a fundamental level of processing data (and even perception thereof differs).
    o Psychology has long held that women create, maintain, and categorize social structures in their communities differently than men do.
    o Male and female athletes are in different categories because they cannot be compared physically to one another.[/list:u]
    Men and women
are different in a number of areas of daily function, not just appearance, and have different capabilities at the ends of various scales. Yet some folks scream like they've been burned with fire if you dare to point these differences out, or (gods forbid) actually define them in the context of game mechanics.  
 
Quote from: greyorm
 So, please answer this: what sort of mechanical effect(s) detailing the real differences between men and women, phsyiologically and psychologically, would you be comfortable with?  

I can't answer for anyone else, but I expressed before my concern to Ben.  The real-world social injustice comes from looking at statistical  differences between populations, and then assuming from that some sort of essential or genetic quality.  For example, seeing that African countries are less technologically advanced than European countries, some people then conclude that Africans genetically tend to be less good at science and technology.  Now, the data here is absolutely true -- African countries are far behind Europe in science and technology.  But the conclusion that this is an inherent, genetic quality of African people is extremely controversial.  

By expressing statistical differences as attribute modifiers, you are strongly implying that these are essential/genetic differences, as opposed to constructed/cultural ones.  No one sensible denies that men and women are genetically different.  But equally true no one sensible denies that men and women are treated differently.  i.e. The differences between men and women as populations are caused by both genetic and social/cultural forces.  But in the real world the exact balance of how much any given quality is genetic is never clear.  

Personally, I would be more comfortable with a system which does not imply knowing a difference between exactly what is nature vs. nurture.  For example, in his http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=11111">Eclipse design thread, Ben suggests certain modifiers for gender which then stack with certain modifiers for social class.  However, this still implies that the gender modifiers are essential.  

On the other hand, you could have combined packages for race, gender, and social class: i.e. you have a "noblewoman" package, a "peasant man" package, and so forth.  This would further allow you to express social differences that aren't possible in the other system.  For example, I could posit that there is a very large gap in strength between noble men and noble women -- because while noble men are fed and trained to be warriors, noble women are not inclined to need or use manual strength.  In contrast, there might be less of a gap among peasants, because peasant women frequently engage in manual labor.
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- John
John Harper
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« Reply #27 on: May 13, 2004, 12:16:30 PM »

Quote from: greyorm
That is, no one complains about the intelligence penalty for orcs, but make a penalty (or bonus) gender based, and suddenly everyone's undies are all twisted around.

Let's take these two examples:

Designer: "Orcs get an intelligence penalty."
Player: "Why?"
Designer: "Because I want Orcs to be dumber than humans in my game world."

---

Designer: "Women get a bonus when buying Social points."
Player: "Why?"
Desginer: "Because it's been proven that women are more socially adept in the real world."

---

See the difference? It's not the mechanic itself that's upsetting most people. It's the absolute and total refusal on the part of Ben to acknowledge the difference in the two bold phrases above. Assigning modifiers for fantasy races is fundamentally different than modifiers for real world gender, simply because of the claimed motivation behind it and the justifcations provided. The second bold phrase, above, is far from The Absoulte Undisputable Truth, and yet Ben seems to think it is, and that it's all the reason he needs.

The real answer for example two is this:
Designer: "Because I've read statistics that lead me to believe that women are more socially adept in the real world and I've decided to reflect those statistics in my game."

And no one can argue with that. Ben certainly believes in his gender types and the data behind them. No one can question that. No one is arguing that. The question is: Is Ben right? He seems hellbent on convincing us that he is. And a bunch of posters are equally fired up to prove that he's wrong. This debate, in one form or another, has gone on for centuries. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that no one is budging from their position on gender.

So, Ben, if you're still listening, here's how you put an end to this nonsense. If you can agree to the statement in red, above, then we have nothing left to debate on the issues of gender, nature vs. nurture, sexism, etc. All that's left is, "Do your mechanics support your beliefs and stated goals?" And that's something the Forge can help you with.

My answer to that last question is in my previous post. Best of luck to you.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #28 on: May 13, 2004, 12:37:00 PM »

Hey, John

Would this also be acceptable?

Designer: "Because I want women to be more socially adept in my game world."
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John Harper
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« Reply #29 on: May 13, 2004, 12:43:51 PM »

Absolutely, Jack. Thanks for pointing that out.
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