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Author Topic: Gender Based vs. Gender Biased  (Read 41748 times)
SlurpeeMoney
Member

Posts: 69


« on: May 20, 2004, 07:34:31 PM »

I have not read the whole of the discussion on gender based rules creation, but it seems to me that the point in basing attribute decisions on gender is being missed altogether. I, personally, game with a group that is evenly divided between men and women (something of a rarity, I hear), and whenever the idea of making modifiers to attributes along "gender lines" comes up, the girls tend to be quite in favor of it.

And why shouldn't they be? Both men and women have a lot of strengths that they should be free to explore in-game. To use a strong generalization, women tend to be more flexible than men. Men tend to have more upper body strength. Women tend to have greater lower body strength. Men tend to have faster reflexes. Women tend to have more accurate reflexes (an important distinction, particularly in combat-oriented games)... And that's just the biological trends that can be established easilly. The sociological and anthropological differences are astounding and have been the topic of hundreds of  books on how men and women relate with one another and with members of their same sex. To simply blanket men and women under the same sets of mental, physical and social attributes would be a disservice to both.

I don't want to categorize women into the field of "young and pretty and completely helpless in the real world," though I will grant you that there will be certain social understandings in which that will be the norm. I simply think that the differences between men and women have become such an ingrained aspect of our culture that to overlook it in a hobby as personal as role-playing seems a gross oversight. The girls in my group like being girls. I say, let them be the best girls they can be.

Here is how I think it could be done:

First and foremost, it would have to exist primarilly in random character creation systems. This would be to, occasionally, break the stereotypes. After all, as one girl so vehemently pointed out, she is good at math and science, the traditional realm of "male thought." There are guys who are young and pretty and completley helpless in the real world that make great characters just as surely as there are girls who are big and tough and don't shy away from a good fight. Literary examples would be Jaqueline Carey's Alcuin (Kushiel's Dart) and Robert Jordan's Bridgitte (The Wheel of Time), respectively.

The inherent strengths of gender would have to take the form of bonuses to attribute rolls. After the attributes are rolled and set, the bonuses are added. This would be something akin to the racial attribute bonuses in the D20 system.

(Also of possibility would be a "Gender Meter." This would measure a character's leaning towards the traditional aspects of one gender or the other. This would be a measure of Masculinity in girls (I've met some pretty masculine girls), and Femininity in boys (One of my friends was a homosexual so feminine, some would have refered to him as "flaming.") This is merely a toss-in, something you could do in a point-based system like Vampire or Witchcraft.)

And it's that simple. Using D20 as an example:
Girls get a small bonus to Dexterity (+1), Charisma (+1) and Reach (an extra 5 feet; the reach bonus is for the leg-strength, as it is easier to "lunge" into an attack with strong legs). Boys get an equivilent small bonus to their Strength (+1), Constitution (+1) and Initiative (+2 for faster reflexes; for added realism, a -2 to strike would be appropriate, while a girl's first attack may recieve a +2. This could also be added to the Armor Class, blah blah blah blah blah).

It is possible to adjust attributes to accomodate the strengths of both genders. With enough time and some patience, we may even be able to discuss some of those sticky social situations (i.e. gender roles in particular societies in particular times). Really, leaving out differences between the sexes can leave out a whole aspect of the game. Attributes are just the start.

SlurpeeMoney
"Girl's tend to play differently than boys, too. But we'll not get into that..."
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Ben O'Neal
Member

Posts: 294


« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2004, 08:14:51 PM »

Hi, welcome to the Forge! We tend to go by first names around here, I'm Ben, what's your name?

Quote
I have not read the whole of the discussion on gender based rules creation, but it seems to me that the point in basing attribute decisions on gender is being missed altogether.

Well, this topic came up just recently. In fact, it was brought up by me! It was very controversial. Alot of people got very heated, names were called, stones were thrown... all that stuff. Not good. Also, here at the forge we like to avoid saying the same things twice, so we try to make sure that we all read what has been said before (in this case, only last week), and that way we can ensure that any discussion is forward moving, and not just retreading old ground. That said, here are the most recent relevant links:

Mechanical Gender Differences (bought up by me, the one that sparked the fire)
Mechanical gender differences II [Mongrel]
Mechanical Gender Differences III (I'm Embarrassed)
Let's Do This Now (this one is mostly a response to the attacks made against me personally, but does include some relevant scientific references to gender differences)
Gender: Dead horse flogging!
[Eclipse] Gender and Social Class (example of an actual game (my game) and how gender may be applied)

I'm sure you'll find that they are all rivetting reads, with alot of good points made in them, both for and against the inclusion of gender in games. At the very least, if you read them, at least you won't be saying the same things as have already been brought up.


Now, with that out of the way, I'm curious where you get your information about female lower-body strength. I ask because I've never encountered this in the literature, and it seems incongrous with the facts concerning running speed and my personal experience with how hard a girl can kick. Also, your faster/more accurate reflexes seem strange, and again I've not seen them represented in the literature.

Also, regarding your d20 example, as I noted in the first link, any attempts to introduce gender into a game focused on a gender biased thing like combat (like d20 is), will result in what I term "The Problem", which is basically that because of the focus of the game and the nature of the gender differences, one gender will become less suited for the game overall, and this is a Bad Thing.

Quote
With enough time and some patience, we may even be able to discuss some of those sticky social situations.

You may find that "those sticky social situations" aren't nearly so sticky as any suggestion that there is an innate difference between the genders (as attributes imply). The reason is thus: If a social bias exists, then this can be dealt with and removed if it's basis is merely superficial sexism. However, if the bias exists because of inherent differences, then it is justified in it's existance, and thus much harder to remove. Hence much of the discussion about gender is very focused on claiming that differences are not innate, and are merely a social construct.

Quote
Really, leaving out differences between the sexes can leave out a whole aspect of the game. Attributes are just the start.

I agree fully with both of these statements.

I hope those links and my comments help you decide how you want to focus this topic. And again, welcome to the forge.

-Ben


P.S. Be very careful about making such claims as "Girls tend to play differently to boys", because, whilst I and a few other people will agree with you, they are based entirely on anecdotal evidence, and you need to be sure to clearly qualify your statements, like saying "In my personal experience, I've noticed that girls tend to approach situations in X, Y, Z ways, whilst boys tend to approach those same situations in A, B, C ways.". Furthermore, some people don't like the implication that boys are the standard against which girls are measured as different to. I think that this is stupid PC nonsense, because the sentence has the same meaning if it were phrased "boys tend to play differently to girls", but some people like to find hidden meanings in such statements and make assumptions about you based on how you word things. So just bear that in mind.
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SlurpeeMoney
Member

Posts: 69


« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2004, 08:52:25 PM »

Hi. I'm Kris.

I read much of the first few pages of the articles mentioned; the tone became quite argumentative, rather than constructive, and the posts were growing exponentially in length, to the point of tediousness. Slogging through what seemed more argument than constructive criticism is, or has been to me, an indication that, while the subject does warrant further discussion, it is time to take a breath and get back to the issues. Hence the New Topic, rather than the reply.

I cannot recall, exactly, where I heard that women have more accurate reflexes than men; it simply struck me as odd that, while men react, on the whole, faster than women, when a woman reacts, it tends to be more accurate. I believe it was one of the many sexual documentaries I watch, many of which focus on the differences between men and women. I believe the reference to stronger lower body strength was made vis a vis an article I read on the topic more moons ago than I care to count. In it, a young lady was championing much the same cause I am: gender bias based, not on the respective weakness of a given sex, but on the comparative strengths of both. As I recall, she had a very interesting bit regarding the favored weapons of women based upon their strengths, and I suddenly find myself wishing I had the article. I believe it was on RPG.net, and should I find it, I will link it here.

Combat is not a gender biased topic. Women are just as capable in combat as men, if not more so. Taking into consideration the greater range of attack a woman has available to her, as per her ability to lunge, it would be quite a simple matter to keep a man at an appreciable distance where weapons designed to make use of his greater upper body strength (which tend to be quite a bit smaller) are of little or no use. Taking the time required to change your weapon to something more suitable produces a unique opportunity for a woman to attack while the man is basically defenseless. There are, of course, maneuvers to get into close range against a pole-arm weilding individual, and certainly those would be used, in which case daggers and swords relying on finess and speed, rather than strength, come into play. Women are warriors of equal versatility and strength as men, given the opportunity.

Quote
If a social bias exists, then this can be dealt with and removed if it's basis is merely superficial sexism.


I find this statement very difficult to reconcile with the way that the world actually works. You could pass off gender bias in society as superficial sexism, yes, but any attempt at a study of it would require digging into the social contexts in which that sexism is accepted and, more importantly, engendered into the mainstream consciousness. And sexism may not be so nearly as superfiscial as some would give it credit. Men and women are different animals. Were we any different than we are, I might go so far as to say we are Sexocialy Dimorphic. Sexism could be a designed cultural trait meant to maintain sexual drive through competition with our mates. Still, that's a discussion for another day. I digress.

As for focusing the topic, I think I already know how I would like it to be focused; I want to discuss sexual strength rather than weakness as a way to dissemble men and women in a role-playing medium. So much of the discussion in your linked posts seems to be dominated by women feeling distressed that men want to degrade them in game terms, and men fighting back with "well that's the way it really is." For this, I think I would like everyone to consider the strengths of the opposite sex: physical (as has been done with combat), mental, social and emotional. Perhaps, if we can see the good in differences between men and women (and believe me, without those differences, there would be bad), we can better understand the desire/neccessity of differentiating them in our games.

SlurpeeMoney
"Everything said in quotes after my name is sarcastic... Even this..."
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Ben O'Neal
Member

Posts: 294


« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2004, 10:38:35 PM »

Hey Kris,

Firstly, it is not possible to focus on strengths without also at least implicitly focusing on weaknesses. If you say "men have more upper body strength", then you are saying "women have less upper body strength". There are only two genders, and so any advantage that one might have, is an advantage only over the other.

Quote
I believe it was one of the many sexual documentaries I watch, many of which focus on the differences between men and women.

I, personally, wouldn't trust anything on my TV as far as I could throw it. Especially any show dealing with any topic that is controversial, regardless of who's side they come down on.

Quote
I believe the reference to stronger lower body strength was made vis a vis an article I read on the topic more moons ago than I care to count. In it, a young lady was championing much the same cause I am: gender bias based, not on the respective weakness of a given sex, but on the comparative strengths of both. As I recall, she had a very interesting bit regarding the favored weapons of women based upon their strengths, and I suddenly find myself wishing I had the article. I believe it was on RPG.net, and should I find it, I will link it here.

By "article" do you mean a peer-reviewed article published in a scientific journal? Or something someone wrote once on RPG.net? If the former, could you please post a reference? If the later, I, personally, would discount it as someones opinion. This is why I always try to back up what I say with clear references sourced from reliable resources. It's not necessary in a lot of topics, but in things such as gender I feel it is.

Quote
Combat is not a gender biased topic. Women are just as capable in combat as men, if not more so. Taking into consideration the greater range of attack a woman has available to her, as per her ability to lunge, it would be quite a simple matter to keep a man at an appreciable distance where weapons designed to make use of his greater upper body strength (which tend to be quite a bit smaller) are of little or no use.

I'm not an expert, but from my research into the topic, and from my knowledge of the world, I would not believe this to be so. Men are, on average, significantly taller than women. This gives them greater reach with both arms and legs. Combined with the greater muscle mass and weight, we are talking significantly more power in every strike. I've done a few forms of martial arts, including training with a few weapons, and as is usual, these classes were about 50% female. I have noticed that in all forms of martial arts that I have trained in, a male will beat a female of the same rank nearly every time. I also don't see much of this "lunging" you talk about. I've also yet to see a non-firearm weapon that isn't designed to take advantage of upper-body strength. Even things like chains benefit from greater muscle co-ordination and strength in accelerating and maintaining a fast spinning speed. Actually, tell a lie, there are those little daggers you stick in your shoes to kick people with, but I don't think that's what you are referring to. If you mean spears, then you are mistaken if you believe strength is not important, or at least doesn't give an advantage.

But this is anecdotal evidence.

Here is some "proper" evidence:
Pre-pubescent children show no gender differences in upper-body or lower-body strength. (suggesting that the biological change of puberty may be where gender differences, if any, emerge.)
Males have almost twice the hand-grip strength of females even when forearm muscle area was controlled. Women have lower rates of decline in sustained strength, suggesting greater skeletal muscle endurance. (combat is not about sustained strength)
Women have around 52% and 66% the strength of men in the upper and lower body respectively. (this one is perfectly relevant to your suggestions.)

So IMHO, combat is a gender biased activity. Women are not just as capable as men in combat, and certainly not more so.

However, this is "reality". Games are a whole nother story. If, in your game world, you want things to work differently, that is perfectly acceptable. Just qualify your claims with "...in my game world", and you'll be fine. Just don't say "this is realistic".

Quote
I find this statement very difficult to reconcile with the way that the world actually works. You could pass off gender bias in society as superficial sexism, yes, but any attempt at a study of it would require digging into the social contexts in which that sexism is accepted and, more importantly, engendered into the mainstream consciousness. And sexism may not be so nearly as superfiscial as some would give it credit. Men and women are different animals. Were we any different than we are, I might go so far as to say we are Sexocialy Dimorphic. Sexism could be a designed cultural trait meant to maintain sexual drive through competition with our mates. Still, that's a discussion for another day. I digress.

Ah, but there is a problem here. See, you are saying that this doesn't fit with "the way the world actually works...men and women are different animals", but on these two premises, alot of people will disagree (I don't, but alot do). Ever heard of essentialism and constructivism? These are the core arguments for and against (repectively) the destruction of all gender biases in society. On one hand, people claim differences are real and are biological, which then carries over into social, and on the other hand people claim differences are social only, and thus they exist for no good reason. You may not think it's a controversy, but believe me, it is.

-Ben
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2004, 11:20:09 PM »

Quote from: Ravien

Ah, but there is a problem here. See, you are saying that this doesn't fit with "the way the world actually works...men and women are different animals", but on these two premises, alot of people will disagree (I don't, but alot do).


Who?
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Emily Care
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2004, 05:11:56 AM »

Hi Kris,

Just for the record,

Quote from: You
So much of the discussion in your linked posts seems to be dominated by women feeling distressed that men want to degrade them in game terms, and men fighting back with "well that's the way it really is."

but actually, looking at the threads, the speakers on both sides of the argument are quite likely to be men.  This has most definitely not been an argument between the men & women of the Forge, but has been between various members of the Forge, most of whom happen to be male.

Yrs,
Emily
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2004, 06:26:16 AM »

Kris, I hate to burst your bubble here with some facts, but (as Ben has pointed out) women do not have greater lower-body strength. That's just a cultural myth unsupported by actual fact. In addition, men do not have faster reflex times. I can't reference any particular studies, since it's been several years since I was in college and I don't have my gender studies texts anymore, but I am drawing these statement from highly reputable studies in gender differences.

From my personal experience and observation, I have to agree with Ben that in the real world women and men are not equal in terms of combat -- for whatever reasons, men are better at it. Now, of course there are exceptions, I'm just talking averages and trends here. I've been involved in martial arts most of my life, and, yes, I've had my ass thoroughly handed to me by men and women alike. Heck, I've got a permanent injury from a particular female martial artist who got pissed that I wouldn't attack her in a sparring match (I thought I was being chivalrous, she thought I was being sexist -- go figure). So, I'm not saying women can't become good at fighting, I'm just saying that given the same amount of training and dedication, a male fighter will (on average) be better than a female fighter. Whether that needs to be represented in a game is the important question, at least to me. In a very detailed game that tried to model reality as thoroughly as possible, I think gender differences make sense. In pretty much any other type of game, I don't think they add anything, unless gender differences are the focus of the game.

Emily makes a good point here -- most of the commenters in these topics are men. That seems kinda funny to me, though it does tend to confirm my personal experiences. Can we get some more opinions on this topic from some Forge women?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2004, 06:34:26 AM »

Hello,

Kris, welcome! You're raising a feature of the gender issue that I think is long overdue, and it's full of potential for powerful RPG implications. I agree with you entirely about the threads that have been referenced, and I consider most of them to be pretty poor examples of the kind of discourse that goes on here most of the time.

Ben (Ravien), I'm gonna ask you to take a long walk for a while. Bluntly, you are too emotionally close to the issue to discuss it well at the Forge, at least in a hit-the-keys-now sort of way. If you absolutely have to contribute, I want you to focus on role-playing issues alone, and to restrict yourself to one post on the topic per day.

The issue is not what relative strengths men and women actually have. The issue is to recognize that game design and play might focus on their relative strengths, as perceived and believed by the author or role-players, and to use those features as central mechanics or other aspects of the role-playing experience.

I suggest that several games have already forged into this territory very effectively: Orkworld, HeroQuest (most especially the Thunder Rebels supplement), first among them. I suggest furthermore that the general "neutering" effect of most RPG settings and character creation processes has some pretty negative consequences on play itself. I've written about most of these issues as best as I know how in the supplement Sex & Sorcery, and my game Trollbabe essentially seizes the issue and hands it to the role-playing group to eat without salt.

Kris, are you familiar with any of these?

Best,
Ron
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Emily Care
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2004, 06:47:18 AM »

Quote from: Andrew Morris
Emily makes a good point here -- most of the commenters in these topics are men. That seems kinda funny to me, though it does tend to confirm my personal experiences. Can we get some more opinions on this topic from some Forge women?

Considering how large the male to female ratio is here, we've actually had decent representation of women(Claire and Dana, at least, spoke up).

Kris,

I'm curious about the title you've given to this thread. Are you implying that as long as the attribute differences do not make it sucky to play a female character (ie gender bias), that gender based diffrences can enhance play?

I think it's non-controversial to say that if it creates an effect that matches the creative aesthetic of the game, it may make sense to distinguish characters mechanically by gender.  Ron's post about comparing Mongrel with Eclipse was (IMO) an attempt to encourage people to talk about ways that had been done and the effects it would have on play, rather than using essentialist/nonessentialist arguments to bolster arguments that it should/should not be done at all.

There is disagreement, plain and simple about whether differences in males and females are inherent.  Using either side of this question in a debate about whether or not to mechanically represent gender difference is non-constructive.  If we set it aside, can we get to questions of real interest for designing games?

Quote from: Ron Edwards
The issue is to recognize that game design and play might focus on their relative strengths, as perceived and believed by the author or role-players, and to use those features as central mechanics or other aspects of the role-playing experience.


Yes, please. Let it be discussed from this perspective.

Yrs,
Emily
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KingstonC
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2004, 02:37:21 PM »

Given that a truly androgynous society is a utopian dream, men and women will always play different roles in society. Premises revolving around how we create an equitable society given this fact are very powerful. But often, when game designers try to create mechanics that facilitate the addressing of this premise, they are accused of sexism. These accusations are not accurate, and they silence discussion about a question that should be at the center of thinking about feminism.
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John Kim
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2004, 03:06:57 PM »

Quote from: Ravien
  Ever heard of essentialism and constructivism? These are the core arguments for and against (repectively) the destruction of all gender biases in society. On one hand, people claim differences are real and are biological, which then carries over into social, and on the other hand people claim differences are social only, and thus they exist for no good reason. You may not think it's a controversy, but believe me, it is.  

Sigh.  Alright, let me clarify a bit on essentialism and constructionism.  An extreme essentialist position is that all observed differences between male and female populations are caused by genetics.  i.e. Men have a higher suicide rate in American society, therefore men are genetically predisposed towards suicide.  i.e. Society has no effect.  The extreme constructionist position is that all observed differences (aside from genitalia) are cause by social conditioning.  

Both of these are clearly wrong.  Extreme essentialism is demonstrably wrong: i.e. if you go to Saudi Arabia, say, and repeat the same tests that you do in Canada, then you will get different results.  Extreme constructionism is equally false.  Everyone of repute in science is agreed that there are genetic differences between men and women beyond genitalia.  

However, you will still find people arguing over details and degrees.  For example, some people point to things like http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=8477683&itool=iconabstr">this strength study that Ben cited, and suggesting that it proves an essentialist genetic position.  But the study just took 8 men and 8 women and looked at the differences between them.  It doesn't prove anything about nature vs nurture.  

What makes this a feminist issue is that for the past century, people have used the essentialist position to say that there was no need for social change.  i.e. When women didn't advance in universities as far as men, the essentialists of the past would say that this is because women genetically tend to be tempermentally unsuited for it, or somesuch.  Now, at some point the essentialists may be right, but because of this pattern I don't trust it.  

To bring this back to RPGs, the suggestion that gender be reflected in attribute modifiers implies an essentialist vision.  The constructionist alternative would be to have gender-differentiated classes or packages (i.e. have separate classes for Nobleman and Noblewoman, for example, to reflect that they are raised differently).  Now, it is possible to mix both of these, of course -- but doing so isn't neutral, but rather represents a particular stance on the scale of essence vs construction.
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- John
SlurpeeMoney
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Posts: 69


« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2004, 05:45:47 PM »

Quote
I'm curious about the title you've given to this thread. Are you implying that as long as the attribute differences do not make it sucky to play a female character (ie gender bias), that gender based diffrences can enhance play?


Yes. That is precisely what I am implying. Insofar as I have seen, gender-based character creation standards have, typically, placed women in an inferior position. And, I feel, this is one of the key reasons we're having this debate.

Quote
... the suggestion that gender be reflected in attribute modifiers implies an essentialist vision. The constructionist alternative would be to have gender-differentiated classes or packages (i.e. have separate classes for Nobleman and Noblewoman, for example, to reflect that they are raised differently). Now, it is possible to mix both of these, of course...


I think, as yet, this is the most inspiring thing I've seen on this topic. A system in which the attribute modifiers are different (without disparity) based on gender, and in which gender determines aspects of one's character character class. More impressive would be a collection of Lifepath-esque character history notes that are based on both gender and culture. After all, a woman born and raised in Afganistan is going to have had completley different past experiences than a man in the United States; exploiting the differences in cultural reactions to gender could be just as interesting as exploring the percieved inherent differences between the sexes.

The purpose for this would be, of course, to establish a much more fluid, culture-based setting than we have seen previously, especially in fantasy games, where culture tends to be so lacking. How a society of female-dominated orcish warlords would percieve strong fighting men could be an integral and interesting aspect to a game. How a society of male-dominated, socialist humans would percieve strong fighting women would also be interesting, adding, in my experience, a whole new level to the game.

I will do much thinking on this...

Quote
Kris, are you familiar with any of these?


I've occasionally flipped through Orkworld, but have not yet had the chance to give it a full read-through. Saddly, I live far, far away from the nearest game store, so my opportunities to go through a book at length tend to be rather limited. HeroQuest is another I've flipped through, but not read. I am afraid I've not heard of, nor seen your work, Ron, though I would certainly be interested in reading how you tackled the issue.

Another point I would like to bring up is this: while combat may be an important factor in the game, and many of the attribute adjustments that would be made to reflect the differing prowesses of the two genders would indeed affect combat, comparing men and women with combat as the measure would be like comparing apples and oranges using a sledgehammer.

Quote
In a very detailed game that tried to model reality as thoroughly as possible, I think gender differences make sense. In pretty much any other type of game, I don't think they add anything, unless gender differences are the focus of the game.


Gender differences aren't always a matter of reality or simulation. More often, the differences tend to be emotional. The point, to me, is that if you can make it possible for each gender to exploit its strengths, you make the playing of an individual of that gender more engrossing, more endearing, and you are more likely to empathize with that character. If you ingrain those equitable but indeniably different stances straight from character creation, the gender differences may never become the focus of the game, but they would at least be noticably present. You plant the seed for conflicts along gender lines. You make a true "Battle of the Sexes" all the more likely, as you have common lines upon which to draw. Hell, if you really wanted to, you could base an entire sub-plot on a Person vs. Self conflict based on gender strengths.

This post has become entirely too long. I am now, officially, rambling.

Kris
"Bringing the Battle of the Sexes to an even playing field."
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2004, 07:23:14 PM »

Quote from: KingstonC
Given that a truly androgynous society is a utopian dream, men and women will always play different roles in society. Premises revolving around how we create an equitable society given this fact are very powerful.

This is a really great idea for a game. Unfortunately, I think it's doomed to failure.

The problem is not that we don't agree that men and women are different, or that they will always have slightly different roles in society because of those differences. It's that we aren't going to agree in the century ahead as to what those differences are.

The premises that would be raised in such a game really go to the heart of just how different men and women are; but given character generation that incorporates gender construction rules, those differences are not really at issue--we know exactly how different they are, and in what ways, because the character generation mechanics tell us.

I'd really like to hear an idea of how to get out of this dilemma, because I think such a game would have tremendous potential, but I don't see how it can be developed.

--M. J. Young
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Callan S.
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2004, 08:53:24 PM »

It'd be interesting for a game to have a list of gender effects, but with no gender associated with each one. Then each player chooses two effects and says ones for male characters and ones for females (or they can even decline the option if they feel none of the effects represents one gender to them). Once you've gone through all the players (I wonder if it'd be good for the GM to choose two as well?), that's it (unless you want a set amount of effects in play which isn't dependent on player numbers).

I think it'd be interesting as gender has various interesting and powerful effects in sentient societies (and even non sentient). As such, its a subtle but very powerful authorship tool put into players hands. It's also sort of intimate, between what one does know about ones own gender (indeed, do you really know?) and what you believe about the other gender.

Might even be a cool party game, somehow, if its presented in a light way.

Sadly, Ron already hinted at an idea like this in his post and beat me too it. But I thought I'd eat bandwidth anyway.
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Philosopher Gamer
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SlurpeeMoney
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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2004, 05:25:53 AM »

I'm going to go back to one of my previous suggestions and say "Use a scale." Or "Use a few scales." Using a variable scale with the polar ends being Masculine and Feminine would work, allowing you to look at how each character fits along those that scale, and it takes the controversy of having male and female attributes out of the equation. Also having a small group of scales, one for masculine, one for feminine and one for anything else you can think of, in which the middle of the scale defines neuter and the ends of the scale represent different extremes of a mixture of gender-related qualities. I would suggest a grid to give a more even representation of how it could be done (the left would be masculine, the right feminine, the top physical, the bottom emotional), but it would be near impossible to fit on a nice-looking character sheet. ^__^

Just some random thoughts first thing in the morning.

SlurpeeMoney
"I wish I was a neuter. Then I would say 'My alignment is Neuteral.'"
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