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Author Topic: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?  (Read 71656 times)
« Reply #45 on: December 04, 2002, 11:43:17 PM »

Let's not mix up cause and effect here.  I'm sure you can go to any place that has almost all males and hear "guy talk".  The same sort of stuff that wouldn't fly in mixed company comes out at golf clubs, poker nights, bars, pool halls, and anything that becomes, "just the guys".  This isn't an excuse, but the gender imbalance leads to it happening(although, to be honest, there's sexism underlying a lot of that too).

So what is roleplaying?  Well, its a different version of poker night for a lot of guys, and has been portrayed that way to most women as well.  The perception of, "It's for us and you're not welcome" is prevalent, and then because there's no women around, you get more of that behavior, which leads to women not wanting to be around, repeat, repeat, etc.

If you look at places where folks have a chance at having more balanced relations, its usually public, with the general social contract being the neutral ground on which folks can meet.  You can play tennis with someone you barely know, and not feel threatened or endangered.  You can't enter someone's house surrounded by their friends, and not feel a bit out of water(much less the one woman/many men threat).

The public social contract prevents a lot of bad behavior, by way of the unstated rule, "Do this, and you'll look like a jackass in front of everyone, and no one will want to be your friend"  Notice how rarely this rule gets enforced in the gaming hobby, and the unhappy groups and dysfunctional behavior you get from it.  The basic civlized concept of gaming is ok, and being an asshole is not, seems to miss many gamers.

So what are some possible means of fixing the issue?  One, public gaming will have an easier time, and many LARPS have borne this out as true.  Two, application of social contract, the same you would do in public, or at least in mixed gender company is necessary.  Three, women busting guys asses if they pull shit.  Now, the last point isn't to put the responsibility on women, but obviously the guys are doing a bad job policing themselves, and letting them know that  they're not living up to what's expected, and letting other folks know about it too, will start slapping some consequences on people.  

It's one thing if one person doesn't like you, but if you find that all women in your circle have heard about you...you either shape up or be very lonely.  It also sucks when you find some of your players leaving because of it(to paraphrase Ron, "Wherever goes the girl, so goes the guy").


Posts: 2807

« Reply #46 on: December 05, 2002, 02:40:41 AM »

Quote from: C. Edwards
I'm a heterosexual male, and that fact alone guarantees at least a  somewhat sexist outlook.  Sexist thoughts, and actions, often stem from deeply rooted biological and psychological issues.  Yes, cultural issues are involved, but they are often rooted in those same biological and psychological issues.

Now, this I take extreme and vigorous exception to.  It may well be that I exhibit sexist thoughts and actions, despite my intent.  And yet, the assertion that this is BECAUSE I HAVE TESTICLES is utter rubbish.  There is nothing about your masculinity or your hormones or your morphology which mandates or justifies ANY form of discrimination whatsoever.

This is an absolutely classic case of the problem; this is 2002 and we are having essentially the same argument we had in the fifties.  So far I think that this thread has pretty much totally validated MK Snyders initial concern.  We've seen a lot of patronising pointing out that men and women are different, despite the fact that this is self evident to anybody with any sensory organs at all; we've had excuses about it being just casual, or arguments that somehow we would be conceding to that mythical beast, "political correctness"; or once again the claim that sexism is all in our heads and its just a matter of politeness.

And this is how we are failing to clean up our back yard.  We are making excuses and saying its someone elses problem, or that the shit piled around is fine where it is, or only needs to be artistically arranged to stop stinking.  It is, frankly, disgusting.


p.s. I was considering going into the "Some people take things far too seriously" rant, but thought better of it. :)

And a damn good idea that was.

Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Clinton R. Nixon

Posts: 2624

« Reply #47 on: December 05, 2002, 07:58:35 AM »

Everyone - please pardon me for the off-topic post. I asked a fellow poster to do something last night that actually worked, and so I'm going to ask contracycle now.

Gareth - could you post with a positive attitude? I know that sounds like an elementary school teacher, but I think it would work. Your last post attacked several people's points, but didn't answer anyone's questions, or posit alternative ideas. Be constructive, not destructive, and I promise that people will listen to your ideas more.


Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Gordon C. Landis

Posts: 1024

I am Custom-Built Games

« Reply #48 on: December 05, 2002, 11:31:21 AM »

Man, I hope this is useful clarification/interpretation . . .

Maryanne is saying "Sexism exists in the gaming community."  She's right.  No surprise, it exists in society at large, and there are some factors - the perception (contrary to my experience) that "girls don't like that", the  poker-night like clubishness that can exist, the over-tolerance that shared gamer-geekhood can sometimes promote - that aggravate it within the RPG community.

Gareth is saying that accepting those aggravating factors - using them as excuses/explanations to let the status quo remain - is disgusting.  He's right.  To rework what Mike Holmes said over here , "Sexists are NOT my tribe."  More gamers should sign up for that.

Clinton is saying The Forge ain't all that sexist.  I think he's right, but I'll allow that it wouldn't hurt to be even more careful.

Other folks (or those same folks in different posts/parts of posts) are trying to clarify how the sexism exists, what works to minimze it, and etc.   But this is such a damn touchy subject that saying something entirely practical like "getting laid kinda-regular will make you more comfortable around folks of the opposite gender" can be seen as sexist.  I'm confident it wasn't meant that way.

I'm confident everyone posting here looks at all people, of every gender, as fully human equals.  With whatever (minor, I'd guess) clarifications based on personal preferences, religious/philosophical beliefs, acknowledgement of biology, and variation across individuals are required to make "fully human equals" correspond with a slighly messy real world.

So I guess I'm back to Ron's "What behaviors attribute to the gender inbalance in gaming?" as the useful bit to explore.  My earlier "aggravating factors" list is my thoughts on the matter - did I miss something obvious?


www.snap-game.com (under construction)

Posts: 550

« Reply #49 on: December 05, 2002, 11:54:03 AM »


If you feel that masturbation and sex with a partner who enjoys the experience are the same, you've been doing it wrong.  Empathy with the other person is the key to making sex work. I don't think that it matters if the partner is a man or a woman. Getting laid and sharing the empathy is the important part.

And don't say I didn't warn you that I was a sexist pig.  I still like big breasted women with guns. I married one, so I'd better not fall out of that liking if I know what's good for me.


At least in my case, it wasn't some deeper understanding of females that improved my play. When I'm getting some at home, I'm not angling for a piece of ass in the gaming session. Said angling introduces tension that is destructive to play. Thanks for covering my tail though.

Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management

Posts: 84

« Reply #50 on: December 05, 2002, 12:04:14 PM »


Sexism in gaming?

My experiences (no points or arguments in this part):

I have two groups, one younger, and one older.  Both would love to have more female gamers, especially the younger ones.  

Younger Group: Have we asked them?  Yes.  None of them wanted too.  Some guys are afraid to bring over their female friends because we might frighten them away or scare them.  We are scary to the average person, we have thousands of in jokes, make sarcastic jokes, and beat the hell out of each other.  Getting females into this group would be up to the other players currently, because all of my female friends have left to college.

Most of the girls that we've asked to come over viewed it as dorky, scary, or they don't have time.

Older Group: We have one female gamer.  We've never had more than one girl at the table at the time (Playing games that is.  Last time we ran my friend's roomate's girlfriend sat down at the table drunk and drew things...).  We are unofficially called the asshole club.  Most girls (guys too)I know I would not invite to this group unless I knew they could handle themselves in a battle of wits and criticism.  The female gamer in this group is my friend's girlfriend, but she wasn't when she started.

Back in the Day:  When I was in 7th grade (keep that in mind!), I was somehow planning to run a Vampire game.  I'm not sure what the specifics were, but I do remember planning it.  I was in, what was called gifted.  In other words those with outstanding intellectual power (I was the dumbest in that class...).  
   Back then is in the middle of my massive crush phase.  Most of the girls in the gifted class I had a crush on.  I was planning my Vampire game (which was actually going to somehow be a LARP) with my fellow gamers (who were all guys, and two of which were in gifted).  
   A few days later (these things take time) I was approached by two of the girls I had massive crushes on, and I they asked if they could play... well... I said no, well not exactly.  I made up some excuse would be closer to the truth.  Why?  I don't know for sure.  Maybe I was just extremely uncomfortable having them in my game (stacked on top of my general uncomfortableness around girls at the time).  Maybe I didn't think the game was actually going to take off.  I look back at that moment and I just want to beat the hell out of myself (which is no small feat, since I was around 6' something back then).  Now, with all due respect, I'm not as old as most of you fogies on this site, so this all took place in the 90s.
   Is this considered sexism?  I was just as sensitive too sexism as I am now, so it wasn't really a conscious act of sexism.

What do I bring to the party?

I don't see blatant sexism in role-playing.  I just see very few girls already involved.  I haven't been able to bring many gamers into the fold lately because of my stable of players I already have (thus the two groups).

I don't know anyone who would have a problem with girls playing.  I don't know anyone who has stupid preconceptions on how they play.  The only problem I see is that there are not enough girls out there that don't need to be 'converted' into gamers.

As usual, I have little to contribute...

As usual(2), excuse the rambling nature of my post.

omnia vincit amor
The Enclave
MK Snyder

Posts: 116

« Reply #51 on: December 05, 2002, 12:32:51 PM »

I hope I have supplied enough rebuttal for the "perceived sexism" argument.

Now to the "justified sexism" argument.

The fact that men dominate (are the majority) in the hobby doesn't justify the men telling women what women should do, like, prefer, be comfortable with, accomodate, etc.

Let's try a counter example.

For all the straight guys here, you go to a gaming convention. The program cover is of a muscled, nude man with a terrific erection.

You open up the manual for your favorite game. It is full of pictures of large, muscled, fully armored men embracing slighter, near naked men in black leather bondage gear.

Nobody remembers the names of any straight men who've written and designed games.  It's always been that way. It's a homosexual art form, maybe straight guys don't have the mental skills for it. For one thing, no fashion sense.

All the gaming groups (except for yours) are gay men who stare at your butt.

When you walk into a store to buy games, you have to flag down the clerk to take your credit card, because as an obvious straight you couldn't have been in here to actually buy a game.

Strangely enough, you love role-playing. Sure, in the early days you had to adjust for the Bathhouse Stamina stats for characters, and the paragraphs about how all straight guys were really just closeted and latent and just needed a good lay to get over it.

Things got better. Some folks talked about bringing more straight guys into the hobby. Wouldn't it be nice that there were more straight guys and their breeder viewpoints. Straight guys are so cute, why, some are even my best friend!

You start posting on forums. Of course, for every post you make about how all of the above makes you feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, there's a gay guy posting about how he loves large, erect, uncut cocks in the art; it's fantasy and it's his fantasy; and you just have to adjust to it.

Or perhaps you are being too emotional, over-reacting to "perceived homosexism". After you provide enough examples of overt homosexism, well, maybe it's inevitable and justified homosexism, because you're in a homosexual dominated hobby.

A large portion of the hobby involves the fantasy of "awakening" a latent homosexual to his identity. There is much discussion of the psychology of straight guys and what they like and don't like; the gay designers and posters frequently post their stories of straight guy reactions and thoughts. This is considered an accurate representation of straight guys, their lives, their reactions.

You see very few posts by straight guys. After all, all of the gay posters have straight men in their lives. They know all they need to know about the straight man experience.

The moderators even congratulate themselves on how "diverse" their community is, in spite of the fact it has so few straight guys.

Games continue to be marketed primarily to gay men. At game industry conventions, attractive slim men in Speedos who know nothing about gaming hand out fliers at booths. RPG stores are dimly lit, the covers of many of the manuals feature naked men. A group of gay teens sniggers over the latest module that features the "Awakening" of an entire seminary.

The hobby itself is still about imagination, and the power of the individual player to create the game he wants. In your own group of only straight guys, all of whom are your friends, you run games about straight guys in armor beating up monsters and taking their stuff.
MK Snyder

Posts: 116

« Reply #52 on: December 05, 2002, 12:43:22 PM »

Enoch, read the post above yours for an example of someone having a problem with "girls playing".

Or at least, "a woman having an opinon".

It is a real shame that in your personal discomfort with girls that you turned away two fellow gamers from playing. Yes, that is sexism. Is racism any less hurtful if the perpetrator is acting out of sincere emotional distress? Consider how the girls remember that.

Besides, if the younger male players, who are too shy around girls for their own good, can be given the mission of overcoming their shyness to *let girls play*, it will be good for everybody all around.
Clinton R. Nixon

Posts: 2624

« Reply #53 on: December 05, 2002, 12:43:29 PM »


That's an interesting (and horrific, to be honest) viewpoint. I hope by now I've shown in some way to you that I'm not this stereotypical male gamer you keep pointing at, because if I haven't, this is going to be painful.

The majority of the sexism I see in this thread comes directly from you. The portrayal you just made was an obvious metaphor for how you feel the RPG community is towards women today. I find it spurious, and based on a stereotypical image of males that is not what individual males are.

Oh, I grant you that each of the traits you mentioned exists in some males. I grant you that some might exist in me. (Hmm... let's see. I like breasts. That fits.) That does not mean that a blanket accessment of the entire community in that light is correct, or even appropriate.

You've had bad experiences, to be sure. Fuck, all of us have. You want to hear something humiliating and stereotypical? I once had a woman tell me, after seeing a role-playing session I was in, "You know, I quit playing with Barbies when I was ten." That doesn't mean I think all women (a) equate roleplaying with Barbies, (b) hate men, or (c) see males as juvenile. It does mean I think that particular woman had some serious problems relating to men, as well as understanding the idea of having fun and relaxing.

Maryanne - I want you to be able to express your ideas and help those of us that don't understand why there isn't an equal number of women in role-playing. The tropes you're describing don't exist in any normal proportion anymore, though, and the manner in which you're choosing to discuss them prohibits fruitful discussion.

Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
MK Snyder

Posts: 116

« Reply #54 on: December 05, 2002, 12:51:59 PM »


I assumed the advice to "get laid" was about releasing personal erotic tension.

I frankly could not imagine that "partner sex" was being posited as a prerequisite for dealing with gaming with women.

Perhaps I am assuming too much. For example, I am assuming that most gamers do deal with females in other spheres of life, such as co-workers, teachers, friends, bus drivers, parole officers, parents, etc.

Are you saying that until a male is sexually mature and has engaged in partner sex it is unrealistic to expect empathy, politeness, or the ability to play RPG's with females?

I respectfully submit also that the tone and tenor of your post somewhat undercuts any claims you may have to expertise on enhancing one's sense of empathy.
MK Snyder

Posts: 116

« Reply #55 on: December 05, 2002, 01:09:14 PM »


I am not you.

You are not female.

You are not the entire gaming industry, community, or world.

You do not have omniscient knowledge.

You have no discursive right to tell a woman (or any poster) what her experience has been, is, or will be.

You have no discursive right to disallow the expression of emotion, thought, or opinion; provided that opinion is appropriately expressed.

To do so is to enforce a single individual's experience over that of others.

You have the power to do that; but not the right. You have the right to do that if you so state it; but not if you value diversity of person or opinion.

The above post was to give straight male gamers a subjective experience--for those who could empathize--into what it is like to be female gamer. It is much how it is and has been.

Don't shoot the messenger.

To do so only reinforces my argument: Male gamers have no right to tell female gamers who female gamers are.
Clinton R. Nixon

Posts: 2624

« Reply #56 on: December 05, 2002, 01:29:34 PM »

Quote from: MK Snyder
You have no discursive right to tell a woman (or any poster) what her experience has been, is, or will be.

You have no discursive right to disallow the expression of emotion, thought, or opinion; provided that opinion is appropriately expressed.

To do so is to enforce a single individual's experience over that of others.

You're correct, and I've never dismissed any experience you've said you've had. You did not convey a single experience in your last post - you made a metaphor that smacks of every stereotype I've ever heard, and was wholly inappropriate. You've continually enforced your bad experiences over everyone here in this thread, and you haven't answered a single question asked of you. (Look back over this thread - I've asked you several questions, complimented you when you've provided concrete discussion, and warned others from saying inappropriate things to you.)

I believe you and many other women have had bad experiences in gaming. I've seen these bad experiences close up. Please, I ask of you, tell us one in particular, and tell us how it could have gone differently and been a positive experience. I literally beg you to do this - the dissonance in this thread is tearing apart the fabric of this place, and I crave something positive to come out of it.

Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Posts: 3453

« Reply #57 on: December 05, 2002, 01:34:15 PM »

As a former gamer geek adolescent boy, getting a girlfriend changed everything about my gaming with girls, and (later) getting laid changed everything again.  Nothing like a good, happy dose of reality to get you to leave (some of) your twerpiness behind.

(Many disclaimers: "getting" a girlfriend isn't what happened, of course, more like coming to be, by mutual agreement, a boyfriend.  Similarly "getting" laid.  Also, getting a girlfriend didn't change only my gaming with girls, but my every interaction with girls, and my every interaction with boys, and a bunch of things I did by myself, too.  Similarly getting laid.)

It's the happy dose of reality stuff that's important.  Relieving personal sexual tension is called for as far as it goes, but if you want any sort of nuanced understanding of any kind of person, interacting closely with them is absolutely necessary.  And PARTICULARLY for the gamer-geek boy demographic, which has a crude, simplistic, devoted, anxious, curious, and stunted understanding of women indeed.  At least it did when I was a kid.

And no, interacting closely doesn't necessarily mean sex and romance.  But the worship, dread, fascination and terror I felt toward girls interfered with every interaction I had with a girl, not just gaming.  Becoming a girl's boyfriend let me leave some of those feelings behind.

Hence, getting laid was important to my ability to roleplay with women.

Other than that, I pretty much agree with MK.

Walt Freitag

Posts: 1039

« Reply #58 on: December 05, 2002, 01:39:12 PM »

I want to follow up on Chris (Banukei)'s mention of LARPs.

Some (though not all) of the LARPs I ran and played in had close to 50-50 gender ratios, and in a few instances the female players were a significant majority. Without any particular visible gender-specific marketing or outreach efforts on the organizers' part.

What does this mean? I dunno. Any of several things:

- Genre is important. Arabian Nights always seems to attract a higher proportion of female players than, say, a cyberpunk LARP.

- Crunchiness is important. LARPS usually have simpler mechanics than tabletop games. (Not the case for the outdoor boffer-combat LARPs like IFGS and NERO, though, where gender ratios appear to be skewed more male.)

- The perceived-geekiness factor may be less important in affecting the gender balance than it appears, since LARPs are usually considered even geekier than tabletop games (though I've used the higher female participation rate as evidence that's not really the case).

- The total effort required to play is apparently not an important effect on the gender balance, since these LARPs required a lot of time and effort for all participants.

- If there are prevalent problems with role players creating a hostile environment for potential female players, they either didn't carry over to LARP players (which would seem suspiciously miraculous -- except that our LARP audiences were generally older than high school age, which could be very significant) or didn't prevent equal numbers of women participating anyway.

My wife and I are sometimes called upon to design computer games specifically to appeal to young women or to have equal appeal to both genders, so we do maintain a theory of what sorts of game elements have relatively high appeal to young women and what sorts of game elements disproportionately put them off. This theory is not what I'd call scientifically tested, but it's not just pulled out of our asses either. It's based on looking at past products that have demonstrated, in the marketplace, appeal to female players, and examining them for common elements that distinguish them from other games (including many intended to be marketed to women) that haven't. (All games, not role playing games specifically.) In this effort we're motivated to be as unbiased as possible, since it determines how well we can do our jobs.

Our current working theory is that female players find the following (among others) more appealing relative to males:

- A wide range of effective strategic options for problem-solving, including retreat, evasion, subversion, seeking allies, bluff, and negotiation, rather than rewards only being gained for "attacking" the problem head-on.

- Gaining power or other rewards by means of building and using social networks.

- Rewards based on subjectively good situational decision-making rather than successful manipulation of systems of abstractions.

Equally important, we've seen no difference in degree of competitiveness, willingness to put time or effort into play, or ability to engage in any kind of play including those kinds that appear to be less preferred.

So, line up the three points above with typical entry level role playing experiences, as well as with the wide range of styles of play discussed here. Does it conform to observations about the general state of female participation in role playing gaming? Does it correlate with games and players you've observed in your own experience?

These are generalizations about statistical differences between the play preferences of males and females. As such, I suppose they are sexist by definition. But if they are real trends in the real world, that for me is sufficent reason to design and market along those lines if I want to reach that audience. I'm not at all concerned with the question of whether or not there should be differences in preferences between sexes or, if there shouldn't be (but are), whose fault that is or what should be done about it.

- Walt

Wandering in the diasporosphere

Posts: 5574

« Reply #59 on: December 05, 2002, 01:42:16 PM »

Ok...I've read through all of this and quite frankly...for better or worse...I come to a big fat "so what".

MK's straight guy / gay guy left me decidedly underwhelmed.  If this was supposed to demonstrate how horrible it is to be a woman gamer it failed to accomplish that...at least for me.  If my biggest challenge as a gamer is being faced with some guys big hairy balls on the cover of my Origins program...I mean really...how does that even qualify as a problem.  Am I supposed to feel offended or slighted or diminished by that?  I don't...  It might seem odd to me.  It'd hardly be something I'd pin up on my gym locker door.  May, if it was particularly obnoxious exercise my right to rip the cover off and throw it out...but how is it a problem.  I suspect you'd get the same level of juvenile reaction to it as you would to a full frontal succubus...and likely from the same people, just 180d different.  Some people are just ignorant...so what.  

Don't see how that suddenly becomes some form of -ism that I should be offended about.

Plus I don't see this idea of sexism being supported in gaming.  Every year I go to Origins I see more female gamers.  I've gamed with more women in the past 5 years than I did in the previous 15.  Seems to me that the number of women involved in gaming is INCREASING...which means whatever sexism is supposedly running rampant through the hobby isn't serving as a complete barrier to entry.  The more women join...the less of a "boys club" the hobby becomes.  The more women control the money behind gaming budgets the smaller market there will be for tasteless cheesecake and it will dwindle on its own by simple market pressure.

And I don't believe for a second that women don't share and promote similiar sexist views about men amongst themselves.  There is as much beefcake out there as there is cheesecake.  Fabio doesn't make his money as an intellectual, and last I heard there were more bachlorette parties hiring male strippers than vice versa...again so what.

I see no evidence whatsoever of any systematic sexism in gaming that isn't present in society at large.  And sure there is sexism in society at large.  Not as much as there was 10 years ago, not as much as there was 100 years ago, not as much as there was a 1000 years ago...but it hasn't been entirely stamped out.  Its unfortuneate that 10,000 years of bigotry can't be turned off like a light switch, but it can't.

There are juvenile sexist pigs in gaming...same as there is in anything.  But if anything its diminished not increased.  Avalanche catches at least as much flak for its incredibly ridiculous game supplement covers as it does cheers from leering 8th graders sitting at home trying to unstick the pages.

I guess I'm not sure what the point, is.  Just to point out that the world isn't a perfect place and that some people's attitudes really suck?  Well, yeah...that's hardly news.  Is there a call to action of some kind that's being made...if so I missed it buried in all the extraneous back and forth.

I guess I'm just asking...is there a reason for this thread beyond being a opportunity to vent?

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