September 23, 2009

I'm not the person who created this difference. I am a person willing to talk about it.

On a forum where I asked for feedback someone posted a very critical response where they (albeit indirectly) accused the people noticing the difference between male and female gamers for creating it.  Maybe I should put in a quote:

Calling out the distinction calls attention to it, and all of a sudden we have "female gamers" and all their needs. Or "male gamers", and all their needs.

I sat on this response, and thought about it long and hard, and decided to respond myself.

In response to the first quote.  In the society I live in today, in the country I reside in right now, there are differences between men and women that I cannot avoid for two reasons.  The first reason is that a lot of the differences between men and women are biological.  Females compared to males have different genitalia, different bone structures, even different rates of hair growth.  There is no avoiding that.  The second reason is that the society I live in treats each gender differently.  There is a whole evolution of society that goes along with those treatments.  It has nothing to do with anything I've ever stated or done on this blog, let alone in my entire life.  I was born into it, and as a women who is not considered the "norm" in many ways even outside of gender, it's impossible for me to not notice these differences.

When so many men consider me a rare specimen of my gender because I like Dungeons and Dragons and running campaigns, when I am the only female who ran games in my group of friends in college, how can I not notice that there is a difference between male and female gamers?  Even if it is a difference that is only perpetuated by something that has no real factual backing, there is a difference.

In his response, this man seemed to respond as if I thought something discriminatory was happening.  I have never stated that this difference is discriminatory.  A lot of the people I've talked to have not found a discriminatory difference at their games either.  But there is a difference that people notice by the way women play.  And what is wrong with noticing something in the world that was already there to begin with?  What is wrong with noticing a rain cloud when it is raining?  Pointing out the rain cloud did not start the rain.

I am examining something that already exists, and I am sorry that people feel like I am creating a problem.  One, I never said anything was inherently a problem in the RPG community, though it's a question I have asked during my interviews.  Two, I am not the one who invented gender or sex or even RPGs.  I'm just seeing how they all interact.  

I might be reacting just because I find it ends the discussion unjustly.  One should not dismiss a question merely because they don't like the topic, or what the topic might suggest.  

And I know I'm going to keep asking questions.


  1. I think you reaction is justified.
    There are differences, the idea of tolerating, accepting, and overcoming difference can be quite confusing. Especially when the problem is complicated and its easy to just lump everything into simple and generic groupings and planned reactions. There is also the measure of discomfort for those who suffer social awkwardness or have a low empathic priority.

    Any particular difference and point of contest should be discussed. Why, wait for something to become a problem later on?

    For starters, I see that where we should ignore the differences, are in matters like in merit and proficiency. In terms of Gaming or more broadly Culture, these difference should be reanalyzed and reflected.

    Personally, I'm all for more female players particularly for the differences to the manner of challenge resolution. Some female players like to talk and solve problems with diplomacy. Something I heavily favor because the exercise and practice is even more readily usable in real life and the story telling aspect tends to grow very quickly.

    Its surprising to meet a female GM.

  2. Nick, do you feel that male players don't like to solve problems with diplomacy? You mentioned that female players do, and by extension it suggests that your male players don't.

  3. I have to agree with Nick. In general I find that male gamers more often tend to solve problems with their characters fists rather than the diplomatic approach. Then again a lot of this has to do with the DMs I've been under, the one female DM I want to play under says she does provide more opportunities for diplomacy and such as opposed to the male DMs I've been under.

  4. My players use diplomacy or not depending on what type of character they are playing. When we were 15 my male players were more inclined to use violence than reason.

    When we left our teenage years behind we abandoned that tendency as well. Both my male and female players tend to use diplomacy over combat, because its usually more effective.

    If I was to point out a difference it would be that men seem to crave a constantly moving plot. Women seem more willing to RP out the minutia of every day life.

  5. Chris, sorry for the late reply.
    Actually yes, no-one wants to be the diplomat, which i and my best friend usually play. I guess its because given the freedom of a game, the guys would gravitate on something they can't have in RL.

    When I have female players, I noticed they don't have the expertise in combat (you can tell because their attention is lost when the guys start talking about topics like 5.56mm vs 7.62mm). So it is no surprise they stick to problem solving, magic and diplomacy.