September 18, 2009

The Power of Suggestion

When I first started researching what was out there about my fellow women in polyhedral arms, I came upon an article by E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman titled Real Girls Don't: the invisible minority of female video game players.

Although the article focuses on female video game players, specifically MMO's, I think it's important to note the first example of when Gathman first joined her high school's RPG club.  Only after she broke the "barrier" of being the first women more girls started joining the club.  Hence, the perceived number of female gamers was lower than the actual number of female gamers.  It seems all the boys beforehand had just assumed that girls just didn't game.  When girls started showing up, they couldn't explain why their previous assumption was wrong.

I think this is a particularly interesting point.  The power of suggestion.  I think in this case, for the boys in  the club before Gathman joined thought that girls didn't join just because none would ever just walk into the club.  Observation (and not necessarily a good one) taught those boys that girls don't come to the RPG club to play, hence girls don't play RPGs.  This results in these boys not asking girls to play, not explaining games to girls, and instead introducing boys to the hobby.  This results in a never ending cycle.  Boys think only boys play RPGs, so they only approach boys about RPGs.

This cycle can be stopped in two ways.  1) A boy could finally invite a girl despite the ideas that the community perpetuates or 2) A girl could join on her own like Gathman did.  Both I think are great steps towards getting some diversity in the community, and introducing a fun activity to new people.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is why women haven't been joining the community at a rat that is equal to men.  Assuming that women don't like RPGs makes men who play not as inclined to invite women to play in many situations, and makes the industry make games more appealing to men.  Hence character designs like Mialee in the D&D 3.0-3.5 books, where the women are more lanky sex objects to decorate pages.

With that in mind, the female market is alive and well in the RPG community, no matter how small.  I think it's safe to say that nobody should suggest that girls don't play RPGs anymore.

1 comment:

  1. [quote]
    "You botch. You go into frenzy in a crowded bar." "I start making out with her so that the humans don't see her fangs!" "Okay . . . She bites off your tongue."

    heheh, those guys never stood a chance!