September 20, 2009

Question of the Week #1

I'm not going to lie, the interview collecting is becoming quite slow.  Partly because the people I've asked haven't gotten back to me just yet (but having a life outside the internet is strongly encouraged) and partly because I have just started a job back at home.

I don't want this discussion to lose momentum, so I am now starting a new 20 Sided Women Project tradition: Question of the Week.

This will be a philosophical question posted every Monday for the readers to respond to in the comments by all you wonderful readers and supporters out there.  It's a great way to hear what you all think which definitely helps out this project.  Just respond in the comments and I hope to get a discussion going.  Here it goes...

Question #1
Do you think that the evolving gender roles of today's society contribute to some of the "problems" seen in the RPG community in regards to women players?  i.e the issue of a female minority and getting more women to play RPGs?


  1. I don't even see a connection. Gender roles have been evolving longer than there have been RPGs. And "problems" regarding female gamers stem from the issues of the person with the problem, not the female gamers.

  2. No. Females may still be in the gaming minority (and I don't know for sure this is true, though I strongly suspect it is), but the dichotomy is far less pronounced than it was when I entered the hobby. If anything, evolving gender roles are responsible for helping to bridge the gap.

    Not Registered, but Not Anonymous
    -Longspeak from RPG.Net

  3. No, I don't think it is the gender roles. I think its more of the problem with regards to finding more compatible mindsets. Since a given area may have some demographic challenges that may be working against a female player from developing.

    In the group I just started GMing for, there are 2 girls (2 more guys, and 1 vice gm), although they are into gaming because of their significant others.

    If there were more Female GM's I think there would be more female players. Because, the added skills needed for a Guy GM to communicate effectively with a female is a factor in their inclination to the hobby.

    Which leads me to ask, what factors would attract women to being GMs?

  4. I do not think societies self enforced gender roles affect getting women into gaming or keeping them in gaming that much (it might in some small way, but that is negligible, gender roles change with mainstream perception). I do think Nikolas has a good point though, the lack of female gamers might be from the dearth of female GMs, but that is mostly from a lack of awareness of RPGs in general.

    However, I do believe that the marketing for RPGs is lacking. The industry seems to only grow because previous players draw people in, which means that either a) gamers (who are primarily male) are predisposed to the notion that females will not like gaming or b) the marketing is targeting too narrow a audience.

    The Wii is the runaway hit of videogaming right now because it is accessible (DnD 4.0's main selling point) and marketed to a wide audience. I think therein lies the problem, the marketing doesn't really do much to dispel old long help beliefs that RPGers are fat smelly guys in a basement rolling dice. In fact the last DnD ad I saw drew a direct line from DnD to MMOs, saying "why game infront of a computer when you can get together with friends and roll some dice"

    This brings one last thing to mind, accessibility. Videogames and MMOs do not require you to be int eh same room, and while systems to exist to allow for internet play, it is not the same.

  5. "Do you think that the evolving gender roles of today's society contribute to some of the "problems" seen in the RPG community in regards to women players? i.e the issue of a female minority and getting more women to play RPGs?"

    No. I think that the typical gaming group is so small (3-6 people groups account for the vast majority of gamers, i suspect) that large scale societal expectations don't have much selective pressure. Gamers deal with gamers as individuals, not as representatives of societal roles. Plus the activity of gaming is largely unobserved by anyone not sitting at that particular table. Any female so bold to defy society's gender roles and sit at an RPG table is not going to face hundreds of jeering fans in the stands, or thousands of people writing angry letters to the network. She's going to be facing a handful of individuals. Even a hard-core, women belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen misogynist will find himself confronted not with a hypothetical woman, but with Mary Jane or Genevieve or Pardeep.

  6. Simple answer: I'm with Pandora on this one, gender roles have been developing to their current state much longer than gaming has been a recognized hobby.

    I also agree with Longspeak, that the gap that remains is growing ever smaller, considering the fact that men and women are seeing themselves as more similar than different in general (not just in gaming).

    I do agree with Nikolas that more female GMs would be a major step forward in bringing women to the hobby--it does still appear to be an area that women aren't embracing in droves, and almost all of the women i have gamed with have been significant others to male gamers.

    Gordon is right too: each woman's experience is going to vary widely within the gaming group she finds herself in--just like everywhere else in the world.