September 07, 2009

Responding to some gamer's thoughts

There were a couple of people's personal comments on the that I would like to discuss briefly. I didn't copy the comments word for word, but there were two I'd like to share briefly.

1) Attractive gamers are a extremely small minority.

2) Gaming women are definitely not the minority, and the myth is that they are a minority.

I get really annoyed by people who state number 1.  It involves a lot of self hate.  "I can't be part of a group that would have a lot of attractive people.  I can't be one of the beautiful ones."  Why not?  Why can't we be attractive and gamers at the same time?

I understand that the expectation is for gamers to be unhealthy, sweaty, greasy, with horrible B.O. and fantasy art t-shirts.  But why does that have to be the norm?  To perpetuate a stereotype that isn't beneficial merely because it's what is expected will not do the gaming community any favors.  I hear from a good number of people who want to bring more players into the pen and paper gaming world, especially more female gamers.  How are we as a community going to attract more people if we don't even like who we are to begin with?

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be sloppy nerdy people.  An individual has a choice on how they want to present themselves, and I have no problem with people who decide that a t-shirt and jeans with gym shoes is how they want to dress.  Just don't tell me that as a gamer I can't be attractive or that I don't like wearing fashionable clothes.  Because a good number of us are and do out there.

People who state number 2 I think come from a situation that has two factors.  One is that they personally have never experienced a gaming group that has less than 40-50 percent women in it.  The other factor is that they think that they're group is a great example of what the norm is across the country. 

For every one person that says 50/50 is the norm, I find that there at least 6 to 10 people that find that women are definitely in the minority.  It's not that the people who think statement 2 are intentionally ignorant. They just aren't knowledgeable about what is out there.  I find I was like that as well, and recently.  It's even just going on the internet and looking on forums and gaming sites that I realized that my experiences in high school and college were not the norm.  It's not normal to start out with a group of five girls playing AD&D.  It's not normal to be part of groups were women are half of the gamers there.  But it does happen.  Apparently enough that some people are perplexed by the women a minority in gaming concept.  

I don't think that just because one person has had a 50/50 gender experience in gaming means the issue should be dropped.  I don't think that my experiences should be counted as the be-all end-all for gaming in women.  But some people act like the discussion should end because their experience is "ideal" and therefore so should everyone's as well.  That's fine for them.  However, I'm definitely someone that likes to continue investigating situations like this.

Consider this blog a continuation of that discussion.


  1. Great post. As a female gamer, I've had to keep my sex a secret several times when gaming online. In the past, when fellow gamers would find out I was a female, either I'd be flamed as being "ugly & fat" for playing, or I'd have to deal with being sexually harassed by guys who thought I was only gaming for attention. Its always infuriated me that females are treated this way. I've found its particularly bad in World of Warcraft. Them finding out that not only am I girl, but I'm in my twenties, seemed to make the situation worse. It apparently meant that I'm only playing a video game because I'm unwanted in society, being as how I am "fat& ugly", both of which I am neither. Loved this post and hope to see more people sticking up for female gamers!

  2. The ugly truth is that many gamers -are- fat and slovenly, and this applies to both men and women. Certainly not a majority, mind you, but enough for the stereotype to persist.

    How could it be any other way when our hobby involves us being sedentary around a table or in front of a computer chugging mountain dew and eating pizza?

    Most men who assume women who game are ugly do so for two reasons. First, many of the women you see at conventions fit that stereotype. Those at conventions who -don't- fit are dismissed as the girlfriends or wives of gamers.

    The second reason they assume gamer girls are ugly is that if you are ugly they aren't missing out on anything.

    If they admit you might be attractive, then it forces them to examine themselves and why they can't seem to land a girlfriend.

    Mis, in regards to your comment I'm not at all surprised. The thing is, for a guy in your 20s or early 30s your dream is to meet a woman who can share your hobbies. Most women the average gamer knows in his actual life do not game. If anything they frown on it, and the gamer has to keep his hobby a secret.

    That automatically makes gamer girls keepers. Since many of these guys have very little in the way of social skills they approach you in the only way they know how. Its sad and in many cases pathetic, I know.

    Most of them aren't trying to be insulting, but remember that hot girl gamers are the holy grail for most gamer guys. They'll do anything to land you, and that desperation bleeds into every interaction.

    Its long been frustrating for me, because I've seen women driven from the hobby by guys just like that.

    The silver lining is that things -are- changing. As more and more women play you encompass a larger part of the hobby. It becomes less unusual to see you, so hopefully men will freak out a little less and oh I don't know...actually just play the game with you instead of throwing an endless stream of bad pickup lines your way.

    Keep up the good work Sapphire! Efforts like this make a difference, and make women feel more welcome in the hobby. Kudos to you!

  3. Women gamers: minority or not?

    Many people fall into the trap of assuming their personal experience defines the greater objective reality. This is not true of anyone. Competent polling of the general pen and paper RPG population will easily resolve whether women are or are not a minority, but in the end that is not a meaningful question.

    The average pen and paper gaming group is so small that large population statistics are not predictive. Consider a typical gaming group of five players, one who serves as GM. Any percentage other than 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, or 100% is meaningless for the experiences of this group.

    I am hoping your project will answer some questions I have.

    What proportion of female pen and paper RPGers play in groups in which they are the only woman?

    What proportion of female pen and paper RPGers play in groups with one other woman?

    What proportion of female pen and paper RPGers play in groups with more than one other woman?

    What proportion of female pen and paper RPGers play in groups with at least one third women?

    What proportion of female pen and paper RPGers play in groups with a simple majority of women?

    What proportion of female pen and paper RPGers play in groups with only women?

    Do any of these proportions change for women of different ages?

    All of the above questions for male pen and paper RPGers.

    Do any of these proportions change for women who come into gaming due to a prior relationship with a man?

    Do any of these proportions change for women who come into gaming due to a prior relationship with a woman?

    Do any of these proportions change for women who come into gaming due to a prior relationship based on the nature of the prior relationship?