September 02, 2009

Results from the first day

I'm very happy to report that the first day of the 20 Sided Women Project I already have some promising beginnings!

I decided to post a thread on the RPGnet forums and see if most people agreed that women were a minority when it came to RPGs.  Of 23 people who specifically responded to their experiences or findings when it came to pen and paper RPGs, 19 of them said women were a minority, which is about 82.6%.  The remaining four people said their experiences were more of a 50/50 split.  Of course, being an Economics major I want to tell that the data collection pool was small and non-specific, so this isn't quite the finding I'm hoping for.  

This poll from an earlier thread on the RPGnet forums shows that the perceptions of gamers on that site is that somewhere between 10 to 25 percent of gamers are women.  At least, I should say those were where most of the responses were for perception.  I'd like to thank Lauren from the forums for pointing this my way.

There were also a few theories thrown around about women interacting with the RPG community.  One that I found interesting was the idea that having even just one woman in your RPG group will increase the likelihood that another woman would also play in that group.  

I also heard about some men that apparently feel that women shouldn't be at the table.  Forum member Gordon Horne shared 3 experiences with those kind of players:

#1 obviously had been bullied a lot. The gaming table with fellow dweebs was his safety zone. He was very uncomfortable anywhere within ten feet of a female. Counter girls in stores or restaurants made him nervous. Why, i don't know. His opposition to girl gamers was clearly due to a perceived infringement of his safety zone.

#2 loved to tell filthy jokes and talk big about what he'd do to this or that 
celebrity. When a female member was proposed he freaked out and said it would cramp our style. I guess he was afraid she would smack him down. Not that we didn't smack him down(...) 

#3 was a self-proclaimed macho man. He did manly things. He believed women should not be in positions of authority over 
men in the workplace, certainly not over him(...)For reasons i never probed, he considered tabletop RPGs to be a manly pursuit. Women didn't do manly pursuits. Period.

Unfortunately there was also some sexism on the boards to, with someone stating

Women are not a minority in RPGs.

Women who I would want to "beep" are a minority in RPGs. You gals aren't gonna win any beauty contest. Then again the guys aren't that great either. If either of you two sexes have to mate at least do it with someone from outside of the RPG community.

At least this poster was reprimanded.  But I didn't realize that such hostility existed in the gaming community.  Something tells me this is the minority, but if this minority is vocal enough, wouldn't any woman not want to participate?

Also, let the record show I am definitely one fine looking woman who loves RPGs.  And it's not just my boyfriend agreeing with me.  

The RPGChicago meetup I went to yesterday was a great way to meet some individuals one on one who had been playing RPGs long than I have and have seen the community evolve.  One guy, Zoltan, admitted that the female minority in the RPG community is a "dynamic that needs to be overcome."  Talking with other gamers brought up a lot of points too.  

I will say that a lot of the people I talked to were men, I don't think I met one female gamer at that meet.  Not that the male gamers weren't helpful with their experiences.  Especially when it came to relationships.  It seems that there are a lot more male gamers bringing their female companions to the table than female gamers pursuing it on their own.  Why is this?  Could it go back to the women usually not playing on their own?  

I am thankful that there is a lot of support for this blog already, including fellow blogger Dan of Giant Battling Robots for putting the word out there.  I guess this means this show ain't going to stop anytime soon.  I will continue to investigate!  And interview!  Some should be happening shortly.

Also, I need more actual women to come forward.  Not that the men don't have a say, but I haven't spoken to a lot of women just yet.  Where are you?  I know you're out there!

Expect an interview or two to happen soon.


  1. Here is what I posted on RPG Net.
    It is certainly less true than it used to be.

    For starters I am going to have to say I thank White Wolf for this. Their games seemed to appeal to women more from my experieces. Was it the social aspect? Was it the pervasive "we are NOT D&D" vibe that was tied to their products in the 90's? I don't know.

    When I ran Buffy/Ghosts of Albion for years, my group was roughly 50/50. Was this the "Girl Power" vibe the game had?

    Or maybe it was the common element. Vampires.
    I am not being flip here. Currently Urban Fantasy Horror is largest selling segment of the fantasy market and that market is predominantly auhtored by women; call it the "Twilight" effect. Though that almost trivalizes it.

    Another example. I got my wife to play D&D after 14 years of marriage and she really enjoyed it.

    For me, I am not sure why it is happening, but is there anyway to capitalize on it.

    It might be zeitgiest, but I think the days of women as a minority are coming to an end.


    I am currently working on a new game (can't share details just yet) that I want to appeal to women, gamers or otherwise. The genre fits my post above and I hope to break some new ground.
    What I like about this blog (and others I follow) is getting that female perspective on why they game and what they want.

    I hope that in the process I make a good game for everyone; men and women alike.


  2. Good point Tim.

    I don't want to sound flip either, but I find that there is a romantic appeal to Vampires and that's why women are more into the genre in general. Writers like Stephanie Meyer and Ann Rice have tapped into that appeal, with handsome, mysterious men as their male heros. Considering some of the work reads like a romance novel, which already attracts a higher female audience, I'm not surprised to find women intrigued by it. Also not surprised that this translates into a higher female ratio for the WoD series.

    And I do hope that the day of women gamers being a minority does end, since I don't see any real reason to it. At least not yet.

  3. Nice job Sapphire, you are off to a great start.

    In my circle of regular gaming friends we have only had one regularly attending female, and she is the daughter of one of our regulars (and now of at college). I suspect this is not uncommon - sort of a men's social club, or poker buddies. I don't think this is necessarily wrong, but it doesn't do much to encourage women. I don't see similar female-only gaming groups (but then I wouldn't be invited).

    I think there is a side issue here of 'Misfits'. Your examples #1,#2, and #3 above might be considered to be abnormal behaviorally or socially. It wouldn't surprise me if the presence of this sort of misfit drives women away from gaming, but then I steer clear of people like that too. I've known some female misfit gamers too, but they are rare.

  4. It's strange how table top gaming and video gaming have a parallel where females are concerned. Both forms of gaming do suffer from a negative mainstream stereotype. With video games it is the violent apathetic loner teenager. With RPGs it is generally the DnD nerd, fat, greasy, sitting in a cloak in a room with candles for lighting and a bag of dice. *blows out candles, puts dice away* I know some girls who love the idea of playing table top RPGs, but videogames are more accessible to them and do not require meeting people in one location, if at all.

  5. I would just like to note I started playing RPGs over thirty years ago. While I have met some unpleasant people in my time at the gaming table, the proportion of unpleasant people to great people has been very low.