October 12, 2009

Question of the Week #4

Going back to my last post a little bit, it's time for another Question of the Week:

Have you ever had an experience where a Game Master has treated a Player Character differently because of the gender of the player?  Why do you think that situation happened?

Not as philosophical as some of the other questions, but I still find it important.  Please discuss!


  1. Yes, my wife and I attended a regular roleplaying event at a local gaming store. The GM during a particular session was quite specific on rules with the majority of people on the table, except for the girl he was looking to make his girlfriend (we found this out later).

    While other people on the table were harshly scrutinised, she was allowed rerolls if she did poorly, allowed to take back actions that might have been detrimental to her character (despite other players on the table suffering harsh consequences for similar in-character mistakes), she was also caught subtly flipping her d20 to an adjacent side before declaring the results of her dice to the GM (this was noted by virtually everyone by the end of the session).

    Upon being caught out, the GM plead ignorance. The organisers of the event were similarly disinterested in pursuing the issue, because they didn't want to scare off female players from their game days.

    Ironically, if they had done something, we would have brought our regular gaming group to future events, adding three or four more females to their sessions.

  2. As a GM I have been a bit more willing to throw female players into awkward situations (I have sold one player's characters into slavery a total of 3 times, usually to crude (normally sexual) remarks from players).

    However, I only did this as she seemed to voice protest jokingly. She always got more into her character's storyline as she would try to find out about her new master and whether this was something her character could like or not (usually she seemed to like her master as I never made them cruel, usually benevolent actually).

    Come to think of it, these scenarios were quite possibly the situations she would RP the most with, including fairly interesting discussions of her character's sexuality depending on who the master was. Might say something for her love life.

    In the end though, I treat all my players as equal. If one was enslaved, the others were. The players themselves seemed to dictate for what they would be used for based on their character's looks (slavery being a very shallow and stupid practice in the real world).

    If the character looked handsome or beautiful they would be sold for sexual needs (strangely I've never had a male player do a handsome character... they have always been rough and quiet demons or something as cliche), if they were strong or ugly it would be to the arena or the fields.

  3. To my knowledge, I have never seen female players treated significantly differently in any game I have been involved in. However, I will admit that when players declare their characters to be homosexual, I start thinking of getting them romantic connections. Both players who did this were male and playing male characters, so it was not out of a desire for hot girl on girl action.

  4. I've seen a bit of everything on this subject.

    Some GMs tend to go a bit "easier" on female players, but sometimes it's hard to tell if it's because they think the female player is an inferior RPer and needs the help, or because they're afraid the chick will leave because she isn't getting special treatment--sadly, i have actually seen a grown woman leave a game because we called some of her (ridiculous) rolls into question; she was very obviously accustomed to preferential treatment, and was quite offended we expected her to play by the same rules as everyone else. It could be that women like this cause some male GMs to be confused about the way women want to be treated.

    I have also had a few GMs be harder on me, possibly because i was female (or because my character was). These types seem to be more tempted to try and put the character into a hostage situation, or create potentially romantic situations with NPCs--again, it could be that they're misinformed by popular culture and/or past experience, and assume that all female players want this.

  5. We do have some special treatment because most female players are usually newbies and casual players. There is a certain level of weirdness that is hard to explain until one gets to know the group better, we all try to avoid showing it because of possible miscommunication.

    Otherwise, once the female player is a regular there is no difference in treatment.

    I should point out a female player, marks a particular GM as normal (or more social mature in comparison to female less groups). Female player who are open minded enough and able to appreciate a male dominated hobby marks them out as special (and thus more appreciated by other gamers). These aspects are, in my opinion, acceptable modifiers of behavior because of the context.

  6. Yes, but it was likely due to the fact that the game master was banging the player in question. No, I'm not referring to myself. You know I treat my wife as poorly as anyone else at the table.

  7. I have to state the obvious here, as some people have tiptoed around around it but no one but Frank has said straight out.

    If I'm a single male gamemaster, and you are a cute gamer chick who is also single of course I'm going to treat you differently. I see you as girlfriend material just as if we'd met during any other hobby.

    I've seen this translate into some very special treatment where female gamers get away with murder, because the GM is too star struck to run the game and is focused on getting the girl's attention.

    Some of the women in question milked this for all it was worth. Some were very uncomfortable with it. Either way this is going to be a concern in any hobby where you throw men and women together, so I don't think its unique to gaming.

  8. re: Chris' comment: no, it isn't unique to our hobby, but shouldn't we, as gamers, hold ourselves to a higher standard? ;)

  9. Is it right to treat a person differently because you see them a gf/bf material? No it's not, but you can't change human nature to try and ingratiate yourself to a person in a hobby you both share.

  10. Credibility and integrity is part of the game. It is a negative if the GM comes off as biased. Its not just about holding to a higher standard, its keeping the game fun by honoring the unwritten agreement with players that the GM is a fair arbiter in matters of the game.

  11. It sounds suspiciously like we're arguing the same point.