November 30, 2009

Question of the Week #11

I will be writing about WolfCon in the next coming days, including a great interview I got while I was there.  I also had some great experiences with people in general, and who could not resist a weekend of board games and RPGS.

WolfCon has partly inspired my question of the week:

If you are thinking of joining a game at a convention, are you put more at ease if you know that you are not the only one of your gender?

I will be writing my response to this question soon, but first your opinions.

November 26, 2009

The WolfCon Plan

Hello all.

As I mentioned before, I am going to WolfCon to get some interviews and to have some general fun.  I was talking with one of the guys who's running the Con and we're going to see if there's a way to get some interest for a discussion group on Sunday.  We'll see if people want to talk there but I'll be taking interviews while I'm there.  Please find me!  I would love to find readers there.

I won't be staying all day at the Con, since it's until 11pm every day.  I'll be there until mid afternoon at least.

I will try tomorrow morning to tell you all how to find me one way or another.  I'll try to wear a "witty" nerd t-shirt of some sort.  I'll take any chance I get to wear t-shirts now that I can't wear them at my job.

Hope to see you at wolfcon!

Edit: For those of you that may be actively looking for me, I decided to go for my "meh" t-shirt today.  I'll hopefully see some of you at con!

November 23, 2009

Question of the Week #10

The idea for this came from me finding out about Google Wave, and how some people are already using it to run table top RPGs online.

Do you think that it's easier to have player gender matter less when one plays a table top game online rather than in person?

I know many of you haven't had experiences where you gender did matter at the table, but please discuss what experiences or opinions you do have.

November 20, 2009

Language an indicator?

This is merely a pondering of mine, but it is something I should investigate at a later date.

In linguistics in college I remember hearing about the different ways boys and girls would talk to teach other when they were building up friendships.  Boys would tend to have conversations where one was besting the other.  One would say "I kicked the ball really high!" and another would respond "Well I kicked it higher than you!"  And even another would add "I kicked the ball up to the clouds!"  This was just a friendly conversation that boys had with each other, not super competitive but the idea is still there.

Girls would actually talk about what they had in common.  One girl would mention "My mom has blue eyes" and another in excitement would go "My mom has blue eyes too!"  Very different in the sense that instead of trying to be bigger and better than one another like the boys, the girls try to be very much alike.

Of course these differences don't quite stay that way as everyone grows older, but it started to make me think about what the original Dungeons and Dragons was like.  Characters are constantly on quests to get the best rewards.  Each character is trying to level up to become the best fighter/archer/mage/thief in the land.  Although the players may not be comparing themselves to each other, they will be comparing their skills and stats to other non-player characters they encounter in game, and over time in the campaign these characters may become the expert.

The other day while reading the thesis I talked about earlier, the description of gaming reminded me of what I learned in linguistics.  Is it possible that games like D&D help continue the competitive conversation habits that men had when they were young boys?  I can't say for sure, but I find the connection very interesting.

Sometimes I had become an academic so I could find a way to study this more closely, with actual research papers.  This is definitely one of those times.

November 16, 2009

Question of the Week #9

I am sorry that the question is late: I am recovering from a very busy weekend from my job and sometimes you need to clear your head of thinking for a while so you can restart it. It's a bit like defragging a computer.

The inspiration for this week's Question of the Week comes from the first part of this article, written in 1998 by Brandon Blackmoor. Blackmoor's article essentially dismisses some of the excuses he has heard for not having female characters in a medieval fantasy setting. If for some reason you find yourself having to argue some of these points, Blackmoor does a great job using history to create strong counter-arguments.

But then you have to decide: even if women fight, is that a rarity in your campaign? And how would one deal with it?

So here's my Question of the Week:

Do you prefer a campaign where one gender adventuring is more "special" or rare to find than the other? Does this enhance the depth or culture of the campaign? Or is the notion of one gender being rare in adventure parties useless?

I would like to see reference to not just medieval fantasy settings, but any other settings you readers have had experience with.

November 11, 2009

A Thesis I Should've Written.

The only reason I say that is that this thesis I found is essentially an ethnography of women in table top gaming. It's titled ENCOUNTERS AT THE IMAGINAL CROSSROADS: AN EXPLORATION OF THE EXPERIENCES OF WOMEN IN ROLE-PLAYING GAMES written by Christopher J. Dyszelski. It was written in 2006 as Dyszelski's disertation. In his abstract he describes his paper as thus:

Ethnographically, this study documents the history and experiences of women in the
culture of gaming. It presents profiles of a diversity of female gamers and explores historically
the ways that women have established themselves as members of this culture and shaped this
traditionally male dominated hobby. It also examines a multiplicity of opinions about and
experiences of sexism, prejudice, and discrimination of women in gaming.

It sounds similar to what I would like to do with this blog, but I don't want to stop with a thesis.

The plan is to read this chapter at a time and to see what Dyszelski discovered, and see what happens when I do my own investigation. I'll report on my findings, don't worry folks.

Still looking for people for interviews--don't think that I have given up on that! I'm hoping that WolfCon will bring more people to talk to and more opinions.

November 09, 2009

Question of the Week #8

Sorry this is late, I posted it in the wrong blog. But here is it in all its glory.

Do you think that the female presence in the RPG industry needs to be stronger, or is the presence strong enough?

Please discuss!

November 06, 2009

More on WolfCon: Happenings and My Involvement

I understand that my last post on WolfCon may have seemed a bit random, but I assure you it has some purpose here.  The weekend after Thanksgiving Thursday I am going to be at WolfCon to talk to people about the 20 Sided Women Project.  I'm talking to the people who run the Con about having an event where I am going to have a general discussion about Women in Gaming.  We're thinking about the format and how it should work, since WolfCon has never had an event quite like that before.

In the mean time, if you are in the Chicago area and would like to play an RPG at WolfCon but don't know how it's working out, you should come to a character creation session for the AD&D game they're running at WolfCon.  It is Wednesday, November 11th, at 6:00pm, at the Great American Bagel on 1248 W. Belmont in Chicago.  Anyone with any range of experience is invited to come make a character to play at WolfCon.

The guys running WolfCon want women gamers to know that they are very welcome and that there will be plenty of RPGs for them.  They really want to make it comfortable for them and want to know how to get more women to their con.  Not only am I happy to help and inform but I do plan to play/run/help out with an event here and there.

I'll post more details on exactly my involvement when things are finalized.

November 04, 2009

A little something I appreciate about the RPG Industry

I was just noticing that although the RPG community would love to more consistently get female gamers, they've taken a strikingly different route than the video game community.

Let's think about this.  From what I've seen, there is no product specifically designed to attract female gamers to the RPG community.  There are games that do play around with gender, like Kagematsu.  A lot of these games play with societal gender roles.  This is entirely different from making an RPG specifically for women.  There are games that would like to appeal to more female gamers, but it's not quite the same when compared to what video games have done.

Specifically, the video game industry has tried to make games specifically for women.  And when I say women, I should really refer to the preteen to teenage market.  With games that have main characters like Barbie, Mary Kate and Ashley, and Miley Cyrus over the years, it's impossible to say that the industry has entirely neglected the girl market.  But has it actually penetrated the girl video-gamer market?

In my opinion, it hasn't.  The video game industry has been able to find out what a lot of younger girls like, but they haven't looked at why girls who already like video games like the games they play.

A lot of the games that have a fairly equal distribution or even a majority of female players in the video game market didn't try to market exclusively to girls or women in the first place.  One great example is one of my favorite game lines: the Sims.  Maxis merely went with a concept and ran with it, and without marketing to a specific gender produced a game that ended up having a majority of female players.  People can rattle on theories as to why, but it seems it was partly due to the fact that early on, there was no specific gender in mind for the players.  Well, there was the time when Will Wright decided not to call it Dollhouse because it made it more feminine, so one could even argue that the Sims market was equally targeting both genders.

The Sims model is more like what the RPG community has done: just make a good game and the players will come.  Could you imagine what would have happened if the RPG industry followed the video game model?  I don't even want to think about.

Don't think about it too much either, it might become a question of the week.

November 02, 2009

Question of the Week #7

Hello Everyone, It's time for another Question of the Week.

Do you think that women are more open about their hobby when it comes to table top RPGs than men, or less so?  Why do you think that is?

Also, sorry for last week being somewhat sparse, I'm working on making sure that doesn't happen again.