December 02, 2009

The Only Girl At The Table

Part of the reason I asked my question of the week (seen in my previous post) is because for the two RPGs that I participated in at WolfCon I was the only girl.  I have never been uncomfortable in this.  I have a long history of a) being the victim of petty girl politics in elementary school and b) tomboy for the majority of my life.  I am very used to being the only girl in a group.

However I began to notice how girls with different experience could easily be turned off by gaming if they were to be the only girl at a table.  It's not that these men did anything outrageous or wrong, but it could easily make a woman uncomfortable.  I began to realize that I was okay with a lot of things a lot of other women may not be okay with.

One thing is jokes.  Guys are more likely to be very crude in jokes.  I am as well, to be perfectly honest.  It's a family trait.  However, not a lot of people are comfortable with genitalia joke with people they only met a few hours ago.  I have friends I've had for years who still don't like me sharing my crude jokes no matter if I am making fun of them, myself, or some imaginary character I just made up.  I can see a lot of my female friends not liking that at all.

I can also see the assumptions that some of the players make about my character being a problem.  For example, someone referred to my character as the "cute girl" without me even describing my character at all.  Yes, she was a girl, but I wasn't even thinking about her attractiveness level.  In fact, if I were to redo this character concept I would probably make her unattractive intentionally, especially f I was making her for a campaign.  It also makes me wonder if the comment was more about me, or more about the assumption that all girls that game want to be a sexier than their real selves.

Also, I find that when I play a female character in a game, her chances of getting hit on go up exponentially than if I play a male character.  I don't know if its because I mostly play with males, who in turn are more likely to think of flirtatious male characters, PC or NPC. It's just something I've noticed through my years of playing games.

All of this was noticed when I was gaming at WolfCon.  I don't want anyone to think that I was offended or put off by any of this behavior.  I was treated with respect and all players were equal at the table.  These habits were just little things that my scare off the average female who may be interested in gaming and hasn't tried it yet.  That might explain why women have been slow to join the RPG community.

1 comment:

  1. I think you're onto something here.

    Actually, you've made me realize that i've never played at a table with single women. They all come with a husband or long-time boyfriend attached. Maybe it *is* the result of a mixed-gender comfort issue?

    I've played tons of games without my husband around, but like you, i've always been a bit of a tomboy and don't feel uncomfortable at all in groups of men (in fact, given a choice, i'm more comfortable with unfamiliar men than i am with unfamiliar women)

    I do think there's an assumption that all women want to play the pretty girl--but then again, it's not really an unfair assumption. I usually don't concern myself with attractiveness scores (i want to spend my points on the good stuff!), but i have on occasion played purposefully ugly female characters (it tends to confuse other players, for the record). But i have never, ever played with another chick that was ok with playing a character that was anything less than at least slightly above average.