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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Some Thoughts on Women In Gaming (and some NTRPG Con Observations)

First things first - this is not a rant. I have many rants, and this is not one of them ;)

Some background.

When I was dating my wife, she was very supportive of my efforts to get back into roleplaying. She didn't understand it, but giving me every other Saturday night to do something that was important to me was important to her.

Flash forward a little bit, and she was brave enough to let me run her through a Tunnels & Trolls adventure. I figured the d6s would make the 1st session just a bit less confusing, and I was right. Still, that was her first and last RPG session until NTRPG Con 2014. Yep, she decided to join me at the Con and wanted to play in some of the games. After all, she listens in to one side of my Roll 20 sessions most every Saturday night ;)

My thought last year was that her first RPG session should be a game very few would have a handle on, so I chose Time Master run by none other than +Tim Snider . Tim did what you should do with most game sessions, but especially those with new players and / or those unfamiliar with the system - put the game mechanics in the background and have the players describe what their characters are actually doing.

It went so well Rach wanted me to dig the original rules out of storage and by the next night she was telling me we were returning in 2015 (we did.)

This year, in addition to playing DCC, SWN and Victorious for the first time (as well as some LL) Rach got to play in Merle Rausmussen's All Girls Top Secret session. Now, this is pretty much the opposite of what I generally hear about when it comes to "empowering women in gaming", as the assumption is usually that the woman needs to run the game in order to be empowered. Not according to my wife. She had more fun in Merle's game than any of the others (and she loved them all), possibly because it was her first session without me as a crutch. It was also the rare event with three women at the table (although we did have two women at our table - including Rach - three times this year.)

Let's be honest. More women are brought into gaming by the men in their life than the other way around. The secret to empowering women in gaming isn't to exclude men from sitting behind the GM's screen but giving women an opportunity to play without their crutch - the man that brought them into gaming. It's scary to remove the training wheels but so rewarding when you realize you are riding on your own.

Of course, the next step for Rach WILL be to find a session run by a woman, because she wants to see if there is any difference in the experience. I don't think Rach will be running a session anytime soon, as she doesn't have the desire to do so, but that's true for many players.

(for those wondering, Rachel was actively involved in the writing of this post. I'm hoping to get a post or two out of her where she writes about her gaming experiences directly - I'll twist her arm a bit this summer ;) 






19 comments:

  1. My wife has run a Ladies of Hack game (pretty much only women running & playing) at Origins a few times. IIRC they had a "guest" sit-in, who was one of the KenzerCo D-Team....they made an exception for him.

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  2. Right on! Funny you should post this today as Kaley, my gf/best friend, ran her first session of 5e (and first session of any game) at our flgs. She is 25 and was running for two 13 year olds and a 9 year old, all women and all that game with us regularly. She enjoyed it and is excited to run again. I am jazzed to see and hear about more women in gaming. Rock on!

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  3. Curious as to which T&T adventure you ran Rach through.

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  4. In 30 years of gaming, I've found it's always a different experience from one GM to the next, regardless of gender.

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  5. That would be an interesting read.

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  6. My wife was a computer gamer back when we met in 1993--she had played the SSI AD&D games extensively and understood stats, armor class, etc., but no tabletop experience. Well, she did, and has been gaming ever since. We don't play in every game together, but she'd never gamed without me.

    Until, that is, NTRPG Con...right before Jennell transitioned, 2011?...anyway, I got the last slot in one of Jeff Dee's V&V games and she ended up in Jim Ward's MA game. And she had a blast. :)

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  7. This advice works well for introducing anyone new to the hobby, not just spouses who are new to the hobby (I phrase it that way because my 1st wife and current wife were both proficient players and GMs before I met them)....I know far more women in gaming who were not brought in by their S.O. these days; that wind changed about a decade ago I'd say, at least in the regions I've gamed (AZ, WA and NM). None of the women I currently game with came in to the hobby through a guy, for example (seven women I game with, including my wife). Maybe the disparity is regional, or women gamers are less likely to go to traditional RPG conventions? That or my sampling is somehow skewed because of my years as a GM running at the FLGS increases the odds I'll meet women gamers already in the hobby.

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  8. Just noticed the shout-out. Thanks for that. I'm incredibly pleased that my game made such an impression.

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  9. You are, of course, also running on the (inaccurate) framing assumption that women are always brought into gaming by some guy. *snort*

    Spoiler: No. Perfectly capable of finding the hobby on our own, thanks.

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    1. No, he said it's the most common way women are introduced to the hobby. Don't go putting words into the guy's mouth or altering what he actually said

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    2. "More women are brought into gaming by the men in their life than the other way around."

      Where did I say "all?"

      The Professor is right, please don't put words in my mouth. I can make wrong assumptions and generalizations without any help ;)

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    3. For what it's worth I think that stopped being true within at least the last 10-15 years. It really doesn't work that way anymore in the hobby at large, although specific regional hobbies with a lot of old school focus might feel that way. And if you expand to include gamers as a broader definition (MTG, board games, video games) it fails even worse.

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    4. Mathematically it stands to reason. I daresay most men are brought into gaming by other men... simply because _most RPG players are men_. There's nothing wrong with it.

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  10. So there's someone or some organization out there that won't let women play games?

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    1. White Wolf, but they won't let anyone play games. Just endure story

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    2. Is that some kind of Jack London/RPG.net joke?

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    3. Only Jack London I've read was A Piece of Steak. Not seeing a connection

      I'm just not a fan of story games and couldn't resist making a joke at their expense

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  11. That Merle is still out there and running Top Secret is awesome. I'd love to hear about that game session (maybe you're wife could write a guest blog post on her experience?). Also be interested in knowing if he was using the original TS rules or the later S.I. version.
    : )

    [original Top Secret is very near and dear to my heart]

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  12. I wish we could get more female Gms at NTRPG con. Both Dawn Fisher and Jeff Dee's wife Amanda ran games this year, im probably missing someone else.

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