The Legend of the Female Gamer

I seem to be in a minority when it comes to most gaming groups.  Nearly half of my players are women.  Most GMs I talk with have said that their tables are almost entirely men (if not entirely) and some have asked me what my secret has been to drawing women to the table for games.

Truth be told, I have no idea.  I’m one of the very fortunate, in that I married a woman who was interested in trying games out (and gave her free reign to design a character that she was genuinely enthusiastic about playing).  My wife has said it’s because (and I quote) “[I am] charming and willing to let people play that don’t fully understand the game without penalizing them for it.”  I run games that aren’t won by who carries the biggest gun (insert phallic joke here) and I welcome people who think outside the box and come up with interesting new ideas.  I don’t expect my players to be a rule encyclopedia… not everyone wants to know the rules for everything, but simply wish to participate.  I do believe all of these played a role.  Being open-minded and catering to players who don’t live for combat (though I do know some female gamers who will charge headlong into combat as well) and not imposing my ideas of an ideal character onto my players.  Though I think the biggest factor over the years is the inclusion of my wife from day one.

Convincing women to join what is vastly viewed as a guy’s hobby can be a hurdle, especially if you’re dealing with a group of potentially socially awkward guys.  Walking into an established group can be intimidating or overwhelming at the best of times, but being the only woman at the table can be an obstacle for some.  But once there’s a woman at the table, it becomes less of an obstacle (from my own observations).  There is common ground and the appeal for the game can be approached from a more familiar vantage point.

The game of Shadowrun I run at the office is primarily women (3 out of 5) and I think it’s fantastic.  From my own experience, when guys get started into RPGs, they often latch onto their favourite part of a given game system (combat, technology, magic, etc) and crank it up to its extremes.  Women take a more balanced approach overall and put a lot more care and attention into a character’s background (overall, my players are all good for this, though).  I even have a female gamer playing a male character.  I have seen the male players play female characters (some do it well and others latch on to every stereotype available), but it’s always intriguing to see the other side of that coin.  During a game, the viewpoints and strategies of the two genders are often different and the ideas that arise from the compromises lead to fantastic stories and unorthodox ideas.  I’m of the firm belief that game nights can always benefit from “a woman’s touch”.

So, if you’re one of the groups out there that counts women amongst your ranks, then consider yourself one of the lucky ones.  Whether you play board games, RPGs, or bust out a fun card game like Munchkin, welcome the fairer sex to the table.  Bring the books, dice and pencils, but leave any sexism, ogling and preconceived notions behind.  Your game will be better for it.

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~ by 1nsomniac on June 7, 2012.

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