Sunday, March 13, 2011

[Weekly Whimsy] A Deeper Look, Part 2

[Welcome to Weekly Whimsy! What, words? Why? When worried, worked and worn, wander into wonder, and witness whimsy's will.]

What she say? She said - Prince, Joy In Repetition 
I'm back from a brutal week. Somehow my brain and life got disconnected and I'm really feeling it. I see my comments and queries this week as much more analytical and less personally involved- for good or bad, I'm not sure.

I am taking another look at the questions asked previously and offering insights. I hope my cogitations are more open to gamers in general, with a nod to the ladies, as I wasn't aware I was being exclusionary last week. That's never my intent. I like to talk to everyone!

Dungeonmum asked a really great starter question: How did you get into RPGs?

I ask a variant of this to nearly every person I game with (mine is: How did you get into gaming?) I love hearing the stories- of finding an outlet for creative expression, of united geekiness, and of community. I was really glad to see this question; but not just for ladies- for everyone. I find this topic fascinating for any gamer. The “anatomy of a geek” is really fun to explore. I love finding the common elements and discovering new ways of involvement in our hobby.

In the FGRT, the responses showed that most ladies were self-induced, introduced via peers or adults, with a few SO's in the picture as well. I was excited to see how many of “us” found gaming on our own; it sort of validates a pet theory of mine that geekiness is inherent and nerds will self congregate. Given all that, I found Dungeonmum's assessment that “dating a guy who played” “seems to be the most common way” to get into gaming absolutely revealing.

The IDEA that women get into the hobby through SO's is out there. It's really prevalent when crowdsourcing or taking opinion polls across a large group of people. But in actual interviews of gamers who happen to be female, it's rare. In the FGRT, there were 3 out of 18 responders who indicated they got in via SO's.  Late last year, I did a survey of the women I know personally; and responses were similar- only 1 out of the 15 gals I spoke to got into gaming via their SO.  The overall response rate of introduction via SO's I have seen appears to be less than 9%.  That's a pretty small amount.

Where is this idea coming from?   Why is the “theory” so well believed despite other indicators?

Th next question I'll examine today is one I liked a lot; just on principle. We're asked: Who was your favorite character to play ever? Why?

This is one of the most fun questions to ask a player- because everyone has an answer. I love seeing what motivates people's passion for their creations- from wordplay (woohoo, a fellow word nerd!) to kicking butt (which is also fun), all our answers were personal and resonated to us in some way. This is pretty true no matter who you ask. I love seeing people's faces light up when talking about the badassery and/or awesome they managed as their favorite character. I like it so much so I asked
about it here and got some great responses.

Many responders talked about being able to tap into their “ultimate” or “fantasy” selves-  playing someone they are not; but want to be. Jak was a definite example of this sort of character for me, but he was very difficult to pull off. Jak was essentially my personal opposite: male, decisive, aggressive, hostile, proficient and goal driven. Despite all these personality differences, he shared something with almost all of my other characters. Jak (and almost every single one of my imagined personalities) was fundamentally broken- a tragic hero who sought redemption for past transgressions.

I love to play these kinds of characters- people who are somewhat damaged; but trying to find solace in their actions. To me, it's a great way to work on some of my own “mental junk”; kind of therapy through roleplay. It's also a way to show the depths of tragedy, pain and ultimately; hope. I've truly enjoyed the moments when one of my characters inspires another to greatness, to betterment, or simply to kindness. I know those are pretty small things in the scheme of a game, but they matter to me.

What other players liked was equally interesting. I saw a lot of really fun answers. Our responders enjoyed being smart, tough, or game-changing; not any different than anyone else in any other game setting. I loved that the answers were so diverse and that there didn't appear to be any one “type”; because that'd be boring as hell.

Do you think there is a type of character ladies are “expected” to play?

Further on expectations is the question of bending gender. It appears that there's at least a little bit of an idea that playing against one's own gender is difficult (based on Zak's comments) or strange. I personally find the opposite to be true.  I like playing dudes, and hope to keep at it when given the chance.

The question is: How often do you play male characters?

The comments on this topic seemed to be split roughly 50/50 – with half playing at least some, and the other half not so much. My personal take on that is: that seems fair. It's like asking how often we play fighters, or people in space; simply a matter of preference rather than any big statement.

I didn't get any sense that playing a guy was any more important, consequential or  earthshaking than playing a druid, a demon returned from hell, or  anything else we might play.

The question itself seems to indicate switching up is an oddity. Am I inferring to much from the poser, or does it strike the same chord with you?

Lastly, how one decides gender when creating a character came up.

Concept & gut are the most consistent answers, with equity thrown in for good measure. Again, I think this is as unimportant as how one decides occupation  or education- it all comes down to character creation, and what women do seems  to be the same as what men do.

I'd love to hear your take on these inferences and opinions, as well as differing opinions.  Next week, I'll hit on a few more of the questions, the responses and anything else that hits my fancy. Thanks for joining me this time!

1 comment:

  1. "therapy through roleplay" - I hear you on that. At first I didn't even realize I was doing it, but it's certainly true for me. The best characters are those that show me part of myself that I may not have seen that way before. And I get a kick out of doing things I will never do for real, which is why I love 7th Sea so much.

    I had the feeling that gender switching is odd for some people as well and I was totally surprised by it, by the fact that people have never seen it in any of their games. I never had a round where it didn't happen, even if I leave myself out of it. People never expected me to play a particular type, although now they do expect me to play male characters, from experience and I'm totally fine with that.