Sunday, March 6, 2011

[Weekly Whimsy] A Deeper Look, Part 1

[Welcome to Weekly Whimsy! A different discussion, delivering data dealing with determinations and debate; deconstructing dames, DMs and discourse.]

Hear the voices
All the people- INXS, All the Voices
I ran short of ideas for something completely new this week, but I've been musing on something “recycled” for a bit now. I was motivated to pick it up again after my post Friday. I touched on a cognitive difference in understanding, using and manipulating an entire system, and to some extent I attributed this to gender.

My own comments got me ruminating about gender differences in gaming (again) and caused me to recall the FGRT. I wanted to revisit my responses (as I was uncharacteristically brief) as well as talk a little bit about those that responded as an overall group.

I dropped a note to Zak, and he kindly agreed to let me take over his blog (sort of), so here I am with my unrestrained commentary. These opinions and thoughts are mine. I don't speak for all lady gamers.

In fact, part of my point today is that the female gamer demographic is exceptionally difficult to pin down, even when given the opportunity.

The roundtable was held here- on a massively popular gaming blog, and the post got tons of redistribution across the web. Despite all that, only about 15 women responded to the questions. I noted this on my blog and I think I came across in a way I didn't intend. I didn't mean that Zak wasn't doing a good job of reaching women – in fact, I think the opposite. My point was more one of- why the heck aren't they responding? Out of 600+ followers (which might be a fraction of actual readers); only FIFTEEN women commented? REALLY?

What could be causing this? I know there are active, intelligent and interesting women out there who game. Many of them have their own blogs and are producing compelling and creative content. Folks like 20 Sided Woman, Commissar Carrie, Hurricane Girl/Cami and more are out there with fascinating voices.

Why is it so hard to get them talking; especially to EACH OTHER?

I do wonder how much of the reticence to reply was solely out of respect to the sheer number of questions. If it had been 2, 3, or even 4 questions it's possible there would have been more plentiful responses. It's hard to know, but I'll be reexamining both the questions and replies very shortly, so perhaps some conversation will be rekindled.

One of the things that struck me most out of the replies was that out of the 15 or so responders, only 3-4 of the women GM. While most all of the gals had tried it, not many continued to do so. Is this due to lack of confidence? Performance anxiety? Deference to more dominant personalities? Concerns about balance and structure? Fear of developing worlds, settings  or characters that exist merely to fulfill wishes or personal fantasy, rather than exciting places and people?  I can't speak for other women, but I know I've been struck by all of these and more. I'm working to change my own personal reticence to run a game, and hope to be up and at 'em within a few months.

I've been blessed to be surrounded by an imaginative, embracing and truly supportive gaming community for as long as I can remember. I've made innumerable friendships that are becoming essential to growing my skillset and developing my talents so that I can be a fantastic GM. I know that not all of female gamers are so lucky, but might want to take a stab at running the show.

What can the gaming community do to help grow creative, evocative and capable female GM's?

I'm more than just a bit intrigued by the possibilities of more communicative and active female gamers, and specifically GMs. I think we'd all benefit from having more women around- and for reasons much deeper than scenery.

In my local meta, I am NOT alone as a lady player. I personally know  a good 10-15 ladies who game, and I'm AWARE of at least a dozen more via a LARP community. This particular sense of solidarity has given me a sense of security and protection in some of the games I play. This has allowed me to explore some very dark and non-traditional roles without any fear of imbalancing the game. I've grown out of my "nice girl" confines and become something close to fearless when it comes to playing rougher, darker and more nuanced characters - with a good amount of credit going to the other women around me.

The IDEA that I'm not alone has given courage when it comes to doing things that interest me, that are compelling, and are richer in nuance and voice. All of these points are in effect solely by having women as compatriots in or around the game.

What would it do to all of us in terms of gaming if the head of the table were a lady? Wouldn't we be enriched, challenged, driven and tested more; or at least differently? A woman's view of far-off worlds in action (rather than in print such as fiction) might reveal a lot, and give us much to develop.

I'd love to find ways to address this chasm, and maybe I'll strike on some ideas for myself as I continue on in examining the roundtable. Next week, I'll be looking at the questions a  little more closely; with my illustrious tag full in effect. I hope you'll join me, and even throw some comments my way!

Be Well,



  1. I've only played in one (short)game run by a female GM (K) and it was a fun and interesting experience. K's 'world" was well thought out and a lot of fun to play in. She used our present day city to set her game in...and put it and us through some wild changes. Her description of what was happening, and the background were very well thought out and made me really feel like I was there.

    As a matter of fact several of the people who played in her short run game have talked from time to time about how we would love to reexplore that world.


  2. Wow, I'm mentioned, I like... I feel privileged. Anyway, I'm experience with GMing, actually, and have been doing it a while. I'm not sure how exactly my worlds and adventures differ from those of my male gaming counterparts, namely because I don't have that player side reference in which to view my world from an objective point of view. But it's true, I'm the only female GM I've ever gamed with, and I find that kind of odd. I wonder if it's a confidence thing.

  3. Wow! I'm also flattered to be included in there!

    I like Commissar Carrie have been a GM for various games. I think I was a member of a rather different gaming group. Well all took turns running different games fairly often. At first it was by necessity that I ran games, now I view it as a way to tell my stories. For me personally it's not about confidence, I'm super shy and sometimes get stage fright when first getting started. I think it's about creativity (which Carrie is in no short supply of).

    I've often wondered the same thing about why can't we communicate better. I've even tried a little bit of organizing the girls myself, or at least get some sort of common communication thread going.

  4. I've also played in a game run by a female GM, but I'm not sure in what manner it would have been different from others, because it was short lived (The person GMing was my mom, and it got late, then we just never got back to it. I remember that the mayor of the town was rather longwinded, and a bit pompous though, and this was years ago, so she obviously did a good job. I think that was also the time that I nearly made the blacksmith faint, as I was questioning him about some sort of strange thing going on nearby that I thought might be a wight, and described in detail what it would do.)

  5. Carrie & Cami, thanks for coming by! I'm so glad to hear your experiences and I appreciate you sharing your comments.

    C'Nor- your mom ran games for you? How cool is that!

    I'll be talking about the questions a little more next week- in small chunks, so feel free to stop by with your perspectives.

    thanks again!

  6. I have GMed for a small group and it was fun. I've always been more interested in playing than GMimg, though, and I suck at coming up with stories. I also don't have enough patience to study all the source books and rules and I think that a GM definitely should do that. As a player, you can get away with knowing only the basics.

    I'm looking forward to revisiting the roundtable, I was hoping that it would continue in some way.

  7. Jedediah: I agree, GM is a big hassle. But I keep feeling it might be worth it.

    There's some discussion over at Zak's blog, too...