Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Women in Gaming

The post yesterday about my niece's all-girl gaming group created a minor nerdstorm, resulting in ~800 page loads in the last 24 hours (a lot for my blog) and a 30+ post thread on the Dragonsfoot forum. While the responses to my post and the Dragonsfoot thread were all completely positive, there were a number of minor comments presenting stereotypes about women in gaming. Mostly along the lines of: why are there so few/none, why do they tend to play elves with cat familiars, and why don't they like killing orcs as much as male players...?

These comments prompt me here to briefly present my own experiences with women in gaming. Basically: The only gender difference I have seen playing RPGs in Southern California is that there are slightly more men than women in the hobby. This includes cons and my local scene in Orange County. This does NOT include game shops or RPGA, which I have little experience with. Pretty much every session I play in - either my own D&D games, Strategicon events, Meetup events, or game parties - includes one or more women. I have seen absolutely no trend in women tending to play different types of characters or in different styles. Interestingly, in both my whitebox and Labyrinth Lord games women play front line brawlers, although we also have clerics and magic users represented. I know several women GMs in Orange County, and at one game party I hosted we had an all-female session of the card-driven Dragonstorm RPG rolling on for many hours. In the last few years I can only recall DMing one game (of Swords & Wizardry) that was all-male. Even back in the early 80s, when I was in junior high, I remember DMing Palace of the Silver Princess and having a girl playing a dwarf with a big axe.

I mean, c'mon dudes, if you want to develop stereotypes, shows like Dungeon Majesty and I Hit It With My Axe would have you believe that ALL D&D players in SoCal are women!

So if this is my experience, why are folks in other areas seeing something different? I don't really know... Maybe it's an urban vs. rural thing, a regional culture thing, or a statistical sampling effect in low-population areas. Or maybe it's just my cyclopeatronic cologne distorting the sex ratios around me...?

 * Dungeon Majesty *