Thursday, March 14, 2013

Musings - Our Distaff Contingent

One thing that's come up in my reminisces on the origins of the hobby, both my entry to it and of the hobby itself, is the concept of women at the gaming table. Based on my own experience, I don't don't get the stories of their disinterest in the hobby. In the heady early 80's of fifth grade we had some girls in our class play since it was the height of the fad and everyone played. They all gave it up by 6th grade, but by 8th grade - while my group was all XY chromosome types - I was in touch with another group with regular female players.

Fast forward to 11th and 12th grade and I was regularly playing with that group which was a male DM, 5 male players and 2 female players, neither of which were the DM's girlfriend. This group was out of town and I had to drive to it, but my in town group, by this point, also contained women, with upwards of 3 of them at the table by the time we left for college. Two (Jen and Amy) of those came into it through being girlfriends of players. The third was dating me but I met her via gaming and she'd been at the table as long as any of us had been. Plus once Jen and I went to UConn she continued to game even though she was no longer seeing the guy from our hometown gaming group. The "DM's girlfriend" stereotype just didn't hold water.

Once in college my game groups were 1/3 to 1/2 women (sometimes making up the majority of the players with the gender parity coming from me behind the screen), which is a ratio that has held true ever since. My wife wasn't a gamer when we got married but I assiduously courted her with settings tailored to her interests and simple mechanics (though she was likely hooked just by listening to the hilarity emerging from the group on game days). My current Mech & Matrimony group is 3 women to 1 man as players, if the scheduled Girl Genius game had gone off it would have been all women players and my PBEM is 3 women to 2 men as players. The parent and child group of A Distant Inheritance would have a larger female contingent if Jay or Kris had ever produced a female spawn.

So that's my personal experience, which doesn't seem to hew at all to the general consensus: my circle has lots of gaming women, couples and families. The question to the masses is if my experience is so atypical. (The secondary question is: If so, why? I can acknowledge in the early days my gaming group also being my theater buddies rather than wargaming friends might have had something to do with it, but what about from college on, when no one was doing theater any more.)