Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gender & Gaming: my experiences

This is obviously not intended to be a comprehensive, dissertation-level treatise on how women are represented and portrayed in tabletop gaming. It's just a few notes on how the gender makeup of my games has changed over time.

My first group of players, in high school, consisted of two guys and two girls: IS, GM, MC, and LO, respectively. Eventually, one of the guys left, was sporadically replaced by another guy, and not long afterwards the gaming group broke up for a number of reasons.

The next couple of groups I tried running consisted entirely of male players, two of whom (CC and SC) are in my current group as well. That set of attempted campaigns - one using AD&D2, the other a marginally more successful B/X excursion - dissolved before too long, due to other commitments by many of the players. My extremely short-lived Pathfinder Beginner Box group likewise consisted of three guys.

The group I'm running now has a rotating cast, but what appears to be the most stable set of players is much like my first group: LO, B (a mutual friend of MC), CC, and a veteran gamer I'll call J. SC plays from time to time, but a mix of work commitments and transportation issues frequently keep him from showing up.

I'm considering handing over the reins as Dungeon Master to B after everyone has a chance to play AD&D2 a little more thoroughly, due to my hectic class schedule this semester. It'll be interesting to see how she puts her own spin on things, gender-wise.

(Also: I'm not surprised that there weren't many female D&D players in the 1990s. Both AD&D2 and the Rules Cyclopedia use "he" as an all-purpose, ostensibly gender-neutral pronoun, and the art for every single character class in AD&D2 - except the Ranger, for which there is none - shows male examples. By and large, women don't appear in the 2e illustrations at all except as enemies, which is pretty sad considering how the Moldvay Basic Rulebook went out of its way to always use "he or she", and gave illustrations of powerful heroines - even on the cover!)

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