Women at the Gaming Table
There’s no need to compile exhaustive volumes of statistics to know that women are often outnumbered in this hobby. Our team’s collective experiences with tabletop events at game-shops, cons, and community groups across four different countries over the last fifteen years are all perfectly aligned: apart from a few awesome (and rare) exceptions, there are often more men at the table. This, of course, raises problems about accessibility to the game-playing itself. Everything on the spectrum between outright interrupting and man-splaining to simply talking more often risks having an insidious impact on a woman’s experience of a game/story that is equally hers to enjoy and contribute to.
As GMs, we owe a positive obligation to the women at our tables to ensure that their character’s voices aren’t drowned out by those of the often more numerous male players.
Now I’ve heard some folks try and justify this imbalance of “screen-time” by claiming that women are just naturally more inclined to emotional, character-interaction role-play rather than the action-man (problematic term) style of door-kicking, and so it’s not the fault of the GM if a dangerous hack’n’slash game favours more aggressive play-styles. First of all: try again, because I can’t make sense of your eugenic bullshit through the centuries of history that have outdated it. Second of all: stop GMing…probably forever.
For fucks’ sake, rpgs are predicated on the idea of playing a role OTHER than yourself! How could you possibly presume blanket archetypal character styles based on a single factor about a player – who, by the way, is a wonderfully complex and unique human being for reasons other than their genitals. And I’m not just talking about experimenting outside of comfort zones. I have been lucky enough to have GMed for a group of all women who were, bar none, the most blood-thirsty and eager-to-activate-insurance-plan band of rabble-rousers I’ve ever had to steer along an adventure. By contrast, Encounter Roleplay has also introduced me to a pair of British gents who have delivered some of the most literally tear-jerking character monologues I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing in a DnD game. So please, be a GM that facilitates rather than impedes roleplaying.