Every so often someone “calls me out” because they perceive a hypocrisy between my insistence that girls should be made welcome in gaming, and the fact that I run a single gender “Girl Game.”
Ok, guys, seriously, nowhere have I EVER told you that you couldn’t have all-guy games (or if I have I mis-spoke and will accept my spanking). What I have told you is that girls can game, girls want to game, and that I think gaming with girls is good for you. I have told you how to attract girls to your game, and how to keep them there.
Mostly, if you want to have that all-guy game, what I want you to do is examine why you feel the need to, just as I examined why I wanted to do an all-girl game.
Roleplaying can be a very intimate experience, and some girls, hell, some guys, are intimidated by doing that in front of others at all, let alone in front of others of the opposite sex. Much of our society sets the primary two genders (male and female) up as adversaries, and who wants to be vulnerable in front of adversaries? I get that.
I weighed the pros and cons of having guys present in the Girl Game. I had girls who had bad experiences gaming with guys. I had girls who had awesome experiences gaming with guys, but wanted to see what an all girl group would be like. And I had girls who hadn’t gamed before for whom the thought of doing it in front of guys was intimidating.
I can tell you that even when the only guy present is the Geek Husband What Rules, the dynamic changes. Quite frankly, I do not care for how the dynamics change and want to keep that roleplaying experience as undilute as I can. Partially, it’s my own damage that changes the dynamics. He’s my primary GM, and I have a tendency to defer because of it.
Now, if your game is just organically all guys, that is a totally different thing than only gaming with guys because “girls suck and will ruin gaming.” Thankfully that attitude seems to be dying out, but it still rears its ugly head from time to time.
Or there may be a specific group of people you want to game with and they “happen” to be all guys. It does happen absent malice. I recognize this.
Or maybe your group has “that guy” in it, and while he’s a great roleplayer and a good friend otherwise, you know he’ll suck around a girl for whatever reason (doesn’t like them, turns into a horndog, etc…). So you decide to keep him and forego gaming with any girls, that’s valid, too. Of course, it’s also valid to tell him to suck it up and grow up, and deal with having a girl in the group as well. Honestly, I find a lot of the hostility from Geeky guys towards girls to be a lack of healthy exposure. Once you demystify the vagina-bearers, we’re a lot less scary.
BUT all of that said, you need to remember that male gamers still outnumber female gamers by a HUGE margin, which is why I keep hammering at you to include girls in your gaming groups.
At the incredibly girl-friendly GoPlayNW, which had 70 attendees, there were 8 girls that I recall. That’s a nearly ten to one margin. Granted, I am far less likely to be the only girl at a gaming convention now than I was ten years ago, so I see the progress. But it can be intimidating being the only girl at the table. Particularly in a convention setting where you will probably be outnumbered at least ten to one. Not only is it a little nerve-wracking to be roleplaying with strangers, but being surrounded by guys they don’t know well also tends to trip the internal alarms that have been societally conditioned into most women.*
If you don’t game with girls, who will? Yes, I’m female and I game and GM, but there aren’t that many of me running around. Probably more than I think there are, and far fewer than I hope. And by excluding girls, you may well miss out on some awesome fellow gamers. Plus, you want to keep the hobby going, right? More gamers means more gaming books sold… I’m just saying.
Edit: Here’s a link to the Stabbing Contest podcast where I discuss this exact issue with Clyde from Theory from the Closet.
*This is a societal conditioning thing, and if you need it explained I can point you to the Polimicks blog.