Geek Girls Rule! #177 – Girls and Games. AGAIN.


I was a little blonder, but you get the idea.

It would be way easier to enthuse about my subcultures if they weren’t so busy pissing me off.

So, Wizards of the Coast (who in fairness pulled the article really quickly once the complaints started rolling in) allowed Uri Kurlianchik to write an article about girls and gaming and how girls game.  Thanks to magic of screen caps and cache-ing, we have access to his article.  I wouldn’t recommend trying to pull them all down, WotC, by now there are dozens.  It would be futile.

So, Mr. Kurlianchik begins his article with an “(un)Disclaimer,” part of which I will quote here:

“Despite living a rich and fulfilling life, one thing I never got to be is a woman. Therefore, some readers are likely to ask, “What gives you the right, as a man, to talk about women?”
First of all, this article is not about women, but about children of the female persuasion. Children rarely write pedagogic articles (and thank goodness for that!) and so this ungrateful task falls upon my hairy adult shoulders. So while I may not be female, you, my hypothetical accuser, are not a child, hence we’re both in equal violation of authenticity.”

What Mr. Kurlianchik is missing however, is that we women, for the most part, WERE “children of the female persuasion.”  Many of us were girls who wanted to game and were denied.  Who felt ignored or discounted by books full of warrior babes in chainmail bikinis.  So, no, we aren’t in “equal violation of authenticity.”  Nice try, though.

Also his idea that girls aren’t interested in winning is complete and utter bullshit.  Speaking as an exceptionally competitive (to the point of kind of being an asshole about it sometimes) woman, who was a highly competitive girl, screw you.  Just because we like to have story surrounding our winning, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t interested in winning.  And if he hasn’t been able to see that, I think perhaps he is not so observant as he seems to think he is, there from the outside where he admits he is.

The rest of the article is primarily a rehashing of “girl gamer” cliches, enough to make any actual girl gamer throw up in her dicebag, so I’m just going to hit a couple highlights.

I love how he ascribes the long description of what their character is wearing to girls, because I know I’VE certainly NEVER known any male players that do that sort of thing.  NEVER.  Did that sarcasm come through?   Sometimes I feel limited by print.

I am certain neither Mr. Kurlianchik nor WotC intended to be offensive.  But I just have to say this:  I know you have women working for you.  Hell, as much as I dislike Part-Time Sorceress, last I heard Shelly Mazzanoble still worked for you.  There are, in fact, several women working for WotC, right now, as we speak.  But perhaps the fact that only about 10% of the kids that take part in Mr. Kurlianchik’s D&D programs in schools are girls, is due more to them picking up on his unconscious sexism.  I know I was less likely to want to deal with adults who displayed the tendency to take me less seriously because of my gender presentation.

I’d like to cover two things I’ve talked about before.  The first is that the fact that the offense wasn’t intended is somewhat worse than when it is.  Because when people mean to offend, you can write them off as assholes and get it over with.  It’s the subconscious sexism that’s harder to combat, because generally they aren’t even aware that’s what they’re doing.  They’re just parroting cliches and stereotypes they’ve heard all their lives and blindly accept as true because “everybody knows that.”

The second is that if you want to encourage girls to game, ask them.  Give them games.  Give them space to game and to encourage them to branch out into more “stereotypically” male characters and situations.  When a friend’s 9 year old boy wanted to start gaming, his Dad called up his gaming buddies and said, “How do you feel about being an NPC in a 9 year old’s adventure?”  We’re currently encouraging another friend to do that for his 9 year old daughter, and since I’m one of the gaming buddies, he’s really gung ho about the idea.

So, next time you want an article about girls and gaming, WotC, get a woman to write it, ok?  There’s tons of us out there.

Remember we’ve got the GGR TwitterTumblr and Facebook page.

20 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #177 – Girls and Games. AGAIN.

  1. So the only person who could write about women gaming is a woman? You don’t see the irony in that sentiment? I think in general you will find that there are men as (or more) qualified to talk about teaching gaming. An likely even the sub specialty of teaching women.

    The problem is that the guy (Uri) is not very swift. He gives bad advice about gaming, children and spews misogynist garbage.

    WotC needs to get someone intelligent and educated to write for them. Woman or man or whatever.

    ps- I have taught a few women to game over the years and I have never noticed a difference in them learning to game.

  2. A. I did not say that the only people who could write about girls and gaming were women. However, I think that women do have both an edge on that, having been girls, and also, are vastly under-represented in gaming and gaming literature.

    Which brings me to B. Why the hell, when you have this opportunity that is pretty much screams to have a woman write it, would you let someone with Kurlianchik’s history of problematic issues, write it? And why wouldn’t you have a woman write it?

    I have more to say, but there are meatballs calling my name. Back later.

  3. And back.

    C. It is also the part that having a man write an article like this plays into the cultural structure of men as instructor/authority and women/girls as the instructed upon/to.

    No matter how friendly and awesome someone’s tone is, if the only voices girls see regarding gaming are men, they are going to feel excluded. If the guys running the show are all guys, where are their role-models? It’s alienating on a very basic, and largely subconscious level. As with all human beings, it helps girls to see that other girls have done this before. Especially in the face of a society that is CONSTANTLY hammering on them that guys are afraid of girls who are too smart, too strong, too…

    Girls need to see women doing these things, just as badly as they need Mia Hamm playing soccer, the US Women’s Hockey Team, and the WNBA players.

  4. I read the cached article (thanks for preserving). And I think you are missing the point that this was intended as advice for dealing with problem player types concerning CHILDREN who are new to gaming with a focus on how you may need to change to encourage more girls to play. Specifically how to handle young girls trying to game with immature boys.
    If I took his comments on problematic immature boys to reflect on all male gamers, this article would be completely insulting. But it doesn’t say that and does go out of its way to say this is about the “problems” and young gamers.
    It is not a HOORAY-CHEER all gamers are great and there are never any issues.
    Nor does it say “all female gamers are like X or Y”. It says when you get a child who acts this way, you may need to do Y differently as a GM.
    His advice sucks for dealing with adults but the focus is on children and problems dealing with same. Not a blanket indictment of all gamers. (and I went and removed some specifications to “girl gamers” because if you apply any of his comments to adult male gamers you’d punch this guy in the face too… and I find it interesting that no one commented on this. either they subconciously agree OR everyone realized he was talking about young boys, but ignored he was also talking about young girls?)
    From your comments, I think you carried an incredibly strong bias into reading this article and did not give it a fair shake.
    For example, he SAYS that young boys more often display the 10 minute detailed description narcissism. But you point out the complete opposite and rail about that imaginary issue as bullshit….
    “This sort of narcissism is more often seen in male players than female players”.
    That statement would piss me off if I somehow decided to take it completely out of context. Apply it to ALL ADULT MALE gamers and then complained because he called all of us narcissists. But that would be reflecting my personal issues and not what he actually wrote.

    Which is what I think you did for every comment he makes about problems with young gamers

    Criticism does not equate to misogyny. And a refusal to look at probematic issues does not make them not exist.

    guess I will be labelled a misogynist for arguing with you though?

  5. Ugh, this kind of article is absolute BS!

    I just came back from the second day of volunteering here at the Calgary Expo, doing my own thing as well as helping out at the DC Booth, and geek girls come in all sizes, shapes, and colours, as well as ages. I was pleases as hell to talk with geeky WOMEN around my age on subjects from the comics to Doctor Who and almost shedding a few tears with them over the death of Elizabeth Sladen. I was also happy to give pins and calenders and free comics to very young geeky girls in training, to share that love of comics and what good they can provide.

    His liberal use of Female is disconcerting, to say the least. Can you say WOMEN, or young girls? It feels like he’s trying to strip away their humanity.

    I could barely make it through that article… what garbage. He sounds like an evolutionary psychologist.

  6. No, Bill. Arguing with me does not make you misogynist.

    However, Mr. Kurlianchik labeling those types of problem players as girl problems is. As I think most of us who have gamed for any length of time can tell you, all of those “problem players” listed come in all genders, not just girls. Trust me. One of the players who drove me craziest in a long running game was a guy who fell into the observer role.

    So, he could have just continued this as part of a series on children and gaming, not described it as girls in gaming, and been fine. But he didn’t. That is what marks this as misogynist.

  7. Maybe the reason why WotC didn’t have a woman write this article is because WotC is a huge company which makes lots of money and lacks the motivation to invest significant resources into side projects, including an allowance to perform background checks on people who do the grunt work, such as freelance writers who submit articles to their website. Maybe due to the comfort level of working with Uri Kurlianchik in the past, WotC decided to go ahead and let him write the next installment of the “D&D for Kids” series (or whatever it’s called) instead of some mid-level management position guy do extra work and look for someone else to write the “girl” article. That’s just me though.

    As for my personal experience with girls, they come from online PC gaming and Xbox 360 gaming in World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and multiple FPS games. At this point, I’ll admit that women are just as tough as the guys. They go for the win and they’re thick skinned enough to take some trash talking without breaking into tears. However, I think the sampling of women are slightly biased, due to the innate competitive nature of these games and the type of people who are attracted to them.

  8. The thing that bothers me is, reading through a few of the articles which complain about Uri Kurlianchik’s article are written by girls who (I feel from reading their writing) typecast themselves as “chic and geeky” with an “I’m a better gamer than those boys” attitude instead of someone normal.

  9. Awww, Psiwolf you were doing so good, and then you had to start playing Bingo down here.

    Why does it offend you if girls think they’re better gamers? Also, I’ve never said anywhere I was a better gamer than anyone, so you’re doing an awful lot of projection.

    Seriously, as I’ve said before, if you’re going to attack me, attack things I’ve actually said. I mean, it’s not like I’m not a target rich environment. I’m kind of an opinionated loudmouth.

  10. Great post, Mickey. gender essentialism is teh suck in every form. Not only is it othering, but it gives us such a limited picture of men AND women, as human beings. I find it funny when I read these bullshit gender comparisons, to reflect that my wife is the competitive one in our relationship, as well as the take-charge decision-maker. We’ve had to work out our own framework for making our marriage “work” outside the bounds of “mars/venus” crap.

    I do feel you give Uri too much credit when you call his sexism “unconscious.” I guess in the sens of “deeply internalized to the point of second nature,” it is, but certainly not in the sense of “hidden attitudes that manifest themselves unknowingly.” If this blog post is to be believed, his attitudes are very much conscious and deliberately hateful: (Trigger Warning for jokes about rape and violence against women)

    But the biggest issue I have with Uri’s articles, and this one’s no exception, is the latent child-hating agism. It’s particularly galling when he picks on girls, who have been traditionally marginalized, silenced and shunned in the hobby. The idea that children of ANY gender are a problem that need to be controlled is poisonous and silencing.

    I believe what children want and need most is to be listened to, their voices celebrated and honored. While we may need to set boundaries on disruptive behavior that’s the result of kids coping with their silencing, I always try to be careful of crossing the line into “shaddup, kid,” communicating that their unique voice is merely an adult inconvenience.

    I’m pretty passionate about this issue; I hope it’s not a derail. I offer it to explain why Uri’s focus on “problem players” especially in articles about bringing kids into gaming, is pretty troubling in the first place, and doubly troubling in an article about gaming with girls.


  11. I’m not offended because a girl thinks she’s better than me in a game. The part that offends me is that these girls feel a sense of entitlement to be an e-thug, just because they are a part of a minority group as a “girl gamer”.

    Furthermore, my last post referenced all the different “girl gamer” writers who seem to be blogging on this subject, not just you. I don’t really feel a need to attack you personally, as I’m mostly apathetic about who you are/what you write about, apart from the issue at hand. In other words, I need to know who you are before I can form a negative (or positive) opinion about you, so you’re getting lumped in with the trail of other bloggers I’ve read on my way to and on your site. Yes, I am stereotyping. 🙂

  12. I haven’t read your post, I’m going solely off what you’ve written here.

    Like I said, your reply further up about the laziness of corporations, WotC included, was pretty good, pretty insightful. But the one down here… Well, that’d be reason I didn’t check out your blog. Sorry.

  13. You’ve posted to this thread three times, you’ve deliberately used baiting language, you made an entire post about it on your own blog, and now you’re coming back because GGR isn’t following you back to your sandbox to fight with you there. You’re trying waaaaay too hard for someone who’s supposedly mostly apathetic, dude.

    Welcome to Failtown, population: You. If you’re going to troll, at least have the stones to own it.

  14. Psiwolf, you’re doing pretty well for a beginner, but I think you could stand some remedial training in topic derailing. Here’s a crash course:

    I see you using “You Just Enjoy Being Offended,” “Your Experience is not Representative of Everyone,” “but You’re Different to the Others,” “I never said ALL Marginalized people do that, just some,” and “You’re as Bad as They Are.” But i’m sure with some education and practice, you could use many more of these marvelous techniques!

  15. Just read this great article about the marginalization girls can feel in video gaming. Not necessarily because anyone’s telling them “g’wan, git!” but because video game culture is structured so that girls’ roles in games are cliched and limiting.

    A good read, based on a very personal story:

    I feel like it’s tangentially related to this discussion, since that’s what uri’s article seems to be doing: “Of course girls are like THIS, so you have to treat them like THAT. But sure, girls are welcome, I guess, sorta!”

    Of course, some people DO try to make girls and women feel flat-out unwelcome…at least if they seem to “chic.” 😛

  16. “It would be way easier to enthuse about my subcultures if they weren’t so busy pissing me off. — So, Wizards of the Coast (who in fairness pulled the article really quickly once the complaints started rolling in) allowed Uri Kurlianchik to write an article about girls and gaming and how girls game. Thanks to magic of screen caps and cache-ing, we have access to his article. I wouldn’t recommend trying to pull them all down, WotC, by now there are dozens. It would be futile.”
    “So, next time you want an article about girls and gaming, WotC, get a woman to write it, ok? There’s tons of us out there.”

    This view is narrow minded, for people (or a person) who claim(s) to be open minded. The fundamental principle of free speech (the corner stone of open mindedness) is understanding that a person has a right to their opinion (and write about it) no matter how we may feel about that opinion.

    As an individualist, an anti-socialist (and some what anti-social) – who cares what people think of you and your choices. (re: “It would be way easier to enthuse about my subcultures if they weren’t so busy pissing me off.”) My culture is not “subculture” — it just my culture! And if you don’t like that — fine — I really don’t care.

  17. Point 1: Geekery is a sub-culture. We are a sub-section of the greater culture in which we live, in my case, American Culture. The term sub-culture does not in any imply that the culture in question is lesser, just that it is a part of a greater whole.

    Point 2: You’re kind of precious really. You don’t think that women gamers, having grown up as a gamers and as girls MIGHT not have some valuable insights into gaming with girls, as opposed to someone who regularly makes rape jokes, and doesn’t seem to get why women might have an edge on writing that article that he doesn’t have? Really? And I KNOW WotC has women working for them, I’ve met several. How hard would it be to look at this guy’s record and go, “Ok, well, this is probably not a good idea to let this guy who frequently talks about raping or beating women as a ‘joke’ talk about girls in gaming. Maybe we should email Shelly Mazzanoble.” I mean, come the fuck on. Not to mention that of all his “gendered behavior” that he ascribes to girls, I’ve seen all of it in both genders equally, so he’s also furthering a skewed gender view that isn’t doing gaming any good whatsoever.

    Does that make sense? That I want people writing about getting girls into gaming who are actually, I don’t know, invested in getting girls into gaming and treating them fairly?

    If not, I can’t help you.

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