The big question to me is:
People who aren’t white dudes play all manner of games.
They play video games, they play RPG’s, they play board games, they play card games… many of which involve armies, military stuff and brutally dismembering your fellow human beings.
So why is toy soldiers the one area they don’t tend to engage in?
Is it because when we evolved millions of years ago, women somehow didn’t pick up the DNA strand for “plastic soldier” ? Seems unlikely.
Socialization against violence? Sure, but I’ve never had problems recruiting for violent RPG campaigns.
I ran a super brutal Stormbringer campaign with all women players.
Is it because military stuff is all dudes? (As in your armies are all dudes).
That’s possible and might explain why when I do meet women into miniatures they tend to gravitate towards fantasy and scifi over historical settings.
I think you’d need to look at:
How do people get into war gaming? Who introduces them? Friends?
If so, that may be a self-perpetuating problem.
An insecure 15 year old is not going to teach the girls in his class how to play Flames of War is he?
I agree with Darkest Star above that I think where you recruit is important too.
If you tell the kids its for everybody, you might be surprised that everybody is indeed interested 🙂
I think the image presented may matter as well.
At the risk of being denounced as the “SOCIAL JUSTICE CAVALRY TROOPER” that I am, I think representation does matter.
If you put pictures of people playing your game in the rulebook, don’t have everyone be a fat old dude maybe? (in other words, don’t take pictures of me for your book 🙂 )
When writing game examples, don’t assume the player is always a dude, that sort of thing.
Maybe it doesn’t actually matter but White Wolf and Wizards of the Coast started adopting those methods and it seems to have paid off for them in terms of audience.
There’s stuff to be said about making the club or gaming store a welcoming environment too, but when you mention that, people start posting weird political rants, so I’ll leave that aside.
Nordic Weasel Games