Home Forums General PC and Console Gaming Out of touch view of young gamers

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  • #23993
    Samantha
    Keymaster

    The cliche of the lone male gamer needs to be destroyed

    A great article from Keith Stuart in The Guardian about young gamers. These incorrect stereotypes need to broken down.

    Never put a sock in a toaster.

    #24018
    Bandit
    Participant

    Good article & nice catch.

    I spend a lot of time thinking about how young people get involved in tabletop wargaming, specifically historicals because that’s my primary area but I don’t think it is too much different for non-historical tabletop gaming. This is of course only partly related to the article but it does relate some and been on my mind lately.

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    #24019
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Perhaps something familiar, so maybe a game based on a popular TV show, or film.
    Give them something they already like but allow them to explore it in a new way.

    If they like The Walking Dead, do a zombie game.
    Game of Thrones, then a similar fantasy game.
    Doctor Who, a Dr. Who game.

    etc.

    #24022
    Rod Robertson
    Participant

    Editor Sam:

    Or should that be Editrix Sam?

    If the cliche of the lone male gamer needs to be destroyed then first someone’s going to have to put down Just Jack who embodies the solo-wargamer to a tee.

    On a more serious note than celebratory gun fire aimed at Texan Marines who game solo, the guardian article focuses in on a small niche of male activity, but the observations apply to a much wider demographic than just computer gamers. In the last fifty years we have seen the rise of women in Western society to become the educational, political, legal and soon the economic equals of men. As women get a stronger voice in the modern body politic they are having a greater and greater influence on how society is shaped and run. This is great for women and is their long overdue right, but it does create some societal complications which are then creating new stresses in our modern society. Some of these stresses are very fundamental to society and to how we as individuals relate to society and are thus having a revolutionary effect on Western society.

    Women and men think and behave differently. Their psychologies and thought processes are different right down to the biochemical level and at times they are incompatible. This incompatibility is only a serious problem when extreme masculine or extreme feminine behaviors clash. But as women move more forcefully into positions of power and influence their collective psychology will push against extreme masculine psychology which has been running unopposed for a very long time and keeping women marginalized. Thus as the feminine waxes the masculine must wane somewhat and this will marginalize some males.

    Here are just a few examples:

    Law: As a result of a male-centric legal tradition we have a confrontational and adversarial legal system where lawyers due ritual combat (verbally) in a winner take all contest. As a more feminine bloc emerges in legal jurisprudence we have seen a movement away from the adversarial and a migration towards a more cooperative legal system where the concerns of more than the plaintiff and the defendant are taken into account. This has led to more reliance on negotiation, conciliation and arbitration rather than traditional confrontation. While this may sound very sensible, it also has some very serious drawbacks. If society has a stake in a dispute between private citizens then society’s priorities may quickly trump what the disputing parties want and no satisfactory outcome will be had by at least one side in the dispute. This can lead to the erosion of rights and freedoms (which are ironically very male concepts). A male believes he has inalienable individual rights and hard won personal freedoms and reacts aggressively if anyone challenges them. In a female dominated legal system the emphasis is less on the individual’s rights and freedoms  and more on the collective needs and rights. Thus we have seen the erosion of rights and freedoms and greater focus on the needs of groups or the whole of society. Notions such as keeping a dangerous offender locked up after his sentence is complete or preventative arrest or preventative detention are more in line with a female focus on the group and are contrary to the male preoccupation with the individual.

    Medicine: As the female gestalt has more representation in medicine, the medical community is experiencing a shift in medical ethics. Notions of doctor-patient privilege are eroding as collective concerns are pushing aside individuals’ rights to privacy. Health care policies aimed at groups of people (families, communities, populations, etc.) are imposing responsibilities and limiting the freedoms of individuals in favor of collective needs.

    Free Speech and Expression: Society is limiting the rights of free speech and expression more and more in the name of preserving social peace and harmony. The collective right of society to not have to deal with problematic speech or expression is marginalizing unpopular speech and criminalizing such inconvenient utterances even when what is said is demonstrably true.

    Education: The emphasis of eduction is changing from teaching students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed personally into socializing students to function harmoniously in groups. Students are now taught how work cooperatively and learn the skills of the group rather than the individual. While this is good for females, it imposes great challenges for young males who are highly competitive and far less cooperative. While girls and young women flourish in such environments, male failure and drop-out rates have been climbing.

    For centuries women have been marginalized by male-dominated societies and now they are able to assert themselves and play a far greater role in their more open societies. But the price of more women coming out of the shadows of soft or hard bondage is that society is changing. As society changes and makes more room for women and the feminine priorities, some males must be marginalized and pushed into a new kind of soft bondage. There is a kind of semi-conscious, sexual kulturkampf  happening and it will continue to happen and likely increase until societies reach a new cultural and ethical equilibrium which provides fairer terms for women and constrains some of the liberties of men. Alas, it seems to be a zero-sum game so female gains must come at the expense of masculine losses.

    It is against this backdrop that the disconnected and disinterested lone male video gamer must be seen. In the past such disenfranchised males were encouraged to seek out new lands and start new lives. Those who could not or would not move were pressed into military service and either killed or tamed. Those who avoided the military were absorbed into either the agricultural system or the industrial system and were tamed. The final group which were not tamable, we’re usually criminalized, tried, and hanged. Today the males have no where to go, so they are attempting to colonize a virtual frontier far from the constraints and responsibilities of the new real world from which there is no escape.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

     

    #24037
    Samantha
    Keymaster

    Well Rob. Yes. I am pretty sure I could not put together a reply to you that is as eliquent and fortunately I agree with much of your post so phew!
    We are living through a revolution in society, at least in the west, but I do worry about the following:
    1 The impact on the male. Too often women feel the need to try to devalue the male or male traits rather than focusing on the way we can work together using the best of both. This leads to man bashing where it is acceptable to point out all a mans flaws but he better not dare do it back.
    2 The loss of identity. It is ok to be a feminine female and a masculine male. It is also ok to be a feminine male and a masculine female. We do not need to be androgynous but there does seen to be some forcing us all to a middle ground.
    3 Western society pushing our views on to others. We may feel smug in our superiority over those less advanced but with this, as well was with industrial and technological development, we think we have the right to impose our views on those who are ‘behind’ on this journey. By imposing our suggested approach gained through hindsight are we not at risk of stifling emerging talents in other countries? Forcing societies that still need to be striving and fighting to secure their own identity to become what we consider as equal may actually hold them back. In short is the equality revolution a next step on our journey and a privilege that some societies are not ready to take?
    Bringing it back to the west though and gaming ….. we need our own revolution. People need to be as happy and confident to say they are a gamer (tabletop or videogame) as they are to say they like sport. The mysterious world of gaming only persists because we are not confident, as a community, to come out. Be loud, be proud. Let’s break down the taboos and get gaming out of the darkness.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 1 month ago by Samantha.

    Never put a sock in a toaster.

    #24045
    willz
    Participant

    Excellent and informative post, opens up lots of questions open for debate.

    Me I just paint me toys and push them across a table in the vain hope I might occasionally win.  I personally have only ever played one console game and found it ok but it did not hold me, but I can understand the enjoyment others get from it.

    I am proud of our hobby and take every opportunity to praise it virtues, I actively encourage anyone young or old to have ago at painting, building, gaming or just watching.  Yes there are more males in this hobby than females I don’t know why but this hobby is all inclusive, no matter what period, scale, type, figure, board game, computer game you play, things you paint or construct.  I believe it is a very social hobby and it certainly gives me a sense of purpose.

    #24055
    CAG 19
    Participant

    In today’s society the issue is one of  getting them into painting, building and gaming.  Putting a beautifully crafted demo game on and them crushing them with the need to paint 100+ figures and then still need to build terrain puts so many of them off.  And to be honest as I get older I am going the same way.  A discussion the other night with my best mate went along the lines of we have 6 hours to game, two hours to set up, one hour to pack away and 3 hours where we might get something on the table and we might just about get three turns in.

     

    The appeal of easy starter games with fully painted models being available and then introduce the idea of adding extra bits I think is the way to go.  Think FFG etc.  A big sack of unpainted lead and/or plastic puts them off  (and a lot of us as well).

     

    Regards

    #24060
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Oh hey, we have another editor? Nice!

    There’s a lot of heavy stuff to unpack in this topic.

    I do agree that we need to have a lot of discussions, as a culture.
    The problem is that they often tend to be very angry and defensive: You see the angry “Men’s Rights” types, gamergate and whatnot, very locked in to a very specific definition of what it means to be male.

    We tend to live the view that “rights” and “acceptance” are limited quantities and that if we give more of them to one person, then another person must go without, which is of course nonsense, but it’s hard to shake off.

    As far as it regards to gaming, it’s interesting that other fields (video games, maybe tabletop gaming) seems to be hitting the path that RPG’s hit long ago.
    But it took companies like White Wolf and WOTC to blaze the trail and show that you can have an inclusive, open culture and everyone will be fine.

    I’m thinking of White Wolf showing in their examples that players could be female or male, including cool, female characters in their books and so forth.
    WOTC (and TSR before them) have done similar things.
    It goes a long long way for someone to be able to see a cool hero, and you can identify with them.
    It’s why people are so excited about the Bioware games on the console and PC: It’s one of the few places where almost everyone can find something to represent them.

    What can we each do?
    Be welcoming, be open to suggestions, be ready to explain.

    I always put a little blurb in my games that no assumptions are ever made about the gender, orientation or identification of the players, which seems to be the least one can do.
    I also try to avoid “he” or “she” when referring to a player, instead using a gender-neutral “player” or similar.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24061
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Good article & nice catch.
    I spend a lot of time thinking about how young people get involved in tabletop wargaming, specifically historicals because that’s my primary area but I don’t think it is too much different for non-historical tabletop gaming. This is of course only partly related to the article but it does relate some and been on my mind lately.
    Cheers,
    The Bandit

    I do think introducing young people is one of the challenges and honestly, a lot of us writers do a bad job of it.

    There’s an art to playing games with kids where you balance between taking them seriously and letting them engage with the game, and not overwhelming them on the other hand.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24068
    John
    Participant

    I do think introducing young people is one of the challenges and honestly, a lot of us writers do a bad job of it. There’s an art to playing games with kids where you balance between taking them seriously and letting them engage with the game, and not overwhelming them on the other hand.

    As one of those you would describe as young (15) , I should point out that you’re not doing as bad a job as you think.

    When I was younger I remember being practically escorted around model railway shows, with grumpy men shouting at me to stand well away, fearing the wrath of the sticky hands of clumsy children, and the assumption that we don’t know what X is or what Y does. The same has not been true of wargamers, especially at shows like Salute – there are more participation games with an appeal to the younger generation, and there is no sense of patronisation from the runners of the games – though I have at certain points been able to correct some people on the errors that they seem to think they can get pass me!

    Of course you are aided by picking games that they can relate to. Running WW2 skirmish games with scenarios that are blatantly recognisable from games and television, you can involve us lot with a topic we know about. It’s no use trying to interest us in the Austro-Prussian war if the only time we heard of it was a brief mention in a friday afternoon history lesson , but WW2 air combat? Tank skirmishing, like World of Tanks. These should be the games that you try them out on.Don’t think we only played fantasy, science fiction or zombie games, as many have thought (and said) of me. Don’t assume that as we have poor attention span, you can’t explain stuff to us in full. We don’t. If we can play Total war for 6 hours, and then manage to get through school without any trouble, we can deal with you explaining why the soviets have poor command control. Just don’t overdo it.

    Last and not least, give us a bridgehead into the hobby. If appropriate, tell them where you got the figures/scenery, and how you prepared and painted them. We like to know, and usually our parent’s wallets can take the battering.

    I’m not saying you’re doing a bad job. Not at all. At Salute this year me and my mate Ed had a great game of Dogger bank by a group whose name I have forgotten completely about. Considering their game was not really targeted towards the younger ages, they avoided patronisation and arrogance in their wake, as I have dealt with in the past.

    You’re doing fine.

    To model the effect of Nuclear weapons on the wargaming table, apply jerry can of fuel to board, light match and stand well back.

    #24069
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Appreciate the long response.

    I think your point on complexity is well taken. I watch my 7 year old absolutely immerse himself in minecraft and pokemon and become a walking encyclopedia.

    You bring up a really good point though: The barrier of entry.
    One of the things I think hurts a lot of periods is that it’s hard to get a grip on.

    I’ve shied away from Napoleonics for years because it’s so arcane:
    Okay, I need some books to figure out how things work, but the kind of book a wargamer wants are really hard to find and if I ask online, I’ll get a bunch of recommendations in French and German.
    Then I need a set of rules, most of which assume that I already know how all this stuff works and finally I have to prowl through a website, picking out figures without any idea what to get, what makes a “typical” army or whether there’s a difference between French in 1805 and 1812.

    Your points are well made though: Approach people respectfully and they’ll do just fine.

    I am reminded of an online friend of mine: Way back in the dark ages, he gamed with Gary Gygax and that whole crew, when he was 15 or 16.
    The thing he said, that always stood out to me was that Gary just treated him as another player.
    He didn’t get any special treatment for being a “kid” but most importantly, he didn’t get any less respect either.
    If you were at the table, you were a player.

    I think that’s very important.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24070
    Bandit
    Participant

    The barrier of entry.

    That is exactly what I’ve been fixated on the last year and entirely because of your example period: Napoleonics.

    I’ve got several thousand dollars worth of history and uniform books on the period. Is that what it takes to be qualified to enter the period? It is if you talk to the old guard of Napoleonic players – note, it is not that they believe it is required but the expectation a new player feels from them is similar to that.

    Should this be necessary?

    I’m not a Flames of War fan, but what Battlefront did for WW2 is they created a fantastic product that offers players everything needed to get involved in the period short of pre-painted figures. That is approachable. It is the antithesis of Napoleonics.

    I believe that for tabletop miniatures gaming to survive – especially historicals – in a form similar to how we know it, the cost of entry must be lowered.

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    #24071
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Agree wholeheartedly.

    I think there’s obviously a room for the people who WANT to delve into that much research. I assume for you, that’s part of the enjoyment you get out of the period, but you are correct: That cannot be the base level expectation.

    I think for a lot of the button counters and panzer-nerds, it becomes a means of segregating themselves.
    I am the true gamer because I know the correct amount of detail and you are an inferior gamer because you don’t.

    It’s like music nerds going nuts over who can name the most obscure bands.

    I try to stick to a “50 dollar entry” for the games I write. 50 bucks should buy you a reasonable, playable army in a medium scale (15mm or so) and be playable on a fairly modest table.

    But there’s a lot more we can do to help broaden that field.

    That doesn’t mean the big, complex stuff has to go away. It can all co-exist.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24103
    willz
    Participant

    .

    As one of those you would describe as young (15) , I should point out that you’re not doing as bad a job as you think. When I was younger I remember being practically escorted around model railway shows, with grumpy men shouting at me to stand well away, fearing the wrath of the sticky hands of clumsy children, and the assumption that we don’t know what X is or what Y does. The same has not been true of wargamers, especially at shows like Salute – there are more participation games with an appeal to the younger generation, and there is no sense of patronisation from the runners of the games – though I have at certain points been able to correct some people on the errors that they seem to think they can get pass me! 

    Thanks John its nice to hear the view of the younger generation.

    #24118
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    Good article and posts. I wish I could get Chris Engle  of the Matrix game fame to join us here.

    #24130

    Today I had an interesting experience.

    I took my 3mm Napoleonics set up to school as part of our “Arts and Humanities” forum. The kids loved it and immediately grasped what it was about — including several of the young women — because they’d played Age of Empire. They knew what skirmishers were, why you form squares against cavalry, why artillery destroys squares, etc.

    I was shocked and a bit humbled. Normally when I do things like this, I have to explain from the bottom up. Today, I just had to show them some photos of HG Wells pushing soldiers through his garden and explain that Age of Empires was really a computerized version of miniatures gaming.

    They were all interested and wanted to play a game. They had no idea that this sort of “old school” Age of Empires existed.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #24169
    willz
    Participant

    Today I had an interesting experience. I took my 3mm Napoleonics set up to school as part of our “Arts and Humanities” forum. The kids loved it and immediately grasped what it was about — including several of the young women — because they’d played Age of Empire. They knew what skirmishers were, why you form squares against cavalry, why artillery destroys squares, etc. I was shocked and a bit humbled. Normally when I do things like this, I have to explain from the bottom up. Today, I just had to show them some photos of HG Wells pushing soldiers through his garden and explain that Age of Empires was really a computerized version of miniatures gaming. They were all interested and wanted to play a game. They had no idea that this sort of “old school” Age of Empires existed.

    Brilliant well done that man BZ .

    #24173

    I have been told that I can come off as patronizing, so please understand that I am doing my best not to act this way here. But the fact that I disagree with some of the points above, when combined with the fact that I am an anthropologist who specializes in gender studies, gives me a different perspective on some of this.

    I disagree with what some people call the “interplanetary view of sex/gender relations” (i.e., men are from Mars, women from Venus). While there are definite differences between the sexes, they are relatively small. Nothing is more similar to a human woman than a human man, after all. And every single “golden barrier” that people have ascribed as existing between the genders has been shot down, over time.

    So when I see people saying things like “men and women are different down to the biochemical level”, my very first thought is “Gee, sounds an awful lot like those theories from the 1900s that women can’t [vote, go to college, run a corporation] because the expenditures of mental energy will wither their wombs and destroy their nature calling as mothers”.

    I have quite a lot of practical experience with women in gaming, too, being one of a very small number of people who introduced modern gaming to Brazil back in the 1990s. (Disclosure: I worked as Devir Livraria’s foreign imports and game outreach manager from 1992 to 2000.) Where and when I grew up (Wisconsin in the 1970s), gaming was very much a male thing. Sure, you’d have the odd female gamer — generally an RPGer — who followed her boyfriend into the hobby, but women were very much in the minority.

    In Sao Paulo in Brazil in the 1990s, however, we had something close to gender parity pretty much from the get go. Women were 30-40% of the people around the gaming table. So what was going on here? Do Brazilian women have some sort of genetic mutation which makes them like games more than American women?

    No. The simple fact of the matter is that Devir did its best to recruit girls from the get go. We hired female dungeon masters to run in-store games and teach women to paint. Most of the male game masters did what they could to ensure that women had space around the table. This wasn’t a “zero sum game” where we had to restrict male freedoms: we simply made it clear that women were welcome, gave them some power right from the start and did our best to squelch the sort of bullshit that makes women uncomfortable.

    And what did that mean? Censorship? No. It meant, for example, getting on the
    Lads’ cases to not, say, piss all over the store’s communal bathroom, for example, or calling them out when they made the sort of DELIBERATE comments meant to undermine the girls’ presence at the table.

    It’s one thing to handicap male rights in order to give “women a chance”. In my experience, you don’t need to do that. What you do need to do, however, is squelch some male bullshit whose only purpose is to make women give up and turn away. Undue harassment in other words.

    We just made it very clear that gaming is not futebol. It is for both sexes, all the time. That was enough. Futebol is too, but try to convince your average Brazilian of THAT. But there you have it: futebol is a real man’s sport and I have heard hundreds of Brazilian men make the same sort of “just so” arguments regarding genetics and molecular biology regarding futebol that I’m seeing above regarding gaming.

    Meanwhile, soccer is a sport dominated by WOMEN in the U.S., one that A,erican men apparently have great difficulties mastering. In fact, I am constantly puzzled as to why the U.S. Doesn’t send its WOMEN’s team to the World Cup. I believe they’d give us more of a run for the money than the men.

    So much for how gender preferences are biologically determined.

    Now, that said, yes, gaming is STILL more male than female in Brazil, often much more so. But my experiences with Devir taught me that no, including women is not a “zero sum game”, where men’s freedoms must be trampled upon and standards lowered so that the lil’ ladies can have their day. Unless you consider being a jerk in order to deliberately discourage women a “freedom”.

    Of course, it also helps to have gaming formats that are more likely to appeal to women. World of Darkness came out in the 1990s and was a HUGE and immediate hit among the XX crowd. But the women were also doing fine with the ultra-cerebral, ultra-nerdy GURPS before that, too. It has more to do with what stories one tells than anything else. I think deep intrigue and politics appeals to more women than sword fighting, although, of course, there’s huge individual variances there.

    But dude: women are more cooperative and favor reconciliation? No, not really. Women tend to resort to symbolic forms of violence more than direct physical violence, perhaps, but Mean Girls on a rampage are a sight to behold and many big, tough he-men types are, in fact, extremely scared of the female tongue. And if you want to talk evolutionary biology, female bonobos are notorious for banding together and expelling physically violent males from the group. If you really want to talk about how male prejudices skew our views, we should contemplate why a male punching someone is understood to be “violent aggression” but females ostracizing someone is considered to be… What? Cooperation and reconciliation?

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #24176
    Mike
    Keymaster

    It is my belief that there are less female gamers than male due to their environment and not due to genetics or such.
    I also think the stereotype of the average gamer being some spotty school age male locked in his room for hours on end is also wrong, these sorts do exist but are not the majority of gamers.

    #24177
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    I think White Wolf was important primarily because, as I said, they very consciously started putting female characters, NPC’s and examples in their games.

    It was explicit rather than the occasional character here and there.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24178
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator
    #24179
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Our games were Werewolf and Hunter mainly (and the wonderful, fantastic, amazing and totally forgotten Trinity scifi game).

    If I had to pick vampires, it’d be Brujah though 🙂
    So 90’s 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24182
    Bandit
    Participant

    Couple experiences I’ll share in summary which *I think* backup what Thaddeus Blanchette and Mike are saying:

    1) My wife is a gamer. Before we met she played card games and RPGs, she was unaware of wargaming but upon seeing it was immediately interested. Her game tastes vary from mine, I am largely about horse & musket and history, she is largely about tanks, skirmish, game play, more tanks, other kinds of tanks, walking tanks, etc… Our regular gaming group includes my wife who joins depending on what game is being run. She’s commanded the Confederate Army during our ACW campaign, she loves running WW2 tanks [did I mention tanks?], attends conventions and [mostly] enjoys the surprised confusion that she causes by playing in convention games, and in a week or two is running a WWI air combat game.

    2) Quite some time back I was playing historicals with a small [tiny] group of guys from time to time [really ultra frick’n rarely]. I supplied the bulk of figures and terrain, another guy supplied the location, everyone else played the games. The group eventually quit (not a large change when you were only playing a couple times a quarter) but the “why” was entirely about gender. The host believed “women shouldn’t play wargames” and eventually he burst his top at the notion of a couple women joining us during a dedicated painting day. The painting day never happened and thus ended our maybe-once-a-quarter meetings.

    3) Several years go she and I attended a conference on women in technology. There were several speakers, all of which were quite good and very engaging. The last of which was exceptionally direct and frank in what she expressed of her experience: [Paraphrased] “Men aren’t the enemy, men are sometimes an inconvenience, we are commonly the enemy. We undermine each other, backstab each other, seek the favor of men – who do still predominately control the power structure – in order to get ourselves ahead, most commonly to the detriment of other women. We are catty, we are divisive, we are presenting our own problem. Men are predictable. Men rarely seek to help us as a group. The primary thing holding us back is ourselves, when we stop treating each other as threats and undermining each other as means to get ahead, we’ll be drastically closer to holding an equal place in the power structure with men as a group. Women shouldn’t favor other women, but if women treat each other equally, we can put ourselves in a place where we can dictate that men treat us equally.”

    My brief observations about each are:

    #1 – Within the gaming community there is a real lack of understanding as to who our community is. The board gamers, the miniature gamers, the card gamers, the men, women, boys, and girls are us. More inclusion helps our hobby.

    #2 – This is my prime example of behavior that *if not kept in check* would kill our hobby.

    #3 – I was excited to observe such a directly pragmatic discussion of unity, the last speaker’s focus was entirely about how once a group stops being divisive amongst itself, it gains the power to require the respect and inclusion of other groups. While this woman was speaking of the tech industry and corporate culture, this also applies to other areas, just change the names of the groups involved. The large historical conventions in the US suffer from the same behavior this speaker observed of women in corporate America. If we applied her vision of inclusion we could be growing rather than shrinking.

    Last Note regarding “female characters in games” – I think a big mile stone could be the when the dominant characteristic of the overwhelming majority of female RPG figures ceases to be the cup size of her ‘charismas’.

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    #24184
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Yeah, I like a bit of cheesecake when it comes to characters (though I should add I appreciate a bit of manly dude cheesecake too) but I find that it gets pretty absurd and it would be demoralizing if every character looks like that.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24187
    Bandit
    Participant

    Yeah, I like a bit of cheesecake when it comes to characters (though I should add I appreciate a bit of manly dude cheesecake too) but I find that it gets pretty absurd and it would be demoralizing if every character looks like that.

    Exactly, I’m all about “charisma” but when practically the only female figures you can buy are essentially Laura Croft in some form of string bikini… I mean, Game of Thrones on HBO even offers more practical clothing to the female characters…

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    #24190

    Ivan, regarding White Wolf’s Vampire, I think it’s an excellent example of what I am talking about.

    I know the old WW crowd pretty well. They were a very diverse group, right from the start, even before they were White Wolf in the Lion Rampart days. Women were part of the game writing and creation process and a transwoman was notoriously one of the big movers and shakers in the early company (she later went on to help found Wizards of the Coast, by the way).

    In the RPG field, Vampire was seen as a revolutionary gaming system. It really put the last nail in TSR’s coffin and changed role-playing massively. Very much for the better.

    There is no doubt in my mind that a large part of this was due to the fact that it was created by a band of people who were much different from your usual gaming nerds. They opened up the hobby, massively, giving it a credibility it had never had before. And they didn’t have to step on anyone’s rights to do it. They simply did something that in retrospect was an obviously winning move: they made games that attracted adults of both sexes and all orientations and genders. They did it by being inclusive and thus having insights and innovations other companies didn’t have.

    At the same time, the Word According to TSR was that gaming was for boys and the only way to increase market share was to dumb it down to attract pre-pubescent boys. Do you all remember Dragon Strike, with it’s “revolutionary” how-to-play VHS tape? That, according to our account managers in Lake Geneva, was going to be the game that made us all rich by opening up D&D to the 9 year old penis-waver set.

    White Wolf just MASSACRED TSR going the exact opposite direction. And they did it by including women, gays, trans-, black, latino and etc. people in all parts of game creation and testing.

    Diversity makes a better product, folks. It’s been proven time and again.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #24192

    I once commented that if RPGs gave as much shift to romance and drama and even sex as they did to where, exactly, each sword strike falls, they’d be enormously more appealing to most people.

    Vampire proved that in spades.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #24193

    And jeez, Bandit. OF COURSE girls like tanks….!

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #24196
    Rod Robertson
    Participant

    Thaddeus Blanchette:

    There is plenty of empirical evidence connecting biochemistry to differences between male and female behaviour. This evidence is not from the late 19th or early 20th centuries but from the 21st century. Biochemistry shapes and mediates behaviours differently in males and females. This occurs through genetic chemistry, intra-cellular chemistry, hormonal chemistry and the chemical pathways of neurological chemistry. While some may not like the notion that there are real and empirically demonstrable differences between female and male biochemistry and that these differences shape the perceptions and behaviours of each sex differently, that is regrettably the fact based on modern mainstream research. The fact that there are differences between the sexes in no way implies that one sex is superior or inferior to the other. It only demonstrates that the sexes are different and much of that difference is the result of chemistry.

    These differences can be masked or mimicked by differences born out of cultural-evolution and sometimes it can be difficult to sort out what is culturally mediated and what is chemically mediated, but there is no doubt that based on the present-day understanding of neurology and biochemistry it is chemistry which is responsible for much of these differences.

    Biochemistry determines how females and males perceive and systematize the environment around them.  Because males and females perceive and process information differently and thus act differently based on those different perceptions, there are individual and societal differences which crop up between the sexes. This is not a  value judgement, it is simply what has been observed over and over again in countless experiments for at least two centuries. There is no explicit or implied value judgement being made by scientists, they are simply following where the science leads them and reporting the results of experiments. If others assign value judgments to what science describes, that is not the fault of the scientists but of their interpreters. Here are some sources to point you in a new direction if you are so inclined. The last reference is an oft cited paper on the link between genetic and hormonal chemistry and sex differences in the behaviours of organisms including humans. It is a bit dry and technical but it also well illustrates the science involved.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/may/03/biology-sexist-gender-stereotypes

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200803/male-brain-vs-female-brain-ii-what-is-extreme-male-brain

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3030621/

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

     

    #24201

    Dear Rod,

    Yes, there is no doubt that behavior and biochemistry are linked. What there is some doubt about is causality.

    People tend to say “chemicals cause behavior”. But in many instances, environment and behavior cause chemicals. Testosterone, for example, notoriously fluctuates in accordance with environmental cues.

    So no, the idea that women act according to their biology and that this biology and behavior is radically different from men’s is not at all well established. And I can point to literally thousands of times when biodeterminist essentialism with regards to sex/gender has been proven wrong. That is why it’s not a good horse to bet on.

    Chemistry, social learning, and behaviors create very complex feedback loops among human beings and showing that biochemistry is different is not the same thing as saying, for example, that women hare biologically predetermined to do this or that.

    This is not a value judgement, it is simply what has been observed over and over again in countless experiments for at least two centuries.

    Would you like to provide a link to peer-reviewed research to that effect? I’d love to see it. 200 years old…? You’ll note the one peer reviewed paper you linked to explicitly does not make that sort of claim. But I would LOVE to see one form of human female behavior that has reliably, transculturally, remained stable over the last 200 years. If you can show me a peer-reviewed paper demonstrating that, I will bless you!

    There is no explicit or implied value judgement being made by scientists, they are simply following where the science leads them and reporting the results of experiments.

    Actually, scientists make value-based judgements all the time. As an example, check out the conflicts between those who hold up chimps as a good example of human base primate behaviors and those who prefer the bonobo.

    “Biology affects behavior” is an entirely different precept from “biology controls behavior”. When you can reliably show cross-cultural behavioral permanencies among men or women over long term periods then you are on to something. It’s pretty well proven, for example, that men tend to be more physically violent than women. But the range of violent behaviors is so wide, cross culturally, that there’s really not much that can really be said there. While Swedish men murder more than Swedish women and Brazilian men murder more than Brazilian women, Brazilian women murder more often than Swedish men. Apparently, despite these biochemical differences then, female/male behaviors are flexible enough to mimic each other, depending on the cultural and environmental scenario.

    And when it comes to things like games… Again, Rob, this is an empirical fact: futebol is a man’s sport in Brazil and a women’s sport in the U.S. and I’ve heard all sorts of socio-biological nonsense, on both sides, that supposedly explains this, but which only apparently “works’ because said social biologists don’t bother to actually make cross-cultural comparisons. In other words, because they willfully blind themselves to results that don’t support their theories.

    So again, while I accept the idea that, biologically speaking, one sex or another might have more of a general tendency towards a given behavior, time and again it has been shown, empirically, that culture molds these tendencies to the point where they can effectively disappear. Both male and female POTENTIAL behaviors are pretty much congruent and both are contingent on culture far more than they are on biology.

    If you dispute that, again, it should be easy to show: show a long term, cultural constant in women’s or men’s behavior.

    In the context of the current discussion, what this means is that there is plenty of potential room for women in gaming and most of the barriers there are cultural in nature and not biological or biochemical. Yes, perhaps there always will be more men wargaming than women. But there’s a HUGE difference between, say, even a 20/80% gender split and today’s probable 1/99% gender split. And making gaming a better environment for different kinds of people in no way necessarily involves stepping on men’s putative rights.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #24209

    All I know is that yesterday, a good forty percent of the people around my table were young women, aged 19-25. And they showed every bit as much interest as the young men.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #24212
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    I can’t think of a single reason people call Thaddeus verbose 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24214

    Can’t discuss complex topics in 144 characters, Ivan. 😀

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #24216
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    140.000 though 🙂

    I’m just poking fun in any event, I enjoyed what you wrote, I’m just too tired to contribute anything meaningful right now.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24217
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    I once commented that if RPGs gave as much shift to romance and drama and even sex as they did to where, exactly, each sword strike falls, they’d be enormously more appealing to most people.
    Vampire proved that in spades.

    I might argue that it’s a big reason why say, JRPG’s, for all their own faults, tend to do very well across demographical groups and why a lot of people have a lot of love for Bioware (again, despite their particular faults).

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #24219
    Rod Robertson
    Participant

    Thaddeus Blanchette:

    You wrote:

    “People tend to say “chemicals cause behavior”. But in many instances, environment and behavior cause chemicals. Testosterone, for example, notoriously fluctuates in accordance with environmental cues.”

    Chemicals do cause behaviour because behaviour is chemicals! Biochemistry does control behaviour because all behaviour is the result of chemistry within and around an organism. The environment and behaviour do not cause chemicals. Chemicals in the environment can interact with chemicals in the organism but that is just more chemistry. Behaviour does not cause chemicals. Chemicals don’t spontaneously arise when we are relaxed or alarmed. The organism makes and releases the chemicals in response to other chemicals produced by its sensory apparatus which noticed and interpenetrated external stimuli either correctly or incorrectly. The nervous system, the endocrine system and the metabolic pathways of the cells which these two systems control are all chemical systems governed by chemical interactions and reactions. Every thought, memory, fear, hope and dream we have is chemistry. Neurons generate their action-potentials (nerve impulses) using ion pumps of sodium, potassium and calcium. Neurotransmitters are chemicals made by neurons which travel across synaptic clefts to to react with the dendrites of the next neuron in the chain and thus connect neurons together. Hormones are chemicals made by the endocrine system and transmitted through the blood to control metabolism, sexual development, sexuality and fight or flight reactions. Pheromones are chemicals made and released by our body to influence other organisms around us. Our Somatic and our Autonomic nervous systems are chemical driven systems as is the entire metabolism of every single known organism on the Earth. The environmental cues which you mention are either chemicals themselves or stimuli which trigger organisms to release chemicals. It’s all chemicals dude so its all biochemistry and every action or behaviour of every organism on this planet is governed by chemistry. Other external stimuli (for example powerful magnetic fields) can influence an organism but only by interfering with the chemical (or electro-chemical) reactions or pathways.

    You wrote:

    “And I can point to literally thousands of times when biodeterminist essentialism with regards to sex/gender has been proven wrong.”

    Start pointing to them please. No anecdotal stuff please, but labratory based experimental results would be nice. No half-baked literature reviews or meta-analysis. I want hard science. Biochemical determinism has been proven wrong by whom? The universities have Science Faculties which are full of them and they are publishing quite prolifically. I have already cited Crispe, Badcock, Baron-Cohen and Ngun et. al. Offer some countervailing science please.

    You wrote:

    “Chemistry, social learning, and behaviors create very complex feedback loops among human beings and showing that biochemistry is different is not the same thing as saying, for example, that women hare biologically predetermined to do this or that.”

    All of those feed-back loops are biochemical feed-back loops. I have never said that either sex is predetermined to do anything behavioural. I have said that there are substantial difference in the the processing of information and thus the perceptions of males and females about the world around them. These perceptions may and probably do influence each sexes behaviour. However, since you have mentioned it, when was the last time a man went through gestation and brought a baby to term?

    Whether you want to admit it or not, from a scientific perspective men, women and all life on Earth are, in varying degrees, just self-aware aggregates of chemicals interacting and reacting in very complex ways to produce metabolism, reproduction and behaviour. Our chemistry and its interaction with the chemistry around us determines who we are and how we behave because our behaviour is chemistry.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

     

     

    #24228
    Pijlie
    Participant

    While we seem to have stumbled upon the gender discussion I would still like to share some of my own experiences.

    Some 15 years ago I was very much into computer games. Around 2001 however I moved towards tabletop wargaming (and back towards boardgaming) for a large part because of the social aspect of those games that I missed in PC games. So I actually turned to tabletop- and boardgames because PC games lacked the social aspect. I was not young anymore at the time however  (35) although I liked to think so.

    Since then I have hosted dozens of participation games, a lot of them at conventions. Usually this is the Ducosim convention, which is predominantly about boardgames and cardgames. The audience at such events is quite mixed gender/age wise.  I like to host my games there especially because most people there do not know wargames but are usually willing to try that “big boardgame with miniatures”. I usually play skirmish games, which makes it easier to identify yourself with the game.

    It turns out about 1 in 3 players I get is a woman. Their playing styles are as different as are the men’s. Some are RPG oriented and devise stratagems and “winning” scenarios, but others just play very aggressively in true “hack and slay” style that would put a 1989 D&D player to shame 

    It turns out that the age range I get starts around 8 years old and ends around 60. While older players tend to play a bit more thoughtfully than the very young, there really is no discernable difference in playing styles between old and young.

    So my experience tells me that women are about as inclined to play wargames as men as soon as the treshold is gone and play them in about the same way. The same goes for younger people. This is no science mind and I do not pretend it to be. These are just my own observations over the years in the Dutch gaming community.

    A final note on PC games that mr Zimbardo seems to have missed. As I was contemplating this response last evening my son upstairs was laughing and shouting at his friends while playing Grand Theft Auto with three of them. On a PC. There was a lot of conversation, sharing and swearing going on through Skype, which is a development mr Zimbardo seems to have missed completely. If this had been available around 2001, who knows what hobby I would have now ….

    http://pijlieblog.blogspot.nl

    #24229
    Mike
    Keymaster

    If Rod and Thaddeus disagree then that is OK!
    As long as the thread stays away from what goes on at other sites.
    If you know what I mean…
    If you don’t I can spell it out.

    #24230
    willz
    Participant

    This is a fascinating post with excellent points of view, however it did start out as “out of touch view of young gamers” from my sad bloke view its beginning to sound like a university lecture on boring topics that young gamers would never attend .

     

    #24232

    Dear Rod,

    What we have are complicated feedback loops between biology, environment and behavior. Saying men and women have different biochemistries is one thing. Claiming that said biochemistry actually causes a given behavior is another thing. Women and men process information differently? Great. How does this lead to behaviorial differences? That needs to be shown in a causal chain, not simply presumed.

    There is nothing in these biochemical differences that necessarily means that women can’t or won’t play wargames.

    But it I like the fact that you bring up pregnancy as a supposed stable, cross-cultural female behavior. Women’s behaviors during pregnancy vary radically from culture to culture and throughout history. So yes, women get pregnant and men don’t. What pregnancy means in terms of women’s behavior, however, changes quite radically. If it was all predetermined by chemicals — with no cultural or environmental inputs — we wouldn’t see that.

    And both men and women can and do play games. The kinds of games they like are culturally determined, not chemically determined.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

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