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

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    Funny you should say that, William. I was at the National Women’s Studies Association conference in Puerto Rico in November, and we had a GREAT panel on women in gaming. The room was packed with young women and a handful of young men, all of them gamers and it was five university lectures in a row on the topic.

    It all depends on what you are interested in. As Gamergate showed, a lot of young people don’t find the topic of gender and gaming boring at all.

    Very much to the contrary, in fact.

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


    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?

    I observe with interest the behaviour of my pet goats and sheep  and amongst the notable differences between males and females, there is the reaction to a possible threat. If a sudden noise or movement happens in the nearby forest, the whole flock is alarmed and looks in that direction. Then, if nothing more happens, after a few seconds the (female) goats and ewes lose interest and continue to graze again (practical sense: if there is no danger, let’s graze). But the billygoats and rams (including the castrated males) stand still for 5 minutes or so, still intensely watching at nothing (and pretending they are mounting guard, believing they are protecting the flock…?)

    But when they want to play (which often happens in spring time) they all have the same games (running around happily and pretending to hit each others’ horns).

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

    Yes I certainly agree. If there are differences, it’s in the perceptions and feelings of the game?


    Rod Robertson

    Thaddeus Blanchette:

    We shall just have to respect each other’s differing POV and agree to disagree.

    Mike and William:

    Your concerns have been heard and will be respected. No more long and boring posts about biochemistry and behaviour from me. My efforts were simply to inform others of the complexity and scope of the issue under discussion.

    I myself do not play video games but here is one observation I have noticed when watching mixed groups of players playing video games. The guys tend to focus their attention completely on the screen and their conversation slows down or changes to a stream of consciousness narrative of their experience in the game with lots of exclamations and vocalizationss that are not really communicative at all. Girls also focus on game play, but they tend to shoot brief glances at those around them and they also struggle to hold halting conversations with others if there are others around them who will reciprocate in conversation. The guys seem to be working on one fully immersive level and as the action rises their focus seems to cancel out the world around them. The girls, if the conditions are right, while highly focused are able two function at two levels; one nearly fully immersive and the other a secondary and often difficult interaction with players around them. There are guys who are less immersive and girls who are more immersive but the two sexes do seem to exhibit different behaviors while gaming in general. This tends to confirm the cliche stated by the OP at least while the game is in play.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.




    Boring and long is fine, just worried this was heading down name calling and that sort of route.
    Tangents are fine too, as long as they stay gaming related.

    For discussing the differences between men and women, old and young, black and white, gay and straight etc, I can recommend another forum…


    Rod Robertson

    An interesting website here:


    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.


    [More long, but hopefully not boring. Please bear with me. Or just ignore this. You do not need to tell me it is long. Yes, I see that. Really, I do.]

    I teach human evolution in a biology department, so I’m pretty up-to-date on the state-of-the-art of the “nature vs. nurture” debate. The best and largest consensus is that human behavior is an amalgam of biological, cultural and environmental factors, which feedback and reinforce each other.

    But there is a large biodeterminist minority coming out of ev psych which seeks to explain absolutely everything in human behavior as the result of genes, generally completely ignoring the fact that genes express according to the environment and that culture is humanity’s most important environment. Usually these guys will tell you such things as “human sexual behavior is determined by evolution”, ignoring the massive, radical, eminently observable changes in human sexual behavior that have taken place over the last hundred years… let alone the last 250,000.

    For some reason, the Men’s Rights Activists love these sorts of biodeterminist arguments, largely I think for the good and classic reason outlined by Steve Gould decades ago: if gross inequality is written into one’s body, then calls for social change are utopian in the extreme.

    Obviously, if one is a member of a class, caste, or other social group that has privileges and one is loathe to see these transformed into rights (because rights, of course, water down the efficacy of privilege), biodeterminist arguments become very attractive. This has always been the case in Western history. At moments when new subjectivities arise, traditional groups seek to protect privileges through biodeterminism.

    You could see this happening all over the Gamergate scandal last year.

    The fact of the matter is this: women are getting into gaming, computers and new digital technologies in a HUGE way. Just ten years ago, digital communications tech, the internet and what not was still very much a man’s world. The advent of tablets and smart phones has vastly leveled that playing field, almost overnight. Here in Brazil, for example, only 25% of the users of the internet and digital communications technologies were women ten years ago: now women are in the majority.

    In only ten years. Explain that behavioral shift in biochemical determinist terms! 😀

    And with that shift, women are really moving into on-line entertainment and gaming in a big way. About half of video/computer gamers are now women, believe it or not. And the market is noting that shift.

    Sure, they’ll still make “guy’s games”, just like there are “guy’s films”. But up until ten years ago, that was pretty much all there was. “There are no girls on teh internet” was still a meme not even FIVE years ago.

    And plenty of girls like shooters, strategy games, fighting games and etc.

    So, once again, what was “a man’s [boy´s] world” is being forced to cater to new subjectivities. And it’s not due to censorship or government: it’s simply the market reacting to behavior shifts, as per usual.

    If you’re a gender studies scholar, like me, you’ll notice that a lot of the same old rhetoric is being recycled these days. This crap about “boys being confused about what it means to be a man” and thus supposedly “drifting off into [this year´s moral panic]” is literally as old as mass culture. You can go back to the 1900s and see the exact same sort of arguments that Phil Z. is using being mobilized to explain the need for the Boy Scouts, the YMCA and Boys’ Camps. Often it is the exact same language.

    There’s always Big Trouble Right Here in River City when the women move, en masse, into a part of the culture that was once supposedly the exclusive purview of men.

    The rhetoric is always the same: loss of “real male role models” push boys towards delinquency and sexual deviance, needing the strong guiding hand of [your favorite moral entrepreneur here], duly empowered with grants (and maybe a few strategic laws) to get things back on track. And it’s always supposedly because men can’t change (in spite of the obvious, observable, empirical fact that men HAVE changed, a hell of a lot), bless their natural cavemen hearts.

    And that’s why I am generally very skeptical of “just so” stories about gender which casts male and female behaviors as indelibly written into genes and biochemistry. This sort of thing has been said time and again, and always at moments of crisis when women are pushing into male-dominated spaces. And it is always, inevitably, wrong. It is quite easy to see this: just think of women’s sexual behavior in our mothers’ day and today: it is very different. Human behavior is extremely flexible. That is, of course, why we are such a successful species: we are culturally programmable and cultural change occurs much, much quicker than biological evolutionary change, allowing us to adapt with a speed no other species can match.

    But what I find the most ironic of all in this state of affairs is how the ev pysch crowd and their MRA followers is in fact moving against the grain of biology in general.

    Over the last twenty years, it has increasingly become recognized that animal behaviors are much more complex and variable than we ever believed before. The idea that animals are little robots running on instinct and instinct alone is being challenged all across the field. Hell, even National Geographic is doing articles about it.

    And it is precisely at this moment that biology is opening up to the idea that genes and chemistry aren’t mechanical programing than the ev psych crowd wants us to believe that human behaviors are rigidly deterministic and coded into our genes.

    This kind of view of women and gaming is pure venom for our hobby. Here is why…

    Some twenty years ago, when the Great Comics Boom collapsed, Marvel employee Heidi McDonald wrote an excellent article for The Comics Journal entitled “You guys need to get laid”. In it, McDonald criticized the “chromium age” fixation with male superheroes, pointing out that it was comics’ ignoring half the population of the planet that ultimately put an end to the heyday of Muscled Men in Tights, taking a thriving hobby industry along with it.

    Unfortunately, the only digital copy is behind a paywall at The Comics Journal, But here’s Heidi’s main point:

    Once there had been comics for girls in the United States — just as schlocky as the comics for boys, don’t get me wrong — but existent and well distributed… Romance comics, all the Littles, Audrey, Dot, whoever, the models, the Archies… By the late ’70s they’d all crawled off into the bushes to die…. Marvel and Dc had given up on the newsstand, casting their lot with the Local Comics Shop system, where the only people they had to sell to were retailers and it was the retailers’ job to get the customers into the store to buy something.

    And that’s where our troubles began. It doesn’t take a complete genius to realize that entrusting your sales to an untrained, obsessed and unreasonable sales force might not be the wisest plan. Because this sales force was only interested in selling things the LIKED. And what they liked was almost always superheroes….

    [During the Chromium Age], survey after survey showed that only 5-10% of the comics readership was female…. Yet back in the ´50s, when more girl-specific and general interest comics were available, the female readership was 55%.

    The dearth of contemporary women comics readers was also puzzling, given that so much of the book reading market is female. Women make up 45% of the SF readership and 55% of the horror readership. Obviously, women like to read and they like their genre materials…. Where did [the women comics readers] go? Why did they stop?

    Could it be that women read comics when there were comics that were suitable for them to read?

    Now, again, I’m sorry this is long, but I find it interesting and maybe you will too. Heidi then goes on to say that when she tried to get Marvel interested in diversifying comics, she heard some of the EXACT SAME biodeterminist arguments we are now hearing about women and gaming. Down to the very phraseology and appeals to “science”:

    “Comics for girls!” I suggested. “Women have different visual perceptions,” I heard. “Women just don’t like the comics format,” I was told over and over and over, always by men in the comics business.

    “But women read comic strips!” I pointed out.

    “Oh, those are different,” I was always told. (Yeah they’re different. They´re aimed at a general audience. Duh!)

    I heard all the reasons women didn’t like the comics medium so often I realized that it was dogma. For some reason, it was very important for these men to believe that women just weren’t interested in four-color fantasies.

    During this same period, while on my travels around this great nation of ours, when I went into a comics shop, I would look for Disney Adventures. Usually I’d find it, but sitting in a very small, neglected children’s section that might have been set up by Jimmy Hoffa or Judge Crater.

    “Don’t you want kids as customers?” I would ask.

    “Well, I don’t really think kids in the store is right for my business,” I would be told.

    No women or children — even as CUSTOMERS!

    (You’ll recall that customers are those folks who come in and spend money: most retailers take quite a shine to them.)

    Was this a business or the latest incarnation of the gentlemen’s club, where beleaguered bacon-winners could relax with brandy, a fine ccigar and a copy of Batman, far from the stress of home and hearth?

    If there is one thing I’ve learned [from all this], it’s that once a fanboy, always a fanboy. Give the inner fanboy an inch and he’ll take a mile… even if it means cutting his own throat from a business standpoint.

    Once again, I’m sorry for the length of this post. But I think Heidi very nicely summarizes why niche geek markets are often subject to masculine domination: it has nothing to do with “female biochemistry” and EVERYTHING to do with fanboys.

    Roleplaying games got out of this rut with Vampire and World of Darkness. It looks like finally, hallelujah, videos games are starting to look at the possibility of taking a similar path.

    If we want miniatures gaming to survive beyond 2030, we are going to seriously need to look at not only making games appealing to the young, but to women as well. And that is not going to happen if we keep telling ourselves just-so stories about how women are “biologically wired” to not like miniatures games.

    And that, dear friends, is why I am so verbose about this point.

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


    It’s also one of the reasons why I am so disgusted by a certain attitudes in gaming which are, very mercifully, hardly in evidence here on TWW.

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


    When in the 1980s I discovered the local club (in Rennes, Brittany, France) of role-playing games and wargames, there were a few female members playing RPGs there. Some came because their boyfriend was playing but some others came on their own (although they most often knew someone, male or female, who was already a member). There were female RPG players, but there was no female wargamer.

    The wargames we had in this time were heavy strategical rules where we spent 1/2 hour for each move and casualties calculations etc and we needed to be very passionate about uniforms and military history to believe that all these calculations had something to do with real life (or death).

    …and I think this is quite similar to the behaviour of my billygoats and rams that I mentioned in my earlier post…

    When we started to organize Live Action RPGs with this club, the ladies were happy to take part, and soon some of them were amongst our Live Action RPGs main organizers and leaders.

    30 years afterwards, the games have changed but the overall pictures is still a bit similar (at least what I can see here in Brittany).

    RPG clubs are still alive, mostly male members, and less public appearance than before.

    Live Action RPGs, and “Trollball” contests which are derivated from them (teams in LARP costumes fighting hard with rubber swords to send a rubber troll head in the goal) have a significant female membership.

    …and there still is not many female wargamers around. Some take part in skirmish games I organize with friends and they are happy to play the role of female brigands or pirates or medieval female leaders, but they say that they are not interested to play military CO or whatever.

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


    Ivan Sorensen

    I’d imagine a big chunk of that is that the little dudes we push around are..well..all little dudes 🙂

    I don’t care if I play a male or female character in a game (rpg, video game, whatever) but for a lot of people, they want something they can identify a bit more with.

    I’d be curious about regional differences too.
    Obviously the scene in one town can be very different but I wonder if there’s bigger differences too.

    Tangentially, but when I go to a Metal show in the US, it’s overwhelmingly dudes, but in Europe, the shows I’ve been to have been a pretty decent mix.

    Nordic Weasel Games


    Dear William Harley,

    Sorry to go down a rabbit hole here, but your use of ‘BZ’ to congratulate Thaddeus caught my eye. Were you once by any chance a Naval gentleman?

    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9




    Dear William Harley, Sorry to go down a rabbit hole here, but your use of ‘BZ’ to congratulate Thaddeus caught my eye. Were you once by any chance a Naval gentleman? [/quot

    36 years man and boy shipmate.


    Lagartija Mike

    I’ll be blunt. What keeps young gamers from the table are old gamers. The following should not be misconstrued as mere hot monkey shit flung at velocity, it’s the truth. In the US by far most of the players are males on the gray slide after forty. A little weird. A little obsessive. Frequently unhygienic and obese. And with the angry politics of the scared and marginal. Young guys, and for sure young girls, have zero desire to bask in the ripe warmth of their krayzee konzpirazy kulcha.

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