January 26th, 2006

Girl gamer

Gaming rant

Let me paint you a picture. Imagine, if you will, that you enjoy gaming. I'm speaking particularly of board gaming, but this can probably be modified for video gaming, CCGing, RPGing, etc.

Now, let's say that you are beginning a game with a group of people. You are very familiar with the game, and will be the one (theoretically) teaching the rest of the group. Two of these other players have played the game once or twice, and so are somewhat familiar with the basics, but still have many questions.

You begin by explaining the rules. The rules are available for reference, which you use for little questions (how many cards each player starts with, for example). There are four other players - the two who have played before, and two who are completely new to the game. One of the new complete newbies defers to you for all questions, and is confident in your answers. The other newbie ignores you completely, and will ask the other two with experience all questions, disregarding everything you say (possibly with the occasional leer). The two with experience generally listen to you, unless you say something that contradicts what they think is true (e.g. are right when they are wrong). Then they will argue with you, snatch the rules away from you in an attempt to prove themselves right, and will occasionally play through with their own rule rather than yours. This last occurence happens most often when you just give up and don't want to argue. (They will usually back down if another member with experience agrees with you, particularly if this other person is of the same gender as they are.)

Congratulations! You are now a Girl who Games (tm). And you've been playing a game with a group of boys.

*sigh* Last night's Game Night got me thinking about the way Girls who Game (tm) are treated, in the broad, general sense. I've decided that, in the most broad of generalities, there are three different kinds of boys/men a GwG (tm) encounters:

The Skeeze (super rare): He won't listen to you, will perhaps 'humor' you if you're relatively attractive, and will spend a good chunk of your time spent explaining the game staring at your boobs. You are automatically wrong in any disagreement, and you can't possibly be trusted to know what you're talking about, because of said boobs. There may be drool.

The Good One (rare): He acknowledges that you know just as much, if not more, about a game as he does, and is willing to take what you say at face value. If there is a rule he doesn't think sounds quite right, he will go to the rule book first before arguing, and will not treat you like an idiot on the off chance that you are, in fact, wrong. He's in it for the game, not the power-play.

The 'Experienced' Ones (common): Generally, they're willing to listen, especially if it's a game they've never played before. They will, however, double-check you against the rules all the time, or will ask someone non-female to verify what you are saying. If they have a disagreement, they will argue. Loudly at times, usually quite stubbornly, and will depend on you giving in for the sake of the gameplay. After playing a game once, they will consider themselves to be the expert and will contradict you or answer questions incorrectly, refusing to check their sources or verify that what they're saying is correct.

I know full well that I'm lucky to be living when I am. I went to college to study, not to get my MRS degree. I'm going to be 25 when I get married, and people think it's young (well, except a couple of my aunts and uncles, but pft) and not something I should have done several years ago. I can work where I want to, and am not relegated to the land of secretary or waitress. Where the big things are concerned, I've got it really freakin' good, by and large.

Unfortunately, that means that the little things stand out more, and are more frustrating. Being considered either stupid or incompetent by people who don't know you is one of the more frustrating experiences ever. Being told you don't know what you're doing when you clearly do, even moreso. I understand that Girls who Game (tm) are still outnumbered by boys/men, and that it's likely to stay that way to some extent for some time. I understand that some kinds of games (video, RPG/CCG) are still considered the domain of boys in their parent's basement with a bunch of their buddies and a whole lot of Mountain Dew (inaccurate though that image may be). Just because that's the way it seems, doesn't mean that's the way it is. I've gamed with quite a few GwG (tm), and they've all (well, almost all...there's always a couple) been intelligent women who understand things rather quickly and, most importantly, had fun with the games. I spend significantly more time arguing than playing when playing with boys/men, especially if I'm the one who has played before.

My boobs do not take away my brains. Being capable of ovulation does not make me incapable of using strategy. My ability to give birth does not take away my ability to play. So bring it.