-Gaming from (my) Female Prospective-
The world of fantasy gaming has been, and likely will continue to be, dominated primarily by men. However this isn’t really a terrible thing for me, it turns out I like men. In fact to be completely honest it was a man that led me to gaming.
My boyfriend, now husband, and I lived three hours apart while I was going through college. I often came to visit him on the weekends. Saturday’s he would head over to a friend’s house and would play poker or D&D (a tradition that continues to this day actually) with ‘The Boys.’ I could go with him, or stay at home with his mother and sister (not really a viable option). Once I got to Joe’s house I could twiddle my thumbs or I could be one of ‘The Boys’ and learn to play poker and D&D. I did, however, draw the line at learning how to play Magic. There are just some things a girl cannot do, no matter how cute the boy is.
That was nearly six years ago. Since then I have continued to play with ‘The Boys.’ Occasionally a wife, girlfriend or other female friend would come on to the Saturday night festivities. Usually they were content watching, but some did join a game for a session or two. However, normally when I play at a tabletop game I am the only representative of my gender.
It is an interesting place to be in sometimes.
My first character was a succubus (had to give them a good reason to let me play you know). Since then it is almost expected of me to play some barely dressed flirtatious feminine character. I admit it is a roll I do well and rather enjoy at times. Once in awhile though it is interesting to play something different, which always brings about disappointed sighs from ‘The Boys.’ I suppose that being stereotyped into a specific role is a pitfall anyone can fall into. One also has to take responsibility for that stereotype as well. I have willfully chosen to play several half dressed characters in my time. It is the disappointment I get from my fellow players when I decide to play the annoying Halfling female who would rather spend a night curled up with her pet squirrel (Pip did make a great pillow) than with the party leader that is interesting. When my husband decides not to play his usual druid or our friend Eric fails to take a character that makes him the party lead the decision is not followed by sighs and big puppy dog eyes from the other players.
On the other hand, I know that my being female and choosing to play those half dressed flirty characters in well over half of the games gives me some leeway that other players do not have. I have been known to show up to games with half of my character sheet filled out incorrectly (what do you mean I can’t have 83 HP at level 2?). Instead of rolling their eyes and grumbling like they have at some of the guys who have done the same thing they laugh and come over and help me figure it out. I know that I can wear a low cut shirt or say something rather witty and I can take longer to figure out what my character is going to do in a round than I reasonably should. When it comes to a game question I can easily get one of ‘The Boys’ to spend their time looking up a spell I want to use or the stats on the leather armor that I have stuffed my character into. They will not complain about it either or tell me to go look it up myself as they might someone else.
Do not get me wrong though, this certain amount of leeway I have comes with a price. Not only must I remain cute and flirty, but sometimes I must cook or bake for them, and once in awhile even play mediator. It is a well known fact that feeding the DM is a good way to earn extra XP or have a die rolled in your favor now and then. Baking him fresh brownies or serving him up a bowl of homemade spaghetti goes even further than a bag of Cheetos, or so I have found. As does my ability to calm an agitated player with my sweet feminine charisma score. This last bit can often be done very subtly and very effectively. It usually works under the same principle as getting one of ‘The Boys’ to look some game fact up for me: they have a hard time telling me no. So when someone begins to argue with the DM or another player I can sweetly ask them to drop whatever nonsense they are splashing around the table and to focus back on the game, and usually they do.
So it is an interesting dynamic, but it is one that I enjoy most of the time. ‘The Boys’ have given me some fantastically crazy nights of gaming and I am glad that I could be a part of it. I do not play like they do, but they also do not play like I do, and that is what makes these games interesting (although the brownies and chainmail bikini’s certainly help too *wink*).
posted by Merideth on 3/30/2020 at 11:53:36 AM
Nice very, very, nice. Remind me to keep an eye on you in Alacrity's game LOL.
But yes girl's and AD&D are sometimes far and in between and its usually as in your case one of the player's GF's or wife. ~Sigh~ I do miss my younger table top days LOL ~sigh~.
posted by TannTalas on 2/11/2010 at 12:28:18 AM
Ha! Ela is -not- one of those half dressed fluzeys. Sorry Tann. ;) I find that -here- people are less dissapointed if I try something else than with 'The Boys' as I so affectionatly call them.
posted by Merideth on 2/11/2010 at 09:36:36 AM
Cay's no half dressed floozy, herself, but... *le swoon* just the same. ;)
Great article, Meri!
posted by Eol Fefalas on 2/11/2010 at 11:01:18 AM
*Giggles* Well, for me, I get to blame my brother... and his bad habit of leaving his books all over the place...
Stumble across a D&D book... and then I think I probably started arguing with it on the same day, much to the annoyance of my brother... He likes to play with the rules as written... me, if I disagree with the system, I reformat it, or provide variants... as many people already know *giggles sheepishly*
I suppose, in terms of characters, I've fallen to the stereotype of either breaking stereotypes, or doing the unorthodox... I bet many people would be very suspicious if I just came into a game with a level 1 fighter...
Anyway, that's enough rambling from me this morning~ Off I go!
A great article, Meri ^^
posted by Reralae on 2/11/2010 at 02:22:01 PM
Meri, way to make all the men on this site wish they were gaming with you! And here I am in two of your games, lucky me! ;)
Heh, I liked your article though and I really do think it articulates the difference between real time gaming and online gaming, or at least as I've experienced it, really well. Here online there's a much higher focus on the game itself, the role-play, the writing, &c... so we, in turn, celebrate every change and every unique character created.
Alternately, in real time its half parts gaming and half parts hanging out and obviously you and The Boys enjoy the player dynamics as much as the character dynamics - or so it came across.
I'm not sure if this is how everyone's experienced their gaming but its certainly what's gone down in my experience, albeit never having gamed with a female. Yeah yeah I know.
Just some initial responses to a blog I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks Meri!
posted by Dragonblood on 2/11/2010 at 02:40:25 PM
DB - you know... I had not really thought about it, but you are right. The dynamics between the people playing during my times at a tabletop game are part of what makes it so enjoyable.
Here it is often much more focused on the characters themselves and what we can do with them. Which probably does account for the difference in character development in each setting...
Huh... I wrote it, but it's strange how you point out an underlying truth in it.
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