Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Won't You Play With Us?


Edit: Guide to this blog for the perplexed here.

Anyway:

Ok, I know that when anything about playing D&D comes up on this blog there will be somebody reading who goes "Oh yeah, we did that, too! Here's what happened, here's a link..."

So, a la James Mal I am going to ask the hive mind a question about the early days of the hobby and hope someone in the crowd has some insight.

_____

Preamble:

One of the things we do when we make the show is shoot footage where we ask the guest stars about their previous D&D experience.

And this is what we hear over and over and over:

"When I was a teenager, I knew guys who were playing and I always wanted to try it, but they wouldn't let me play."

So: what the fuck is up with that? How warped is American youth that there was not one healthy young lad willing to play D&D with a teenaged Stoya? Anyone? Anyone? What is going on out there in the Midwest?

64 comments:

Orion said...

We had a few girls play in our group when we were in High School, and were open to allowing more in if they were interested. They were just part of the group-friend dynamic, you know?

limpey said...

She never asked me because I would have said "yes" after I was revived following my fainting episode (I was a shy kid). When I was a teenager and I tried to stammer out how much fun killing goblins was, almost everyone within earshot, including all the girls, moved away. I quickly learned that most girls in the midwest didn't think D&D was considered cool or sexy at all in circa 1982.
Obviously I didn't know the right people...

blizack said...

I didn't know any girls who were interested in playing back when I was a teenager. I'm happy to say that has not continued to be the trend in my 20s and 30s.

Mr. R said...

Heh, that never happened with us. Sure, we were nerds but we weren't stupid...and we had hormones just like anyone else. If a young woman would have asked to play D&D or whatever we were playing we would have each been falling over one another to day "yes". We were not at all shy, and every one knew that we played...but no girls asked. I guess these ladies were all in the wrong place (or more likely, had not been born at that time.) Its a shame, my teenage years would likely have been a lot different and a hel of a lot more fun.

Eric Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SirAllen said...

Perhaps they felt they couldn't be their geeky selves around hot women.

I am not speaking from experience; no female had ever wanted to play D&D with me until I got married. And it wasn't even my wife.

Grendelwulf said...

As a teenager, I had my share of strange looks when describing the game. Eventually, I found players of both sexes willing to play.

Some guys would tend to be all-serious and yet self-conscious at times, some gals would be more light-hearted and deliberately provocative. They were interesting games . . . on many levels.

Although, according to my male players, I "crossed the line" when I dated a few of my female players. I never afforded them any special treatment, but it was fun to have them try. Heck, I even married two of them!

Ciao!
GW

Jim said...

All the girls who encountered my friends and I playing D&D "backed slowly away". :( If any had stayed; they'd have played with us!

Mike said...

No girls would even hang out with us, let alone want to play D&D with us...ha.

But, in more recent years, I've talked to a number of girls that had the same experience. Two total hotties in the last month approached me about playing after finding out that I play/DM.

After asking if they'd played before, I got that same response from both. They were interested and asked someone about playing, but were told that they wouldn't like it or wouldn't be interested in it.

Both of them were overly concerned about the difficulty...so yeah. Those early experiences really blew the game up for them. Now, 10-20 years later, they don't think they can do it, but are still kind of interested. I'm trying to get together a game just for them to finally try it out.

TheCramp said...

I definitely knew guys who rolled this way. They were typically older than me and sort of like D&D jocks. Took it seriously, and played rather competitively. Their were very few woman "in their generation." But were only talking about a ten year difference. They had no interest in gaming with woman (or queers), and let it be known. By the time I was gaming with my peers, their were lots of woman, but D&D was not on the schedule. Whitewolf and Call of Cthulhu were the co-ed games of choice at least in my area.

A friend that I played Vampire with said She had only ever played D&D twice, and that the DM had her character raped as a "plot device." She had a very low opinion of D&D players. I can see how players who want roll like that would consider their "fun ruined" if they had to clean it up for a lady.


A number of ladies I have gamed with never played D&D as a rule, being themselves suspicious of the players. Vampire, on the other hand, was very co-ed, and their game of choice. Deadlands also held some appeal.

But man, I'm from Vermont, and I don't understand the midwest at all. When I went off to college I stopped recognizing anything. Homophobic Punks? Stereotypical Gamers? What was happening... and only went south within New England.

Roger the GS said...

Well, the problem is ... yeah. Fear of Girls.

Back in the 80's, the way hot women snuck into gaming was through the back door marked Subculture. At least that was my experience as a dual classed punk rock/gamer. I'm sure it happened again in the 90's (with Vampire) and now in Zak's case with the sex industry.

Brandon said...

You know, I hadn't ever actually considered the possibility that people who wanted to play would be rejected. I've got a small core group of people who play in my home town that is comprised of mostly guys with one girl and another group who I've played with at college that was almost all girls. Hell, two people who've never played (one male, one female) are dropping in on short notice to join in a Serenity game tonight.

It kind of baffles me that a DM would just reject someone out of hand. I can understand if you've got a group of 8 players already not wanting to add more, but I've known plenty of players who like running simultaneous campaigns.

Of course, I tend to play in really casual games. I don't understand how someone can take pretending to be wizards or monsters seriously enough that they would be pricks about it.

Bard said...

It's not America, but recently I heard the same story from a girl... This must be a worldwide epidemic...

TheyStoleFrazier'sBrain said...

You just brought up the topic as an excuse to post pics of Stoya, of which I wholeheartedly approve.

Back in my USC days, the president of our club was female, but everybody else were guys. So one semester, I noticed our sign-up sheet in the student center had three women's names on it, so I recruited one of our other players to help me call these women up and get some more girls in the group.

One showed up, had a good time and became a regular player.

My group now (not D&D, but a homebrew Chaosium BRP variant a friend of mine came up with) is half-and-half, which is completely unprecedented in my experience. And it's a great game.

BillionSix said...

Maybe they are afraid that something like this might happen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHIMJVD9LSA

Chris Lowrance said...

Okay. I wrote a lengthy response to this, and Blogger fucked up and ate it. And I really don't want to retype it.

So I'll try to summarize: Because for a lot of groups of boys, and men, a lot of what they do together requires that a woman not be present. These types of men actually prefer thinking about women to actually being around one, although they don't realize it.

5stonegames said...

Women have always been welcome at my table. I've even been the only guy in a small all women group.

However young teen boys , in the past often were intimidated by girls of all sorts, geeks especially. Its just a thing.

I might be a tad intimidated by Stoya at my table now (or several other of the girls to be honest) but its an issue of me/single at all that hotness and likley raw sexuality (and yes I know they'd put it away off duty, its still going to show) they'd still be welcome though and I don't stammer .. much ...

ThaBenMan said...

Well, for what it's worth, my friends and I taught a few girls in our class how to play Magic: The Gathering back in middle school...

denjiro said...

I never directly had the experience you're questioning about, but I'm pretty certain none of the groups I'd gamed with would turn down someone asking to play or even just being genuinely curious about it.

My first group in sixth grade had a couple girls although a regular gaming group it was not. The group I played with occasionally in middle school also had one female player.

The group I was in the longest during the 90s was all male, but that group was comprised almost entirely of people I knew through the Karate school I went through(Primary GM was the instructor.) and there just weren't many female students. Again I'm sure we wouldn't have turned down any females wanting to play.

My most recent group actually had more female than male players at times, but for the most part was a 50/50 split.

As for reasons why it might happen, as others have mentioned intimidation. Especially in the high school and below groups. Lots of shy awkward boys there, and very likely to react badly to a girl asking to play even if they very much wanted to include her.

Personally I would have loved the chance to introduce a girl to the hobby back in my teenage years or even now. But I can definitely see how awkwardness on either of our parts could easily lead to seem like a rejection of the request.

DarkTouch said...

Don't look at me, I started with Vampire LARP. The girls equalled the guys if not outright outnumbering them.

Craig said...

No one ever asked.

I grew up in a small town in Illinois, and my friends and I were mostly ignored by the general populous.

That said, my fiancee and I try to play D&D as often as we can.

kelvingreen said...

I'm not American, so my data may not be useful.

To this day, I have played roleplaying games with exactly three women. Two of them were not born women, and one of them was Scottish.

The Lord of Excess said...

The response might be "the guys wouldn't let me play" but the kinda girls who your likely talking too were so good looking it wasn't likely malicious ... the guys were too busy trying to impress them with non-geeky stuff so they could get into their pants. All joking aside ... I think clearly times have changed. I'm 35 and though I myself didn't play D&D in high school (I was a dumb jock ... I'm ashamed to admit that ... booze and girls distracted me but then I came to my senses and returned to gaming after college) ... but I get the impression that from the early 90s to today ... the % of gamer girls has dramatically increased. I've read various articles over the past few years that suggest actual parity between the sexes as far as gaming goes (all kinds from video games to tabletop games) is going to occur sometime in the next decade or so. So I'm sure the experience high school kids today are having with gaming is completely opposite of what someone would have had in the 80s or early 90s.

Adam Thornton said...

I married one of the members of my college gaming group. I dated another for several years. Slightly less than half of my current gaming group is female.

In high school it was pretty much all guys because the girls tried much harder to not be nerds and therefore didn't want to be seen near us.

Well, except for one, who's coming out here in a couple weeks to do a road trip to Springfield, MO to play video games, and whom I still have a crush on 20 years later. And she sits in on our games whenever she comes and visits.

So, uh, I guess my response is "Nope. I've used RPGs as a way to meet women for two decades now."

Adam

Barking Alien said...

This reminds of a joke we used to tell in the earliest days of Anime/Manga fandom in American when guys complained that all the main stars were female.

"Yes...young Japanese guys want to read about and see hot girls save the day. Young American guys want to see men in tights save the day. Are you really arguing our way is better?"

I pat myself on the back for my ability to remain atypical! I've had female players siting in on my games as early as Junior High School. My current NY group is the first I've had in over 20 years with not a single woman in it. Sucks.

I miss playing almost daily in a solo campaign I ran for my ex-wife. She was, is and will probably always remain one of the greatest gamers I know.

Tom Lando said...

Every girl I know who has interest in DnD is almost impossible to make plans with. I guess pretty girls lead busy lives... makes sense I suppose. Anyways, I am rarely able to get a girl to commit to a session, let alone an ongoing campaign, whereas dudes will happily inform their employer that they can't work a certain day, just so they can play dnd once a week. Getting dudes to work weekly dnd into their schedule is a lot like getting some dudes to join a band I find. I don't think I've ever asked a girl to join a band... hmm.

McL. said...

One of the few gaming groups I played in with any consistency in high school involved my oldest childhood friend, who happened to be female, her best friend, and then a couple of other friends we all mutually knew. She insisted on playing elderly wizards with giant hats in every game we ever played in. They all had different personalities, but they all were described the same.

Currently in the various games I run and play, probably 1/3 of the people are female. I can't remember ever playing in an all male group at this point.

BigFella said...

Well, it's one of my standing thesis' that we're all magnificent dumbasses in some way when we're teenagers. That's the only explanation I can think of for point blank telling a girl who's interested in your hobby's to buzz off...

When I used to run games for my brother and his high school aged buddies back in the ancient of days, any female component to the group was often girlfriends who were interested in seeing what their boyfriends were up to. They didn't tend to last too long, mostly 'cos they lost interest. A couple times there were contentious breakups, but they didn't seem to have much impact at the table, luckily.

Now as I approach my dotage, the crowd I game with, mostly professional/academic thirtysomethings in the Boston area, is pretty evenly split along gender lines. The annual Helgacon thing we do has come close to being a 50/50 male/female game convention.

James said...

I've played with women throughout most of my years of gaming. Save for the first three, or so. I married a girl gamer. Twice! My best friend, married a girl gamer. I have two other friends, who married girl gamers. I've met girl gamers, when interacting with other gaming groups and I've always seen plenty of em around. Score one for Alabama.:)

Tom said...

Speaking for my generation of ancient fatbeards, I'd have to say the answer is:

We teenage boys just aren't very perceptive to subtlety.

I've not noted that changes much as we get older either.

The follow-up question to that answer given above is:
Did you bluntly ask to join or did you subtly suggest that you'd like to try it out?

While, looking back on it from some 2 score years, we did have a few approaches from girls of "Hey guys, whatcha doin?" However no-one ever interpreted that as "Can I join you? That looks/sounds like fun!" which may have been a mistake.

Basically the problem is we were/are insensitive boobs.

Helm said...

I've gamed with women, current CoC campaign is half-half gender-wise. However I didn't game with girls in high-school because Lord of the Rings (the movie trilogy) hadn't happened yet and therefore elves didn't get seem cool culturally.

It's very possible Stoya might have been interested in role-playing games from too far away. It's one thing to look at the nerds doing something strangely appealing involving mock-acting and sweaty hot dice action from five tables away, surrounded by their jock friends and wondering what'd be like to play, and another to make the social gesture of getting up and walking over there while said jock friends are blatantly judging.

Takes some balls to commit social suicide in high-school. Being curious about other subcultures isn't enough. The people into D&D predominantly didn't make a proactive choice to be what they are, they just found themselves leading the life they did exactly because of their introvert predisposition. If they could have been super-pretty and popular, most of them wouldn't have gravitated towards gaming as much as they did.

Yes, these are generalizations and as such they don't cover all the bases (or most, even) and for all I know Stoya might have been a quiet introverted girl who hadn't yet realized her looks, but since you're asking a general question, what can I do but offer a general answer: aside from all the social problems inherent in nerdery that might push them away, pretty girls don't get to play role-playing games oftentimes because they look at the social cliques that play them from too far away.

DrDucker said...

When I first started playing I was 8-9 years old, so the girls all had cooties (or maybe it was the boys, I can't really remember... ;), but I only played a half-dozen or so games at that point, and my friends and I had a really poor understanding of the rules anyway. (Can you say "Monty Haul...") So no girls then.

In the middle- and high- school years, I basically didn't play, not for lack of trying, mostly for living in the boondocks.

Once I got out high-school I moved back to civilization, and got into a regular Heroes game, that was at least 40% female, and maybe even at parity.

I've played in games which were all male, but never even given it much thought as to whether girls were welcome or not; Of course they were, anybody who had wanted to play would have been welcomed, it just didn't work out for those games is all.

DrDucker said...

Oh yeah, can we take that first pic to mean we get Bobbi Starr as a guest star soon?

Zak S said...

2drducker
yes.

Sean said...

I can't speak for the Midwest, but when I was in college in PA, we wholeheartedly welcomed any geeky-inclined women to the fold if they were interested in the hobby. Granted they were usually involved with either the DM or another player at the time, we didn't treat them any differently than anyone else at the table. My first campaign that I ever played had two girls, both first-time players who ended up being really kickass with their characters. I honestly wish I knew enough women to have them in games more often! (Beats the hell out of *that* guy playing a woman...again)

Dan said...

My friends and I were never asked to be joined by the girls. Nowdays there are alwyas women present in our geek activities.

In wider geekdom/nerd-dom, in days gone past at least, I suspect the answer is resentment. When male nerds get shunned and made fun of by the girls, who hang out with the jocks instead, resentment brews. Any popular girl wanting to watch or join in might be doing so as a way to get more ammunition (the Carrie ruse). Then a girl comes along with real interest and saying "no" amounts to a very petty form of revenge.

I don't know if schools are still like that. I hope not. Being an adult is a lot more fun though.

Bastian Weaver said...

*shrugs*
In post-Soviet countries girls seem to be the ones doing the role-playing, with an occasional guy or two who joins them.

mikemonaco said...

1) I began playing AD&D before I was really interested in girls, and had no female friends.
2) By the time I was interested in girls, no girl ever asked me about D&D I was damn sure not going to bring it up (gamer shame?). Also what Tom said above -- if girls were asking indirectly, it would have gone over my head.
3) First role played with girls in college. They were a minority but a vocal one in the "gaming club" and I don't remember them ever being excluded there. In grad school my DM's girlfriend got into gaming and fit in ok.
4) After college, did not really role play all that much, but in the last few years now that I'm back into it, we have had one female player (gf of another player) who was a ton of fun.
So, I for one never intentionally excluded anyone from my games but I never had a girl express interest in that stuff, apart from the gfs of players/DMs.

mordicai said...

Fighting for feminism in geeky places is a pretty dang noble goal; especially when you can do it by just being like "uh, girls like DnD you pricks-- see?" Way better than a manifesto.

James C. said...

My 2 cents... playing with girls was never even a remote consideration when I started out playing as kid. For starters, I can't even now imagine any of the girls we knew and were friendly with then being interested. For another, we would have been way too self conscious and/ or immature to have handled it well. Thirdly, we mostly kept our gaming to ourselves. Collectively, we found it a little embarrassing. Sad but true.

This was all before White Wolf etc... hit the scene, and RPGing just seemd such a geeky guy scene at that time.

During our adult years, and the many changes to role-playing since, its a lot more common to see girls playing. I run a game for my wife. My regular group has been approached by women who were interested in playing, but unfortunately nothing ever comes of it. There are still those of us uncomfortable with the idea despite being otherwise well-adjusted, (even married) adults. I think there's still this fear, left over from when we were kids, of being ridiculed or thought childish for playing. I've mostly gotten over it, but I'm not going to force anybody to follow suite.

While I'm essentially open to anybody joining the table, I'm careful not to alienate anybody that has been there for years and years. Some of the guys, I think, see playing as much about male bonding, geeking-out and being themselves as conducting the game. Maybe we've missed the boat as a group, but I don't want to trash what we do have to find out.

Marlon M. said...

Our high-school group (circa 1980) had several gals play over the years, mostly girlfriends-of-the-moment. We were certainly open to them!

Someone mentioned a female PC getting raped as a plot device, which indicates the need for a DM ass-whuppin' as a corrective device. But we did have one player whose character kept raping the (much-lower level) character of his girlfriend.

She didn't feel threatened by this personally, and stuck to eye-rolling and head-shaking. But it got on everyone else's nerves. So Andy, our party's thief and a legendary prankster, requested that my mage create him a scroll--Symbol of Pain.

Can't quote the 2nd edition spell exactly, but it's something like "can be inscribed over any portal or opening..."

So you see where Andy was going with that.

Later, of course, as the rapist writhed in his truly epic seizure, Andy swaggered up and said, "what's the matter, Tom...VD?"

Sigilic said...

I feel like a fool to admit I did this. A totally hot girl in my college dorm, freshman year, *begged me* to come over and teach her how to play MtG. I showed up and she was in her nightgown. I fumbled through an explanation of the game (was still fairly new to ccgs) and we played a couple times. Then I left, and avoided her for days.

I will agree with the commenter above who said that many guys (particularly in the late teen years) would much rather think about girls than actually deal with girls. That probably has a lot to do with how incredibly cruel tween and pre-teen girls can be to each other, and to boys they don't quite want to admit liking.

HBKnight said...

The only experience I've ever had with girls asking to play were a couple of guys' girlfriends back in high school and once or twice in college. They came, we explained it and took it slow. The interest just never took. They might have showed one more time, but not to play. They preferred to just sit and watch. My girlfriend at the time also asked me to teach her but we never actually got around to it and she never pressed the issue. I always got the feeling she only asked out of a combination of politeness and curiosity, which I appreciated and felt was more than enough.
My wife and I have been together for 8 years next month and neither of us has ever approached the other about roleplaying. I think she legitimately has no interest in it and sees it as a 'me' thing. We both have shared and separate hobbies and this is one of the latter.
Also, I thought Stoya was a Philly girl? Last I checked that is not the Midwest, where roleplayers open their tables to all who are interested. We're cool like that.

Zak S said...

@knight

i said we hear this over and over, not just from stoya.

kelvingreen said...

As if by magic, and not coincidence at all, one of the fellows from my school-years gaming group got in contact last night saying that his girlfriend was really interested in rpgs, and asking if I'd mind running a Call of Cthulhu game for her.

What should I do? ;)

Menace 3 Society said...

I'm not sure if it's a question of literally refusing girls at the table—that's certainly not within my experience, at any rate. However, I do know that when you get a bunch of boys aged 11.5-15 around a table and running off into fantasy land, a lot of early-teenage male attitudes toward life come out: I remember, in addition to a lot of unfunny dirty jokes about semen, also a lot of what basically amounted to virtual bullying where a player's character (and on one occasion, the DM) would do degrading things to other another player's character, generally for no reason other than spite. Some of that was just the usual guy bullshitting around, "taking the piss" as they say in the UK, but some of it was also stupid, needless personal cruelty. A girl of that age thrust into the middle of this could easily feel that the boys are trying to make her feel unwelcome, by victimizing her with vile in-game pranks, or just by keeping up an unending torrent of lame dick jokes. ("I cast magic missile all over your face!" "Do I get a saving throw vs. rods?" etc)

So while I've never known girls to be deliberately excluded from a gaming group I was in, I could see our tables being perceived as an unwelcome environment to a female.

A GM said...

Deepest, darkest midwest here.

You answered your own question when you said "teenagers", Zak. We were really all too self-aware to feel comfortable bringing in women...and they were too self-aware to ask.
Even in college there were few, and this is before the CCG craze came down.
I've been privleged since to game in some fine groups that were half or more female.
Basically, it's the times, and the age of the people involved.

Delta said...

Tom's comment rings a bell for me.

I played with my younger sister to the extent she had patience. No girl ever outright asked in the high school era (nor was there much of any girl/guy clique crossover at that time). Now that I think of it, one girl once wrote "What's up with D&D?" on my book cover once, but I'd honestly be prone to interpret that as making fun of me at the time.

Tom said...

@kelvingreen
Run the orient express for her! Run it till she wants to wear a whalebone corset in real life in order to feel properly dressed!

Lord Alfric said...

In my experience growing up in south/central TX, the majority of those interested in gaming were guys. During high school and college, any girls interested in gaming happened to be dating one of the guys in the group, or friends of a girl dating a guy in the group. Cool as it was to have some diversity, there were some instances where the inevitable sturm & drang of relationship issues bled out from the couple's life into the game (even stopping a game dead in its tracks from time to time). It proved to be a mixed bag.

Now, I play with at least 4 different gaming groups. The 1st group, one that has lasted in 1 form or another since high school, includes the DM's wife, and that's about it. 2 of the groups I'm in originated from me running games at a friendly local gaming store: 1 group is all men; the other has 1 regular woman player, and is introducing 2 new female players to the tabletop gaming experience. The last group I'm in is mainly RPGA folk from another FLGS—the definite regular sole woman player plays along with her husband at RPGA events at that store.

To be honest, I think I've only had 1 female player who joined without any prior connection to the group (relationship, sibling, etc.); those times she did participate, she had to drop out for 1 life reason or another.

(Then again, to be honest, she was quite hot, & a harbored a crush on her for the longest time—I feel very guilty about that, because I think I subconsciously gave off that vibe and made things uncomfortable for her, along with all of the life stuff she had to deal with outside of the game.)

I did notice a fair number of female gamers invested in the local Vampire LARP (the 2 times I attended), though I think it was the genre and the format of the game that helped contribute to that.

I think chance has a big factor to it: I never doubted that there were women who were genuinely interested in gaming, but the chances of me or my group meeting them in a gaming context initially (rather than dating one who then shows interest) seemed to be remarkably rare.

planewalker said...

I'm English so this might not be what you're looking for; but in my case it's sort of the opposite.

All the people I know of who play DnD are all girls, except for me and one of the girls' boyfriend.

So nope, never had a problem playing DnD with girls.

kelvingreen said...

Tom, I've run that beast once before (and the girlfriend's boyfriend was in that group), and I shan't be booking a return trip!

Seth said...

I gamed with a few ladies back in high school; I had a female friend briefly join my long-running DnD campaign and also played Star Wars with a group including the girl who's still my best friend. Since nearly everyone I gamed with was on the Speech and Debate team, though, there wasn't much of a social stigma attached to the activity. Speech travelled every weekend from November through May, meaning the women I gamed with were quite confident in their nerdentity.

Ultimately what stopped us from gaming with more women was the simple logistics of when we played (all-nighters a few nights a week during the summer) and the sheer impossibility of convincing anyne's parents to allow for a co-ed sleepover.

Pianodog_42 said...

A little late to the party, but there could also be more to it than a girl is willing to admit.

She may have shown interest, but started asking questions that simply scared the crap out of the guys who were playing and they didn't want to have to deal with it on a constant basis. "Why can't I have a flying horse?" "Unicorns are beautiful, I want one." "Can I keep my character if she dies?" - I'm not making these up. My 27 year old wife started asking these same things when I tried to bring her into D&D to try it. Her response was general poutiness and derision, which made me fear (on some level) setting her into a game where she'd have to follow the rules I set for her, and have her dislike me for that.

Justin Alexander said...

I have to confess that we deliberately excluded girls from our D&D session two weeks ago.

... we were playing at my bachelor party.

Beyond that, I've never really grokked gender segregation. Whether it's "girl's night out" or "D&D is a Boyz Only Club!", I can intellectually grasp the concept but it still doesn't make any sense to me.

@pianodog: "I want a flying horse." "I want a +5 flaming greatsword." "I want to cast a fireball."

These are all motivators: You can either hold them out as carrots which can be gained; or, if that sort of reward-based play doesn't appeal, you can play a game where their character can start out with that sort of thing.

Life's too short not to have fun with your wife.

Pianodog_42 said...

@Justin: I explained to her that the things she wanted would be long term and exotic goals. After the pouting wore off and I stood my ground, she agreed to play by whatever rules I set.

I'm still worried, but we'll see how it goes. We're both new to Pathfinder, but I'm a 2nd Edition vet from years back. She was going to be a Rogue until I told her about Druids, and she jumped at the chance to be a shapeshifter that also can have a wolf companion animal. She didn't care about spells or items, just that she could be a wolf with a wolf.

My wife is an odd combination sometimes. She wants to be challenged, but she doesn't mind cheating. She loves reading books, but always reads the last chapter first. She likes suspense and drama, but wants to know how it turns out before she watches it. She wants to play, but wants the powerful items first.

Since I'm not letting her (firmly believing that the journey is better than the destination in games like this) she did agree to my terms and we're already underway.

As a bonus, she rolled (Pathfinder Standard - 4d6 drop the lowest) 17, 14, 13, 17, 15, 14 ... One of the best sets I've seen anyone get in a LONG time. I turned around and rolled an NPC to accompany her until she got used to the game ... 9, 10, 12, 15, 7, 9. She's already "winning" and loving it.

John said...

It's times like these that I really realise how unique my particular niche of the nerd 'subculture' really was back when I was in highschool/university - and how skewed my perceptions around that culture were as a result.

We were 'hardcore' nerds. Games had overarching stories that ran for years in some cases, breaking character during sessions was frowned upon (roleplaying – serious business) and most of us had started when we were in our early teens. We even had our own club premises in the CBD, with members charged fees so that we could pay the rent/utilities, that consisted of a common area (pool table, Gauntlet machine and snacks for sale) and a whole series of rooms that people then booked to run games in. Hell, the place has moved premises and changed ‘management’ a couple of times and is now a shadow of its former self, but it even still exists (and after 15 years that’s not bad).

But even though our social lives pretty much revolved around that place (if people weren’t there playing games, they were there hanging out), the socially maladjusted ‘power nerd’ stereotype was the exception rather than the rule. Likewise, roleplaying, collectible card games and the like were male dominated, but a good third of our regulars were girls.

And I’m not really sure why we had the dynamic we did, but I’m wondering if it was a combination of scale, location and breadth of age/background. There were a lot of us (I’d say ~35 people in the club on an average Friday/Saturday), the major nightlife/’bad’ district was literally the next street over (if you wanted in after about 8:00 you had to knock, so as to avoid interruptions by drunktards) and while we were mostly on the younger side, ages ranged from 15 to mid-40s (with the older ones handling the little details like the ‘business’ side of things) and with backgrounds ranging from ‘kicked out of home at 15’ to ‘I do research at the DoD and can’t talk about my job or get caught with a DUI or I’ll get fired’ (thank God for that guy, actually, we were always non-financially solvent and he was constantly bailing us out because he had money to burn – I think at one point the business owed him about $30k).

So I guess the net result of all that was that, even while effectively growing up with ‘nerdy’ pastimes as our mainstay, we were a lot more worldly than the ostensibly ‘cool’ people. We drank hard, partied hard, roleplayed until all hours of the night and as we got older got jobs at local businesses to make money, just like any other kids of that age. Of course, due to our location, the net result of that was that my personal roleplaying groups ended up variously containing two bouncers, a dope dealer, a bartender and a couple of strippers (all jobs that allow gaming earlier in the day and then popping down the road to go to work, see). The possible similarities to my own experience are what drew this blog to my attention in the first place.

I guess, while I do get it intellectually, I still have trouble thinking of roleplaying as something that has this stigma attached to it and therefore might be hard to get girls involved in. I mean yeah, my in-laws think it’s a bit weird, but they also think it’s weird that I watch and train in MMA as well. Strokes for folks and all that.

John said...

It's times like these that I really realise how unique my particular niche of the nerd 'subculture' really was back when I was in highschool/university - and how skewed my perceptions around that culture were as a result.

We were 'hardcore' nerds. Games had overarching stories that ran for years in some cases, breaking character during sessions was frowned upon (roleplaying – serious business) and most of us had started when we were in our early teens. We even had our own club premises in the CBD, with members charged fees so that we could pay the rent/utilities, that consisted of a common area (pool table, Gauntlet machine and snacks for sale) and a whole series of rooms that people then booked to run games in. Hell, the place has moved premises and changed ‘management’ a couple of times and is now a shadow of its former self, but it even still exists (and after 15 years that’s not bad).

But even though our social lives pretty much revolved around that place (if people weren’t there playing games, they were there hanging out), the socially maladjusted ‘power nerd’ stereotype was the exception rather than the rule. Likewise, roleplaying, collectible card games and the like were male dominated, but a good third of our regulars were girls.

And I’m not really sure why we had the dynamic we did, but I’m wondering if it was a combination of scale, location and breadth of age/background. There were a lot of us (I’d say ~35 people in the club on an average Friday/Saturday), the major nightlife/’bad’ district was literally the next street over (if you wanted in after about 8:00 you had to knock, so as to avoid interruptions by drunktards) and while we were mostly on the younger side, ages ranged from 15 to mid-40s (with the older ones handling the little details like the ‘business’ side of things) and with backgrounds ranging from ‘kicked out of home at 15’ to ‘I do research at the DoD and can’t talk about my job or get caught with a DUI or I’ll get fired’ (thank God for that guy, actually, we were always non-financially solvent and he was constantly bailing us out because he had money to burn – I think at one point the business owed him about $30k).

So I guess the net result of all that was that, even while effectively growing up with ‘nerdy’ pastimes as our mainstay, we were a lot more worldly than the ostensibly ‘cool’ people. We drank hard, partied hard, roleplayed until all hours of the night and as we got older got jobs at local businesses to make money, just like any other kids of that age. Of course, due to our location, the net result of that was that my personal roleplaying groups ended up variously containing two bouncers, a dope dealer, a bartender and a couple of strippers (all jobs that allow gaming earlier in the day and then popping down the road to go to work, see). The possible similarities to my own experience are what drew this blog to my attention in the first place.

I guess, while I do get it intellectually, I still have trouble thinking of roleplaying as something that has this stigma attached to it and therefore might be hard to get girls involved in. I mean yeah, my in-laws think it’s a bit weird, but they also think it’s weird that I watch and train in MMA as well. Strokes for folks and all that.

Zak S said...

@john
I know what you mean--Alex--the guy who runs The Escapist--and I were talking about how--when we were kids--D&D was something we did with older kids and which we associated with hanging out with college girls and juvenile deliquency.

It kind of surprises me how many D&D people who blog call themselves self-identified "nerds".

I mean, in a wider sense I guess it makes sense to them, but when I was a kid, the people who played D&D and the people who drove and played pool overlapped.

big-jt said...

Way late for this particular party (only started reading recently, working my way through the archive), but I'll say this: I barely liked most of the guys I play D&D with when I was younger.

It's only in the last seven years or so that I've found a crowd of guys that play D&D with that I'm even willing to introduce to my female friends, nevermind asking them to sit around a table with each other for a couple hours. I've told girls that they wouldn't like it, not because of what the game was, but because of who they'd be playing with. Now that I've got a group of gamers that aren't bitter misogynists or mouth-breathing social rejects from the shallow end of the gene pool, I'm perfectly happy to run a session (or campaign if they're still interested after session 1) for anyone who shows an interest.

Truth be told, I wouldn't have liked D&D either, if it weren't for the fact that my best friend played too. Through elementary and high school, I think I only met 3 other players that I didn't hate as individuals.

D&D: A game that's only as good as the people you're playing with.

BrianS said...

i was just 15, and i met this girl who was my same age through a friend of mine. she became my first girlfriend. she taught me many, many wonderful things...and i taught her how to play D&D. it was short and lovely and young and unforgettable.

Jeremy Duncan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Pretty said...

"How warped is American youth that there was not one healthy young lad willing to play D&D with a teenaged Stoya?" = Inexplicable.

arcadayn said...

We were too busy playing grab ass with girls in middle school to ask them to play D&D. By high school, our girlfriends would pop in and out of the game, but none really stuck around. In college, it was two of my friends and our three girlfriends that played semi regularly.