Thursday, December 30, 2010

How To Actually Market RPGs To Women

Products that have been successfully marketed to a large audience of women:

The Movie "Bring It On".

What it promises:


What it delivers:


Vampire, The RPG.

What it promises:

What it delivers:


Products that have not been successfully marketed to a large market of women:


AD&D.

What it promises:

What it delivers:


New D&D.
Promises:

Delivers:


Dragon Magazine.
What it occasionally promised:

What it delivered:


Eldritch Wizardry.
What it promises:

What it delivers:


The game of chess. (Only 10% of chess players are female.)
What it promises:

What it delivers:


__________________

My point?

Make the fucking thing you want to make. Make a game you wanna play. Market it honestly. Don't blame the artwork if women don't like it. Blame the retarded players at cons, maybe, blame society, blame the genre-as-it-has-traditionally-been-perceived, blame the game, but don't blame the goddamn pictures.

If you end up making a thing women don't like, slapping proud, powerful women on the cover won't help (and yanking the tits off the cover won't help either). And if women don't like your game but you want to meet women anyway, I hate to break it to you, but you're just going to have to get out more.

And as for the game: changing what you want to do because you think it'll appeal to someone else won't make them like it, but it will make it suck.

52 comments:

  1. "Changing what you want to do because you think it'll appeal to someone else won't make them like it, but it will make it suck."

    Preach it, brother. I think this is great advice.

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  2. Once upon a time I read some advice that went along the lines of "create the things you like, not the things you think other people would like", the idea being that you end up wasting time and effort trying to second-guess the audience. I think it may have been Stan Lee in one of his more coherent moments.

    Anyway, I've long held to that, and you seem to be saying something similar so, predictably enough, I agree.

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  3. I completely get and even agree with your point as expressed by your closing remarks.

    I'm not sure how the slide show reached the same conclusion, though. The two successes promised strong female characters and delivered them. Two of the failures did as well (even if some were drawn worse than promised), some promised nude sacrifices and gave numbers in columns, and the rest promised and delivered either Dudes doing Stuff or an impotent ruler that hides in a corner while his wife risks her life defending him, only so he can marry some pawn.

    I'm over-thinking this, aren't I.

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  4. One would think that was obvious, however marketing execs know better, eh? Perhaps, it is those same execs that want women to suck so naturally they make the games so. Such is their limited logic instead of getting out of the boardroom and into the light of day.

    So, all in all, D&D has delivered what it promised. Yay!

    As for chess, maybe if we put some nice six-pack abs on the king, knights, etc. Just make sure the queen keeps that sexy hourglass figure. Yum-O!

    Ciao!

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  5. @chris

    The point of the slideshow is the marketing means pretty much fuck-all if it isn't backed up by what's in the actual product. And it means pretty much fuck-all if it DOES match what's in the product but that still isn't what your audience wants.

    Also:
    The idea that Vampire "promises strong female characters and delivers them" then you have to admit that ALL RPGs deliver strong female characters since the players make the goddamn characters up.

    Also:
    clearly you haven't noticed the "all women hate tits" arguments often made against sexy rpg art.

    In which case ignorance is bliss.

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  6. Thank you, sah, for cutting through some really dreary so-called discussions of the topic of "gender" and art. It's been turning my stomach lately.

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  7. Zak. You are my hero. I don't always agree with you but this time you written the absolute truth.

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  8. Not only great advice, Zak, but highly validating. You must have a crystal ball--your post is particular relevant to events of my day.

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  9. @zak

    1: Okay, agreed.

    2: All RPGs that aren't insanely stupid do allow the possibility of strong female characters, yes. But not all of them feature them in the art, in the fluff or even in the fucking grammar. I think Vampire succeeded in getting women to play in part because it not only refrained from slamming the door in their face, but actually stuck it open and hung out a sign saying "We use mixed pronouns and entertain the possibility you'll want to play."

    The MAIN reason it succeeded with women was because pretending to be vampires appealed to them in a way pretending to be elves did not. But I maintain that they were willing to find that out because White Wolf made it accessible while most other products were the exact opposite.

    In that way, then, I think marketing is important. You can make the game you want to make and it be the game people want to play, but you have to let those people know it's the game they want to play. Especially in an industry that's spent decades telling them "No, it isn't."

    3: I've had people tell me the porn site I work for saved their lives because it was the first time they saw bodies like their own treated as sexy and desirable. Then I turn around and listen to people rail about how porn is the reason anyone rapes anybody ever. I'm familiar with that argument in all its torturous forms. I just think it's dumb, so it never occurred to me you were addressing it. Sorry.

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  10. Although I already know this message, it is something that is meant to be said!

    Plus, women are not impressed by pin-up at on the cover, as they know its trying to get the interest of guys - who like titties in our art. Some chicks (and the guys at the WotC forums who think the mid-drifts in the 4e is sexiest) would bitch about the half-naked babe on the covers, but they are just uptight straw-feminists who would be critical over anything one would put on or in a book! Most female gamers tent to be more impressed with substance then over presentation.

    And yes, T$R tried to appeal to bible-thumpers, overprotective parents, and straw-feminists in the 80s and 90s, but only was it unproductive - seeing how they would never buy the games, no matter how far they bend over-over-backwards for them - but it only made things worst, as the games became dumb-downed and G-rated!

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  11. Yes, it makes no sense to try and gain an audience by deceiving them. But I think you're making an unfair assumption if you're talking about Trollsmyth's post. That that is in fact what he was advocating people do.

    What if you have a game that some demographic would just love, but you're turning them off by sending the wrong signals? I see nothing wrong in analyzing the messages marketing sends.

    In fact, its easy to say those PHB covers promised one thing and then delivered it, but what did they promise and how? Trollsmyth was the one that gave me language for one of those aspects that had bugged me unconsciously for a long time: the badass-character-looking-at-the-camera art of 2e on, and how the message it sends is: characters are important and all that entails.

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  12. And yet sucking is not entirely exclusive of commercial success. I think there's a good number of moviemakers & musicians/songwriters who like one thing, but do another for the payday. (Faustian bargain, there.)

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  13. @telecanter

    Trollsmyth's post was about how:

    A) RPG art is "coded" genderwise and

    B) it might be worthwhile to try to code it otherwise.

    A is true, B isn't.

    There isn't much to be gained and there IS a lot to be lost by telling artists what "codes" their work has to include.

    It's hard enough making good things, much less good things designed to appeal to send signals to imagined people.

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  14. @Zak:

    On Big Titty Elf Mages/Loincloth clad Swordswingers and the like: there are some people who look like this, and others who enjoy seeing this(in fact some people consider this comic book influenced style of art to represent the 'ideal' human[what about the Dwarves, people :-)] body), and no problem with that. There are people that would like to see more body styles, armor, ethnic groups, environments represented on the covers, though. This could only help, I'd say, as long as the people in the pictures look active and powerful.

    To put myself out here:
    Any obliging artist:
    Less Englishy countryside, more armored-up people,(except barbarians[being nearly naked= totally make sense here, excepting the Conan of the novels, of course!), more weird non-humans, more varied ethnic groups, and especially more gnolls! Gnolls need cover time! Seriously, more gnollage. And Perytons!

    Yeah, I agree on the artist bit. I personally would try to find artists that like drawing varied subjects in fantasy art. I'm sure there are those who wouldn't mind adapting their art style for money, though.

    As for 'coding', I used to do a bit of the old marketing; you wouldn't believe how the data was tormented to justify managers' beliefs. It fails a lot. Seriously, look at Minecraft, the Sims, Macrame, WOW(no one could've believed it would've eclipsed EverQuest), Starcraft, Monopoly, the Volkswagon etc... The devs had no idea who their 'target audience' was and they succeeded wildly!

    Tangent: Let's hear about Mandy's GM debut!

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  15. Hey there,

    I just discovered your blog...mind-blowing. I thought -mine- was world's colliding, but really our group is all still nerds; A film producer, a commercial actor, a comedian, two casting directors, and 1-non industry guy.

    At any rate, I also have tiny t-shirt company with a partner in Michigan...we sell mostly just at Gencon and Dragoncon.

    I'd like to give you, and your group some free shirts. I was planning on sending you a "Nerd Famous" shirt, but pick out what you guys want (we're the only gaming shirt company with babydoll T's, so we've got that going for us).
    http://gamerconcepts.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=2

    Mike

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  16. crap.. email me here..

    Iamknot(at) hotmail.com

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  17. Their are things in this world that are geared to appeal to women and things that appeal to men. Plain and simple! Right now i'm watching the Music City Bowl with North Carolina vs. Tennessee. My girl friend is in the other room watching the "kendra" show. I dont have any interest in watching the "kendra" show. Why? I'm a man. My girlfriend has no interest in watching collage football.Why? She's a girl. Now i'm not saying that all women dont watch football or play dungeon & dragons and so on, but their are things in this fucked up world that men and women just dont get about each other.
    Thats my rant. Keep up the good work zak.
    Happy new years everyone!!

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  18. I certainly hope your not suggesting it is anyone other than the artists who determine the codes in the first place? If an artist wants to redefine the codes that determine the implication of narration, then more power to them. People might not get it, but that's only because it's unfamiliar. And basically people don't know what they want until an artist offers it to them in the first place. Ergo, rock-n-roll, surrealism, and really slow Jim Jarmusch films. Feminist theorists got their ideas from activists and artists, not the other way round. Ok, so there are a bunch of hacks trying to illustrate Foucault and Deluse in grad-school, and even being rewarded for it, but the origins of these visual tropes start with artists not art directors or historians.

    I totally disagree with you on point B, provided it is the artist sitting there and trying to change the mode of representation. Fuck, it has already happened in comics. Love and Rockets? Tank Girl? etc...

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  19. World of Warcraft has lots of female players so wotc thinks, "hey WoW is just dungeons and dragons so there is no reason we should snag some of that demo."

    Problem is women don't play wow to be elves or pink haired gnomes (though when they play those are the races they pick), they play WoW for the guild chat system.

    D&D doesn't promise or deliver this, they deliver what eldritch wizardry and chess deliver...charts, strategies, and math.

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  20. @baronzemo: people can both watch 'kendra' and like football, dude. I don't think D&D/RPGs is one of the things males and females don't get about each other... WOW, everquest, warhammer online, adventure quest, runescape, etc.. is basically D&D translated to the online realm, with all attendant benefits and restrictions. Look at MMO's gender breakdown(examples given above specifically.) Note that some people would like to see more varied art for ads and different physical standards in MMOs as well(specifically character builders), and it has changed slightly: see Dark Age of Camelot, WOW's armor seems to be getting less skimpy, as well, not to mention LOTR Online. See KOTOR Online art as well. I don't think that'll drive people away.

    At no-one:
    I mean, women at the game table is pretty much a non-game changer, from my experience. Not like game boxes will be pink, or with frilly edges, or we'll have to play nice with the monsters(Other than in increase in ferocity during battles, from what I've seen. I wish I could get more players to talk with monsters; maybe the kobolds'd live every once in a while....[probably not].)Also, Zak's own I Hit It With My Axe crew are really hilarious/brilliant, as I'm sure you know.(IIRC, last I heard there were two dudes in the offline group. Captain Beefheart and um, Other Guy?) All female groups also occur outside of celebrity circles, as well. (3 I know of here: in old SC.)

    Bottom Line; how about more players, more kick-ass game art, and more fun!

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  21. @TheCramp

    Love and Rockets appeals to girls BECAUSE IT'S LOVE AND ROCKETS.

    Vampire appeals to girls BECAUSE IT"S VAMPIRE.

    You can't put new pictures on D&D and suddenly chicks dig it. D&D is actually D&D, no matter what WOTC thinks.

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  22. @UWS Guy:

    On Guild Chat: Huh? They can get that functionality lotsa places. Is this a case of women don't like to (plsy) fight or something? 'Cuz it sounds like that's what you're implying. That goes against everything WOW, and all D&Dish MMO's pretty much stand for. The Guild, by ex-MMO addict Felicia Day, and the NooB by Gianna Masetti are pretty representative of the carnage these people(of who I ws one) try to inflict on each other's characters and the game world. If you wanna chat, you can play like, the Sims, or Second Life... We prey on human misery(or Tauren, Or Elf, Or Whatever) here, son...

    On math, statistics, formulae: If you tell anyone this is what the game delivers, 99:1 they won't play. Stress the eldritch(which you may have to define a little, most people don't read HPL and his ilk[but they should:-)]) wizardry,(and don't forget the beholders) and you'll recruit more, I think.

    thanx!

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  23. Having not seen Trollsmyth's post, I was missing the context. No wonder I was confused.

    I'm not sure I agree giving an illustrator art direction ruins the quality of their work, but for the sake of argument, let's ignore that. There's a primary part of being an AD that happens before that - picking an artist to begin with. This is the part I wish more of them did well, actually, since illustrators often complain of being hired then asked to draw "just like" someone else.

    A good AD, though, is going to figure out the kind of art they want, and then find and hire an artist who likes to do that kind of thing. That artist doesn't have to be screwed around, then - if you wanted me to name an artist that would do something great yet "coded" in a way that appealed to both genders if I asked for a woman in armor killing a dragon, I'd list you five. In something resembling irony, the cover artist of the first edition of LotFP would be one of them.

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  24. @Chris

    Well obviously you think good RPG art is way more common than I do.

    I can name like five good RPG artists ever. Ok, maybe ten. And Bradstreet's the only one who can draw women. And he already drew a game.

    But, really, if a game is "about male characters' or "about female characters" enough for them to be the focus of the art, I'm already bored. RPGs should be about fucked up crazy worlds and monsters and every cover given over to some audience-identification figure is probably a cover failing to be about that.

    The LOTFP cover is great. It has a monster AND an audience-identification figure, but, really, how many Buffy The Vampire Slayer-type images on RPG covers do there have to be before we just realize there's only so much you can do to market chess to people who don;t wanna play chess.

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  25. @TheCramp: Comic book and RPG illustration are not comparable. Especially in your examples of L&R and TG, they were originally self-produced by their creators and established before being picked up by a publisher. There is a profound difference between producing for yourself vs for another.

    Jeff Dee's 'Villains and Vigilantes' is the only popular RPG I can think of that was illustrated by one of it's creators. (I'm sure there must be others, but I'm not aware of them...)

    The very fact you are producing for anyone other than yourself in RPG illustration means the artist lost much of the ability to define the codes in the first place. If you stray too far from the original vision, your art becomes unrepresentative and meaningless to both the audience and your employer.

    And as to where "feminist theorists" got their ideas from: It was from experience and imagination, same as any artist, activist, or anyone else and was influenced from passing ideas back-and-forth, not from any particular direction.

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  26. @ZAK S:

    On Good Artists: FIVE(or TEN) Good Artists? Who are they, if you don't mind my asking? Jim Aparo drew some art used for Mayfair's DC Superheroes game(And Batman RPG), so I hope he makes the cut! :-) Yeah, Bradstreet owns Vampire(even the GURPS one).

    ON LOTFP cover: I agree, with one quibble, the two characters lack as sense of motion, of a deadly confrontation in progress. But the character design and scenery were awesome.

    On Buffy-style covers: there are a lot of trendy looking teenage girls killing otherwordly abominations in a Cali-type midwest on game books?(I guess Buffy might be someone's audience identifier, like Xena was for some peopl, I guess) I assume you're not using this as shorthand for a woman wrecking shop, but I'm not sure.

    On audience identification figures: There really should be a group on the cover fucking/getting fucked up by freaky monsters, exploring odd land/sea/air/whatever scapes in my opinion. It sells what the game is about, ya know.

    On chess: more people play it(its variants/descendants[Dragon Chess/Chazz/Battle Chess, anyone[me, I love Archon!]?) now than ever before. More females, in fact. A few years ago, only 6&% or so of players weren't male.

    But seriously, more monsters, where are the non-Orcs anymore?

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  27. @Zak

    I suspect I think "good" is more common than you do. But, I wasn't really referring to RPG artists. I was mostly thinking freelance illustrators. There's an idea, huh? Go outside the industry to hire people?

    "The focus," no, but "present," yes please. That exquisite corpse blog you used to be a part of? Everything you guys did - fill an RPG book with it and it's perfect. And, that had men, women, giant guns, zombies or something... hell, I don't know what they were and it's late but you get my drift. All bases were covered. That's enough to make me happy - I'm not talking about Buffy on each and every cover, but maybe a passing nod to the idea half the population is female and a lot of them might like to buy your product.

    But I'm beginning to suspect what we really disagree on is why women don't typically play DnD in the first place. It's really not that different from chess. Women don't typically play chess because historically they weren't encouraged to, the idea they might want to or even could wasn't entertained, and that shit echoes in the same way denying blacks property rights for hundreds of years means you can't expect them to be on equal financial footing overall 150 years later.

    I don't think women typically play DnD because, for a long time, the message was that DnD isn't for girls. The art was a part of that.

    Hell, I just realized what I'm really getting at. It's not about marketing *to* anyone. Just stop marketing *against* them.

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  28. Totally agree with you, but I think the problem is money, or rather, the source of the money.

    "Make the fucking thing you want to make. Make a game you wanna play. Market it honestly."

    I think the advice you have is great for us - people actually creating and, in some cases, producing and marketing stuff... But on any larger scale (like WotC or what have you) you're talking about investments.

    The guys making the final decisions on everything, marketing included, are making those decisions with the intent of getting returns on their investment. I think they realise that the roleplaying guys of the world are already going to buy the roleplaying games of the world, so they don't really need to market so strongly to them. They might as well try to maximise their profits by getting other people who wouldn't necessarily be buying their product interested.

    In addition, to the marketers, I fear your statement may be irrelevant since they probably don't want to play the game. They just want to sell it, you know? Honesty doesn't come into it.

    Allow me to say again: I completely agree with you. This comment is posted as a saddened devil's advocate. I wish things could be as you say, but I just don't think the system allows for it on a larger scale.

    "blame society" - I think thats what I'm doing haha. Dammit.

    "And as for the game: changing what you want to do because you think it'll appeal to someone else won't make them like it, but it will make it suck." <- Type4. Ok maybe not suck, but definitely not my kind of game.

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  29. Damn! double post!
    previous post should read:
    On audience identification figures: There really should be a group on the cover fucking UP/getting fucked up by freaky monsters, exploring odd land/sea/air/whatever scapes in my opinion. It sells what the game is about, ya know.

    though YMMV, right

    :-) And I did this on the D&D With Pornstars blog, no less... Sorry Zak & everybody!

    Thanx.

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  30. Totally agree with you, but I think the problem is money, or rather, the source of the money.

    "Make the fucking thing you want to make. Make a game you wanna play. Market it honestly."

    I think the advice you have is great for us - people actually creating and, in some cases, producing and marketing stuff... But on any larger scale (like WotC or what have you) you're talking about investments.

    The guys making the final decisions on everything, marketing included, are making those decisions with the intent of getting returns on their investment. I think they realise that the roleplaying guys of the world are already going to buy the roleplaying games of the world, so they don't really need to market so strongly to them. They might as well try to maximise their profits by getting other people who wouldn't necessarily be buying their product interested.

    In addition, to the marketers, I fear your statement may be irrelevant since they probably don't want to play the game. They just want to sell it, you know? Honesty doesn't come into it.

    Allow me to say again: I completely agree with you. This comment is posted as a saddened devil's advocate. I wish things could be as you say, but I just don't think the system allows for it on a larger scale.

    "blame society" - I think thats what I'm doing haha. Dammit.

    "And as for the game: changing what you want to do because you think it'll appeal to someone else won't make them like it, but it will make it suck." <- Type4. Ok maybe not suck, but definitely not my kind of game.

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  31. Totally agree with you, but I think the problem is money, or rather, the source of the money.

    "Make the fucking thing you want to make. Make a game you wanna play. Market it honestly."

    I think the advice you have is great for us - people actually creating and, in some cases, producing and marketing stuff... But on any larger scale (like WotC or what have you) you're talking about investments.

    The guys making the final decisions on everything, marketing included, are making those decisions with the intent of getting returns on their investment. I think they realise that the roleplaying guys of the world are already going to buy the roleplaying games of the world, so they don't really need to market so strongly to them. They might as well try to maximise their profits by getting other people who wouldn't necessarily be buying their product interested.

    In addition, to the marketers, I fear your statement may be irrelevant since they probably don't want to play the game. They just want to sell it, you know? Honesty doesn't come into it.

    Allow me to say again: I completely agree with you. This comment is posted as a saddened devil's advocate. I wish things could be as you say, but I just don't think the system allows for it on a larger scale.

    "blame society" - I think thats what I'm doing haha. Dammit.

    "And as for the game: changing what you want to do because you think it'll appeal to someone else won't make them like it, but it will make it suck." <- Type4. Ok maybe not suck, but definitely not my kind of game.

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  32. Totally agree with you, but I think the problem is money, or rather, the source of the money.

    "Make the fucking thing you want to make. Make a game you wanna play. Market it honestly."

    I think the advice you have is great for us - people actually creating and, in some cases, producing and marketing stuff... But on any larger scale (like WotC or what have you) you're talking about investments.

    The guys making the final decisions on everything, marketing included, are making those decisions with the intent of getting returns on their investment. I think they realise that the roleplaying guys of the world are already going to buy the roleplaying games of the world, so they don't really need to market so strongly to them. They might as well try to maximise their profits by getting other people who wouldn't necessarily be buying their product interested.

    In addition, to the marketers, I fear your statement may be irrelevant since they probably don't want to play the game. They just want to sell it, you know? Honesty doesn't come into it.

    Allow me to say again: I completely agree with you. This comment is posted as a saddened devil's advocate. I wish things could be as you say, but I just don't think the system allows for it on a larger scale.

    "blame society" - I think thats what I'm doing haha. Dammit.

    "And as for the game: changing what you want to do because you think it'll appeal to someone else won't make them like it, but it will make it suck." <- Type4?

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  33. *sigh* Blogspot won't let me post anything decent again, hopefully this will get through:

    Completely agree.

    Devil's Advocate: To the marketers, I fear your statement may be irrelevant since they probably don't want to play the game. They just want to sell it, you know? Honesty doesn't come into it.

    I dont think the system allows for this kind of integrity on a larger, investment/return kind of scale.

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  34. @Veleran:

    While it's not recent, are you thinking of things like the AD&D Monster Manual, with ropers, purple worms, dragons, centaurs, spiders, zombies, trolls, shambling mounds, and a party of fleeing halflings on it?

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  35. >>ON LOTFP cover: I agree, with one quibble, the two characters lack as sense of motion, of a deadly confrontation in progress. But the character design and scenery were awesome.

    It's not yet in progress... it's the staredown just before the fight begins.

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  36. @velaran

    "On chess: more people play it(its variants/descendants[Dragon Chess/Chazz/Battle Chess, anyone[me, I love Archon!]?) now than ever before. More females, in fact. A few years ago, only 6&% or so of players weren't male."

    My statement is that the vast majority of chess players are male. This is true. Your statement has nothing to do with that. It proves nothing in this context.

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  37. @chris
    "There's an idea, huh? Go outside the industry to hire people?"

    Publishers can't afford it. every other kind of work pays better.

    "Women don't typically play chess because historically they weren't encouraged to,"

    That argument falls apart if you look at how many other activities women are a part of now that that they weren't historically encouraged to be part of. Women's share in nearly every hobby in the world has dramatically increased during the last 5 decades, but not chess.

    It may have to do with the historical perception of the activity, but it sure as fuck does NOT have to do with "How Chess Has Been Marketed" Other than the Russia v. US tournaments in the 80s, chess hasn't been marketed in any way other than "hey look, a box with chess pieces on it".

    Compare: Tetris. Mine Sweeper. Women love these games. Is it the "marketing"? No.

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  38. @TrentB

    Well then fuck "a larger, investment/return kind of scale."

    RPG books aren't sci-fi blockbuster movies, you can make one with a mac and a stapler. We don't need large scale companies. If they can't afford integrity, fuck them.

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  39. With much trepidation, I prepare to enter the fray...

    I'm not sure that it's really needed to market to women, even if you accept marketing. (That's something I refuse to get involved with, by the way. I'm going to leave whatever views or the efficacy of marketing out of this as they aren't related to my argument.) Timeshadows plays D&D. Oddysey plays D&D. My mother plays D&D. There's at least one person of the female gender that I've encountered on reddit who's getting into D&D as soon as a play-by-post starts. And of course there are the people from here (Speaking of them, I add my vote to the rest that you post a recap of the game Mandy DMed) Considering that that's within a small sphere of people, if that's a representative sample of the general population those that are interested in playing RPGs will play them. Those that aren't, won't

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  40. @Zak S: Blogger ate my post. Damn!
    On Chess: It does illustrate that a game that's traditionally supposed to be for men has gained more popularity among females. Any growth is basically good, dramatic or no. But, yeah, chess isn't D&D. For one thing, there's no marketing for it really, except for occasional homebrews.

    On Tetris/MinesweeperEveryone loves Tetris and Mine Sweeper. There was no marketing for the latter, and little for the former. Tetris pretty much appeared one day on PC and NES(one by Tengen, the other by Nintendo; both of whom thought they had the rights.), and was given away with gameboys for years. Minesweeper came free with Windows! Might as well play, it's either that or freecell, or OMG, work...

    On artists: People looking to hire artists should check around with their friends, peruse art archives online, etc... Up&Comers rates may well be reasonable.

    @JimLOTFP: Yeah, I kinda thought that may b it. Not big on the staredowns in RPG Art, since they're so overused today. But like I said, I'm sure it was just me on the action critique. Serious, the pic is awesome. My local shop, heroes and dragons, Creature Generators I need to pick up for some friends. You made it into SC, dude! Thanx for your response.

    @C'Nor: Yep, more busy, dynamic covers to balance out the sparse, static ones. More groups probing ruins, ogre battles, treasure piles, maybe the occasional staredown...

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  41. What're we counting as 'large audience' here? I know a fuckload of female D&D players, way more than female Vampire players. If you count people who actually bought the relevant books as well the ratio skews even more on the side of D&D. Might be a generational thing, though–I know a fuckload of girls who identify as nerds (or nerds who identify as female), D&D players or not.

    And Bradstreet's the only one who can draw women.

    nuh uh. although, again, this might be a generational thing–I don't think of Bradstreet at all when I think of Vampire art.

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  42. I think my point was lost. Stated:

    "A) RPG art is "coded" genderwise and

    B) it might be worthwhile to try to code it otherwise.

    A is true, B isn't."

    I think it IS worthwhile to code it otherwise. Part of what makes love and rockets love and rockets is strong central female characters who have a complexity typically reserved for male protagonists. Strong and sexy and real. (Early on they fought dinosaurs, and so they are also awesome.) The Hernandez brothers wrote characters who were like the woman they knew, and the way they wanted to see woman depicted. And this was worthwhile for them to redefine the depiction of woman in comics. It sprung naturally from their own artistic vision.

    I agree that 'femwashing" a game is bullshit, but what would be the problem if a similar vision came from an RPG designer, and when they worked with their Illustrators the directed them accordingly?

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  43. @Zak S

    "... We don't need large scale companies. If they can't afford integrity, fuck them."

    Hmmm... Yeah thats true... I think now we need some context though.

    (pause for thought.. mass delete of rambling)

    Right. Gotcha. We're ignoring the guys who are really focused on marketing (wotc, big scale etc) because, as far as we're concerned, theyre part of an inherently flawed system and irrelevant in this context. So we're talking small scale, us-level production?

    Absolutely agree. The creative and artistic integrity of honest and well chosen content is superior to marketing-driven compromises from the perspective of everyone involved, I would think.

    caveat: I would love to see that level of content on larger scale stuff too, but I just don't expect that from those businesses. 'Fuck them' is right.

    Great post =]

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  44. Just for clarity, I agree completely that trying to pretend that D&D is something other than D&D is disingenuous.

    I disagree with the notion that some people have hinted at (here and elsewhere) that D&D is something woman generally would dislike in and of itself. In my experience it has always been stereotypical gamers that play D&D that many potentially nerdy woman object to, not the game. It doesn't matter if they are real of imagined. (they are often enough real.) Hence the success of Vampire with woman, which had the great advantage of striking many traditional gamers as [insert pejorative] when it debuted. The guys my female friends were worried would be in the game just weren't. I think this was both a marketing success and a social dynamic. That has been my anecdotal experience anyway.

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  45. Okay, what TheCramp just said. Okay, I'm out.

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  46. @TheCramp

    -Any argument based on the evidence that Love and Rockets is good is suspicious.

    -Any argument that ANYTHING is good based on it having strong (fill in the blank) characters is suspicious because things can only be good if they are done with consistent imagination, style, and talent. And if it's a comic it has to be drawn well. In fact,if it's a comic, it ONLY has to be drawn well.

    On your second comment:

    I--of all people--know that women can like D&D. I'm just saying the marketing counts way less for the unpopularity of D&D among women than other, realer, factors.

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  47. If only Frank Frazetta did the covers of the Twilight books, men would be reading them voraciously.

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  48. "I'm just saying the marketing counts way less for the unpopularity of D&D among women than other, realer, factors."

    That is a fact. That is what I was suggesting. That wasn't directed at you, and I didn't think you would assume it was. It's the internet, should be clearer. I agree with what you're saying. So never mind whatever else I've said, because it had more to do with a philosophical detail *I* want to talk about and distracts from the conversation you started here on *your* blog. To contribute:

    People talk about how artists treat woman in their work as a diversion to the much fucking harder conversation about how gamers, i.e. men, treat woman in general. It's all a smokescreen, because if people were just decent, no one would care about this, or porn, or promotions. We create problems to argue about to avoid problems we don't know how to solve. People know the real reason gender demographics are skewed (either actually, or in their hearts) but that conversation is too hard. Furthermore, "Yup, its sexist, lets deal with it together." gets you much closer to anything we could call equity than a bunch of hand wringing about how much coverage a drow sorceress’s robe has, as if her tits being covered would solve anything. Jesus, as if women EVER benefited from ANY kind of Puritanism.

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  49. @ZAK S:
    Love and Rockets:

    "-Any argument based on the evidence that Love and Rockets is good is suspicious.", but the critical acclaim Zak, what about the critical acclaim? It's in libraries with Twain, King, and Gravity's Rainbow! Must be good, huh?

    From my reading on a particularly dreary day waiting for a ride: The dinosaurs and superheroes go away quickly, it becomes a slice of life biopic in a poor Hispanic neighborhood, and the 'rockets' apparently are the bazooms on Hernandez's ladies.(Or at least the main family of characters.) I guess it was unique at the time, but still going, so somebody likes it.

    "In fact,if it's a comic, it ONLY has to be drawn well.", sometimes they remember that, too.

    "I--of all people--know that women can like D&D. I'm just saying the marketing counts way less for the unpopularity of D&D among women than other, realer, factors." the art is a factor to a subset of people, the cover mostly.(Often not the 'realest', from my days hanging around the game stores, but it can make a difference.)

    Many people think cover=contents, so something like Everquest promised bigtitty blonde elf chick casting some kinda spell with a staff while standing around in glades or ruins, YMMV if it delivered. AD&D 2nd Ed PHB handbook some guy in armor on a hose leading other dudes in a cloud of dust. Do much riding, and chasing in AD&D2, c'mon, right?(1995 DMG had Giants trashing a room..., WTF?)So on, so forth...

    Look at the covers of Fatal or Wayfarers or Peyrton RPG or Ravenloft Box Set or LL, and it's a bit easier to tell what the author thinks you'll actually do.

    Actually being introduced to the game, and enjoying it are the largest factors IMO. Cover Art could be more varied, and I think that'd be welcome.

    good points.

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  50. You realize that Vampire was very specifically marketed towards women (and goths and whatnot), right? There was no, "Let's make what we like, and who cares about marketing!" WW forte is marketing; that was it's main contribution to the hobby.

    And sometimes artwork is to blame: http://gomakemeasandwich.blogspot.com/

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  51. @buzz

    Paragraph one-So?

    Paragraph two-To blame for what? Someone starting a blog?

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