spideyj: (Mario Link warp)
I posted this article on Facebook* earlier and said that I felt a rant coming on, so here it is.

I dated a guy who once asked me "Are you one of those gamer girlfriends?" I asked him what he meant and he gave this sort of rambling, sexist (and vaguely anti-trans - he portrayed the girl in the story as potentially not biologically female) account of a girl who showed up to one of his tabletop games with her boyfriend and then mostly let the boyfriend play her character for her. Setting aside the egregious error of generalizing an entire sex based on one experience, what on earth would lead anyone to think I might be like that? Especially after having known me for a while and even gone toe-to-toe with me in a debate of the merits of universal roleplaying systems versus systems that are tailored specifically to their setting and themes? (Or any number of other gaming-related topics, for that matter. I doubt you have to spend much time with me to realize that 80% of my brain is occupied with thinking about video games.)

Apparently those gamer girlfriends are the ones who come to a game and exist there only for the sake of their boyfriends. Are there really a lot of women calling themselves gamers who are like this?

I was once interviewed as a potential new member of a gaming group (yes, they thought they were awesome enough to interview people to see if they were cool enough to join their tabletop group) and the person interviewing me expressed concern that I might be one of those gamer girls. I asked him what he meant and he gave this sort of rambling, sexist account of a girl who joined their group apparently with the sole objective of getting a gamer boyfriend.

Apparently those gamer girls are the ones who take up tabletop gaming solely as a means to hook up. Because gamers make such awesome boyfriends (esp when we let them play our characters for us).

I'm really not in a position to dis gamers as boyfriends since all the boyfriends I have ever had have been gamers, mostly because I'm a gamer and I like to be in relationships with people who share my interests. But I'm rather curious as to where these stereotypes of female gamers come from. I personally have not met any women who identify themselves as gamers who fit into either of the aforementioned categories. Granted, I have played with people who were new to tabletop who tended to defer to the more experienced players at the table but I think that's natural. It can take a while to get the hang of tabletop if you've never done it before and some systems in particular are rather complex. And some GMs run their games in such a way that it can be more about a contest between the players and the GM, a competition to see who can manipulate the rules the best. Those are pretty much the worst kind of games to bring someone new to tabletop to and I hope that the experience didn't turn one of those gamer girlfriends against tabletop forever.

But maybe that's what he wanted. It certainly seems that at least some gamers see gaming as a kind of boys club and they would like to keep it that way. Another guy I dated (different one) told me that it was "guy stuff" and wouldn't let me join his gaming group. After that I made it a prerequisite - I'm not dating anyone I'm not allowed to play with. It's true that if you let girls play with you, they might play differently to how you're accustomed to playing. But isn't that true of any new person that joins your group? In my experience, you play together a bit and see how things mesh and eventually your tabletop game takes form as a joint creation. But I'm not a control freak GM type, either - I make my world and then I hand it over to the PCs and see what they do with it. I don't see my games as a rules contest between me and my players (that's not fun for me and I would probably lose because I really just don't think like a rules lawyer - I'm a character first, rules second kind of gamer).

And at this point, honestly, if you want to make your game a boys club, I'm fine with that. Don't expect me to want to hang out with you or date you or anything because it seems indicative of a pretty lame point of view, but if you're honest about that being what you want, I will at least respect you for that. Don't pretend that you're open to female gamers and then make these nasty sweeping generalizations about their competence or motivation and expect me to respect you or (even worse!) agree with you.

Of course I have lots more to say on the subject but I think that's enough for now.

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