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Subject: Sexism in the industry rss

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Val Teixeira
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Hi there everyone. My name is Val and I'm a sexist. I'm trying really, really hard not to be, but I know that years and years of marketing and media have affected me in ways that I'm now slowly beginning to grasp. I've become a whole lot more sensitive to the issue of sexism (after being desensitized over the years), and I'm starting to take a real look at how sexism has infected the board gaming industry. And it is sadly all over the place.

I recently wrote a blog post on the issue, which probably has some unintentional sexist ideas in it too. Sorry.

The reason why I'm writing in this forum is because I'm not a woman. And even if I was, I'd only be a woman, and not all women. Women are a key, powerful, largely untapped and ignored part of the world. I want to know about your experiences with gaming in relation to sexism - and not just board-gaming, but gaming in general. I've spoken with my wife about this, and she has told me about a few of her childhood experiences when she has felt excluded or type-cast because she was a girl and some of the sexist thoughts that she had as a result. Hopefully she'll write a small guest post on the issue soon.

So I am asking you to share some of your stories (if you have them), about times where you felt you were excluded or pigeon-holed because of your gender. I think that these situations, especially when they occur in childhood, are often carried with us and affect our daily adult lives. Becoming aware of them is the first step towards finding a better, more inclusive way and avoiding these pitfalls in the future.

So please, if you can recall any times in gaming where you felt your gender was ignored, or when you were forced into roles because of your gender, share your story. If you have female friends, ask them about their experiences too. I suspect that this phenomenon is quite well-spread and that many if not most women have these experiences, but I simply don't know enough to say that as a fact. I'd also like to hear any positive experiences, so feel free to write about those times too!

Thank you for your time.
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Boaty McBoatface
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RSP!
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Jacq L
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In Summary:

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Val Teixeira
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slatersteven wrote:
RSP!

Is this the wrong forum for this topic? I apologize if it is. I did run through some of the other posts here, some of which even contained useful stories to draw from (including the women's chat thread), and it seemed to be the right place. It is, after all, a topic about women and gaming. Of course, I can easily be wrong and I'd understand if this post was moved to another forum.

Jacqland wrote:
In Summary:


Thanks for the link. I'm very well aware of that totally awesome video clip - and the conversation around it was very interesting to read too. It's sad that geek girls and their supporters actually have to go out of their way to stand up and be heard and I'm very glad that they did. If anyone else would like to share links like this, I'd love to have them too.

I started this thread in the hopes that I could get personal stories directly aimed at this issue and to encourage people to share their experiences. I admit that there is already quite a bit on the topic out there and it has been very interesting to read/hear about as much of it as I can find. At the same time, it's really tough to approach such a topic 'cold' so to speak. As a white male, I haven't exactly felt the sting of sexism too often, and what I have felt is really minor and certainly not related to gaming (and more to do with being a teacher of little children in my past, and my role as a house husband in my present). I haven't witnessed much overt sexism either, although I've certainly been on the receiving end of arguments against my view that something is sexist.

I know that there are moments in my life, though, that I have been sexist and they still haunt me to this day. I can be pretty rough on myself. One such instance springs to mind:

I can remember such an incident that happened in the last year or two. I remember we were at a meetup and we were playing a game which had at least one female player at the table. One player was being pretty crude and sexist in general, but to her specifically as well. This was pretty awkward for the rest of the table. I spoke up about his comments a little, pointing out that they were really unnecessary and off base. Now I'm not saying that the girl in question needed me to step up for her - that's just as sexist and I know that she can look after herself. To this day, though, I still feel like I should have been a lot more direct with that player, because in not being more direct, I'm becoming party to that sexism and almost consenting to it. We did discuss it after the person had left, but I still regret not pushing the issue more to this day. I witnessed sexism that day and I did little to combat it.
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Boaty McBoatface
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TheNameForgotten wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
RSP!

Is this the wrong forum for this topic? I apologize if it is. I did run through some of the other posts here, some of which even contained useful stories to draw from (including the women's chat thread), and it seemed to be the right place. It is, after all, a topic about women and gaming. Of course, I can easily be wrong and I'd understand if this post was moved to another forum.

Jacqland wrote:
In Summary:


Thanks for the link. I'm very well aware of that totally awesome video clip - and the conversation around it was very interesting to read too. It's sad that geek girls and their supporters actually have to go out of their way to stand up and be heard and I'm very glad that they did. If anyone else would like to share links like this, I'd love to have them too.

I started this thread in the hopes that I could get personal stories directly aimed at this issue and to encourage people to share their experiences. I admit that there is already quite a bit on the topic out there and it has been very interesting to read/hear about as much of it as I can find. At the same time, it's really tough to approach such a topic 'cold' so to speak. As a white male, I haven't exactly felt the sting of sexism too often, and what I have felt is really minor and certainly not related to gaming (and more to do with being a teacher of little children in my past, and my role as a house husband in my present). I haven't witnessed much overt sexism either, although I've certainly been on the receiving end of arguments against my view that something is sexist.

I know that there are moments in my life, though, that I have been sexist and they still haunt me to this day. I can be pretty rough on myself. One such instance springs to mind:

I can remember such an incident that happened in the last year or two. I remember we were at a meetup and we were playing a game which had at least one female player at the table. One player was being pretty crude and sexist in general, but to her specifically as well. This was pretty awkward for the rest of the table. I spoke up about his comments a little, pointing out that they were really unnecessary and off base. Now I'm not saying that the girl in question needed me to step up for her - that's just as sexist and I know that she can look after herself. To this day, though, I still feel like I should have been a lot more direct with that player, because in not being more direct, I'm becoming party to that sexism and almost consenting to it. We did discuss it after the person had left, but I still regret not pushing the issue more to this day. I witnessed sexism that day and I did little to combat it.
It may not be the wrong forum (at this time) but it will be hard to discus this with out touching on sex and poltics.
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Leslie Spain
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I am lucky in that I have two game stores in my little town. I only go to one though.

My husband and I went to the other one and walked in. At once the owner of the store started chatting with my husband about games. My husband (who is NOT a gamer at all) tells him, you need to talk to her she is the one going to be spending money.

My husband had to say this 3 times before the owner looked me up and down and said, "Meh, she is just a girl." I put the $100 game I was looking at back on the shelf and we left.

I have never been back.

But sometimes I use being a girl to my advantage. I play the sweet and innocent card pretty well till I savagely beat your behind in the dust.

But that only works once in a group then they size me up and it is an even match at that point.
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Val Teixeira
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mindexperiences wrote:

My husband had to say this 3 times before the owner looked me up and down and said, "Meh, she is just a girl." I put the $100 game I was looking at back on the shelf and we left.

This is exactly what I'm talking about. What makes it worse is that you know that owner is carrying that attitude to every female gamer that walks through that door. You were brave, smart and determined enough to realize that this was one sexist person and wasn't true of everyone, but I wonder how many women turn their back on the hobby after one or more such experiences. Even as a male, seeing something like this would make me deeply uncomfortable with the hobby and not want to ever go back.
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Andy Andersen
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slatersteven wrote:
RSP!

I certainly didn't expect this response.
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Aaron Yoder
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TheNameForgotten wrote:
I wonder how many women turn their back on the hobby after one or more such experiences. Even as a male, seeing something like this would make me deeply uncomfortable with the hobby and not want to ever go back.

Why is this a fear? I honestly don't care who is in the hobby, I can only game with 3 of you at once anyway. What is actually concerning is the general attitude of men toward women.

Worrying about how it may negatively impact attendance turns this into a concern about yourself and how it affects your hobby, rather than a legitimate discussion about how to improve the actual state of affairs for others.
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Tara Tallan
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From science fiction to comics to RPGs, I've always found myself in hobbies and fandom that tend to be male dominated. When I was younger (

EDIT: Wha..? Where did the rest of my post go? Well, to continue:

When I was younger (

EDIT AGAIN: @#$%&!! Ok, I think I know what I'm doing wrong. One last shot, and if this doesn't work I give up:

When I was in my 20s and younger I didn't really notice if I was the only girl in the comic shop. Nor did it bother me if the creators of all those geeky things I enjoyed were predominantly male. Now that I'm older, I do notice those things, and feel more of an urge to do something about it, like seeking out female game designers and participating on forums like this.

But I think the biggest change was when I moved out to the burbs from downtown Toronto. Downtown, I was never made to feel out of place in comic shops and game stores. I still feel perfectly comfortable there, and the staff of nearly all of these places treat me like any other customer. When I discovered a couple of stores out here near me I looked forward to doing what I could to support them, planning to occasionally buy a game from them even if I could get it cheaper elsewhere, but every time I walk in to these stores I feel like I've stepped into a club to which I don't belong. It's possible that has nothing to do with being female, but I'm doubting it. So I don't go there anymore.
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Magic Pink
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You didn't ask but I have yet to play a game where I can be an out homosexual.

But then depending who you ask that's not a gender.
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Val Teixeira
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nomoredroids wrote:

Why is this a fear? I honestly don't care who is in the hobby, I can only game with 3 of you at once anyway. What is actually concerning is the general attitude of men toward women.

Yes, but I'd like to game with women as much as men. I have women in my gaming group. Having more women in the industry means that they will have more say in the games I play. They could also be future designers or publishers. They can bring fresh, new perspectives to games and genres. They increase the market, making better and cheaper games for me to buy. It stops me from being associated with a predominantly sexist activity.

nomoredroids wrote:
Worrying about how it may negatively impact attendance turns this into a concern about yourself and how it affects your hobby, rather than a legitimate discussion about how to improve the actual state of affairs for others.

And this is very true too. The point I'm trying to make is that this is something that affects everyone - it's not simply something that affects the odd bubble in society. By looking at the selfish reasons, I'm giving everyone a very personal reason why this is a good thing to be happening for them. Overall, the board game industry is a very positive constructive one, and making it more accessible to everyone makes it more valuable to each individual. More equality in this brings greater benefits to the individual.

Beyond that, as you say, my fear is that the hobby that I am contributing towards, help build and supporting is disenfranchising people. And I don't like contributing towards negative experiences for others. I don't want to give a store my patronage if I know they are going to turn around and use that platform to talk down to others - and, more so, that it will attract more people into thinking that this is acceptable behavior.

I hope that makes sense and you can understand where I coming from.
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Val Teixeira
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Magic Pink wrote:
You didn't ask but I have yet to play a game where I can be an out homosexual.

But then depending who you ask that's not a gender.

True. I certainly think that all minorities are under-represented too. It's just most egregious and strange when it comes to women because they are not the minority of the population.
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Lynette
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Magic Pink wrote:
You didn't ask but I have yet to play a game where I can be an out homosexual.

But then depending who you ask that's not a gender.

If you play Funny Friends you can have a coming out party at some point and after that obviously be playing as an "out" homosexual.

Plus it is an excellent game!



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Eugene
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TheNameForgotten wrote:
I'd also like to hear any positive experiences, so feel free to write about those times too!
While your request is a noble one, realize the internet doesn't typically work that way. Invariably, it's those with bad experiences who are driven to write about them while those with positive experiences are out there experiencing them.
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Val Teixeira
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garygarison wrote:
TheNameForgotten wrote:
I'd also like to hear any positive experiences, so feel free to write about those times too!
While your request is a noble one, realize the internet doesn't typically work that way. Invariably, it's those with bad experiences who are driven to write about them while those with positive experiences are out there experiencing them.

That's why I asked. Sometimes when you ask, people will provide positive stories too. You'll be surprised how often this works. But if you don't ask, then you don't get anything positive. Negative memories do often stick more firmly than positive ones though.
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Eugene
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OK, here's my positive story. Our local games nights routinely have multiple women playing. And people of assorted races. And occasionally even one of our transgendered friends. No one seems to consider any of these circumstances remarkable in any way.
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Val Teixeira
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garygarison wrote:
OK, here's my positive story. Our local games nights routinely have multiple women playing. And people of assorted races. And occasionally even one of our transgendered friends. No one seems to consider any of these circumstances remarkable in any way.

Excellent and very well put. I was thinking more of the lines of someone successfully standing up to sexism, but I'm glad to hear that there are such open communities out there too. It really helps me get some perspective, because I've been drenching myself in too many sad, sad stories of sexism on the internet. Thanks for the pick me up.
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ttallan wrote:
From science fiction to comics to RPGs, I've always found myself in hobbies and fandom that tend to be male dominated. When I was younger (

EDIT: Wha..? Where did the rest of my post go? Well, to continue:

When I was younger (

EDIT AGAIN: @#$%&!! Ok, I think I know what I'm doing wrong. One last shot, and if this doesn't work I give up.

You are likely using the less than sign, which opens an HTML tag.
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Tara Tallan
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Yeah, that's what was happening. I just had to figure it out in the most ridiculous way possible. shake
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Lynette
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TheNameForgotten wrote:
garygarison wrote:
OK, here's my positive story. Our local games nights routinely have multiple women playing. And people of assorted races. And occasionally even one of our transgendered friends. No one seems to consider any of these circumstances remarkable in any way.

Excellent and very well put. I was thinking more of the lines of someone successfully standing up to sexism, but I'm glad to hear that there are such open communities out there too. It really helps me get some perspective, because I've been drenching myself in too many sad, sad stories of sexism on the internet. Thanks for the pick me up.

Well here is another pick me up for you.

I have loved gaming since before I was in Kindergarten... preferring Chess (taught to me by my MOTHER) to Candyland. I played it and even taught it to boys, including adult men and was always treated as a respected opponent.

I learned and loved other games like Risk, Monopoly etc and often played them with other girls and boys.

Due to my love of gaming I co-founded a club back the early 1980s in High School with male friend that focused on more classic skills games like Chess, backgammon etc but often included board games like RISK on long weekends.

In my 20s I started other gaming circles of friends, though in the college years it was more things like Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit.

In 2005 I become the Co-Founder of a VERY successful gaming club based on Eurogames, which I did conjunction with my very best friend when it comes to gaming, who is a man but who is not in anyway my romantic partner. We met over a shared love of games and have been bonding for 20 years over card and board games because we both as individuals love to GAME and enjoy the friendship that grew up around our shared passion for gaming with friends.

I go to gaming conventions, I shop in brick and mortar gaming stores.

In my over 40 years of gaming I have never YET had a serious run in with overt "sexism" in the context of strictly gaming. And very little experience with anything that was likely even subtle sexism other than being underestimated a few times as an opponent by new people.

I have run into sexism in other places, especially my career as a Scientist/Engineer. But not in the gaming community.





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Dmitrijs Zulenkovs
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Strange problems you have there. Really.

I haven't seen any signs of sexism in the hobby for years. I mean there's no sexism at all. 50% of those who I am gaming with are women and none of them needs to make the videos, you've shown here, to feel ok.

Shop assistants speak with those, who hold credit cards in their hands regardless of gender\age\anything else. No one looks surprisingly at women during our gaming events (as I've mentioned, 50% of us are women, it would be really strange to be surprised of every second person there). And if I buy a present for a kid I just ask what the kid wants (before I go to the shop, it's simple enough). If a girl wants a robot/comic book, let it be (why should anyone be surprised of it?), I will not buy them a doll just because I believe they need a doll (I don't think so anyway). The kid is happy to get the right thing, I am happy not to waste my money on the useless and often expensive thing.

I see no sexism at work as well (I'm also in science). There are more women within life science field, we all are paid per hour, not per gender, there is an equal chance to be elected as a European expert.

So, all quiet on the western front. Am I living in a wrong place?
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Kevin Brown
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siruf wrote:
So, all quiet on the western front. Am I living in a wrong place?

Sounds like you're living in the right place, but not a place that is typical of the rest of the world.
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Tyrone Newby
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MAN! Lets leave politics ,sex and religion out of board gaming(and wargames) I just want to find an opponent(fellow gamer) so I can blow things up with(please no comebacks about the blow).Every once in awhile in Canada and America we love to dig our guts out about these things, can't we just have one hobby where we don't get into this stuff and just have fun!
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Guillaume Pages
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I thing it is getting better, partly because board games do have a very wide appeal and audience.

From party board games which every love to Pandemic is but a small step. from there to Mage Knigth or Descent board game, is but another step.

I play Pathfinder card game everyweek at my local, and out of 5 players, we have 2 women. Those evenings, I also see other tables where 1-2 women are playing. There is also a lonely 20 or so old young women who plays Magic. She is the only one that I have seen play Magic and I would really like to talk to her and listen to her experience, but I think that might be a bit creepy. I am an anthropologist in case people are wondering, so I do enjoy discussions on sex/gender privilege/power.

I must say that because of the wider audience of boardgames, women are better represented than other gaming hobbies. I think if you wanted to look at disparity of gender representation in a specialized gaming community, Magic would be a good study site. Look at pictures of MTG large games, and try to spot the woman. http://www.wizards.com/mtg/images/daily/events/worlds08/PTK_...

To be fair, MTG has been getting better with Melissa Detora making it to a protour quarter final.

But as you can see here: http://www.themarysue.com/sexism-at-magic-tournament/ Magic still has a long way to go before gender equal respectability. I am just glad Board game geeking isn't as bad.
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