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Subject: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives women rss

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Kristoffer Lindh
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There are many categories of gamers: eurosnots, wargamers, ameri-trashfans etc. But then there is a category that is a bit different from other category: female gamers. These gamers are not categorized by their prefenrences, they are categoriezed by their gender.

This category is pretty small, there are very few female gamers out there, and there are lists upon lists on the geek that are trying to solve that problem. Lists like "games you can play with you wife" and "what games do women like" etc are appearing regularly on the geek. I believe that these lists are showing us one of the problems of getting women to the boardgame hobby: We are lumping them together because of their gender.

People are very keen on labeling people who are standing out. In most western countries we refer to a black man as "a black man" but we refer to a white man as "a man" and we refer to a female gamer like "a female gamer" and a male gamer as "a gamer". These labels nurtures prejudism and even racism and sexism and the people we label often feelfeel, well, labeled.

Just as "gamers", "female gamers" are individuals, some like wargames, some like eurogames, som like train games. But since we assume that women like specific types of games, we won't expose them to wargames or train games etc, because we have an idea that women like Lost cities and Ticket to Ride, but even worse, women will feel viewed upon as a group that have specific traits.

This could be the first in a long series of "structures that drive women away from the hobby", I don't know if I will write any more, bu I might.
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T. B.
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Re: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives w
I don't think there's any lack of women willing to play board games. Rather, there's a lack of women willing to log in day after day and discuss the endless minutia of board games with their internet friends. Many of them would rather play the game and then... brace yourselves... move on and do something else.


I know, I know, it's insane.
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Stephen Braund
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I remember there was an Up Front final once between a husband and a wife - certainly not a particularly touchy-feely subject matter. I reckon there's a two way aspect to that - women are not exposed to things because people think they won't like them, and won't go in for them themselves for the same reason. I remember as a kid that the girls were as good at Stratego as anyone, and actually liked it.
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Lori
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I think most of the women of BGG ignore most of the trash talked about us most of the time, because otherwise they'd have no time left to enjoy whatever they came here for.

And I think that the whole school of thought that has spawned a zillion "games my wife will play" geeklists tends to conflate "women" and "nongamers" because the assumption is that the stereotypical BGGer is a (heterosexual) man whose female partner isn't a gamer. So guys try to extrapolate from these experiences with nongaming women (whose voices are almost never heard directly) to say what women in general like, when actually it may well be that nongamer women have more in common, as far as their gaming tastes and habits, with nongamer men than with gamer women.

I would be really interested to see any kind of halfway serious data breaking down the BGG user population into these categories: men/women who are single/partnered with men/women who are gamers/nongamers. In the absence of such data, I'm inclined to hypothesize that the stereotypical man-with-female-nongamer-partner BGGer is really not the huge majority it may seem--they just make the most noise. But I don't begrudge them their "games that maybe, just maybe, I could someday convince my girlfriend to play" geeklists; I pity anyone who has linked their life with someone (man or woman) who doesn't appreciate playing games.

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T. B.
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Re: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives w
Actually, now that I think about it: my gaming "group" is composed of five women and four men. And, in a shocking reversal of heuristic, one of the women can't convince her non-gaming SO to join us.
 
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Joe Grundy
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ellephai wrote:
... tends to conflate "women" and "nongamers" because the assumption is that the stereotypical BGGer is a (heterosexual) man whose female partner isn't a gamer.
I don't know about everyone, but for my historical observation this is a fairly accurate picture. In multiple game groups I've observed or been part of, they're predominantly male populated with a smattering of females. And discussions abound as to appropriate meeting times when partners are happy to let them go. I've frequently been at various gamers' houses where there's a bunch of guys gaming and their partners in the lounge or garden having a chat.

It may be a generalisation / stereotype, but that's because it's an overwhelming observation. Like all generalisations, it may be a vaguely useful starting point but any individual should immediately be allowed not to fit the stereotype.

Me, I'm lucky enough to have my "non-gaming" wife try and try over several years until she has, just in the last couple of months, eventually come to actively enjoy playing.

ellephai wrote:
So guys try to extrapolate from these experiences with nongaming women (whose voices are almost never heard directly) to say what women in general like, when actually it may well be that nongamer women have more in common, as far as their gaming tastes and habits, with nongamer men than with gamer women.
I think it's just a lazy shorthand. Most of the discussions when I see "wife" or "girlfriends" I read "non-gaming wife/girlfriend" since otherwise it isn't worth a mention.

I did do a gender-bias ratings analysis a while back... inherently assuming all BGGers are "real gamers" (cough).
"His 'n Hers": http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/15773

ellephai wrote:
I would be really interested to see any kind of halfway serious data breaking down the BGG user population into these categories: men/women who are single/partnered with men/women who are gamers/nongamers.
Me too.
 
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Barak Engel
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Re: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives w
No way.

I know tons of women gamers - right about half of my extended gaming circle, so no surprises there genderwise.

What was funny though, during the last D&D campaign I ran (a 3 1/2 year affair of taking them through to level 4 followed by the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil) there were two periods of time where the whole 4/5 player group was comprised of women.

I will however grant that, at least according to my very loose impression, women tend not to become as obsessed with this hobby as we mangeeks do. I think for the most part that's true of many other hobbies as well; one has to admit that women generally tend to, err, have a life.
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E Butler
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And why don't more men watch Ophra and One Life to Live? Just because! Seems to me there's no real need to overanalyze it, just the nature of the hobby.
Just a thought, but perhaps many women are turned off from the hobby by that 'unique' smell that comes from any large gathering of gamers who have gone bathing optional for several days.


Some of the best females I know are women.
 
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Alicia Smith
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Re: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives w
Okay, besides being by chance a woman...lessee. I've board and rpg'd most of my life.

I like fruity games. Cleopatra and the Society of Architects makes me drool.

I like themed games.

I like most Eurogames.

I don't particularly enjoy abstract games, but if they're dressed up in enough theme I do suprisingly well. I play a killer Medici, for example.

I like games with a roleplaying component. But, let's not get excited here. I personally, will not be too sorry if I never play Talisman again. But Betrayal at House on the Hill and Shadows Over Camelot I really enjoy.

So there you go. Besides being a woman, that's the sort of thing I like.

What do other women 'round here like?

Now I'm off, with some trepidation to buy Hive!
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Virre Linwendil AnnergÄrd
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acctually this categorizing by gender I to have noted. And it was disussed a bit, well It wasn't but it was there in a recent GotWs words.

It's a typical male behaviour though. To categorize in that kind of way.

That and to hold power over others.

(Allthough that geeklist basicly proved I'm really female according to most of my tastes in games. Hmm...)


But I wonder how big the diffrence is, if you just look up, how reads BGG and not how is active. Males have this way of driving off woman from saying stuff. (Well in my experience, and from talking with persons of female genders.)
 
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Joe Grundy
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btw please, there's no offense intended or to be taken from discussing a social bias. You may be a 6 foot tall Chinese, and half your friends may be 6 foot tall Chinese as well. If someone says, "most Chinese are short" it's a simple and accurate generalisation. But the generalisation doesn't bind any individual. Most of us know this. Alas, the few who don't make a lot of discord.

You'll see most of the guys posting on BGG are not saying, "you're female therefore your gaming habits/tastes must be X". (Yes, there's exceptions.) But there's a fair bit of observation that "guys play more games". The first is pure prejudice and thankfully there isn't much of it here. The second is simple fact (ie a statement of personal observation, rather than a rigorous epidemiological truth).

Every day we make a thousand assumptions about people based on categorisations. Older woman at the supermarket, middle age man in a suit in a convertible, two teenagers holding hands on a street corner... each of these paints some inkling of a story before you even start to ask. Fortunately (or sometimes unfortunately) most of those stories are usually somewhere near the mark. They tend to be collated from social observation. Some of them are outdated or sample biased. None of them are universally true. Hopefully our assumptions are replaced with facts as we come to hear the real stories.

And a final thought. If the membership of BGG is populated 85% by males (roughly), and lots of those are commenting from time to time that their partners are not sufficiently (ahem) interested in games and does anyone have any ideas, they're not talking about you. They're talking about themselves. (They're guys... they do that.)
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Gantry Rogue
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At first glance I thought the topic read:

"A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives women wild"

I thought, gotta read up on this!
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Kristoffer Lindh
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Re: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives w
Quote:
btw please, there's no offense intended or to be taken from discussing a social bias. You may be a 6 foot tall Chinese, and half your friends may be 6 foot tall Chinese as well. If someone says, "most Chinese are short" it's a simple and accurate generalisation. But the generalisation doesn't bind any individual. Most of us know this. Alas, the few who don't make a lot of discord.


If i believed that people intended to offend, I would be much more agressive in my text. Ofcourse that generalisation is correct, but the generalisation that women usually prefer Ticket to Ride over Eastfront is just based on assumption and can hardly be called accurate. Not that the accuracy is what I am trying to get to, Even the accurate statement that most chinese are short can be pretty destructive, I don't think that chinese people would want to hear all the time that they are short. And even if these statements aren't prejudice in themselves, I believe that they nurture prejudice among the people reading those statements.
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Joe Grundy
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bjonenplota wrote:
... but the generalisation that women usually prefer Ticket to Ride over Eastfront is just based on assumption and can hardly be called accurate.
Fortunately, the overwhelmingly most common statement is effectively "non gaming partners (who happen to be women for well over 85% of BGG members) would prefer TtR over Eastfront".

bjonenplota wrote:
Even the accurate statement that most chinese are short can be pretty destructive, I don't think that chinese people would want to hear all the time that they are short. And even if these statements aren't prejudice in themselves, I believe that they nurture prejudice among the people reading those statements.
Specifically, I'm short and my wife is Chinese. Neither of us would be remotely offended by the repeated assertion that on average Chinese are shorter than Europeans. Hey, it's often an advantage to be short... it'd be interesting to see dialogs of the pros and cons.

I realise that many people in the world do take generalisations and assert them for all individuals, even in the face of overwhelming individual evidence. It's the ugly face of prejudice. Rather than try to bury the generalisations even if they're true (which seems to be the usual approach) I'd rather spend that effort educating that a true generalisation doesn't bind any individual. This is something that needs to be known by asserters and listeners alike.

Fortunately most (but I agree not all) posters on BGG seem to understand this. It's one of the reasons I'm totally addicted to this place


Generalisations are way too useful to bury them. I meet someone new and within three words we've each made dozens of assumptions about each other, heck most of them before we even speak! A couple will turn up wrong but most will be roughly right, and it's those "most" that really help grease the wheels of social interaction.
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David Bush
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Re: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives w
stevebritgimp wrote:
... I remember as a kid that the girls were as good at Stratego as anyone, and actually liked it.


Yeah, the girls seem to pay more attention to abstracts than the boys. Too bad they seem to lose interest when they grow up.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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FWIW, in my experience, grown women still like abstracts. But I see this in contexts where they're usually playing with kids.

Especially where parents are concerned, my guess is that some of the difference in gaming habits relates to gendered divisions of household labor which leave lots of women with children tired/starved for alone time or adult conversation/burnt out with playing/busy with some other project at the times when men with children are eager/available to play games.

I find lots of common ground with men here who are (at the moment?) primarily family gamers. And sometimes much less in common with the women who play mostly with other adult gamers. So I think some of the differences in preferences may relate to where games fit into daily life than about gender per se.

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Wes Nott
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Any question or debate about female Gamers vs male Gamers really comes down to ingrained Societal Expectations. For example:

Why do women wear dresses and men don't?
Why are women typically the cooks in a household?
Why don't men carry purses?
Why do little boys play war and litte girls play house?

There is validity in generalizations and averaging, you just have to be very careful.

If in general, more men play boardgames then women, I would reckon it would be because of societal/cultural expectations that are ingrained in women and men since their earliest of days. Many men are drawn to games with conflict themes (especially wargames, I know i'm guilty of this) or that puts them in direct competition with other players. Likewise because of these ingrained societal expectations (really it's a cultural thing) women may not be drawn to these types of games (it'd be interesting to see a real scientific study on this).

Obviously there are many, many, many men and woman who don't fall into these molds of societal expectations which isn't a bad thing by any means because sometime the things any given society does are very, very wrong (one needs only look at American History for examples).

And in the end I really I don't care about the sex of anyone i play boardgames with as long as they're a person who enjoys playing games and makes playing games fun.
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Carol Carpenter
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To see a recent list of what women gamers on BGG play, see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/17482.
 
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Sean
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leece wrote:
Okay, besides being by chance a woman...lessee. I've board and rpg'd most of my life.

I like fruity games. Cleopatra and the Society of Architects makes me drool.

I like themed games.

I like most Eurogames.

I don't particularly enjoy abstract games, but if they're dressed up in enough theme I do suprisingly well. I play a killer Medici, for example.

I like games with a roleplaying component. But, let's not get excited here. I personally, will not be too sorry if I never play Talisman again. But Betrayal at House on the Hill and Shadows Over Camelot I really enjoy.

So there you go. Besides being a woman, that's the sort of thing I like.

What do other women 'round here like?

Now I'm off, with some trepidation to buy Hive!


WOW! Do women like this really exist? thumbsup
 
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Re: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives w
Didn't Jatoha was a girl.
 
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Jason Wiebe
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Actually I think that there should be a study on "How can guys not only compete but actually win against their female cohorts". I am no Einstein but I do allright. AGAINST THE GUYS. Bring my wife and her friends into a game, be it Citadels or El Grande, Goa or Oilman, and I don't stand a chance.
At one point, I lost 14 straight games of Ys to her - some by a point, and some by, well, let's just say a lot. I can get the better of her at times playing Louis XIV, and she usually cleans my clock at Settlers, Attika, Tikal, pick something.
And I think that's what drives some of these lists. Guys want to know what they can play to get their wives/girl friends to play. There are so many great games out there - ONE has to spark the interest in her. It's our obsession, and we want to share it. And no, she won't always. But in a way it's a nice gesture that we try....
(Actually it's just because we need a fifth for Mare Nostrum)
(Just kidding - my wife usually wins at that one too!!!)
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Nadine W
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It appears gender-related, which doesn't rule out plenty of exceptions. As Steve Pinker points out, "There is a technical term for people who believe that little boys and little girls are born indistinguishable and are molded into their natures by parental socialization. The term is 'childless.'"
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Alicia Smith
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Re: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives w
slickdog wrote:
leece wrote:
Okay, besides being by chance a woman...lessee. I've board and rpg'd most of my life.

I like fruity games. Cleopatra and the Society of Architects makes me drool.

I like themed games.

I like most Eurogames.

I don't particularly enjoy abstract games, but if they're dressed up in enough theme I do suprisingly well. I play a killer Medici, for example.

I like games with a roleplaying component. But, let's not get excited here. I personally, will not be too sorry if I never play Talisman again. But Betrayal at House on the Hill and Shadows Over Camelot I really enjoy.

So there you go. Besides being a woman, that's the sort of thing I like.

What do other women 'round here like?

Now I'm off, with some trepidation to buy Hive!


WOW! Do women like this really exist? thumbsup


I game therefore I am? :-)

Thanks!

I'm still interested in how some of the other women around would classify themselves. I guess I'm an RPG'd, theme junkied fruity Europlayer, according to the games I play.

I always knew that when I met my soul mate he'd have to be a role playing board gamer that could play mahjohng.

Apparently my husband's workmates seem to get quite jealous when I suggest we go fishing too.

Seems there are wives and girlfriends out there who don't like fishing OR gaming. Strange I know. shake
 
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Kristoffer Lindh
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Re: A structure within the boardgaming culture that drives w
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It appears gender-related, which doesn't rule out plenty of exceptions. As Steve Pinker points out, "There is a technical term for people who believe that little boys and little girls are born indistinguishable and are molded into their natures by parental socialization. The term is 'childless.'"


Then I know a lot of childless parents.

One of Swedens more extreme biologists said that biology is only 10-20% of who we are, the rest is social constructions. There are defenetly other factors than DNA that makes boys play with toygund and girls with dolls.
 
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Joe Grundy
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On the other hand, I've read studies from twin registry research showing large correlations for various personality measures on a genetic basis.

Wordy research summary:
Technique:
The fuzzy part is creating personality measures.
The easy part is then... survey twins who live together (there are registries of twins willing to particpate). Identical twins show stronger correlations on various base level metrics than fraternal twins, demonstrating a genetic influence. Also survey twins separated young or at birth. Identical twins show stronger correlations on various base level metrics than fraternal. If I recall correctly, identical twins who weren't brought up together show a stronger correlation than non-biological siblings who are brought up together.

So what was correlated for genetics? Base level stuff... how prone are you to be "happy", "depressed", "generous", "aggressive" etc. Even how likely to be "religious". What wasn't correlated is things like... given siblings with a similar level of "sense of humour" the specifics of what seems funny are as diverse for identical twins as for other siblings. Given siblings of a similar level of propensity to religion, specific choice of religion was diverse. And so on.

General disposition appears to have a substantial genetic component, but specific choices and details seem more environmentally/experience influenced.


Anecdotally... my social circle is largely comprised of university graduates, many with honours or higher qualifications. This is equally true for the men and women. And yet time and again I see things like... one example of several, one couple I know, both science PhDs. They were both largely home with the kids over their first few years... neither parent has any interest in sports, both read copiously, both casual dressers, both do the housework. Their two kids for the first few years got the same styles of presents. Yet at 4 their son would career about the house destructively, throw balls, compete furiously, whereas their 4yo daughter is (mostly) sweet and gentle and currently going through a "pink" phase. Neither parent throws balls or does pink. They didn't do tv. It's ... fascinating. And just one example of several. I'm sure people have counter examples, but I'm just saying my personal observation is overwhelmed with stereo typical gender-based child behaviours from non gender-stereotypical parental examples.

But it's generalisations. Generalisations in no way bind the individuals.
 
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