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Subject: Pronouns in rule books. rss

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Max Sims
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Why do so many games insist on having gendered pronouns in the rule books?
Most recently I've had some friends say they're not interested in learning a board game which only uses masculine pronouns and honestly fair enough.
How hard is it to use they or them?
Board games are so fun and an amazing opportunity to spend time with new and old friends but why are they not being as inclusive as possible?
Here's hoping to more inclusive rule books in the future.
#maketwilightimperiumrulesgenderneutrualsoicanplayitwithmorefriends
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To be honest, I hate it when rulebooks use they instead of he/she. Maybe it is because English isn't my native language, but with they I always have to second guess if one player or several are meant.
It is the same with dice. Far too often it isn't clear to me if I am allowed to reroll one die or several dice.

Just use the female pronoun in rules, I don't mind, but make the rules clear.
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Robert Konigsberg
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Maximus103 wrote:
Why do so many games insist on having gendered pronouns in the rule books?
Most recently I've had some friends say they're not interested in learning a board game which only uses masculine pronouns and honestly fair enough.
How hard is it to use they or them?
Board games are so fun and an amazing opportunity to spend time with new and old friends but why are they not being as inclusive as possible?
Here's hoping to more inclusive rule books in the future.
#maketwilightimperiumrulesgenderneutrualsoicanplayitwithmorefriends

As someone who has switched to using them in place of a gender pronoun, it's not a trivial thing to do. It requires a personal decision, very often in the face of something you've seen for a long time. Let's not even try to talk about non-English languages with stronger gendered language. It's just not as simple as I think you might think it is.
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Pat Connolly
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As a high school teacher who deals with students experiencing gender identification issues, I am acutely aware of being sensitive to individuals' choice of personal pronouns. I take great pains to ensure that all of my students are comfortable and respected.

That being said, refusing to learn a game because a rule book is written using only 'masculine' pronouns seems silly to me. To many people "he/him/his" has long been viewed as essentially genderless.

The problem with using "they/them/their" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun is that it has a long tradition of being plural. It will sound awkward to many to read or write and could cause confusion if a sentence has a different meaning for the singular vs plural usage.

Using "he/she" variants would face criticism as being clumsy and enforcing binary gender choices. Even using examples like "Mary places her worker on this hex and then does this action" could be attacked as genderist for assuming that "Mary" is female.

An author could choose to write the rules in such a way that gender-based pronouns are unnecessary, but that can often lead to convoluted or confusing sentence structure, or at the least adds many words.

Instead of "they/them/their" why not use "you/you/your"?
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Richard Dowdy
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Just use a random mix of "he" and "she" when referring to hypothetical players of unknown gender. Unlike the OP's friends, most people aren't going to freak out if it doesn't match them and go "Oh no, it says 'target player discards her hand' but I'm not a girl, I'm giving this game a '1'!".

The practice of using "they" for an individual is just grammatically awkward. If I wanted to be characterized with plural pronouns, I'd use the royal we.
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Per Glöde
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The most awkward rules text I have ever seen is Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn, where they use "he or she" in 37 places and "his or her" 54 times in a 16 page rule book with lots of images, not including other grammatical variations. I found the text being literally unreadable. I made an own printing where I actually digitally replaced "he or she" with a simple "he" and use this instead. Sad!
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Herb
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Maximus103 wrote:
Why do so many games insist on having gendered pronouns in the rule books?
Most recently I've had some friends say they're not interested in learning a board game which only uses masculine pronouns and honestly fair enough.
How hard is it to use they or them?
Board games are so fun and an amazing opportunity to spend time with new and old friends but why are they not being as inclusive as possible?
Here's hoping to more inclusive rule books in the future.
#maketwilightimperiumrulesgenderneutrualsoicanplayitwithmorefriends

It isn't difficult to figure out. English has no accepted general gender neutral pronoun.
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B Chee
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patcon wrote:
An author could choose to write the rules in such a way that gender-based pronouns are unnecessary, but that can often lead to convoluted or confusing sentence structure, or at the least adds many words.
The editorial style at Dan Verssen Games (DVG) for the last two years has been toward gender neutrality, which has sometimes required rephrasing of sentences. However, I find it doesn't necessarily always make it wordier or more convoluted. For example, from the Warfighter rulebook:

Soldier's Health: A Soldier can hold a number of Action cards equal to his Health value. Each Wound a Soldier suffers reduces his Health (and Hand Size) by one card

might become

Soldier's Health: A Soldier can hold a number of Action cards equal to the stated Health value. Each Wound a Soldier suffers reduces the Soldier's Health (and Hand Size) by one card

These edits are quite straightforward, and sometimes improve the clarity after being rewritten. Where we have a gender-specific pronoun, it would be in gameplay examples, where a specific Soldier card is being referred to, and only within the example text:


Example: Squad Soldier Westlake has 2 Health, and he has 3 Actions to use during the Soldier Turn. His Hit number is 6 at Range 0.

If a Squad Soldier ever reaches 0 remaining Health, the Soldier is Down (incapacitated) and can no longer participate in the Mission.
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Max More
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As a Native Portuguese speaker I've always found these discussion about genders quite amusing.
You see, in Portuguese every noun is gendered:
Water - Feminine
World - Masculine
Banana - Feminine
Coconut - Masculine
Window - Feminine
Floor - Masculine
....
Repeat for every noun. You get the drill.
Furthermore there is no neutral pronoun (there is no 'it' and the pronoun 'they' also has two variants one for each gender much like he/she), and adjectives have gendered forms (much like blond/blonde).

We are so used to not care about the gender of a word that seeing so much kerfuffle happening in English speaking countries about gendered language becomes somewhat comical. I've seen someone once comment that one day people will try to ban Portuguese for being a naturally gendered language and thus offensive or whatever. LOL

Sometimes I wish people cared less about these insignificant matters* and moved on to other important matters, like game deign or rules clarity.

Although the rules are written in English, English being the default lingua franca of the world means players native in all sorts of languages read them. A change that caters mostly to English speakers can have negative consequences on non native speakers, and make the games harder to understand (as some users above pointed out). Just be mindful that a great variety of cultures, languages, and individuals are all part of the gaming community when saying things like: "I won't play this game if the style of writing isn't to my liking."

*I challenge anyone who has a stake in gendered language discussions to learn Portuguese. I'm sure you will care less about it after the fact.

Anyways these are just my two cents.
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Pasi Ojala
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Only use Finnish in rulebooks. Finnish has no gendered third-person. "Hän" includes everyone regardless of gender.
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Herb
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Divinusable wrote:
...
Banana - Feminine
...

Hmmm...

Seems like banana ought to be masculine. devil
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Olli Juhala
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Magermilchmagier wrote:
To be honest, I hate it when rulebooks use they instead of he/she. Maybe it is because English isn't my native language, but with they I always have to second guess if one player or several are meant.
It is the same with dice. Far too often it isn't clear to me if I am allowed to reroll one die or several dice.

Just use the female pronoun in rules, I don't mind, but make the rules clear.

That is just failing to adjust writing for use of they. It has been perfectly possible through history of the English language to write using non-gendered third person, but it can't be done by just swapping pronouns.
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Olli Juhala
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herace wrote:
Divinusable wrote:
...
Banana - Feminine
...

Hmmm...

Seems like banana ought to be masculine. devil

Grammatians did not like the implication that banana goes soft when it ages.
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Lazer de Vos
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Singular they is actually becoming pretty accepted again. And was a part of the English language from the 1400s till the late 19th century.

So it's fine. I believe in people's ability to change, oddly enough.
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patcon wrote:
To many people "he/him/his" has long been viewed as essentially genderless.
Sure, but all of those people are dudes.
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Alex Carcassonne
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Personally I couldn’t care less if a rule book uses ‘he’ all the time (for the record I’m a girl).

What matters to me is a crystal clear explanation, of the hopefully wonderful game I’m about to play, which obviously is the aim of the rule book.
Besides, I don’t identify myself anyhow with a Troll, Villain, Viking or some Medieval character from the game so gender here plays no role at all for me.

The only thing that really annoys me about some rule books are omissions, mistakes, vague rules that can be interpreted differently etc.
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b h
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Could not care less about gender pronouns in any rule books,
just read the rules and enjoy the game, anyone that finds it
hard to play any game due to the pronouns used within it would
not be welcome in our game group.
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Pat Connolly
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Divinusable wrote:
... English being the default lingua franca ...
This cracks me up.

To an English speaker, assigning gender to things that don't have gender (like a table, a door, a book, etc.) seems weird. Some words may have a bit of a gender connection maybe, but why is a book feminine in Hindi, masculine in French, and neuter in German? And in German woman is feminine, die Frau, but girl is neuter, das Mädchen?
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Peter Thur
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Divinusable wrote:
As a Native Portuguese speaker I've always found these discussion about genders quite amusing.
You see, in Portuguese every noun is gendered:
Water - Feminine
World - Masculine
Banana - Feminine
Coconut - Masculine
Window - Feminine
Floor - Masculine

German also has gendered nouns, and to make things mor complicated we leave some nouns neutral.

Water - Neutral
World - Feminine
Banana - Feminine
Coconut - Feminine
Window - Neutral
Floor - Masculine

Yes, we have feminine bananas, too. Maybe it's some kind of EU regulation and the actual cause for Brexit...

And some more interesting gendering in german
Moon - Masculine
Sun - Feminine
That's probably the other way round in most other languages.
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Leila
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kuhrusty wrote:
patcon wrote:
To many people "he/him/his" has long been viewed as essentially genderless.
Sure, but all of those people are dudes.
I am not a dude.
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patcon wrote:
Divinusable wrote:
... English being the default lingua franca ...
This cracks me up.

To an English speaker, assigning gender to things that don't have gender (like a table, a door, a book, etc.) seems weird. Some words may have a bit of a gender connection maybe, but why is a book feminine in Hindi, masculine in French, and neuter in German? And in German woman is feminine, die Frau, but girl is neuter, das Mädchen?

That's the thing. They don't have gender in English. To me all those things have gender, and that's how I picture them in my mind.
What happens, most likely, is that my concept of gender is different from yours, since our ways of thinking were molded by different languages.
Now that I can sort of express myself in English, I do have a small insight to how English speakers see gender and because it is restricted to persons it is much more sexualized.

I'm sure there are many other concepts or ideias or discussions that a native speaker of another language my find odd, because their language has the tools to deal with a certain issue, or provided them (yay gender neutral - quite counter intuitive to me, but hey, I'm trying) with a mental framework to make sense of that case.
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Mitch Harding
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Corodon wrote:
The practice of using "they" for an individual is just grammatically awkward. If I wanted to be characterized with plural pronouns, I'd use the royal we.
"You" is a pronoun that is both singular and plural. "They" is similar. It's only comparatively recently (in terms of the English language) that some quarters have frowned upon singular "they."

https://public.oed.com/blog/a-brief-history-of-singular-they...
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Peter Mogensen
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Maximus103 wrote:
Why do so many games insist on having gendered pronouns in the rule books?

Because that's how language has been used for a long time.

Quote:
Most recently I've had some friends say they're not interested in learning a board game which only uses masculine pronouns and honestly fair enough.

There are many reasons to like/dislike a game. This is probably the silliest I've heard to date.
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Pasi Ojala
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Because the pronoun is referencing an entity already introduced previously in the sentence or previous sentences, if singular they sounds funny, you are also welcome to use "aforementioned" to replace it.

Borrowing an example (which seems to allow reducing health by one card, so the original wording has issues as well):

Soldier's Health: A Soldier can hold a number of Action cards equal to his Health value. Each Wound a Soldier suffers reduces his Health (and Hand Size) by one card

becomes

Soldier's Health: A Soldier can hold a number of Action cards equal to aforementioned's Health value. Each Wound a Soldier suffers reduces aforementioned's Health (and Hand Size) by one card

Or you could just rewrite:

Soldier's Health: The Health value determines how many Action cards a Soldier can hold. Each Wound suffered reduces the Health of a Soldier by one and thus the Hand Size by one card
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Olli Juhala
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randomcamel wrote:
kuhrusty wrote:
patcon wrote:
To many people "he/him/his" has long been viewed as essentially genderless.
Sure, but all of those people are dudes.
I am not a dude.

That is great. This is a valid pov. It does not in anyway invalidate the opposite.

Clear writing is not dependent on pronouns used. Thus, choosing which pronouns tonuse can be done for other reasons, such as consideration for those women and men who do not view third person masculine as gender neutral.
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