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Subject: Introducing new women to gaming rss

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Charlie Paull
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I have been gaming now for about 30 years or so and have introduced many others both my own sex (female) and men to the hobby I love. I have noticed a different approach us girls have to that of the men and would like to share my experiences and see if others share them too.

There are a few women who will come to a new gaming group on their own for the first time, will start with their own log on to BGG almost immediately and dive right in with any and all kinds of games. These are in the minority.

Most, like me, take their time. We may be introduced by a partner and think, to begin with, that it is his hobby and we are just tagging along. We may be happy to go to conventions, but only if we play with the person we came with in every game. Alternatively, we may decide to stay home from the conventions and just go to the smaller friendlier local group where we know the people and there may be a higher proportion of other girls there. Maybe we’ll sit one game out and go and chat in the kitchen to the host’s wife, who isn’t taking part, for a while. To begin with, we tend to like less aggressive games, shorter ones with less back stabbing.

This all makes us sound like rather clingy, insecure individuals who don’t have the strength to stand on our own two feet and get out there with the boys. On the contrary, I think it makes us sound like very social people who feel it is rather rude to go off and leave the person you came with and sit down with strangers and deliberately stab them in the back. It takes many of us a little while to realise (as a gut feeling) that gamers like you to do that.

As I say, I’ve been gaming a long time, but I only got my own log on to BGG in 2003 and only started really using it about 18 months, maybe 2 years ago. I now find that the most sociable thing to do is go to cons and mix with as many strangers as I can. Next time I go, they are not strangers and I have met dozens of really interesting people that I can’t wait to meet again at future cons. I happily slice and dice any weathered gamer I meet (if I can) because I know that is what they came for, and it’s fun. But it took me 20 years to get to that point. My first trip to Essen 7 years ago helped. You can’t be insular there! You wouldn’t want to be.

I want to encourage more women to join the hobby – it is kind of a mission. I think we miss out if we let our men folk go off to cons on their own. In Germany about 50% of gamers are female, in England (where I am) I should think it is nearer 25%, half of which are hidden from view because they only play at home. Our weekly group has 40% girls and our wider group of gaming friends about the same, including several young girls growing up as gamers from the start. But that may be because I always get the men to bring their partners if at all possible. Once they get here and find we’re not all ogres, they generally fit right in.

Gaming is a naturally social activity. Women are (generally) naturally social people. Taking those two thoughts together, you would think we would be in the majority in the gaming world. We are not any less intrepid, self assured and ornery than anyone else. It can just take us a while to get our heads around such things being the social and friendly thing to do.
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Scotty Dickey
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Thanks for sharing, Charlie. Hosting game nights over the years, I've also noticed some of the general differences you mention. On game night, I always keep a stack of 'lighter' games and/or 'party' games on the kitchen table. The combination of these more social/less confrontational games and the proximity of the snack table make the kitchen a great place for folks who enjoy the social aspect of game night more than the strategic. Some guests spend most of the evening in the kitchen - playing a few lighter games and enjoying conversation. The more 'serious' gamers will be in the dining room and/or great room at one of the card tables playing something a bit deeper, and usually less social. Over time, however, I've noticed a few of the 'kitchen gamers' begin to wander out into the other rooms for an occasional brain-burner. It certainly works the other way too. After a 3 hour game of high strategy, folks like to kick back at the kitchen table and enjoy a light card game, a snack, and a few laughs.

I've seen this progression from the kitchen to the great room with male and female friends. It seems that women are somewhat more likely to fall into this category. Anyway, I'm really glad that we've found a way to maintain a 'safe' place for less confrontational folks (male or female) until they're ready to explore other types of games.
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James Engelhardt
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Great post. I completely agree that gaming is a naturally social activity. And don't tell the rest of them this, but men are naturally social people, too.

As a quick aside, I love the uberbadge. Suprised Stare doesn't get a lot of attention stateside, but they do great work.
 
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Charlie Paull
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Thanks Scotty for that image. I like the thought of the group of people playing the lighter games and the group playing the meatier games and the flow of individuals back and forth between them. I would agree that this is 'ideal world'.

However, most of the places I've been either have a large number of people all scrabbling to find suitable partners amongst a group of strangers for the kind of game they enjoy most at that moment (the con scenario) where the beginner woman who is unsure what she might like is quite likely to get put off by the percieved masculinity of the hobby, or they are small groups without the numbers to be able to accommodate the kitchen and gamer's room option.

It sounds like you have a great group for all concerned. I hope you can keep it going at that level.
 
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Charlie Paull
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magisterludi wrote:

Great post. I completely agree that gaming is a naturally social activity. And don't tell the rest of them this, but men are naturally social people, too.

As a quick aside, I love the uberbadge. Suprised Stare doesn't get a lot of attention stateside, but they do great work.


laugh Nice point, well made.
A far higher proportion of men fall into the obviously self sufficient, own BGG logon, gregarious at cons, un-timid-looking group though.

I'm glad you like our work at Surprised Stare too. It is always nice to gain appreciation. Watch out for Confucius coming soon to a gaming table near you...
 
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My partner works long hours and wouldn't be able to go to any gaming group nights with me. If the event took place at a stranger's house there is no way I would go alone, not because I'm shy and retiring but from the personal safety aspect.

The answer may well be to hold an event at your own house, but for women starting out in the hobby this is far too big a commitment to contemplate as a first step - bit of a catch 22?
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Diane Close
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TracyB wrote:
The answer may well be to hold an event at your own house, but for women starting out in the hobby this is far too big a commitment to contemplate as a first step - bit of a catch 22?


My gaming group holds informal "spouse nights" at least twice a year. I say informal because they're not announced as mandatory bring-your-wife/girlfriend/significant other nights, but instead we say, "hey, let's have a potluck!/BBQ!/Theme Game Night" and typically one guy will mention that his wife makes this great dish, or another says that theme sounds like something his girlfriend would be interested in, and we put out the word that women and beginning gamers are welcome and they show up and have a great time. The emphasis for that night is on the food, and the company, and the gaming is typically much lighter, but the wine flows freely and everyone has a great time.

Coincidently, I'm doing this tonight: it's Pink Game Night! Pink games, pink decorations and pink food. Edit: I DID do a geeklist showing how it all went down! Here's the start:



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The Tak
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Madam, if you have so-called gamers that throw a fit about your game night because you didn't have the right games or things didn't bump along quickly or whatnot, they're hardly fit to call themselves a gamer at all!

Pshaaaw :p
 
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Charlie Paull
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TracyB wrote:
... If the event took place at a stranger's house there is no way I would go alone, not because I'm shy and retiring but from the personal safety aspect. ...


Wow, that's sad. I guess I never thought of the personal safety side of things as I was introduced by my partner and always stuck with him through thick and thin for a long time. I guess it could be an issue, but I personally have never met anyone who described themselves as a gamer who was not only very safe, but also very friendly and welcoming. It is something about the hobby that attracts that sort of people.

Have you got anyone else to go with? Do you know of a group in your area and just need an introduction, or are you looking for a group?

A new lady recently joined our group by finding us on BGG and chatting with me first before she came over. Maybe you can find confidence in a local group the same way.
 
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TabbySunLion wrote:
TracyB wrote:
... If the event took place at a stranger's house there is no way I would go alone, not because I'm shy and retiring but from the personal safety aspect. ...


Wow, that's sad. I guess I never thought of the personal safety side of things as I was introduced by my partner and always stuck with him through thick and thin for a long time. I guess it could be an issue, but I personally have never met anyone who described themselves as a gamer who was not only very safe, but also very friendly and welcoming. It is something about the hobby that attracts that sort of people.

Have you got anyone else to go with? Do you know of a group in your area and just need an introduction, or are you looking for a group?

A new lady recently joined our group by finding us on BGG and chatting with me first before she came over. Maybe you can find confidence in a local group the same way.


The thought of having to go alone has stopped me even looking for a local group so I've no idea if there is one locally. Don't get me wrong I can live with this - it's not keeping me up nights and I'm happy just playing with my partner but I think it may be one of the reasons for the lower public presence of women in gaming.
 
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Lynette
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Our group does Lady Gamer Teas about 4 times a year.

They are very popular.
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Christychan
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I'm a single woman and I go to a gaming group by myself. It's held in a very public place - a grocery store's eating area, it's wide open, very visible, and there's food and drinks to be had, so all around=good deal! I have to admit though, like Tracy mentioned, I wouldn't go to a game group that meets at a person's house, for safety reasons. Although, all the gamers I have met are pretty harmless outside of the game, I wouldn't want to to take a chance when you see so many crazy stories in the news.

If you are a single female, look for a group that meets in a public place - like a gamestore, etc. and if you don't like the set-up when you get there, just leave. I only took one game with me the first time I went, so if it looked hokey, I was ready to run away, lol. Now of course I'm lugging along a huge tote full of games every week. I found the group that I go to on Meetup.com - they have a boardgame category.
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hugo mocc
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I am upgrading my gaming group from meeting at my house to meeting at a local (community association) public venue in order to convince more locals to join.

I had advertised before but I think people are reluctant to go to strangers houses these days due to safety concerns.

As a host inviting strangers I had the same concerns - what if someone attending is a deranged murderer or something? I mean, these thoughts, unfortunately, do cross my mind sometimes - thankfully I'm able to overcome any of these with a good dose of realism and the thought that like me, most gamers are very friendly people.
 
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Jason Leveille
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Prismcat wrote:
I have to admit though, like Tracy mentioned, I wouldn't go to a game group that meets at a person's house, for safety reasons.

I understand all too well the personal safety aspect, as my wife is constantly concerned with it. I completely understand that you wouldn't want to go over to someone's house if you didn't know anyone there.

We have a couple of groups here - some that meet in a public place, and others that meet in people's homes. I would hope that after you got to know a couple of people that met in the public place that you would be willing to show up at someone's house to game. I find the environment at someone's house more relaxed and free than in a public place, and you don't have to worry about when they close.
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When I get to play, it's almost always a mixed group (e.g. Monday - Caylus - 2 women and 2 men, Saturday - Citadels and Ruse & Bruise - 3 women and 3 men)

I've made a point of introducing friend of all sexes to gaming events, and take care not to scare them away immediately by starting with highly complex games (no Agricola or Shogun for a total newbie, sorry!)

After a few gaming events, I usually know the "sweet spot" for most players. The main "turnoffs" are mathy games, very aggressive games, or themes that don't appeal to a player. The women I know TEND to prefer less aggressive and less mathy games (but often like cooperation or trading), but it's really different for each individual.
So after a while you know which games you can play with whom, and can offer games that'll likely appeal to all present.

Since I invite people I already know as friends, the issue of personal security never arose (at least, I can't remember that it had ever been mentioned), even if I invite them to come along to someone they don't know (they at least have someone there they know, so it doesn't seem to be an issue).
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Thomas P. Felder
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There's this guy here on bgg who goes swing dancing and tries to get his buddies from there to game with him, all written down in this rather large thread you'll might find interesting:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2131234

Besides, I want to add something to the "personal safety" aspect. You'll risk a lot more on a day-to-day base by just driving a car then you would risk going to a complete stranger's house, as by far most people are no serial killer's or something, but car accidents are a real threat.
I would bet that the number of "females going to a local gaming evenent to someone's place they haven't met before and getting injured there" is just ZERO.
However, I am aware that personal risk perception has nothing to do with the real danger... I find this topic rather fascinating, so I couldn't help but write something abouth it.

And, I also apologize for being a man and posting this, because, of course, I have no idea of the fears a woman has about this, and it's sad that this even is a topic to some. It shouldn't be that way in our world.
(I mean that in earnest, also I think it might sound cynic? Sorry, I am not a native speaker.)
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Jen
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Hello,

I am brand new here. I would love to get into these board games or war games, etc. but I have NO IDEA where to start. I do not have a boyfriend or any friends who take part in this hobby or who I can drag along.

I've been an avid online gamer for many years. I used to play Magic as well. I'm from Guelph, Ontario. I have joined a gaming group online in Toronto just the other day, which is about an hours drive away, and have messaged about one in Kitchener, about 20 minutes from me.

It seems really intimidating to go somewhere where I don't know anybody AND don't know how to play. If it was one or the other it might be another story. I'd appreciate any advice you can give, and if anyone is in the area who would want to hang out and teach me some things sometime that would be awesome!
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Davido
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That is one of the reasons why my group (Sacramento Boardgames Meetup) and others post GeekLists of their games played-it shows the variety and breadth of what one might expect to hit the tables-If the groups you mention below have recap lists-you might thus be prepared to play/bring.

Otherwise, see if any of the members of the group have BGG accounts and log their collections-you might then contact the organizer(s) and say, "gee, I'm new, but I'd like to play Settlers or TTR or...." That way, you'd have a 'comfort zone' of something you'd like to play/learn and can jump right in. Good luck and happy gaming

Kalicorvida wrote:
Hello,

I am brand new here. I would love to get into these board games or war games, etc. but I have NO IDEA where to start. I do not have a boyfriend or any friends who take part in this hobby or who I can drag along.

I've been an avid online gamer for many years. I used to play Magic as well. I'm from Guelph, Ontario. I have joined a gaming group online in Toronto just the other day, which is about an hours drive away, and have messaged about one in Kitchener, about 20 minutes from me.

It seems really intimidating to go somewhere where I don't know anybody AND don't know how to play. If it was one or the other it might be another story. I'd appreciate any advice you can give, and if anyone is in the area who would want to hang out and teach me some things sometime that would be awesome!
 
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Andy Leighton
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Firstly don't worry about not knowing any of the games. Just let people know you haven't played that game at all and are new to games. Hopefully if the group is any good they won't drop you in at the deep end with a super-complex game but choose something a bit lighter and more social to begin with. Also if you are used to Magic players you have probably seen the worst aspects of gaming already. Most board gamers are much more civilised in comparison.

Other ways to get a leg-up are to watch some of Scott Nicholson's videos (boardgameswithscott.com) or to play online (a few games but not very many even have a downloadable version you can play against the computer).
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Rachelle Grein
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TracyB wrote:
My partner works long hours and wouldn't be able to go to any gaming group nights with me. If the event took place at a stranger's house there is no way I would go alone, not because I'm shy and retiring but from the personal safety aspect.

The answer may well be to hold an event at your own house, but for women starting out in the hobby this is far too big a commitment to contemplate as a first step - bit of a catch 22?


I can certainly understand the not going to a stranger's house for gaming for many reasons...but the group I finally got the courage to go to..was advertised in yahoo groups with pictures ( so i can see they didnt look all that scary) and the host was a longtime and active member of the geek and spielfreaks... so i figure'd it might be safe enough...but i forgot to leave bread crumbs in case it wasn't. Luckily it turned out great and I have been gaming with that group for several years now.

a safer alternate may be to look for a group that plays in a public place.. get to know them enough to know who's homes you'd be ok gaming at.

 
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Rachelle Grein
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Meerkat wrote:

Our group does Lady Gamer Teas about 4 times a year.

They are very popular.


That sounds like a blast!..maybe I should plan one.
 
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George Sauer III
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140 gamers at CABS last night ...

over 40 were female ...



New females showing up all the time ... Word of mouth is best !!!








 
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