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Subject: Did you always know board gaming was dominated by men? rss

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Whitney S
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So I've been curious about something for a while. Female BGGers: When did you first realize that boardgaming was a male-dominated hobby? And when you did, how did it affect your enjoyment of the hobby if at all? (Or male BGGers, feel free to share your thoughts, whatever!)

For me, it wasn't until I really got into BGG that it occurred to me that boardgaming was a "guy thing" supposedly. I've played board games all my life with friends, with family, and alone. I also loved to design board games as a kid. My now-husband and I got into modern board games when I was 20, and I went to the Geek occasionally for a few years to check out reviews and such. I'm now 26 and I think it wasn't until a couple of years ago, when I started coming here a lot more frequently, that the maleness really dawned on me. I started to notice a lot of language like "good girlfriend game" and began to look at the names associated with forum posts and realized they were almost all men's names. I was actually kind of shocked, I just had no idea there was such a gender disparity in the hobby for the longest time.

This didn't change how I played with my family or friends or affect my actual gaming in any way, but I did notice that I now felt that same feeling in board game stores that I feel in video game stores, like I have to prove myself as a gamer somehow, or that I don't really belong. And I felt more like an outsider reading a lot of the posts. Other than that, though, it's still gaming as usual.

So what have your experiences been?
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Will Green
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Guys, for the most part, are "all-boy" on the inside, regardless of exterior appearances. Give us a toy, or a game to play with, and we're happy as kittens at catnip time!

It may just be that you are finding more men here at BGG...this doesn't mean that games are "male-dominated," just that we are around BGG more than women.

I play a lot of games at the FNGS, and the abundance of gamers there are male, yet the variety of shoppers coming in to buy is about 50-50, most days, and up to 70-30 from time to time.

My question is, "Does this present a problem for you? Or is it more "just a surprise" to you that it appears that there are more males in this hobby than women?

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ldsdbomber wrote:
I've always assumed this was true for many hobbies, especially related to sites on the internet. It seems men are a bit quicker to push aside the realities of living and the responsibility of being a grown up and dive into worlds where they can pretend to be 11 years old again, then we like to invent a lot of fancy talk and blather to make the hobby sound all grown up so we can respond to "the look" that most well adjusted women tend to give you when you say you spend too much time on a boardgame website.


True that

I also feel men can be incredibly patronising in their hobbies as well. So a man may say 'Easy game suitable for your wife' whereas a woman would never dream of saying that. The fact the sub forum 'Woman and gaming' even exists as a concept will keep us in the dark ages I think. We even get lists such as 'Games suitable for women' What, they include knitting patterns?

The above alone would put me off this hobby if I was female or at least tend to ensure I disassociate myself from a lot of the gaming community, which is a shame.

I have a wife and three daughters who play games, they would never dream of coming here unfortunately. They would also thrash soundly most game players including me.

You get the silly concept such as;

1. He's is a non gamer against
2. She is a woman so therefore not a gamer

I do not think sexual identity has any relevance at all to gaming, we should perhaps try harder at dispelling the myth that is does.
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Halfinger wrote:
The fact the sub forum 'Woman and gaming' even exists as a concept will keep us in the dark ages I think.


Well said. This should be a 'Gender and gaming' section... if we need to make such distinctions.

Having a women and gaming section, for me, reinforces all sorts of negative stereotypes and power differentials. Yuk... the worst thing about BGG.



(1/10/2016): Well I know where I was coming from. The simple truth is regardless of what issues I have/had with the concept, 'Women and Gaming' is a hugely positive forum, which has made the site a nicer/better place. We need to extend it's ethos throughout the site.
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Edward
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Quote:
I do not think sexual identity has any relevance at all to gaming, we should perhaps try harder at dispelling the myth that is does.


In my experience it's not a myth. I belong to three gaming groups two of which meet weekly. My Wednesday night group meet at the bookstore and can number anywhere between six to ten. The two females that attend usually cannot be persuaded to join in. They prefer reading, browsing, or chatting.
The other weekly group meets at a coffee bar. There too the group includes two women. Even though they go to Gen Con every year (and will this year as well) they've never actually sat down with the men to play any game (oh, except Munchkin once).

The third group meets monthly and it is rare that a female attends. One of the wives of the host brought a female friend once and asked if we could play an "easier, non-male game" we suggested Agricola but settled for Settlers.

My wife and daughter love playing games as long as it is not too rules intensive. And they are quite explicit about this asking "how many pages of rules does the game include?" and the like.
So, in the effort to appear PC we can attempt to treat experiences like these as being stereotypical or as a sort of myth but the unfortunate truth is that this hobby is male dominated.
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Jorge Sánchez
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bunnycatch3r wrote:
Quote:
I do not think sexual identity has any relevance at all to gaming, we should perhaps try harder at dispelling the myth that is does.


In my experience it's not a myth. I belong to three gaming groups two of which meet weekly. My Wednesday night group meet at the bookstore and can number anywhere between six to ten. The two females that attend usually cannot be persuaded to join in. They prefer reading, browsing, or chatting.
The other weekly group meets at a coffee bar. There too the group includes two women. Even though they go to Gen Con every year (and will this year as well) they've never actually sat down with the men to play any game (oh, except Munchkin once).

The third group meets monthly and it is rare that a female attends. One of the wives of the host brought a female friend once and asked if we could play an "easier, non-male game" we suggested Agricola but settled for Settlers.

My wife and daughter love playing games as long as it is not too rules intensive. And they are quite explicit about this asking "how many pages of rules does the game include?" and the like.
So, in the effort to appear PC we can attempt to treat experiences like these as being stereotypical or as a sort of myth but the unfortunate truth is that this hobby is male dominated.


Most of men have hobbies and most of women have entertainments. They prefer reading or chatting, light activities, and we prefer competition. This isn´t a rule but I realized as time goes by that this happens in most cases. I´d like more women playing games because they´re good at thinking, but I recognize men can be quite heavy about playing games.
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I'm also in a few gaming groups and it's usually 90% male. I don't mind one bit. I now run my own game nights and it's usually me and the guys. I will play any and all games including wargames and 2-5 hour epic games.

But it's been the same ever since high school when I was into Warhammer/D&D/CCG/building models and the like. I don't know why those things interest me so much and why my other female friends are not into those things. But I don't mind. As long as I'm enjoying my time with friends who are also into the same hobby whether they are male or female, Yah I say.

Most times I've walked into board game stores / Games workshop stores and the staff have been very receptive and helpful to me. I do feel a bit shy, but then I get carried away by the cool stuff on the shelves I don't care. And you know what? They probably think it's great that girls are interested in board games.

When I worked in the computer field it was such a male dominated field. They didn't expect a female and someone who was so young with enough knowledge to train managers of major corporations. And guess what, the guys really respected me because of what I knew and thought it was cool that I was female.

Just enjoy your hobbies/games and don't worry that there are more males or not. It's all about having fun with friends. The guys are probably really happy that more females share the same interest. Lol, my male friends tell me that all the time.

I apparently live in a parallel universe because my boyfriend absolutely refuses to play board games
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Jeff Johnson
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queenofallcosmos wrote:
but I did notice that I now felt that same feeling in board game stores that I feel in video game stores, like I have to prove myself as a gamer somehow, or that I don't really belong.


I met a girl at a con that was complaining about not being included by geeky guys in their geek-game activities. She wasn't the type to trip my geekdar (I can often spot a Cataan lady in any gathering), but I felt bad for her and assumed the guys were being mean. "What's up with them? I'm a nerd, too! Just look at my bookshelf!"

That night I dreamed about what might be on her book shelf. (I hadn't asked, so my imagination ran wild.) Vintage rpgs... science fiction games. This had to be the worst thing the gaming community had ever done to itself! Geek guys... making geek girls feel bad! The horror!

The next day... I was disappointed to see that the most complicated thing she would play was a game of dominoes. She turned down all the euros. I raised an eyebrow at this and asked, "so... what exactly is on your bookshelf, now...?" Turns out it was just a bunch of fantasy novels.

Colour me disappointed.
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Chris Kohlman
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I think the fact that most of the responses to the thread have come from men illustrates your point quite well!
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Amy Wiles
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kohlhatter wrote:
I think the fact that most of the responses to the thread have come from men illustrates your point quite well!

Maybe many women are simply reading and not commenting (as I was up until this point). Maybe some women share their husbands' accounts.

Edit to add: Again, all this does is show that people who bother posting are perhaps mainly men. Not a scientific poll. Any poll on BGG is still a self-selecting poll, and therefore cannot be considered to be anything but the people who bothered to sign up and answer. Self-selecting polls have major sampling bias.

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Ms Aura

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I have dabbled in board games since youth, here and there nothing to really say it was a hobby of mine until about 2 years ago. But since I have always been in video/arcade gaming circles I figured that board games would be male dominated as well. It really wasn't until I started searching for gaming groups that I realized just how male dominant it was. I would show up to a few groups being the only female and I would get uncomfortable because I would throw the dynamic off, or the guys would not make me feel comfortable, or I just don't know exactly. I'm not really the kind of gal who just boldly goes up to a group of men (or women for that matter) to ask to play a game. lol.

Also, more often (in my experience) a few guys would assume I'm dumb as rocks or something while playing a game or wanting to learn a new game and it's made me more uncomfortable than playing with a group of women. I find that (again, in my experience) playing with more women the gaming sessions are friendlier, funnier and just a better experience than when I'm playing with men, or mostly men.

But as with any activity or hobby I like to have a varied group of all different kinds of people, not just 30-40 year old men.
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Genghis Ahn
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I have always tried to include women in gaming from role playiing to euro games. We have always had a great representation of women.

I think this is a wargame issue in the USA, as gaming in Europe and elswhere is more family oriented and has equal numbers of women, if not more.

This is also changing in the US as more and more female gamers, especiallly computer gamers transitions from the MMOG to the board game scene. Smart phone games have also had a great impact in getting more women involved in board gaming.

And it is a great way for women to meet guys! And vice versa!
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Mystery McMysteryface
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I knew absolutely nothing about this hobby until I discovered this site 3 years ago. Once I started reading and participating on the site, I did notice that the site was dominated by male users and posters. I knew nothing about the hobby as I had not been "out there" to gaming events, cons, or groups.

I play with my family and have attended 2 mini-meets at a user's home in Gainesville. Mostly men attend and participate at those events.

I really don't care if men or women participate, as I want to participate and game and don't require a specific gender for opponents.

And, for the record, I do love reading and am a voracious reader, but I do not, however, enjoy "chatting" or other stereotypical female activities/hobbies.
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J. Atkinson
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I think the whole idea of boardgaming as a hobby needs to be better defined, because if you stick strictly to true board games or miniatures and not card games, I think you'll see more male dominance. This pure speculation on my part.

However, card games would lead me to think that there is more of the female persuasion involved and closer to 50/50. I base this on my history with my wife and older female family generations. I had one grandmother that could beat the snot out of me and my sister at Bridge. She belonged to a bridge club for longer than I have been a live before she died. Her and my grandfather played it quite frequently, and I just inherited their sweet bumper pool/card table with the nice green felt on the tops underside.

My other grandmother who was bed-ridden for years from rheumatoid arthritis for as long as I could remember used to play Canasta a lot before she was too sick. My dad said she was a sharp player and tough to beat. I didn't believe him until one day she wanted to play with us. I remember those frail and gnarled hands from many surgeries holding those cards as she trounced my sister and I in a 3 player game. We didn't have a chance, and she hadn't played in years. She really loved that game.

There is a generation of a gamers you won't see well represented here on the BGG here. Games have been around for a long time. I think it's the type of game that shows the disparity in sexes being represented.

My wife prefers games with cards involved. She does have other "hobbies" not entertainment as one guy tried to point out. She sews and quilts and knits and reads.

My mom loves some of the games I introduced to her, and her tastes are similar to my wife's. She's more hardcore about gaming though during her retirement years, and plays a lot of simple video games too..especially on facebook.

I grew up playing a lot of games with my older sister. She's more of a facebook game junkie too, but she'll play some Ticket to Ride with us.

That's a small sampling of women in general. I'm not saying that all women like card games, but I'm only relating my experience. I've seen enough women on the BGG comment about some games they like that are more my kind of game.

I think BGG is just a subculture of the whole gaming hobby culture I also see a lot more "sexist" and "male juvenile" comments on here that could be a turn off to many women. Granted, BGG is pretty tame compared to some other forums out there, and find quite a bit of maturity on here at times from a lot of users too.
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J. Jefferson
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Halfinger wrote:
So a man may say 'Easy game suitable for your wife'...


Halfinger wrote:
We even get lists such as 'Games suitable for women' What, they include knitting patterns?


Halfinger wrote:
You get the silly concept such as;

1. He's is a non gamer against
2. She is a woman so therefore not a gamer


Really? These all seem like fairly extreme versions of things I see on BGG. I have personally never seen anyone directly equate being a woman with not being a gamer.

I also wonder if board gaming as a hobby is dominated by men, or if it is simply that BGG is. I do close to all my gaming with my wife, but for some reason I spend a lot of time here, and she spends none.
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Jeff Johnson
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Auramine O wrote:
I find that (again, in my experience) playing with more women the gaming sessions are friendlier, funnier and just a better experience than when I'm playing with men, or mostly men.


I agree with this. I play euros and rpgs specifically because I can get women to the table to play them. Gender balanced gaming is often more fun and relaxed-- the excesses of testosterone driven douchebaggery are tempered in the presence of the fairer sex.

amwiles wrote:
Maybe many women are simply reading and not commenting (as I was up until this point). Maybe some women share their husbands' accounts. Again, all this does is show that people who bother posting are perhaps mainly men. Not a scientific poll. Any poll on BGG is still a self-selecting poll, and therefore cannot be considered to be anything but the people who bothered to sign up and answer. Self-selecting polls have major sampling bias.


This, however, irritates me. What...? Is the implication of sexual dimorphism in humans a violation of speech codes...? Do we really need to get actual attendance records from Origins and Gen Con to settle this? (Here's my data point: of 20 gamers that attended my Prime Directive sessions at Origins, four were female. Two of those females were married to one of the gamers at the table. Looney Labs seemed to have a good density of females. The Federation & Empire guys had one young lady show up for a demo.)

Back to the OP: "Did you always know board gaming was dominated by men?"

When I was in school, guys played all kinds of games but as far as possible kept it a secret from the girls in fear of being classed as unworthy of dating. The real question (from my perspective) is "did you ever think that women would ever sit down to game with you?" Aside from that one, lone token girl in 80's D&D groups... it wasn't really until Cataan that the idea of women gaming was even thinkable. (Though White Wolf brought in a lot of gamer geek girls in the nineties by all accounts.) I basically have to go to a convention to find female game players.
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Jim Kennedy
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As someone who recently started a topic, asking for advice about good games to play with my wife, I find this topic interesting. The main reason I started my thread: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/675183/trying-to-find-more-g..., was because most of the 'good-wife' games were way too simple for either her or me to enjoy. My wife's favorite games, right now are Agricola/Settlers of Catan. She is a real board gamer, and frequently beats me (we're both probably close to 50/50 in W/L%). But it's not her hobby, it's mine. She reads interior design blogs in her free-time, not BGG. Again, I'm not trying to perpetuate stereotypes, my wife enjoys boardgames, she's not one to go out looking for new games though, she would rather play something she knows she likes than try something new. Also, there are quite a few.... offensive comments on here on any pictures of people playing games with their wife/gf. That's would be a much bigger turn off from this site for my wife than it would be for me. (though I'm not jumping up to post pictures of my wife and I playing Agricola) So to sum up, I think a lot more women enjoy medium to heavy weight gaming than are represented here (my wife is a clear example), but I think that women are less represented here on BGG because:

1. BGG is kind of sexist

2. Some (but obviously not all) women who really enjoy Euro games don't pursue the hobby much past 'I really enjoy these games... If I happened on a board game by 'The designer of Settlers' or 'The designer of Agricola' I would probably buy it sight unseen' (I think my wife probably would do this, but she might not know Uwe Rosenburg/Klaus Teuber by name)
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J. Jefferson
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Jeffr0 wrote:
(Here's my data point: of 20 gamers that attended my Prime Directive sessions at Origins, four were female. Two of those females were married to one of the gamers at the table.


No girls showed up at my party! Gee, they must hate parties!

Seriously though, I agree with you that BGG and conventions seem to be pretty dude-heavy, but I don't think that's an accurate representation of "board gaming." I basically only play games with my wife and with other couples. So from where I sit, board gaming looks pretty even gender-wise. Of course my view is not representative, but neither is the one presented by BGG or conventions.
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Jim Kennedy
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Jefforama wrote:
I basically only play games with my wife and with other couples. So from where I sit, board gaming looks pretty even gender-wise. Of course my view is not representative, but neither is the one presented by BGG or conventions.


Yeah same here. In fact my wife was the one who introduced me to Catan, though I played a lot of Risk/Monopoly in college.
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Jefforama wrote:
I also wonder if board gaming as a hobby is dominated by men, or if it is simply that BGG is. I do close to all my gaming with my wife, but for some reason I spend a lot of time here, and she spends none.

Each person's personal board gaming has nothing to do with anyone else's. They may have some intersections with other people in the local area and what not, but for the most part, your group setup (gender, size, age, etc.) are all very unique to you.

Anything outside of that is not board gaming but rather board gaming culture. I think it is fair to say that board gaming culture is dominated by men, but not board gaming because gaming alone can only be defined at the individual level. Sure you could get an aggregate number, but that is worthless when actually applying it to your pool of people to play with.

It's kind of like how Dr. Cox (in my avatar btw) puts it in the tv show Scrubs (sorry, just saw this one last night and thought it was applicable):

(after Kim ended the relationship with J.D. while in labor)
J.D. The kids' not even been born yet and I've already screwing up his life. I just want him to be really happy and normal you know.
Dr. Cox: Okay newbie, we're talking about you so the whole normal part was never going to happen and... you didn't mess up his life.
J.D: But statistics show that kids whose parents stay together...
Dr. Cox: Statistics show? Who cares what statistics show? Look at medicine. 80% of people with pancreatic cancer die within 5 years and 95% of appendectimies occur with zero complications but we both know cases of pancreatic cancer patients that lived and unfortunately appendicitis patients that unfortunately passed. Statistics mean nothing to the individual; you're either going to be a good parent to that kid or you're not.
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Jefforama wrote:
Jeffr0 wrote:
(Here's my data point: of 20 gamers that attended my Prime Directive sessions at Origins, four were female. Two of those females were married to one of the gamers at the table.


No girls showed up at my party! Gee, they must hate parties!

Seriously though, I agree with you that BGG and conventions seem to be pretty dude-heavy, but I don't think that's a accurate representation of "board gaming." I basically only play games with my wife and with other couples. So from where I sit, board gaming looks pretty even gender-wise. Of course my view is not representative, but neither is the one presented by BGG or conventions.

Yep, all my board gaming is 50/50 whether it be me and my wife or me and the other couple we play with regularly.
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Jeff Johnson
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I proposed convention attendance (specifically at scheduled games and demos) because it was the only way I could think of to get hard data. It is also the *best* representation of female gamers that I had ever seen.

It sure sounds like no matter what data we could possibly get, even if we actually had it... you guys (and girls) would still find some reason to discount it.

So anecdotal evidence is discounted because it's "not a scientific poll." Then (hypothetical) hard data is discounted because "statistics mean nothing to the individual."

This is ridiculous.

But back to what the con statistics mean. These theoretical hordes of women gamers (and I restrict this to hobby games, not canasta, etc) for the most part are gaming within their existing social structures. They game with family, with their husbands, with their kids. But men are more likely to love the games themselves apart from the context of their own local social networks and will travel great distances at great expense to play games that they cannot otherwise play locally with dedicated gamers in a social setting where the games themselves are the primary focus.
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Jeffr0 wrote:
But men are more likely to love the games themselves apart from the context of their own local social networks and will travel great distances at great expense to play games that they cannot otherwise play locally with dedicated gamers in a social setting where the games themselves are the primary focus.

That makes no sense to me. Why would men be more pre-disposed to love games in that way than women? Or is it a socio-economic observance based on an assumption of more women in the home/tied to kids/etc. that they can't get away like that?
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Jeffr0 wrote:
I proposed convention attendance (specifically at scheduled games and demos) because it was the only way I could think of to get hard data. It is also the *best* representation of female gamers that I had ever seen.

But it is still a horrible sample of the board-gaming population as a whole. It would be great for determining gender at conventions though.
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queenofallcosmos wrote:
So I've been curious about something for a while. Female BGGers: When did you first realize that boardgaming was a male-dominated hobby? And when you did, how did it affect your enjoyment of the hobby if at all? (Or male BGGers, feel free to share your thoughts, whatever!)

For me, it wasn't until I really got into BGG that it occurred to me that boardgaming was a "guy thing" supposedly. I've played board games all my life with friends, with family, and alone. I also loved to design board games as a kid. My now-husband and I got into modern board games when I was 20, and I went to the Geek occasionally for a few years to check out reviews and such. I'm now 26 and I think it wasn't until a couple of years ago, when I started coming here a lot more frequently, that the maleness really dawned on me. I started to notice a lot of language like "good girlfriend game" and began to look at the names associated with forum posts and realized they were almost all men's names. I was actually kind of shocked, I just had no idea there was such a gender disparity in the hobby for the longest time.

This didn't change how I played with my family or friends or affect my actual gaming in any way, but I did notice that I now felt that same feeling in board game stores that I feel in video game stores, like I have to prove myself as a gamer somehow, or that I don't really belong. And I felt more like an outsider reading a lot of the posts. Other than that, though, it's still gaming as usual.

So what have your experiences been?


Didn't you ever hang out at a game/hobby store?
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