ars ludi

if you asked Ben's brain about gaming, this is what it would say

Women in Gaming Communities (Norwescon 2013)

Women in Gaming Communities (Sat 6-7 pm)
Gender inequality among gamers continues to be a frequent topic. Women and girl gamers often feel unwelcome in the boys club, and gamers can be clueless or dismissive of gender inequality. What are some successful ways to get women into gaming? What are some things to avoid? How can event organizers and game designers make women that show up more comfortable?
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Ashley Cook, Ben Robbins, Gwen Yeh, Mickey Schulz

The description didn’t actually specify whether it was about face-to-face tabletop gaming or video games / online communities, which are very different topics, so the discussion jumps around a bit between those two themes.

(you can also download the mp3 directly instead of using the player)

“I have a secret agenda‚Ķ we only play the kind of games that allow everyone at the table to have strong and equal contributions”

I don’t talk a lot about why I set up Story Games Seattle the way I did. Why I intentionally focused on games with no GM and no prep, games that give each player the same creative authority. Games that might even require each person to speak up and participate.

This is why. Because women can come to our meetups and know their contribution is vital, that we want to hear what they have to say. Because anyone can come to our meetups and know that their contribution is vital because it really is. We’re not kidding when we say that without you the game will fail.

I get flak sometimes on the internets for being some kind of tyrant who apparently hates GM’ed games, which is doubtless pretty funny to anyone who has followed this blog and my gaming career. But really that’s my own fault for not explaining my reasons.

They’re seeing the negative, which is that they can’t play the particular game they want at our events (or more specifically, GM the game they want to GM). But they’re missing the positive, which is that people are coming and enjoying role-playing games who might be or have been turned off by that strange player-GM power hierarchy that we veteran gamers don’t even think about. They’re missing that we’re empowering droves of new folks to play and enjoy role-playing games and revel in their own creativity and the sheer fucking wonder of creating things with other people.

Yeah, there is some irony in being a tyrant who mandates equality. I’m okay with it.


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