Women, ladies, senioritas, the Y-chromosome deficient masses (just kidding ;), in other words, girls. I’m all about equality, but let’s be honest: there are more male gamers than female. The ratio differs from game to game and I’ve heard (but never seen) that some LARPs (Live Action Role Playing) are primarily women. By in large though gaming is a predominantly male past time. Sad but true.Sad for whom? Sad for everyone, in my opinion. Most of you reading this are probably gamers yourselves and so would agree with me in feeling sorry for anyone who isn’t a gamer. So it’s sad for them because they’re missing out. However, the lack of female gamers is sad for us as well. It means our games don’t have nearly the depth of dimension they could have. We try to be politically correct and ignore that any differences between the genders that aren’t purely physical, but that’s just not the way we work. Men and women see things differently. They think differently. They come up with different solutions to the same problems. Now I’m going to try and give some examples here. They’re almost certainly going to be sexist, but keep in mind what we’re talking about. This whole topic is sexist by nature. I’m discussing the differences between male and female gamers and I will be directing this as though speaking to male GMs as most GMs I’ve ever encountered have been male. The range between simply not ignoring gender differences and rudely pointing them out as flaws is what the term ‘sexist’ refers to. I’ll try and keep to the near side of that range though. The first thing that comes to mind is LARP. While I’ve never seen a LARP where the women out numbered the men, the women are usually far better costumed than the men are. To those of you who haven’t LARPed before this may seem like a trivial difference, but it isn’t. For one, an individual’s investment in a LARP is easily measured by how much between-games time they spend with their head still in the game. When you see someone who clearly put many hours into an outfit dedicated to a single character it says a lot about their intellectual investment in the game. Better costumes at a LARP also deepen the role-playing experience for everyone present and encourage others to do the same. These are things that can be performed by just having men at a LARP, but usually aren’t nearly as pronounced as when they are joined by even just a few women. On the table-top front it seems to me that many guys are completely capable of getting lost in the numbers, logistics, rules-lawyering, and more boardgame-esque aspects of role-playing; activities where everyone in the room is focusing on the same subject. Women, on the other hand, seem to thrive more when the focus is not everyone looking at the same thing, but when everyone is looking at each other. I don’t know why this is, but it is something I’ve observed on many occasions. The eyes may or may not be the windows to the soul, but they are a good indicator of what’s going on in the attached mind. When everyone is looking at a game board, they are all most probably thinking about that game board as well. When they are all looking at each other, they are most probably thinking about the interaction going on. In my opinion, board-gaming is at best an aid to true role-playing and more commonly a detraction from it. Having more members of a game who are willing to drop the solid rules and lines of things in favor of the interaction those rules and lines are supposed to be facilitating is a good thing. I’d love to tell you about the types of story lines that women in general are good at picking up and following, but I can not. The types of stories someone likes is mostly a matter of taste and women are not generic to the point of all liking the same stories and plots just like men don’t all like the same stories and plots. They do, however, have subtly different points of view than their male counterparts and I would encourage male GMs to listen to what their female Players have to say. Many times I have described the actions of a female NPC only to hear from the feminine quarter “That doesn’t make any sense. Girls don’t do that.” Now I love being right (god knows I am most of the time) but I’m not a woman; never have been and never will be. So when I get advice like this I seize upon it greedily. It’s something that, should I be wise enough to learn from it, could improve my games now and in the future. So a nice gender mix in a game is a good thing. Fine. How does one recruit female gamers? No idea, but I think recruiting is a bad idea anyway. I mean, first of all that’s just as sexist as excluding them. Second, anyone who is added to your game for any reason other than their ability to role-play and contribute to the game is a poor addition regardless of gender. What I’d encourage you to do is listen carefully to any female Players you have and remember that it is your job to make sure their voice is equal to those of their fellow players. Do not let them be over rode by louder male players (I’ve seen many boyfriends end up running two PCs for the price of one by bringing a girlfriend along) and don’t insist that they adapt to the style of your previously all male group. You’re adding a new spice to the soup, if it doesn’t taste different afterward, that just makes you a poor chef. If you go out of your way to make sure your female Players are as much a part of things (Face Time works well here) as everyone else your game will only benefit from it.