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Re: CHAT: Conlang and Writers

From:Laurie Gerholz <milo@...>
Date:Thursday, March 18, 1999, 0:45
Irina Rempt wrote:
>=20 > On Sun, 14 Mar 1999, Sally Caves wrote: >=20 > > Is Terry right in saying that few women learn this language and > > participate in Tekumel? >=20 > I don't know whether Terry says that fewer women participate in > T=E9kumel than in role-playing games in general; in the Netherlands > women are about ten to twenty percent of all roleplayers, and in the > United States it's probably not above five percent. It's another of > those things that seem to be almost exclusively male for no apparent > reason. >=20
No apparent reason? I don't think so. I'll draw on my own experiences as a former RPG player and referee. I'll repeat some expositions I've given here in the past. I learned about RPGs in college. Some new friends learned that we shared a common interest in fantasy and science fiction literature, and they invited me to play. Eventually, I took up ref'ing. Many of us settled in the same city after school, and we continued to play together for many years. I ended up marrying one of the other players. I have since given up gaming in favor of other pastimes (it was purely a *time* thing, not that I disliked gaming), but my husband continues to play regularily so I vicariously "keep my hand in" through him. Why don't more girls/women play? There was one other female regular in that original group from college, and we gained a third female regular for a number of years after college. All three of us had long been reading science fiction and fantasy literature before being introduced to gaming. It's changing, but back then, women were a minority among those who read SF/Fantasy. I think the interest in the genre literature was a key factor in our interest in the games. Another issue is the overall social adeptness (or lack thereof) of many of the guys who are involved in gaming. I'm going to make some broad, sweeping, generalizations here, so I apologize to any male gamers on the list. Remember, I met my gaming friends in college. It's true that you don't *have* to have social awareness and maturity to get into college, but it does help. Later, when I had a chance to encounter a broader cross-section of the gaming sub-culture, well, it was an eye-opener. There was a general lack of social awareness and maturity on the part of many individuals. These were not people I wanted to hang out with! I can understand easily how the average young woman who didn't already have a circle of gaming friends would find such an atmosphere unappealing and therefore uninteresting. Here's a re-run on my rant about why so few conlangers are women, recast for RPG's. RPG'ing is a non-productive hobby. That is, it doesn't make anything practical. It's creative, it's intellectually stimulating, it's *fun*, but it's not practical. My opinion is that women receive more pressure from society to be practical, even in our hobbies. Look at many of the traditionally accepted feminine hobbies - cooking, sewing, gardening. These are all creative and satisfying, but they're also practical. Of course women have always managed to pursue non-practical hobbies - art, reading, music. But fewer women are given encouragement to do so, and even when we are, there's pressure to turn it *into* something practical, either as a career or at least as community service. So it doesn't surprise me at all that something like RPG's, with no big practical aspect, hasn't drawn a larger percentage of female participants. Laurie