Feminine Wiles


RPG Superstar™ General Discussion

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For whatever it is worth, from a personal perspective only, this is why I would not enter. While I am not a particularly gendered person, I do have two X chromosones.

I started playing AD&D when I was a kid, and was pretty hardcore about it for years. I liked both GMing and playing, and I liked designing interactive stories and adventure paths and campaigns. I ran games at conventions, played every weekend and sometimes on weekdays. I've always been a good writer, and I ended up submitting some of what I wrote to Dragon back in the day and being successful with that, among other publications.

The older I got, the less fun it got, though. I kept getting smacked in the face by the fact that *these games were not written for me* in so many ways. Females were classically depicted as objects, tavern wenches, NPC's or weak people who needed saving. They were supposed to be passive, not active. Worse, even the ones who were depicted as active were simultaneously being shown as sexual objects of male gaze who existed only to be pretty and sexual, even in situations where it was suicidally stupid to be that way. Gee, I'm sure glad I was wearing my chainmail bikini and +5 Pasties of Protection while I was being shot at with arrows. *eyeroll*

Making it full plate doesn't usually help. Do you actually know what happens if you wear metal boob armor in a real life fight, even with rattan? You get hurt. It's basic physics. Armor is armor and it exists to smoothly turn a blade. It can't do that if it's lumpy. I don't think too many SCA marshals would let anyone on the field in lumpy armor. It is really and truly not safe. It is just stupid. It exists to show that women are not allowed to be normal fighters, they have to be *sexy* fighters. Even when this is stupid and unsafe, at the expense of their effectiveness and possibly their lives. Well, a broken sternum if it's just rattan. The message this sends is toxic and hurtful to women who want to be taken seriously as real protagonists who are allowed to be effective rather than ornamental.

This was not okay with me. In my experience, this general attitude pretty regularly spilled over from the art and stories to objectifying or downright hostile remarks from some socially immature male gamers. Eventually I quit going to gaming conventions and refused to game with people I didn't already know and trust. It was not worth the hassle to walk into a gaming store for an open gaming day and have to deal with the atmosphere and the very real risk of hostility.

I have few enough days off to spend on leisure now that I'm not a kid any more, and there are many enjoyable things I can do that do not send me messages of exclusion or 'you are a passive object the hero gets to look at and act upon. You are not the hero and this game is not really for you.' There are many things I can do for fun that don't make me feel automatically excluded, like I'm looking through the wrong camera lens that is hardwired for male sexual gaze AT women, and that don't come with anywhere near as much risk of someone being denigrating or creepy or rude or hostile. So I am going to spend my time doing those things instead.

I really don't game much any more. I do still write. Other fields pay better and don't come with the side bonus of pissing me off or making me feel bad when I browse the background material, so I was out of RPG writing for some years.

Recently I was persuaded to give RPG industry writing another shot, since my partner is a regular freelancer and I'd been working with him on his projects unofficially for awhile anyhow. Paizo is better than most and has a lower percentage of sexist depictions. I won't say it has none, because that's not true. But it's not the worst by a very long shot. I can work with this. What I still won't do is participate a lot in the fannish end of things, just for fun, because it stopped being all that much fun for me years ago. I'd like it to be fun again. I hope it can be fun again. Right now I'm still pretty wary.

Take a minute to think about how it feels to constantly be looking through a lens that is hardwired for heterosexual male gaze at women when you are a heterosexual woman. Reverse this a minute and consider how comfortable you would feel if it was the other way around, and men were frequently depicted in come-hither scanty clothing and with 'sexy' body language and expressions even when there is no earthly reason for them to be. Eg, they are on a snowy glacier or waist deep in swamp mud fighting wild beasts and wearing Chippendale's cuffs and collar with cute tassles on their wing-wongs. Their poses are always sexually provocative and intended to show off their bodies, even when they are actually supposed to be taken seriously.

Do you take them seriously? Or do you start to feel a little uncomfortable, like you are clearly at the wrong party and you should never have been invited?

Yeah. Welcome to my world.

I am not a prude or sex negative by a very long shot. I support all forms of consensual adult sexuality and don't mind its inclusion in campaigns if all players are adults. What I don't feel comfortable with is one gender being consistently shown as purely ornamental and being sexualized in situations where it's utterly inappropriate to be sexual. That cute, kinda kinky but highly impractical outfit works great if you want to go dancing. Not so much when adventuring. Wearing it under those circumstances sends a pretty clear message, and it's not a good one.

Chances are that if you're a guy, you're going 'yeah, yeah, but it's not THAT bad, is it?" And I don't know how to answer that, because it's true that some people, men and women both, are luckier than others and have different experiences. Also they have different levels of privilege, and some of those privileges tend to be invisible until and unless you don't have them. If you actually want to understand how it feels to enjoy a hobby that gives you frequent messages that your gaze is not the one being catered to, try this link: http://redheadbouquet.tumblr.com/post/7477579641/on-the-difference-between- good-dogs-and-dogs-that-need It's a parable about dogs and lizards, and it is very much worth a read.

The fish that swims in the sea does not know that it is wet, or that it is salt. Chances are good that if you grew up with any form of subtle but largely unconscious cultural attitudes and media messages influencing your thinking, you may not be fully aware of the impact the ocean has on someone who is not a fish. There is an impact. I have felt it, and it has all but driven me out of gaming.

Your mileage may vary; this is just mine for the whole 0.02 copper pieces it's worth.

Paizo Employee Developer

What Joana says is certainly true, but there's also the logistical concern of sifting through hundreds and hundreds of submissions to find the competitors to move on to the next round. It's an arduous enough task for the judges and voting public to go through 32 Round 2 submissions and give them all due diligence, but very few design elements are as concise, templated, and variable as wondrous items for the purpose of finding the Top 32. Once we have those contestants, then the contest lends itself to getting more and more complex in its challenges, as each round features half as many contestants as the previous one.

When you really break it down, no matter what we use as the first round, someone would feel it wasn't indicative of the overall scope of what we're looking for. By using wondrous items, we at least get a glimpse at whether a contestant has a mastery of the English language, an eye to detail in terms of both style and formatting, creativity, and the ability to use the existing rules to make something new and interesting. That's a lot of information that we can gather from only a few hundred words. There aren't many other aspects of the game that are quite so revealing of a potential freelancer's talent.

Marathon Voter Season 6

Kenton Abel wrote:
daeja wrote:
having a handle on mechanics is an important part of design.
The point I am trying to get across is that item mechanics are to me only a very small part adventure design.

I disagree. A huge part of a module/campaign is its story. However, that story can only be told with the various pieces that get put into it. I think that you have to have a good understanding of both storytelling and mechanics in order to make sure that the story works. Want to use a particular set of monsters because it makes sense for the story? Great! But wait, they're too advanced, or too weak, for the party level. You have to have a good grasp of mechanics to be able to adjust for that. The magic items you put in there... sure they're a small percentage of the adventure as a whole but if you're not careful and don't fully understand how they work within the mechanics, and more importantly how they could be abused, then it could bring the whole thing crashing down.

To sum up, in my opinion (which people are totally free to disagree with), both story and mechanics have and equally important, though different, part to play.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 aka Flak

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Quote:
Paizo is better than most and has a lower percentage of sexist depictions. I won't say it has none, because that's not true.

I wonder how much Paizo would lose by actually 'getting there' in that department. Like, why hasn't it yet? Can we work on that? That would be cool.

(Great post, by the way, thanks for sharing.)

Star Voter Season 6

Just to throw my own perspective into the ring, I'm much more character design driven and more into the character-development-focused aspects of gaming. I certainly don't mind mixing mechanics in, though. I was thrilled to get the NPC codex and tinker from there. I don't know if it's because I'm female, because I have an acting/theatre background mixed with a creative writing background, or if it's just me, but I'm all about the characters. The reason I liked my dragonscale fan so much is primarily because I can think of several awesome concepts for characters using them. Same thing with Gorum's stompers and the charango of instant celebrity and other standout (to me) items that were in the competition this year. I like them primarily because I can imagine characters having a ton of fun with them ... whether my own PCs or NPCs in games I GM. Even when I GM, unless I'm using a published AP, I always start with making some interesting characters and build the story and world from there. So, that's me. I'd love a character-based first round entry to this competition. However, I do understand the reasoning behind using the wondrous item. Just food for thought. :)

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

@TanithT- That post took courage. Sad to hear your gaming experiences went that way, and for what its worth I know Piazo as a company is very concerned with being an inclusive company. They have demonstrated this repeatedly in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

@The topic:

Lets face it, gaming will not change without a societal shift. Its not just men that need to change, I know plenty of women that treat their partners poorly for being gamers. In order to change the perception of who a gamer is: more women to speak up and say "hey this is my hobby too, market to me, make products with me in mind."

Money talks, when men tend to be the primary consumer, the product will cater to them.

(Going to get beat up for this...)

Oddly enough the best example of an industry that mirrors this situation is the porn industry. So much of it targets a male audience that for a long time there was almost no content that targeted women consumers.

That eventually changed (prolly about 10-15 years ago) and while it is still a male dominated industry there is content that caters to women. Maybe there needs to be a 3PP run for and by women designers.

Paizo Employee Contributor , Star Voter Season 6

DeathQuaker wrote:
A lot of awesome stuff a while ago.

Hey, DQ! Sorry it's taken me so long to respond, but my post was definitely not directed at you. In fact, I had written it before I even saw yours. :) I was more saying, in general, that I think it's most important for women (and for those who support us and all other game designers in general) to consider each other allies as opposed to anything else, and that's what I think it happening here. There is some great discussion, and I hope it continues!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6 aka Shadow-Mask

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On the subject of encouraging more women to submit to RPGSS - Outside of advertising on other forums or venues, I’m not certain Paizo can actually do anything. We all come with our own personal baggage. We all have the Little Voice telling us all the reasons we shouldn’t do it, can’t do it, whatever. Often those voices aren’t ours, they are someone else’s.

Another personal story that will (hopefully) illustrate my point. I would never have thrown my hat in the ring, or continue to do so in the face of repeated failures in 2012 and 2013, without two things. First, my military service taught me I am as good as any man or woman at what I choose to do with my brain. I didn’t really learn that prior to my time in the Air Force, and for years after I didn’t apply that lesson to “creative” endeavors because I was always the “academic” not the “creative” person in my family and with close friends. Second, my husband procured a promise from me that I would submit an entry for 2011’s competition because I felt I wasn’t ready for 2010’s. Then I made it and had to learn a lot of the rules on the fly (archetypes, I’m looking at you). That experience is why I decided game design was something I wanted to do. Notice neither of those circumstances have anything at all to do with Paizo, besides my wondrous item being picked for the Top 32 in 2011. Both circumstances represent a fundamental shift that occurred within me.

The only thing we can do is scream it from the rafters and rooftops that RPGSS is a fantastic opportunity with a fantastic community. We can mentor. We can encourage. We can finagle a promise from those we know to not let us do it alone (like my husband did with me). In the end, we can only do so much. Paizo can probably market the competition better. Beyond these things, I don't know that there is anything to do.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka squidfeatures

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@TanithT: You hit the nail on the head. Tabletop gaming (indeed almost all gaming) is such an boy's world we really should be surprised there are any women gamers at all.

It's similar to the dearth of women in science and technology professions. Everyone at the top is scratching their heads wondering where the women are, when at almost every point leading up to the top women are implicitly or explicitly discouraged from continuing.

What makes tabletop gaming unique from other games is that it is REALLY good at telling stories: Anything is possible!. Why then are we telling the same stories? What TanithT brought up is that a lot of the tropes of tabletop gaming are excluding women in a way that male gamers never have to think about; they are non-issues for them. As GM_Solspiral mentioned, this is at the root a problem with society, but I would counter the assumption that because men spend the money men get the games. If women thought tabletop gaming was worth their while, they'd spend money on it. I'm not talking about flowers and unicorns and that type of stuff: that's the stuff that the ignorant think of when the think of what women want ("It's for a girl? Make it pink!"). I'm talking about a game which doesn't alienate them before they've even opened the rule-book. A game where the can participate in the community and not be dismissed or harassed for their gender. A game that is a safe and fun space to tell kick-ass stories.

Unfortunately I think the best solution to the problem is to have more women game designers. As Marie just said, we need to mentor and encourage women designers, and continue to shape Pathfinder and it's community to be much more inclusive. More women players -> more women designers. We need to prime the pump as it were.

This thread is a good start, as long as it's not an end. It would behoove us to listen with an open mind to the women posting in this thread.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

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Joana wrote:

I believe what Kenton Abel is saying (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that people who can write great modules using the building blocks of whatever's already in the rulebooks and bestiaries don't have to be great at creating brand new building blocks. I agree with this.

However, Paizo isn't looking solely for great module writers, even though that's the "prize" up for grabs. They're looking for freelancers, people they can call up and ask to write setting material, statblocks, items, monsters, archetypes, NPCs for a codex, what-have-you.

I think the fact that the "prize" is to write an adventure obscures the fact that the real goal on Paizo's part is an ongoing professional relationship which encompasses many more tasks than just coming up with a great storyline and encounters.

This is close to what I was trying to get across. I will revert to my XY genotype and use an American football example. Say I want to put together a great football team and I open up tryouts to everyone before spring training. In order to get into spring training, I have everyone try kicking a field goal from the 45 yard line. Every year, to get to spring training, you have to have to be in the top 32 for best record of making field goals.

Will I get someone in the top 32 who can play quarterback? Yes. Will they be a really good quarterback? Not likely. Will I have a good offensive line? Very unlikely. I will have a team with a lot of great kickers, but probably not a lot of winning games.

Paizo is looking for a freelance writer who can do everything. My point is that they probably should not be.

Game design is a team sport. You need players who understand all aspects of the game, but to have a really great team you need people with different skill sets. The linebacker does not need to be able to throw a 50 yard pass and have it hit a moving target, and the kicker does not need to be able to block a 300 pound defensive lineman. A mix of skill sets where each member does something extremely well makes a better team than having a team where everyone can do everything fairly well.

Just my perspective, for whatever it be worth.


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GM_Solspiral wrote:
Money talks, when men tend to be the primary consumer, the product will cater to them.

The problem with this is that the products are already so clearly marketed to the heterosexual male gaze that it is something of a self-proving equation. "Look - women aren't buying a product that has sexy women with giant gazoombas in chainmail bikinis on the cover. That must mean we shouldn't bother marketing more to women."

Well, yeah. The numbers are not a surprise, but you got cause and effect a little mixed.

Quote:
Oddly enough the best example of an industry that mirrors this situation is the porn industry. So much of it targets a male audience that for a long time there was almost no content that targeted women consumers.

This may (or may not) actually be an interesting example of what I mean when I say some cultural assumptions are invisible, part of a warm salt sea that fish can swim in for years while never knowing they are submerged. It can be very, very easy for even a nice and well meaning person to say things that are accidentally invalidating or dismissive of people who can't breathe in the same water as you, because you don't actually realize you're breathing water and that doing the same thing isn't natural or comfortable for them.

I think what you mean is a specifically heterosexual male audience that depicts women as the sexualized objects of gaze, yes? Feel free to correct if I'm wrong.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

chibiamy wrote:

And to be honest, I think the Archetype I wrote up was much better than my Wondrous Item. Which means, I'm getting better with each step.

Any way for us non-Top 32-ers to get archetypes reviewed? Or would that just bombard the boards too much?

Just to reply to this one bit, there is usually a what-would-you-have-submitted thread after the voting is done on the official Round 2 entries. I would imagine it will be a very large thread this year, since Paizo gave us the "twist" really early. I imagine if you post your archetype there, you'll get lots of feedback. No idea if any of it will be from official sources, but I think it could end up being nearly as big as the critique-my-item thread this year.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Kenton Abel wrote:
Paizo is looking for a freelance writer who can do everything. My point is that they probably should not be.

I counter with: it's really easy to find someone who is good at just A, just B, or just C, or just D. It's really hard to find someone who is good at A, B, C, and D.

When it comes to modules, we need someone who can A (tell a good story), B (handle stat blocks well), C (create neat magic item rewards for the adventure), and D (build interesting encounters with good use of game mechanics). It also helps if they E (know our campaign setting), F (are familiar with what stuff we've done so they don't duplicate existing content), G (can meet deadlines), H (work well under pressure), I (produce a clean turnover), J (handle criticism well), and K (be innovative in story ideas and finding unexplored areas of the game's design space).

Amazingly enough, this competition has tests for all of those things. In fact, Round 1 tests B, C, F, G, H, I, J, and K, and possibly E.

RPG Superstar is doing exactly what it needs to do, and is doing it well.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'll agree with A, B, and D through K, but how many modules actually need to invent new magic items as treasure? I understand that some stories are enhanced by that, particularly high-level ones where the PCs can be assumed to be fairly blinged out already, but aren't there enough wondrous items out there now that I never see in a treasure horde without each BBEG having to have a brand new one? Is that actually a goal of Paizo's modules, to introduce a new kind of treasure in every one?

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Most Paizo modules have at least one new magic item. Every volume of a Pathfinder AP has several.


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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Most Paizo modules have at least one new magic item. Every volume of a Pathfinder AP has several.

If you think about the economics of a society where magic exists and it is possible to enchant items, some logical storytelling conclusions do follow.

If people can create magic items to do stuff, they most certainly will. A lot of them. Though honestly I would expect to see a lot more practical/commercial enchanted items, along with some weird ones and semi-failures, and....ahem...how do I put this. You know how Google needs a safe search filter because of what the Internet is overwhelmingly used for? That. I would expect to see a lot of that.

Magic factories, magic substitutes for labor saving devices and magically enhanced porn, pretty much. Magic items targeted for 'adventurers'? Limited market. The percentages have to be lower for it to make sense.

A minor talent 'shipyard mage' could make a truly excellent living with a couple of spells that shaped wood, finished it and made it more waterproof. Any form of industrial, commercial or agricultural production would have absolutely huge financial incentives for enchanters to focus on. Industrial magic items may seem boring, but some of them could probably be lots of fun if they were left lying around without instruction manuals.

Magic as a theory or philosophy, which is how it actually worked out in real world history, can be very fanciful indeed. A fantasy game world tends to keep a fair amount of that feel. Except that where magic works predictably and reliably, it becomes technology, or its effective substitute. Magic as a driving economic factor in industry and production produces a really interesting social picture.

In this picture, what do you want to bet that there's a huge flippin' market for enchanted lightbulbs, magic central heating and air conditioning, enhanced crafting and industrial production tools, etc? What do 'magic items' *actually look like* when they basically are the modern tech of the day?

You can always postulate that magic is too expensive to use to light or heat any but the wealthiest houses, or to use to produce common goods. In that case, logically you won't be finding a ton of random 'interesting' magic items intended for adventurers in a world where you are also not finding magic lightbulbs and hedge-mages owning production shipyards and factories that waterproof massive amounts of cloth.

Food for thought. I don't see any automatic plot holes with the presence of lots of magic items, but I do see some if their nature does not make economic sense.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Most Paizo modules have at least one new magic item. Every volume of a Pathfinder AP has several.

Goes to show how much attention I pay to magic items, I guess. I must skim right over them.

Honestly, I think there are too many wondrous items already, especially when the same ones keep getting put in treasures and on NPCs over and over and others lie in the CRB virtually unused. I'd love to find a bag of tricks one of these days. They're way too expensive to actually buy.

Silver Crusade Star Voter Season 7

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Matthew Morris wrote:
Jeff Lee wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:


"I hate Twilight" is the edition war of vampire fandom. There's no point to it except t bash others and make yourself feel superior.
Well, to be fair, there are other things besides lame vampires not to like, such as the terrible message it sends to young women in regard to relationships and their role in them, among other things.

Amusingly, there's a similar backlash in the BDSM community I've seen to the unholy offspring of Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey.

I've not read them, but I have seen people saying they glorify an abusive relationship, not a D/s relationship. Now part of this might be the 'edition wars' of kink, since I've seen an uptick of (mostly women, because I don't check male profiles) "Ohmygod50shadesofgreywassoawesomeIwanttofindoutmoreaboutit" profiles.

Tangent:

Yeah, 50 Shades of Grey was the exact thing the BDSM community neither wanted nor needed. It's pretty much selling an abusive relationship as BDSM and playing exactly to the perceptions that have stigmatized that subculture and made them a favorite punching bag for broadcast network crime dramas and other pop culture venues. Heck, can anyone even name one positive portrayal of D/s folks in D&D/Pathfinder land?

The fact that it's resulted in a ton of people glorifying what's in 50 Shades and declaring that they're totally into bondage now really honks off the SSC folks that have worked hard to keep their subculture safe.

Which honestly is much more dangerous than most geek culture complaints about people ruining the things they like by jumping on a bandwagon, now that I think about it...

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
RPG Superstar is doing exactly what it needs to do, and is doing it well.

This thread was started because RGPSS has exactly zero women in the top 32 this year. If you want to continue this record, I concede that nothing needs to change. If you want to continue to minimize the participation of half of the population in RPG, please keep doing exactly the same every year. You are indeed finding very talented freelance writers that excel at "C" and are good at A, B, D, etc.

I really hope that excluding women is not exactly what needs to be done every year.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

Mikaze wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

50 shades of tangents

Spoiler:
Definitely. Though Lady Heather on CSI was a pretty positive portrayal, and realistic from my interactions.

I had a gamer friend who was a stripper. In a chat someone asked her how much she pulled down in a weekend. I commented "Impressive, I make that in a week." She seemed surprised I didn't go on a tirade or something. I said "Darlin, we're both in customer service [I worked in a call centre]. The difference is? I can hang up on my customers."

Actually for a guy who's never been to a strip club, I know a lot of (ex-)strippers.

Perhaps the funniest thing is, I know classmates and family who eat up 50 Shades, who would behorrified to see that in real life.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

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Kenton Abel wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
RPG Superstar is doing exactly what it needs to do, and is doing it well.

This thread was started because RGPSS has exactly zero women in the top 32 this year. If you want to continue this record, I concede that nothing needs to change. If you want to continue to minimize the participation of half of the population in RPG, please keep doing exactly the same every year. You are indeed finding very talented freelance writers that excel at "C" and are good at A, B, D, etc.

I really hope that excluding women is not exactly what needs to be done every year.

Really? So in a blind trial the fact that no women made it means it is biased?

Amusingly, I know of no women who use a urinal either. So should we change restroom design?

I have a dream... I have a dream that one day entrants to RPG SuperStar will be judged by the quality of their submission, not the orientation of their plumbing. Oh... wait.

Also remember, there are other avenues of entry into 'the business'. Open calls, PSF scenarios, hells, just by doing artwork and fan submissions can get someone's foot in the door. Or does the term Promoted Fanboy mean anything to you? Hells, look at the Paizo staff, they practically own the term!

RPG Superstar is designed to find the best freelancer. Not the best male freelancer. Not the best female freelancer. Not the best chihuahua freelancer. To change the formula only for the purpose of being 'inclusive' defeats the purpose.

If changing the formula (which they do constantly) to make finding the best freelancer, incidentally produces more women, chihuahuas, whatever, then so be it.

Sovereign Court Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

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Kenton Abel wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
RPG Superstar is doing exactly what it needs to do, and is doing it well.

This thread was started because RGPSS has exactly zero women in the top 32 this year. If you want to continue this record, I concede that nothing needs to change. If you want to continue to minimize the participation of half of the population in RPG, please keep doing exactly the same every year. You are indeed finding very talented freelance writers that excel at "C" and are good at A, B, D, etc.

I really hope that excluding women is not exactly what needs to be done every year.

This statement draws a false conclusion. Women were not excluded. Women just didn't place in the top 32. While the net effect (no women in the top 32 this year) might be the same, they are two very different statements with two very different discussions.

If I may share what I believe SKR was saying (not trying to put words in your mouth - please forgive if inaccurate)- RPG Superstar has accurately identified talented game designers who have been successful post-contest.

The question of why so few of those particular talented individuals have been Y-chromosome free and what might be done about it is the true nature of the question and the discussion so far.

Is there more that Paizo can do to encourage the ladies to participate? Are there changes in our hobby in general that would make the environment more conducive to the development of female game designers? Is there more that women in the industry can do to help encourage others to follow in their footsteps?

Being a girl in gaming I understand that feeling excluded can come with the territory and I would not dismiss anyone's experiences or feelings. I recognize some women have dealt with much worse than I have encountered. TanithT also makes an excellent point that the first step to discussing salinity intelligently is recognizing that you live in the ocean...

But, I will defend Paizo's inclusiveness (in so far as they also swim the ocean of the RPG industry) and the fairness of RPG Superstar. The contest is gender-neutral (blind submittals!) and one of Paizo's top designers has specifically been on record recently encouraging ladies to participate. Not to put too much burden on Lisa and Jessica, but Paizo does have some pretty talented women in some pretty important positions within their company.

I want more women participating in and WINNING RPG superstar...the way that it is. Please don't change the rules of the game to make the bar lower, easier, or more anything else-er just to get more women in the door. And please do continue to foster excellent discussions like this thread.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

@Matthew - what if the first round was drawing a monster? I know I would never never make round 2 because I cannot draw to save my life. Would you find the best writer in later rounds? You would have a great top person, I am sure. The top 32 would be different.

If kicking is always the first round, you are still inclusive but not necessarily find all the skill sets out there.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

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Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:

Early on someone mentioned Weis, and like many I love her stuff. I discovered it in college (call it 1989), and read loads of it, but before that I had read every word McCaffrey ever wrote about Pern, and Dinosaur Planet and several other worlds she created (although keeping up over the years has been impossible). As much as Tolkein influenced me, Madeleine L'Engle got to me first. "A Wrinkle in Time" was written before I was born, and "Wind in the Door" before I could read, but I remember clearly my anticipation of "A Swiftly Tilting Planet."

You're hardly old and Madeleine L'Engle led me to get a degree in genetics because of her books.

I would like to ask the ladies though, because (I think) Deathquaker mentioned not entering the contest and neither did I - Why did or didn't you put in an entry this year?

I don't enter RPGSS for a couple reasons: I have no driving goal to be a game designer, nor do I actually DM in our group. I have never designed any of the kind of things that RPGSS asks for and thus I recognize that I am woefully under-qualified to enter, so I saved my creative energies for something else I like to do.

However, now that I have typed all of that out for you, I have asked questions of my partner in crime, been directed to the shelves of untapped APs in our gaming room and will probably work up the nerve to run something for our crew. Of our 6 players, 3 are male and 3 are female. The guys have all run stuff before and have been taking turns so everyone gets a chance to play. I realize now that I am literate and could probably make something happen at the table.

Generally I lack the confidence because I've just never done it before, but with a supportive group like the one we game with and the published AP's it's something that I am willing to consider.

Okay, I'm going to stop rambling now, this post didn't quite go were I meant it to go. This is what I wanted to say:

Why didn't you enter RPGSS? What would it take for you to be willing to enter? What do you feel you need to get there? How can we as a community help you find that something?

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

To be clear, I do not want any bar lower. I want the best product to buy and I do not care about the gender of the author. If the test to get into architect school was designing a power tool, you will have a different pool of students than if the test was something else.

Why not have a different round one next year and see what happens?

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

Magical_Beast wrote:


If I may share what I believe SKR was saying (not trying to put words in your mouth - please forgive if inaccurate)- RPG Superstar has accurately identified talented game designers who have been successful post-contest.

It has identified some talented game designers who have been successful post-contest. Has it identified all of them that it could? I think everyone would agree probably not.

So what kind of designers is it missing out on? Why?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

Kenton Abel wrote:

@Matthew - what if the first round was drawing a monster? I know I would never never make round 2 because I cannot draw to save my life. Would you find the best writer in later rounds? You would have a great top person, I am sure. The top 32 would be different.

If kicking is always the first round, you are still inclusive but not necessarily find all the skill sets out there.

Then it would be Art Superstar. (This is especially amusing to me, since I flubbed (and joke about) my maps. Would I have won if I passed cartography? Neither here nor there.)

Your post clearly said: "If you want to continue to minimize the participation of half of the population in RPG, please keep doing exactly the same every year." A pretty big leap of faith. Especially since it is implying intent from a) a contest who has produced a woman winnder and b) is being run by a company with a female CEO. I doubt they want to minimize anyone's role. It was a blind formula which has worked. Like any formula it can be improved. But it should be improved with the goal of producing more talent. To tweak it to produce any other desired result, ruins the concept.
(aside, I think the consensus was a 70/30 split. I understand Barbie said "Math is hard" but that's not 'half'."

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

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Magical_Beast wrote:
I want more women participating in and WINNING RPG superstar...the way that it is. Please don't change the rules of the game to make the bar lower, easier, or more anything else-er just to get more women in the door. And please do continue to foster excellent discussions like this thread.

I've been sitting this discussion out for a bit, because a) I've been busy, and b) I wanted to make sure the ladies were heard on this topic much more than the guys. That said, for a broader discourse, the men have to participate a bit as well. And, the words of Magical_Beast above prompted me to chime in again. Here's why...

First, let's all recognize that a woman actually has won RPG Superstar. In fact, the very first Superstar. Christine Schneider worked her butt off to overcome a lot of barriers to take the prize. She should be a major inspiration to everyone out there, from women to those who read/write English only as a second-language. Now, she hasn't been as prolific since then, but, from what I understand, in large part, that's due to a lot of other things going on in her life. I know that feeling these days.

Secondly, for those arguing that women are more character-centric or story-driven and that they'd participate more if the entry point wasn't a wondrous item, I disagree. As many have pointed out (including the judges for many years running), the wondrous item is the perfect litmus test. You're unlikely to find any other assignment in such a small package that gives the judges a hint at so many of a potential freelancer's abilities. And let's be frank, this isn't a contest about "Who Can Write The Best Stories and Plot Lines." And it's not a contest about "Who Can Create The Best Characters." It's not even about "Who Can Make The Best Monsters" either. Paizo isn't looking for hyper-specialized freelancers. Instead, they're trying to discover a heretofore unknown designer whose talent covers a much broader range of skills which (by experience) the developers at Paizo know writers will need when working on their products. That said, as long as you show you're capable with the basics, the developers will certainly identify your strongest skills and assure you're put on those types of assignments to get your feet wet before widening you out to broader opportunities.

So, I completely agree with Sean's ABCDEFG explanation. I've heard James Jacobs characterize it much the same way. There's a list of skills a Superstar designer should be capable of...and hopefully, above average at. Writing talent, obviously. The ability to both design and apply the rules of the game. Magic item design. Feat/spell design. Monster design. Stat-block math skills. Storytelling. Character conceptualization. Naming skills. World building. Mapping skills. And, yes, the ability to follow instructions, templates, and outlines with an attentiveness to deadlines and the professionalism to honor non-disclosure agreements. The overall RPG Superstar contest takes you through many of the in's and out's of that entire list. Each round's challenge attempts to highlight one or more of those things for the judges and voters to assess. By the end of the whole thing, you've hopefully got four really capable designers who withstood the fire, and now stand eager and ready to pitch an adventure proposal which Paizo and the voters have every confidence they'll deliver on.

But the reason the first round works best with a wondrous item is because it's a special kind of magic item. It encapsulates many more of those categories of assessment...and in a small enough package...that they can be evaluated quickly and accurately to get a good idea of who deserves a shot at displaying their other skills during the rest of the challenges. Think about it. The wondrous item requires descriptive and clear writing talent...it demonstrates the ability to craft magic items (which as Sean cited, always appear in every Paizo adventure)...it requires an understanding of feats and spells (even if you're not crafting a new one yet)...it requires an understanding of the rules (especially when crafting new wondrous items that bends them a little)...it might require an understanding of monsters (if you incorporate a summoned creature or template variations into your design)...it requires a bit of math in your pricing...it requires creativity in naming...it requires you to follow a template and the rules of the contest...and it requires that you stick to a non-disclosure agreement and avoid talking about your item lest you DQ yourself.

Now, I understand how some people will say you can still achieve that with some other assignment. The closest would be an NPC or monster with a stat-block. But stop and consider how much effort that would require for evaluation. You can't do an NPC or monster write-up justice in 300 words or less. Considering the leaps and bounds with which the contest grows every year, the sheer volume of words to review is beyond the ability of the judges to tackle in the timeframe they're given. That's why things were crowdsourced this year. Now, ask yourselves, given how long it took for you to review these 300-words-or-less wondrous items compared two at a time, how long do you think it would take if they changed up the first round assignment to a monster or NPC with a stat-block? The one-page write-ups in the Bestiary usually run close to 700 words. That's more than twice the length of a wondrous item. And that means you'll have twice the words and probably ten times the math and rules-related stuff to consider in your evaluation. I'm sure some of you out there think you could still manage to review hundreds and hundreds of those types of submissions. That's probably why you have Marathon and Dedicated voter tags next to your name right now. But, for the vast majority of voters, that kind of task would simply be beyond them...at least, in the numbers that would be needed. And, without enough voters to create that broad spectrum of comparisons, the Condorcet-style sorting method won't add as much value as it did this year.

So, look, I've rambled on and on (as usual). But circle back to the larger discussion and ask yourself this question: Should a Superstar designer be capable of creating an awesome wondrous item in 300 words or less, regardless of their gender? If you think about it, I'm fairly certain the answer is yes. Is that single assignment the one thing that's keeping female gamers and wannabe designers from submitting for RPG Superstar? I sincerely doubt it. I'm sure it's an assignment that gives would-be designers of both genders pause. And it should. But that doesn't mean it's not a valid challenge. And it doesn't mean there aren't female designers up to the task (as Christine, Elizabeth, Marie, Sue, and others have demonstrated). Clearly, several ladies this year made the Top 89, as well. That's the equivalent of making the Keep folder from prior years. That means you're nearly there. Just ask the guys who got in after trying year after year, working in the "9 Blazing Months" thread, etc. They worked their way up the chain and now they've got their chance. Ladies can and should do the same thing. And don't lean on some preconceived notion that the wondrous item is a constraint that's holding you back. Because I think that's an excuse and nothing more.

In the meantime, I'll reiterate what Sean said. For the purposes of what Paizo needs from RPG Superstar, the contest is working out very well. Every year, they load even more freelancer talent into their writing pool. And, while everyone who gets their foot in the door may not be the most awesome magic item designers in the world, they were capable enough to get their foot in the door. You need to be, as well. And, from there, you can shine that much more in the character-development, world-building, and storytelling challenges, if that's where you believe your strengths lie. Paizo (and other 3PP's) will most certainly watch you while you're on that stage to assess those strengths and weaknesses. And, the judges are there to help call that stuff out, too. All of that is so you can improve, but it's also so Paizo's developers and other publishers can take note of it and give you additional opportunities outside of RPG Superstar if they wish. The trick once you get in, is making the most of your opportunity to sell yourself. Show them what you're capable of. And also, show them how much you can improve even at the things you might not be strongest at right now. For the purposes of Round One, that means wondrous items. And, you've got a whole year to work on that and then show them how much you've grown.

To me, that's the takeaway here. Acknowledge that you need a broad array of skills to become a Superstar freelancer for Paizo. Yes, they know you'll be stronger at some things than others. But, as someone with professional freelancing interest, you should be growing your portfolio of capabilities every chance you get. For the ladies, maybe that means getting into the nuts and bolts a bit more...not because you expect that to be the most interesting or appealing element of design to you...but because you know you'll need to have that skill at a passable level to break through and have opportunities at all the other stuff you enjoy designing more. There are plenty of male Superstar wannabes in that same boat. Wondrous items aren't necessarily their thing. But they're jones'ing for a shot at monster design or something else. Still, they've got to clear that same first hurdle as everyone else. So, you're in good company. Everyone's still on an equal playing field with the wondrous item assignment. And you'll all need some level of skill at producing all the little elements that make up wondrous items to advance. That's because those skills are necessary for many of the other types of assignments, as well. The sooner folks recognize that, the sooner everyone gets better at game design and taking their shot at the prize.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

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mamaursula wrote:

You're hardly old and Madeleine L'Engle led me to get a degree in genetics because of her books.

I would like to ask the ladies though, because (I think) Deathquaker mentioned not entering the contest and neither did I - Why did or didn't you put in an entry this year?

I don't enter RPGSS for a couple reasons: I have no driving goal to be a game designer, nor do I actually DM in our group. I have never designed any of the kind of things that RPGSS asks for and thus I recognize that I am woefully under-qualified to enter, so I saved my creative energies for something else I like to do.

So what do you like to do?

Actually it's a serious, non-snarky question. Of the women who I currently encounter at PFS, one is just learning, and is crafty, another is an artist, and a third is just getting ready to GM (I don't know her hobbies, but she plays a great gnome.) The first is already talking about knitting dice bags, and the second I might ask to sketch out my PCs. Not from a gender role argument, but would 'the community' benefit from exposing women to the areas where they are prone to excell, then expand out from there?

If I may pick on Crystal Frasier, I knew her 'as an artist' here, and was pleasantly surprised at The Harrowing.

With RPG superstar, I'm sure our hosts will agree that no one* who wins comes out a 100% ready, set to be let loose in the wild Freelancer that will not need any close adult supervision. So I guess the question is, should Paizo (or any company) look for specialists, or do they benefit more by things that encourage generalists?

*

Spoiler:
Ok, so Neil may be the exception... :P
Bonus Edit: Of course I invoke his name while writing and he appears with his wall of text spell

Scarab Sages Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

It's been great to read - I'm not much of one to really jump in online, typically because I am chasing kids, etc. I'm glad it has sparked discussion and debate. And now I've been eyeing Google Plus, which I haven't for a while, trying to figure out how to start a group for mutual game design improvement!

I needed to do something like this years ago!

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

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Matthew Morris wrote:
mamaursula wrote:

You're hardly old and Madeleine L'Engle led me to get a degree in genetics because of her books.

I would like to ask the ladies though, because (I think) Deathquaker mentioned not entering the contest and neither did I - Why did or didn't you put in an entry this year?

I don't enter RPGSS for a couple reasons: I have no driving goal to be a game designer, nor do I actually DM in our group. I have never designed any of the kind of things that RPGSS asks for and thus I recognize that I am woefully under-qualified to enter, so I saved my creative energies for something else I like to do.

So what do you like to do?

Actually it's a serious, non-snarky question. Of the women who I currently encounter at PFS, one is just learning, and is crafty, another is an artist, and a third is just getting ready to GM (I don't know her hobbies, but she plays a great gnome.) The first is already talking about knitting dice bags, and the second I might ask to sketch out my PCs. Not from a gender role argument, but would 'the community' benefit from exposing women to the areas where they are prone to excell, then expand out from there?

I truncated your post for brevity in the post, not to cut out your comments.

Actually, I have counted among my life long hobbies outside of gaming: music (listening and performance), reading, beading and knitting. By profession I am a registered nurse. I have never been an avid writer, which I feel is one of the reasons I've never really considered RPGSS as a place for me. However, my husband, Andrew Marlowe has always worked on something design or other and I find it a very relationship fulfilling project to assist him in.

I LOVE the idea that is being kicked around a couple places about a writing support group and would be delighted to be a part of it as the "five year old" option - someone who doesn't actually know a lot of the details but looks at things with a new set of eyes to find issues where others might already know the answers. It's what I do for Andrew and the others in our little cadre of gamers.

Regardless of genre types, writing groups are always helpful. When I worked in a bookstore, I had a local published romance writer who would come in and autograph all her books, so I had the opportunity to speak with her about how she got started and what not. She started with a writing group and many of the members have since been published. I have seen numerous authors thank their writing groups for their support.

I don't want to see Paizo change their contest, I want to see our community change in a way that promotes excellence in game design, regardless of gender and free of bullying, which has been noted many times before by myself and others this community is blessedly free of for the most part.

I would also like to thank the ladies who have shared their own stories and insights, I am glad to see that I am not alone in my reticence or hope. No one ever wants to be excluded from something they love, finding like minded people is a path every gamer has walked and I am glad to have found a safe and friendly environment here at Paizo, I would like to thank them for their hard work in making it so.


Matthew Morris wrote:
Mikaze wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

50 shades of tangents

** spoiler omitted **

Started a new thread in Books for further discussion. Here.


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Quote:

But that's just my two cents,

--Neil

No wonder Paizo loves you if you take two cents for wall of text like that. I am surprised that at such price they don't solicit your work more.

Spoiler:
:P

Drejk's occasional off-topic English language question:
Ok, now I wonder: shouldn't it be "No wonder Paizo loves you, if (...)? In Polish we have stricter rules for using comma and it would be obligatory before "if" but I am not sure in English.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

mamaursula wrote:
Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:

Early on someone mentioned Weis, and like many I love her stuff. I discovered it in college (call it 1989), and read loads of it, but before that I had read every word McCaffrey ever wrote about Pern, and Dinosaur Planet and several other worlds she created (although keeping up over the years has been impossible). As much as Tolkein influenced me, Madeleine L'Engle got to me first. "A Wrinkle in Time" was written before I was born, and "Wind in the Door" before I could read, but I remember clearly my anticipation of "A Swiftly Tilting Planet."

You're hardly old and Madeleine L'Engle led me to get a degree in genetics because of her books.

Yes, well I feel oldest in the mornings until my joints realign for the new day, and I appreciate the sentiment.

Regarding the rest of your post, enter RPGSS next year! The worst that can come of it, is that you don't make the top 32, which happened to most of us!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

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mamaursula wrote:
I don't want to see Paizo change their contest, I want to see our community change in a way that promotes excellence in game design, regardless of gender and free of bullying, which has been noted many times before by myself and others this community is blessedly free of for the most part.

This. I think if folks are serious about seeing more ladies in the game industry (and RPG Superstar), then it's going to take a concerted effort from multiple angles. The community should certainly come together to support and encourage it. That means an all-female writer's support group could be a step in the right direction. And it also means the guys need to be more knowledgeable and attentive to how they conduct themselves with regards to ladies in gaming, both here on the messageboards and at their gaming tables. Paizo's developers will need to be more attentive towards it, as well.

In fact, all game companies will need to evaluate how they choose to portray women in gaming products. As usual, I happen to think Paizo is much more at the forefront of enabling changes in that direction. They're already pretty attentive to it. And yet, like any other publisher in this industry, they know sex still sells. And, if the majority of their customer base is still male, sexy women in their gaming products are going to help them sell more. As more and more women get into gaming and game design, however...and make their voices heard...there'll be opportunities to shift it further, provided the products continue to sell well.

Meanwhile, you have to recognize there's a cultural element to this that goes far above the RPG industry. How women are portrayed in movies, video games, and other media will still undercut whatever efforts a game publisher tries to exert in changing things. So, it's not going to happen overnight. And it may not happen to the degree that some ladies (and men) would prefer. That doesn't mean there's no room for improving things or that folks shouldn't try. But it's on everyone to try. And, the first step ladies can take in that direction is to start applying themselves to kicking down the door and sharing their talents with the world. RPG Superstar and Paizo's readiness and willingness to work with lady designers is one of the better opportunities for doing so.

So, don't let any jaded pessimism or self-doubt hold you back. Consider how much railing against the status quo will help or hinder your efforts in making that change realistically happen (and at what kind of pace). Conduct yourself accordingly. And, in the meantime, it's on everyone else to broaden and change their perspective to support the ladies that give it a go.


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I think it is so sad that sexy is always, for some reason, equated with nudity. I find it pretty crude and just a touch offensive that it is.

Scarab Sages Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

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Kenton Abel wrote:


This thread was started because RGPSS has exactly zero women in the top 32 this year.

I suppose I will have to clarify why I started this.

I wanted to find out where the women who entered RPGSS landed in the standings. Oh, sure, there aren't any in the TOP 32, it's likely not the first, and likely won't be the last, given the stats that SKR gave us earlier in the thread.

It was also started as a way to draw women who entered, and those who didn't but are readying these forums, together in conversation about our designs, what we think we could have done better, what was liked or disliked in general by the judges and the voting populace, and as a ... well ... as a support group.

Since it was suggested, I am heavily looking into starting a Blog and Google Plus hangout/group to start weekly design exercises - be it a wondrous item, an organization, archetype, monster, or just simply an NPC. A place for us to get together as hobbyists in the minority of gender, to improve our skills, get ideas for our own games, or just to have fun.

I certainly don't have the expertise to do anything other than a Book Club-ish sort of gathering - nor would I want to do anything that would impede upon RPGSS' turf. RPGSS is GREAT! Why not have 'practice exams' before next year's RPGSS.

And who knows, it may never get off the ground!

I am a woman. I know I am in the minority. There are times in which I feel out of place in games - and I want to change that. If I can change that for myself, and other women at the same time, well, that's just icing on the proverbial cake to me.

Repeating the top of this post
I did not start this post to accuse RPGSS and it's judges of being misogynist.
With the stats quoted, I'm impressed, with those stats, of how well women have done in the past, honestly! 5% of all entries were women, that's it?!
I just take this as impetus for myself to work harder, and hopefully better, next year.

Paizo Employee Developer

Kenton Abel wrote:

@Matthew - what if the first round was drawing a monster? I know I would never never make round 2 because I cannot draw to save my life. Would you find the best writer in later rounds? You would have a great top person, I am sure. The top 32 would be different.

If kicking is always the first round, you are still inclusive but not necessarily find all the skill sets out there.

I addressed in my previous post why round 1 is unlikely to change. Wondrous items really do touch on almost everything we expect freelancers working for us to be able to do: follow the rules of the game and the formatting and style that comes along with that, come up with creative ideas within that rules set, exhibit a good handle on (if not mastery of) the English language, meet wordcount, and follow directions.

One of the topics of discussion when this year's contest was being planned was in what order different challenges should be presented. Should contestants be tasked with making a monster or an archetype? Should we move the mapping round up to earlier in the contest? Ultimately, we decided on the order we did because we felt that we'd rather know after Round 2 that all 16 continuing competitors had a handle on how archetypes work in our game and could design an archetype anchored not just in our rules but in our setting. That might not be the same subset of people that could have come up with a really cool villain concept. But it helps us narrow the field to get closer to what we're looking for in the Top 8, 4, and champion.

If you look at the analysis of the actual percentage of women who've made it into the Top 32 and subsequent rounds, it holds very closely to the percentage of women who enter. It's not about changing the contest to make the first round easier for women to succeed at (or changing it to make it any easier for any other demographic subgroup based on race, gender, sexuality, or class to make the cut). If we doubled the number of women who entered from 5% of all contestants to 10%, past results would indicate that we'd have one or more women in the Top 32. But because it's a blind selection process, both for voters and the judges, there's never a guarantee that that'd be the case.

As has been pointed out upthread, about 5% of the Top 100 entries were women. That average holds true even if you cut that down to Top 50. It's not that the contest needs to change to make women better equipped to meet the challenges, because honestly, implying that women can't do the task presented is undervaluing what we already know women can do. We just need to reach out and encourage women to enter and make paizo.com a community in which women aren't afraid of taking a risk and putting themselves out there (as Jessica mentioned in one of her early posts). If 10 or 20% of the contest's entrants are women next year, the chances of highly-voted wondrous items designed by women not making it into the Top 32 diminishes drastically.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

chibiamy wrote:


It was also started as a way to draw women who entered, and those who didn't but are readying these forums, together in conversation about our designs, what we think we could have done better, what was liked or disliked in general by the judges and the voting populace, and as a ... well ... as a support group.

Since it was suggested, I am heavily looking into starting a Blog and Google Plus hangout/group to start weekly design exercises - be it a wondrous item, an organization, archetype, monster, or just simply an NPC. A place for us to get together as hobbyists in the minority of gender, to improve our skills, get ideas for our own games, or just to have fun.

I certainly don't have the expertise to do anything other than a Book Club-ish sort of gathering - nor would I want to do anything that would impede upon RPGSS' turf. RPGSS is GREAT! Why not have 'practice exams' before next year's RPGSS.

And who knows, it may never get off the ground!

I am a woman. I know I am in the minority. There are times in which I feel out of place in games - and I want to change that. If I can change that for myself, and other women at the same time, well, that's just icing on the proverbial cake to me.
...
I just take this as impetus for myself to work harder, and hopefully better, next year.

Well Chibiamy, if you're serious about starting something, PM me and I'll get you my active gmail account. I don't think we'll be able to change the world as individuals, but we'll have a better chance if we work together.


I entered (as I usually do) and came somewhere in the mddle of the pack (as I usually do).

To be bluntly honest, I've got to the stage where I don't expect to get through because my skills lean more towards taking what already exists and working within it than creating bright-sparkly-new from scratch. I'm capable of doing it, but my results tend to be solid and practical rather than dazzling. I'm better suited to worldbuilding, villain creation and character based stuff.

Superstar isn't the only way to break into the industry though, so I'll keep plugging away at other avenues. If I still qualify next year, I'll probably enter again, because although it's unlikely that I'll get through, if I don't enter it's a certainty that I won't get through.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6 aka Mattrex

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Mark Moreland wrote:
We just need to reach out and encourage women to enter and make paizo.com a community in which women aren't afraid of taking a risk and putting themselves out there (as Jessica mentioned in one of her early posts).

Here and a few times before, there has been talk about community-building. That is an admirable goal, but what specifically do you think can or should be done to facilitate that? What is it exactly that people think we (as a community here on paizo.com) should do, or what do they think we are currently doing that we should not do?

I confess that I sometimes feel a little like Josef K., indicted for nonspecific crimes by an ambiguous authority, where my guilt is presumed and I am given no option of remediation or appeal.

So, I am encouraging you all to express what it is that you feel is holding you back here. Tell us what your grievances are with this community, so that it can work to address those proactively.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6 aka Shadow-Mask

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“Women’s Writing Group”:
Chibiamy and mamaursula, I'd like to help with the support group if you want it. I'm thinking of doing the same thing on Facebook and would love the help if you're on there. Or anyone else interested. :)

Addressing women in game design: Solutions?:
I don't have specific problems at the community level, let alone any that can be addressed by Paizo. Then again, I tend to lurk and not get too directly involved outside the Superstar forums. I tried once or twice, but I wound up feeling like I made a fool of myself instead of contributing constructively to what was going on.

Lurking is a "me" thing. I do it even on messageboards run by longtime friends. Paizo can't help with that.

Something Paizo can do is get the word out sooner, maybe a month or two prior to opening the submission window. Also, really stress the anonymity of the first round. Two of the largest reasons I didn't send anything into the 2010 competition is because I didn't know it was anonymous and I didn't have time to acclimate myself to the idea of public criticism. That is extraordinarily intimidating. Again, being intimidated was my problem. Not knowing the initial round was anonymous could have been addressed more directly by Paizo. Like in the announcement itself “It’s that time of year again. RPG Superstar 20XX begins <this date>. Remember, the first round submissions are anonymous. <Rah-Rah text>.”

The cons Paizo participates in can certainly address the problems, also. Paizocon would be a fantastic venue for this. How many women make it onto any convention’s game design panels? I don’t know; I’ve never been to one. Seeing is believing, as they say, and seeing women on these panels discussing game design or RPGSS as authorities and being treated respectfully by their male peers in front of all and sundry can definitely make a difference. Also, setting aside time for networking, mentoring, etc will really help those who want to put themselves forward and aren’t quite certain how to go about it.

I’m not certain how helpful “Women Focused” panels will be. If they’re nothing more than “It sucks to be a woman so a) the industry needs to focus solely on women or b) women need to suck it up.” - Both positions are incredibly not helpful. Unfortunately, most of the discussion I’ve seen on other forums fall into these two categories.

Slight tangent for an illustrative point - I’ve said this before; I wanted to be an astronaut before I ever knew there was such a job. Neil Armstrong and the moon landing was a big part of the desire; Sally Ride was a big part of the goal. Ms. Ride and her female colleagues opened up tech to girls my age. Unfortunately, few if any women advanced in tech fields regardless of their competence (or their accomplishments aren’t trumpeted to the rest of us), and we’re seeing a drop off in girls interested in tech as a career. I think that lack of continued or growing competent female presence, particularly in leadership and research roles, is hurting that industry.

My advice for RPG companies…Put the Lisa Stevens’ in game design out there on panels discussing how they got in the industry, why they stayed, and where they’re going. Have them stress the importance of continued growth in the female design pool and address the challenges, including cultural ones, they met along the way. How did they address the problems? What has worked for them? What hasn’t worked to make the culture more welcoming? What’s changing that maybe we don’t see on the outside? If you’d rather, generalize it to include all “minority” viewpoints. If we acknowledge the factors that lead to intimidation and withdrawal on the part of those in the minority, then we can more believably recruit people to directly address those factors and encourage those in the minority to step up, make changes, and recruit others.

As for those of us in the minority, we need to take responsibility for our responses. We choose to withdraw or not. We choose to directly challenge these stereotypes or not. Sometimes it’s worth it. Sometimes it’s not. It’s an individual choice, and that has to be ok.

Example from today, I walked into my FLGS to browse gaming books and buy a couple of Magic boosters with my husband. I am not a stranger here, and neither is my hubby. The gent behind the counter was a nice enough guy; he certainly wasn’t the stereotype that still sticks around. Lo and behold, the conversation shifted to language, specifically English – more specifically American English. And he pontificated on how American English isn’t really English. Looking at me, he did this. My husband was there and participating in the conversation. Another gent setting his stuff up on a table behind us was there. I was the only woman in the establishment. And he focused his attention on the anomaly – me. I write for a living. English is my first language. I can still communicate basic ideas in German and French. (We shan’t go into the Spanish I learned in high school in California). And he essentially told me my…interpretation of American English was wrong because words like Colorado and Rio Grande aren’t English. I never said they were, but that’s the assumption he made.

I tried to address it via deflection (“American English isn’t really English” – “According to the British”), which didn’t work. I’m happy to say I smiled politely and wished him a good day as we left. After the door closed behind us, I told my husband “This is why I won’t walk into that store without you if he’s at the counter. I don’t need to be lectured. At least he didn’t look at my chest while he pontificated.”

His need to pontificate and prove his intelligence is his problem, not mine. I refuse to own it. I refuse to allow his behavior to influence how I view men in gaming or in game stores. I refuse to allow his behavior to influence my belief in my competence. If I did, I wouldn't be able to work because my command of the language isn't competent. And I think the ability to act accordingly with confidence, while receiving the support from the community (especially those within it most like us) in doing so is integral to getting more women into gaming, specifically game design.

To borrow a phrase from Neil, that’s just my 2 cents. ;)

Webstore Gninja Minion , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

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This reminds me that we haven't had a Women in Gaming panel at PaizoCon in a while. :D

And if y'all do create a women designers group on Facebook/Google+/wherever, I'd love to be a part of it and offer any insights and tips. ^_^

Dark Archive Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I'd be interested in seeing how an all female gamer group (DM and players) plays a Pathfinder session.

how they role-play their characters, how the DM handles a male NPC, etc.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Why should it be any more interesting to see a female DM to "handle" a male NPC than it is to see male DMs speak for female ones?

Honestly, the concept that we're some exotic species that needs further study is a bit off-putting from the beginning.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

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Matt Blackie wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
We just need to reach out and encourage women to enter and make paizo.com a community in which women aren't afraid of taking a risk and putting themselves out there (as Jessica mentioned in one of her early posts).

Here and a few times before, there has been talk about community-building. That is an admirable goal, but what specifically do you think can or should be done to facilitate that? What is it exactly that people think we (as a community here on paizo.com) should do, or what do they think we are currently doing that we should not do?

That's a GREAT question. As always, I has an opinion.

Most women I know who do not join online gaming communities do so because they had a bad past experience where they were harassed, perhaps on a regular basis. For example, I used to frequent a Warhammer 40K discussion site where whenever I noted I was a woman, I was told everything from "you're lying, you're a dude living out some sick fantasy" to "women don't play 40K, what do you know" to "pics pls, include breasts." And I gotta tell ya, that gets really tiresome. I still join gamer discussions obviously (much to y'all's chagrin and detriment), although not that group, certainly (I don't play 40K anymore anyway). But I do know of many women who got treated like that in one place, often worse, and it makes them not want to do it again. If you walk into a room where someone keeps punching you in the face, and you feel like even if you try punching back you still end up with a bloody nose, you eventually just stop walking into that room.

And heck, there have been some conversations here that have had some less than friendly turns. I remember one very mature discussion about women in gaming getting derailed by a jerk who tried to start a flamewar, accusing women of having "double standards" out of the blue when it had nothing to do with what was talked about (which was how to get women to engage more in game design, interestingly enough). He said he was "pre-empting" an argument by bringing it up before a woman did, when likely, had HE not brought it up, it never would have been mentioned. I also remember another discussion about feminism where a woman declared she was no longer participating in Paizo discussions because of things that had been said (I took a 1-2 month long break from Paizo myself after that conversation). While in some cases feelings are going to be hurt no matter what is said, you cannot 100% guarantee that this or anywhere else on the Internet is going to always, 100% of the time, going to be a safe space. I think it's getting better and better and I think Paizo does a tremendous job of keeping the tone friendly here. But it's the internet, and s%$~ happens.

And while Paizo's a nice place to be, the recent events that Jessica outlined earlier above proved that you can't trust that to be the case in most online gamer communities.

But anyway, there's a lot of Internet-induced trauma that many women just want to avoid. Getting past that issue is a big hurdle.

So one thing as far as getting women online--the solution is
1) Marketing. Get the message board itself known and out there, and use that opportunity to talk up its friendliness.

2) Word of mouth, vigorous. Let people know about this place and that it's okay to get on board here, that even if a jerk does on a rare moment say something crappy to you, that you can report it and get it dealt with and that people will not put up with that crap.

3) Also, seriously? I see a LOT of dudes talking about their wives or GFs' opinions on gaming, but the wives/gfs never post here. Ask them to post. And if they won't, don't quote them for them. Be clear you won't be their mouthpieces. No encouraging of hiding behind the husband's apron-strings, please. ;) (Same goes for gals speaking for their husbands and gals speaking for their wives and guys speaking for their husbands, for that matter. Get ye over here, before I get out my Super Soaker!)

Oh and yes, even in spite of the abuse I mentioned above. We live in a world where the Taliban is shooting at 14 year old girls because they are daring to say "I think women should receive an education." So while there are some legitimately serious issues of harassment that we do have to be aware of, keeping things in perspective, I think we can learn to deal with posting about games to the Internet.

===
As for getting women involved in Superstar, an issue is also Marketing---get that OFFline too. Put an ad in the catalog and in an insert in Adventure Paths and put out ads in gaming publications and on other Websites. Talk it up.

===
Figuring out why women don't participate more in Superstar? DO A SURVEY. I've said it several times. DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. DO A SURVEY. Not just of women either, but get a taste for the general demographics of people that participate in stuff like this. And yes, please make sure one of the questions is "if the entry point were something other than a wondrous item, would I enter?" I'm curious to see the results of that, broken down by demographic.

Better than a bunch of guys sitting in a forum saying, "well I really don't think it's this problem because I don't want to solve this problem because I like having this problem because of x, y, and z." Find out whether it's really a problem--maybe you will be proven right! That's a good thing, right?
==

The problem is of course marketing and surveys cost money. Maybe there's a way to mitigate that. That is not my area of expertise, but maybe someone else has suggestions.

===
One more thing:

The community can also actively support design--and women in design--by having more opportunities for contests (even if it's unofficial and amongst ourselves). Chibiamy's already talked about looking into putting up a blog for RPSS practice. We can spread the word of opportunities to get into design that are not Superstar, and support game companies that do so with our business and word of mouth advertising. Superstar is one very specific path to a specific kind of goal. It isn't the only path to design, and it's obviously very geared to a very specific kind of designer so opportunities need to be created to let those with different styles of design and talent shine. I don't think Paizo should necessarily sponsor these but the broader community should. Further specific ideas for how that could be done.
====

TLDR: Advertise, participate, survey, don't make assumptions, and above all, encourage.

The rest takes time, which is the hard part. That more women have participated in Superstar this year than in last, however small a percentage, is a good sign though.

=====

Quote:


I confess that I sometimes feel a little like Josef K., indicted for nonspecific crimes by an ambiguous authority, where my guilt is presumed and I am given no option of remediation or appeal.

What on god's green earth are you talking about? What horrible thing have we done that has made you mistake yourself for a political victim in a Kafka story? Correct me if I am wrong but I haven't seen one person here claim "it's Matt Blackie's fault, he's a witch, burn him!" Nor even for that matter that it's men's fault. There's been complaints about certain men who harass women, but unless you are such a person, you've got nothing to worry about. If you're thinking someone's saying "All the men are to blame because they have penises and they are using them to bar our path to RPG superstar because they are universally a vile and terrible race!" then that "someone" is a voice in your head because no one has said it here.

The last thing we need to do is take personally things that are not being said about us or our gender as a whole, because that will derail the conversation faster into a gender-flamewar than anything else. Nothing personal is intended, no one has been attacked, so don't please take it there. Just don't.

Star Voter Season 6

What this data implies is only 5% of passionate gamers are female. I'm not sure that is extremely accurate but its probably not far off that women are a small minority amongst gamers. My wife, who was always curious about RPGs when she was a kid, nonetheless never got involved in them but now is an avid gamer. I'm proud to say our 15 year old daughter is also an avid gamer as well. I wonder how many more women are out there that would love to play RPGs that don't either because no one thinks to invite them to try them out or they don't inquire themselves.

Sovereign Court Contributor , Star Voter Season 6

Liz Courts wrote:

This reminds me that we haven't had a Women in Gaming panel at PaizoCon in a while. :D

And if y'all do create a women designers group on Facebook/Google+/wherever, I'd love to be a part of it and offer any insights and tips. ^_^

A Women in Gaming panel at PaizoCon would be interesting. I want to be in the audience. It would certainly be a good atmosphere for such a panel, PaizoCon being a pretty chill, friendly, environment, and Paizo having Lisa as CEO, and all.


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I may have double-X genes, but I'm aware I'm atypical. In a way I've seen both sides, because somehow over the internet/in letters people commonly assume I'm male. (Something about my writing style, I guess) But really to me it boils down to: 'If you wouldn't do it to a male, dont do it to a female.'

When I get taken for male on the internet, I'm treated like a normal human - just another gamer. When I get taken for female I'm generally either something exotic to be gawked at under a microscope, or sexbait, or both at once. There are exceptions to both (Paizo boards generally being one of them), but that's what I've encountered.

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