Women in PFS


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Abyssal Lord wrote:
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
Personally, I don’t often curse unless extremely frustrated and I don’t tell crude jokes or find them very funny. However, neither do they bother me. The cursing and crudity was just around when I was growing up (but not in my family) and in my first few jobs. So to me it is just background noise. So as CathalFM says, I would feel hypocritical saying it bothered me or wasn’t welcome around me. And I’m pretty sure all my friends know it doesn’t bother me.
Crude jokes, curses, etc, are fine within the context of a group of people who are familiar with one another and shared a dynamic. We usually let people we know get away with certain things as we know the intent, as opposed to a stranger. When a newcomer gets into the mix, it is only natural to "be polite".

I disagree that it is natural to be what you term polite.

Some people don't see it that way. You are coming to join our group, great! To them, the 'polite' thing to do is treat them like one of the gang. Insults, cursing, crude jokes, etc... if that is the standard in the group.
To people raised like that, it is actually rather insulting to change your behavior around someone else. You are basically saying "Oh this person can't handle being around normal people. We have to pretend like we're in church if they're present."

I have some cousins like that. They are actually trying to be as friendly as they know how to be. But I guarantee that will include inappropriate comments, cursing, crude humor, and probably trying to get you drunk or sick on quantities of cheap beer. To them, that is how you be friendly and polite.
If they aren't making crude jokes or pushing you to chug a beer, it actually means they don't like or respect you.

{{ Or that you are the pastor. They wouldn't dream of acting that way around the pastor. But that's about it. }}

I'm about 99% sure that if the President of the US or the Queen of England showed up at his house, Danny would throw him/her a 6-pack of PBR and yell, "Hurra up ya &@#%$! Yer fallin behin Aunt Mable!"

Grand Lodge 2/5 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Well, it is possible for an entire group of people to be socially maladjusted.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Jiggy wrote:
Well, it is possible for an entire group of people to be socially maladjusted.

You mean like...gamers?


Jiggy wrote:
Well, it is possible for an entire group of people to be socially maladjusted.

Not just possible, but fairly common.

It's essentially hazing behavior. Prove you're good enough/tough enough/whatever to fit in. It works as a bonding ritual.

It also works to weed people out, which is fine when your group is a high status, much sought after thing. Not so well when you're trying to attract new people.

There's also a huge difference between insults among close friends who all know each other well enough to know the intent and insults directed at near strangers, who don't know you well enough to know whether you're serious or not. My friends can say things to me that I wouldn't take from strangers.

It's not "can't handle being around normal people", it's "treating someone like a good friend when you don't know them is weird". As they acclimate and become part of the group, you adjust behavior to match.

It's as much about boundaries as anything. Parallel example: It's common for me to hug close female friends when I meet them. If I don't hug a new person, that could be seen as excluding her. But it's actually respecting her boundaries.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

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Ok folks. This conversation has moved from PFS specific to a more general topic. Please bring it back to a PFS focus or we will move it to a forum that is a better fit for the topic.

Grand Lodge 3/5

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Most PFS games are held in a public place, generally a gaming store. I have had to remind many of our players that we are guests in their space and that they need to watch the language. Their actions reflect on all of organized play, and gamers in general. If you're playing in a private home, that's no one else's business.


TheInnsmouthLooker wrote:
Most PFS games are held in a public place, generally a gaming store. I have had to remind many of our players that we are guests in their space and that they need to watch the language. Their actions reflect on all of organized play, and gamers in general. If you're playing in a private home, that's no one else's business.

Yes, very much so.

In an open public game, you don't have to scale your behavior down to church levels, but you do have to be aware of the setting.

In your home game, you can obviously do as you like. If you're trying to bring in new players and having trouble keeping them around, you might want to consider curbing the rude behavior. That's just practical, though. If your happy with the results, more power to you.


TheInnsmouthLooker wrote:
Most PFS games are held in a public place, generally a gaming store. I have had to remind many of our players that we are guests in their space and that they need to watch the language. ...

Ok, I didn't think of it like that. I can buy into that.

Sovereign Court 4/5

We're still very early into our PFS days in Scotland, so reading these threads and seeing how it applies to our own fledgling lodge is actually really interesting. We certainly fall onto the male dominated side of things, currently housing six GMs (one of whom is a woman) and about thirty players (four or five of which are players). That being said, so far I've not seen the female players treated any differently by any players at my own table, and I've not had to or heard any of inappropriate or awkward behaviour.

I'll definately be keeping an eye on things and hopefully things will remain smooth as we move forward. Failing that, there is plenty of advice that I'll be taking on board from here.

Project Manager

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CathalFM wrote:

Hey so, I have a few counterpoints if you dont mind;

To be fair, I very much understand your position, but at the same time this advice can also be seen as "lie to your table". Let me explain, I personally -for instance- don't mind a bit of crude humour, BUT not if it makes anyone uncomfortable. What this means is that if I am playing at a table where everyone is ok with that then it wouldn't bother me. If I was playing with someone who WAS bothered by it, then it in turn would bother me (I'm bothered by other peoples bother!), but if I say "Hey guys I don't think that kind of language is appropriate" etc, then that makes me a hypocrite as I have probably used it before myself. Its a very murky area.

I don't know what the alternative is mind you, I'm just making an observation. Perhaps you should instead go with something more ambigous like "lets tone it down before we scare away any newbies etc", eg try and half laugh it off. But then are you calling attention to the uncomfortable player? As I said murky. (By the way this is all in relation to grey area stuff like crude humour IC stuff...

Really?

You don't have to use the exact words I gave you. If you're just talking about crude humor, well, "Hey, guys, let's keep the crude humor out of this game, okay?" doesn't force you to lie, does it?

And if you're talking about racist/sexist/etc. language or comments--which I assume you weren't :-) --and you're okay with them, well, I'm not personally interested in engaging further with you.

But I would point out that, in the latter case, I believe it's against the PFS code of conduct to engage in that sort of behavior at public PFS games.

Long story short: games are supposed to be fun. If someone at your table is being made uncomfortable by gender-related treatment, crude humor, sexist language or jokes, etc. they're probably not having fun. As the GM, you're best-positioned to change the tone of the game to something that doesn't block their fun with discomfort.

Sovereign Court

Tom Mannering wrote:

We're still very early into our PFS days in Scotland, so reading these threads and seeing how it applies to our own fledgling lodge is actually really interesting. We certainly fall onto the male dominated side of things, currently housing six GMs (one of whom is a woman) and about thirty players (four or five of which are players). That being said, so far I've not seen the female players treated any differently by any players at my own table, and I've not had to or heard any of inappropriate or awkward behaviour.

I'll definately be keeping an eye on things and hopefully things will remain smooth as we move forward. Failing that, there is plenty of advice that I'll be taking on board from here.

In general - gaming tends to be rather male dominated. Though actually - of the 3 big gaming branches (wargaming minis / RPGs / CCGs) I believe that RPGs has the most females statistically by a considerable margin. Maybe 20% female for RPGs - and on average they tend to spend less $ each. (read it in the context of selling gaming stuff and demographics - article also mentioned ages etc) Not sure of the exact stat - and of course such things change and I read that several years ago.

Silver Crusade 2/5

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

I've been successful in getting my wife into PFS. I sucked her in with a Kitsune boon after gencon 2012 and she'll ding her Sorceress to level 10 @ gencon 2014.

Most of her games have been PFS-at-home, but she's got a decent # of at-con games under her belt as well. Overall, her experiences have been positive because:
1) Good GMs. The GMs have had fun, she's had fun. They let her try crazy things -- and don't tend to cry when 'Terrible Remorse -- 24 will save' lands on one of their critters.
2) She's not alone. I or another friend is with her (PFS is social for her; if she doesn't know anyone else at the table, she isn't there; she's doing something else).
3) She's avoided jerks @ the tables - or ignored them (or one time, shredded them). She's NOT shy, and if you are condescending, she's going to hurt your ego. And I've got her back.

Going all the way back to the beginning of the thread:

1) Focus on the social (amongst the players, not the PCs -- although that helps too!). Focusing on the social aspects of the game has helped me get several women interested in Pathfinder. I've had success in building a Wrath of the Righteous homegame where there women outnumber the men (wife's friends, mostly). The fact that it's dinner-and-a-team-game helped pull them in. How can we use the social aspects of the game to draw women to PFS?
- Get one lady you know (wife/sister/girlfriend) to play at a table you fully control (no jerks, lots of laughter, happy/helpful GM)
- After a game or two, have your lady you brought bring a friend (or two!) If you can persuade her to do this the 1st time? bonus! (Actually, I wonder if it may not be helpful)
- Bring some snacks (veggie tray and a bag of small chocolates). after all, if you come to my house, that's what happens!

2) Simplify the game. Pathfinder/PFS has a massive amount of rules. If you want to help ANY completely-new player (I don't care about the gender), simplify it. How?
Talk to them to understand what they want to do! Based on that conversation, help them build THEIR character:
- Suggest they pick one of 3 or 4 feats: don't give them the entire list (info overload), just 3 or 4.
- Same with skills. Pick some for them (AND TELL THEM WHY), leave them a couple skill points to pick. By level 2, they'll understand enough to make their own choices.
- No Archetypes. Too many "instead of this, that now applies" things.
- No alternate racial traits. Same reason as no archetypes.

At their 1st game, have the new person sit next to someone whose job is to help (as a GM, I've sat them next to me sometimes). Then
- When they get the deer-in-the-headlights look, give suggestions/options ("you could do X or Y now"). If you can tell them why in a single SHORT sentence, do it. Let them make the final choice, but by giving them limited options, you prevent info overload.
- stay away from CMB stuff. Yes, sometimes, it is awesome, but this is their 1st (maybe 2nd) game -- keep it simple (attack, acid splash... you get the idea)
- make sure the GM knows they're a rookie -- and that you trust the GM to make it a positive experience (the person needs to have FUN!) They may die -- if it's epic.

PS: I'm giving her a link -- she'll post later

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber
trollbill wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Well, it is possible for an entire group of people to be socially maladjusted.
You mean like...gamers?

The United States of America.

Silver Crusade 1/5

We've had some success bringing more women in at private/home games. I know for my wife, who has now played about 5 sessions, a big issue was whether other people were watching. She's new to all of this and isn't comfortable playing in public yet (except for at a Con- she played her first game at GenCon 2013).

Since she became interested she's convinced some of her friends to try playing in a PFS game, and and we've had some success with that.

If she's already into Star Trek/Star Wars/Star Gate/Dr. Who/Firefly or even GoT, then she may be a good candidate for a future gamer. Just treat her like you should treat any other new player who hasn't yet learned the ropes. The rule is don't be a dick...

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber
Deurn Ironbelly wrote:

We've had some success bringing more women in at private/home games. I know for my wife, who has now played about 5 sessions, a big issue was whether other people were watching. She's new to all of this and isn't comfortable playing in public yet (except for at a Con- she played her first game at GenCon 2013).

I fully understand this and sympathize with it as well. Back when I started getting back into face-to-face RPGing (I'd really only been doing PBEM gaming for a decade) back in 1997 or thereabouts, I felt awkward just in front of the other gamers I was getting together with and didn't know. Gaming in pubic in front of the general world who thinks this is all very weird is still a little peery to me.

(At a Con, though, everybody around you is doing it, and that does make it a little easier.)


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Hi! I'm Sabre's wife, chiming in as he said. I can't speak for all women, but as a relatively recent female PFS convert (2012), I can sure give some general tips!

1) Find a hook, if at all possible.

I write, among other things, a fiction series based on Japanese folklore. When Sabre won a kitsune boon, he used it to lure me into the game. Two years later, that kitsune is 9.2 and I have four characters. :) Find something personal to draw her in, rather than a generic "you should try this, it's cool." Not only is a specific hook more attractive than "games are fun," but it shows that you've already thought about how she'll personally enjoy it. Even if you're not in a romantic relationship, that sells way better. (It's why product parties work.)

2) Storytelling and Social Aspect.

As a general rule, women are going to want more social gaming, and that probably includes more collective storytelling. As an author I may be prejudiced! but that's why I play.

They say women seek consensus, and while generalizations are always over-simplified (see what I did there?), it's probably true that a typical female player is going to be interested in how the team works together and explores the story. Give her that opportunity with a well-written scenario (but don't necessarily force her to do role-playing until it's comfortable; she just needs to see it). A massive numbers-fest of primarily counting damage is not nearly as attractive -- not because math is scary, but because there's little social context to it.

My favorite game of the last few months got several of the players on our feet, acting out the scene with leaping and screaming and mock slapping. That's the mostly-female group. Story matters to us.

By contrast, my first RPG experience ever was a terribly-written piece which railroaded us into a single course of action, no real character decisions, and I didn't even roll a die for two full hours. And then the first die roll, I died. (The GM knew it was an awful scenario and he tried hard to work with it, including a hand wave to make my insta-dead character revive, but it was still like sitting through a bad book reading. It was years before Sabre could lure me back with the kitsune.)

3) Limit options.

Sabre already touched on this, but don't overwhelm new players with too many choices. (My day job is in behavior; look up "decision fatigue" if you're curious.) And I'm not embarrassed to say that even today when it's time to level my character and I have dozens of spell options, I ask him to suggest maybe 8 for me to choose from. Not embarrassed, because I know he knows PFS better and he knows what I like, and he's not embarrassed to ask for my suggestions when we're doing something at which I'm an expert.

But when she wants to make her choices, let her! We brought in a new player recently who eagerly built her first character. Her brother walked in, said, "Why would you want to do this?" and rewrote everything for her. This is not the way to make someone feel welcome and excited about trying something.

4) Don't talk about sex or genitals at the table.

Seriously, this shouldn't even have to be mentioned...! And I know this is a tiny fraction of guys, and the offenders are probably not the ones reading a "Women in PFS" thread, but it only takes a few to give an impression.

Most recent example: At my last at-con game, the GM was scrubbing at some blue dry-erase marker and commented on his stained "GM thumb." Another player, whom I'd met mere minutes before, said, "Yeah, but better blue thumbs than blue other body parts," and looked at me.

That's the kind of thing that can come across as rude and juvenile at best, or as threatening at worst. Just, don't.

4.5) Don't let other guys be jerks.

Since some guys never learned civilized behavior, there's a chance one will pull a direct violation of #4. You have a chance to save for partial damage!

When that jerk made the blue balls comment to me, if another guy at the table had even just looked at him and said, "Really?" it would have conveyed that this was unacceptable behavior in this environment. I would have been reassured that not everyone would engage in it and I could expect some help if it got out of hand.

When no one said anything, I knew I was on my own. (Which, since I've spent over a decade in geek environments, is not necessarily new or as scary to me -- but that could shut down a lot of new players, male or female.)

5) Offer safety in numbers.

Because of #4, and the unfortunate rep due to the behavior of a few, it may be less intimidating to invite more than one woman at a time, invite a woman along with a new guy, or introduce new female players to female regulars. It's a lot less intimidating when you're not the only n00b, and/or when you're not the only female.

(I'm a shooter, also a primarily-male sport, and a lot of women feel more comfortable asking me for help or even just knowing I'm on the range. That's fine, it's typical, take advantage of it.)

6) Compliment.

Don't be condescending, and don't flirt -- just find something that you can legitimately say "good job" about. It can be small, such as "Acid spray in an alley? Excellent choice." Make her feel successful, even if it's not an in-game success.

I didn't go into gaming alone, but I did go to my first shooting competition without knowing another soul and as the only woman on the site. Getting some honest compliments on my skills went a long way toward making me feel accomplished and want to return. (Getting fake compliments, however, would have felt patronizing and had the opposite effect.)

TOO MUCH, LET ME SUM UP: There can never be a single formula to work for all women -- in gaming, or anything else! -- but you're rarely going to go wrong with considering their social comfort and creating a non-threatening environment. :)

Silver Crusade 2/5

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Women are people. I treat them as such. Not as gaming oddities. If their build is going to stop be functional at level 7-8, I tell them. If they kick butt in a combat, I tell them. I'm not known for lewd jokes or references, so that's not an issue for me.


David Bowles wrote:
Women are people. I treat them as such.

You will go far, my friend.


Jiggy wrote:
@CathalFM—I would wonder, then, if perhaps your own stance needs to switch from "I am okay with X until someone's not comfortable" to "I'm not okay with X until everyone is comfortable". Not to tell you what to do or anything, just brainstorming options; this would seem to address your concerns, yes?

I completely get you, and I definitely lean strongly this way myself, I guess I am just played a degree of devils advocate here, but where exactly is the line? My "Im ok with this for everyone" level might still be cruder than someone elses offence level for instance.

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
So as CathalFM says, I would feel hypocritical saying it bothered me or wasn’t welcome around me. And I’m pretty sure all my friends know it doesn’t bother me.

Pretty much spot on with what I mean, and it can actually make matters worse if you act falsely like this in the sense that your regular players may think "wow he is trying to cozy up to the new player" (not to be sexist but especially if its a woman, due to the assumption its me trying to "get in") and the new player could feel uncomfortable if they feel we don't allow that level of relaxed joking.

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:


I disagree that it is natural to be what you term polite.

Some people don't see it that way. You are coming to join our group, great! To them, the 'polite' thing to do is treat them like one of the gang.

This is also very true, and in a lot of cases where I have seen this its been the group GENUINELY trying to make a new person feel like part of the gang.

Jessica Price wrote:


You don't have to use the exact words I gave you. If you're just talking about crude humor, well, "Hey, guys, let's keep the crude humor out of this game, okay?" doesn't force you to lie, does it?

Its not the exact words, I didnt mean to pick at your suggestion by any means, but as I said before people who knew me who might have heard me make such a joke before could find it hypocritical. Again all I mean to point out is the issue is a little murky.

Jessica Price wrote:


And if you're talking about racist/sexist/etc. language or comments--which I assume you weren't :-) --and you're okay with them, well, I'm not personally interested in engaging further with you.

But I would point out that, in the latter case, I believe it's against the PFS code of conduct to engage in that sort of behavior at public PFS games.

I apologise if this wasn't clear but no I genuinely only meant good natured but cruder humour etc, nothing with ANY kind of personal edge and definitely none of the above.

Jessica Price wrote:


Long story short: games are supposed to be fun. If someone at your table is being made uncomfortable by gender-related treatment, crude humor, sexist language or jokes, etc. they're probably not having fun. As the GM, you're best-positioned to change the tone of the game to something that doesn't block their fun with discomfort.

I agree entirely and again I didn't mean to suggest GMs (or anyone) should do nothing, I was just pointing out the murkier areas and playing devils advocate to a degree. As I said in my original post I am someone who is genuinely bothered and upset if I know somebody else is bothered and upset, so I personally always strive to ensure this never happens, but I am sure I have probably inadvertendly offended people before. (I'm sympathetic not empathic!)

Shinteetah wrote:


4.5) Don't let other guys be jerks.
6) Compliment.

You make a lot of good points, but two things. First as an addition to your 4.5 point example, the Blue Balls joke. This was in bad taste if it was directed (even indirectly) at you a new member to a group and I agree wholeheartedly in your case. However (I probably overuse that word) the Blue Balls joke itself is not a definitive example of humour thats too crude, I know a few people who would find that joke extremely funny (if it hadnt been for the knowing look at you) and half of them are female.

Secondly in regards to 6, this can be tricky, I know you say try and compliment something neutral and don't flirt etc etc, but I would be surprised if I was the only person in the world who had experienced a case of somebody thinking you were flirting when you were making an innocuous compliment. In some cases its really best to just skip this step, or at least alter it to a group case, ie "well done pathfinders, you all did really well there".

Ok, so A) thats a lot of text up there, and B) I probably do (but REALLY hope I dont) come across as a sexist jerk. Ah well, the perils of discussion!


CathalFM wrote:
First as an addition to your 4.5 point example, the Blue Balls joke. This was in bad taste if it was directed (even indirectly) at you a new member to a group and I agree wholeheartedly in your case. However (I probably overuse that word) the Blue Balls joke itself is not a definitive example of humour thats too crude, I know a few people who would find that joke extremely funny (if it hadnt been for the knowing look at you) and half of them are female.

Yep -- but you KNOW them, and you know their sense of humor. We agree that such a "joke" while eyeing a woman he's just met is making a pretty big assumption about a shared sense of humor. (And he wasn't laughing, and of course neither was I.) That's a joke that absolutely could have been made among friends, but not within minutes of meeting a new player.

And if someone does make it among friends, but directs it toward a new player, and the friends laugh, that jumps an order of magnitude on the Creeper Scale. That's not at all what you meant! but it fleshes out #4.5 above.

I probably could have made it more clear that I was speaking of *new* players. Once you know someone well enough to know how she'll take it, you can branch out. But when in doubt, keep the creeper level to a minimum. :)

CathalFM wrote:
...I would be surprised if I was the only person in the world who had experienced a case of somebody thinking you were flirting when you were making an innocuous compliment. In some cases its really best to just skip this step, or at least alter it to a group case, ie "well done pathfinders, you all did really well there".

Good point, and I could have elaborated. But as you say, a group compliment, worded inclusively, can be a safe bet.


Shinteetah, yeah as I said I agree with your points and they were good ones., I was just adding some, ah, addendums :)

3/5

I guess I'm vaguely surprised that this sort of thing is still a topic of conversation; I suppose I'm a bit spoiled because I tend to play with quite a few women gamers. It's not 50/50 (though my old home group was, because it was a trio of couples), but it's probably something like 33/67 (favoring men).

Moreover, most of the women I play with are *gamers* - while the classic "gamer girlfriend" exists (I can think of three in particular over the past 15 years), I find that the lion's share are self-motivated and interested.

Are male and female gamers different? Absolutely. Not to the point of zero overlap, but I do think there is a play-style asymmetry across gender lines. The key thing, though, is there's nothing hierarchical about it - one isn't better than the other. I do think men are more "crunch-oriented" and women more interested in narratives, and I think this corresponds to conventions of gender socialization, but it's incidentally male/female in the sense that it more "learned" than "biological".

The mention of hormones as being a cognitive factor in gaming is a bit silly.

The best tables, of course, blend narrative and roll-play, so there's great benefit in having gender-balanced tables. We certainly want to encourage women gamers, and I think we'll see many more as the next generation of gamers comes of age.

Liberty's Edge 1/5

I just realized reading this thread that after having played close to 100 PFS scenarios I can't remember ever having even one female GM!

3/5

Rambone wrote:
I just realized reading this thread that after having played close to 100 PFS scenarios I can't remember ever having even one female GM!

I had my first one just two weeks ago for the merchants wake.


Rambone wrote:
I just realized reading this thread that after having played close to 100 PFS scenarios I can't remember ever having even one female GM!

Lol I've never had this problem, my local venture Lieutenant is a female and a fantastic GM and PFS rep.

Silver Crusade 2/5

We have quite a few female GM's in our area. Also, one of our VL's is a woman, and if you ever get the chance, play We Be Goblins (1 or 2) with her.


From the first page:
"I am not bait

don't treat me as bait to draw in more guys .. I'm a gamer, not bait .. I will not bite your hook or eat your fish.
"
My wife totally agrees with this sentiment. Her words were essentially:
"I'm a girl who plays games, read comics and listen to Rush, but that doesn't mean I want to go around as the representative of all women geeks just because of that. Just let me enjoy myself."

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