I sometimes have a funny reaction to the culture of women in gaming. I feel as though I’m an outsider in a very odd way. I’ve been spoiled (or maybe just lucky) to have always had strong women role-models in gaming.
My very first experience as a player was when I was 10. It was 1981 and my aunt was running a D&D adventure that she designed. I was the only child at the table. The other player were my parents, my aunt’s boyfriend, David, and their friends, Susan and John. Even then, the women outnumbered the men at our table.
The dungeon my aunt designed was full of goofy things along with the requisite killing of monsters. My aunt didn’t run the game for very long and she stopped playing rpgs after that dungeon. Looking back, I realize it was a reason for her to get her friends together to tell silly stories and drink. But it was an experience that lingered in my memories.
When I was 20, I worked with a woman who played rpgs all the time. She became a very close friend, and over our lunch breaks would tell war stories from tabletop games and live-action role-playing games. I still didn’t join any games, although LARPs sounded really cool. I guess I was feeling a bit shy then. Eventually, she coaxed me out to a series of parlor LARPs that a girlfriend of hers was running. I’ve always been a sucker for a murder mystery. Again, I found myself in a game with a woman GM and lot of strong women players.
Although many of my friends were gamers, I didn’t start playing tabletop rpgs regularly until I was in my mid-20s. That was when my boyfriend at the time and I moved in together. He was an active GM, and having games in my home made them easy to join. Through him I met even more women gamers. I was never the only woman at the table.
This pattern has continued. Today, my regular Wednesday game group consists of 3 woman and 1 man. All three of the women will very happily GM games.
And there’s my little sister. She started playing RPGs in her teens, after I had moved out of the house. I remember her happily telling me about a World of Darkness game she and a girlfriend had joined. Currently, she plays in a regular gaming group that has at least three other women players.
Is the Philadelphia area very different when it comes to inclusion of women in the table-top gaming community? Or am I just lucky to have found a great community within it? One thing of which I’m certain, is that my being raised by loving and strong nerdy women had a hand in my being the same and finding the same.
The summer after my sister and I got our mom to play in a LARP, mom took a poetry writing class. One of her poems was about my and my sister’s gaming.
Who are these wondrous children,
Who hold the strands of gold
And silver so lightly in their hands?
Story weavers ~
Playing on the edge of night.
Spinning out their glinting webs
Of reality and dreams.
The air shimmers with crystal laughter
As their words entwine,
Building a towering tapestry,
Thread by slender thread.