• Women at gaming events

    by  • April 5, 2012 • People & Events • 3 Comments

    One of the fun things of being a gamer is hanging around at games events. You meet a lot of interesting people, if the event is close enough to your place also spot a lot of known faces. And besides the social point of view, you happily jump around, eager to discover the latest game published and to try it out, to discuss with the designers about the process which lead to the final result and providing your feedback.
    I must say I’m more into the board games thingy rather than role playing, but this does not change much as for the pleasure and big curiosity of visiting a games fair!
    The last one I went to is the Festival des Jeux in Cannes (South of France), and it was the first time I attended such an event in France and out of Italy in general. The focus of the Festival was more on the board games and a smaller space was dedicated to role play. There was quite a lot of enthusiastic people, and some of my colleagues at work (managers included) were taking a day off just to visit it.
    While hanging around, among many new games and bunch of people trying them at the numerous available tables, at a certain point I realized something: the number of women was clearly higher than the one I used to see at similar event in Italy. Moreover (even more surprisingly to me), many of them were surrounded by children, often playing with little kid on their knees or in a pram just next to them. There were some areas dedicated to games for children, true, but clearly many of those parents were not coming to the fair for that, as often children were far too young to enjoy them. Was it because in France gaming is lived in a different way than in Italy? Or is it changing lately in Italy as well (it’s been at least since I moved to south of France that I haven’t attended a similar event in Italy)? Or maybe is it because I used to attend events more oriented towards role playing games rather than board games? In any case, I was really surprised, in a positive way of course. I was used to big masses of nerds populating these events, mainly men, and I found instead a “family” environment, with a lot of people curious to try the newest game, and a lot of women, often with their whole family. Little minds growing among the passion for games: I think it’s a great way to start, and plenty of new gamers to come!
    I’m looking forward to attend more events of the kind, to see if this was an exception or actually in France the general atmosphere of these fairs is different than the one I’m used to.

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    Occasional gamer, prefering board games but also enjoying some role playing from time to time. I'm definitely a geek computer engineer, born in northen Italy but now living in the south of France, fulfilling a childhood dream of living by the sea.

    3 Responses to Women at gaming events

    1. avatar
      chemrebel
      April 5, 2012 at 18:36

      In my experience in the States, board gaming is perceived as much more family-friendly than RPGs. Board gaming is a much more relaxed and casual atmosphere, and IMHO it’s a more welcoming environment to women, especially moms (dads included too) with small kids in tow. RPGs by nature are much more intensive and demand more of a player’s attention, and if you need to stop to take care of a kid in the middle of a game, it’s much more disruptive to game flow in an RPG than a board game setting.

      Silvia – Do you mind if I “borrow” this as a topic of discussion for my Motherhood and Gaming seminar I’m running at GenCon this year?

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      • avatar
        Silvia
        April 5, 2012 at 21:51

        Of course not! Glad to have provided a discussion topic!
        And I agree with you: board games require less “involvement” than RPGs, thus allowing mums to play even with little children by their side.

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