Alas, I don’t have much of a witty title for this one; I don’t feel there’s any way to go about that without making it seem like a joke, which it most certainly is not.
Women in the board game hobby has been a heavy subject that I’ve seen quite a lot of discussion on ever since I entered the hobby. Being a women myself – I know, shocker! – I’ve seen a lot of those discussed topics up close and personal, and I have a lot of thoughts on the subject overall. While this kind of discussion could go on for pages and days, and trust me, I’ve talked myself blue in the face about it sometimes, I’ll try to keep it brief. Here are just a few of my thoughts and opinions on the subject. And, please, keep in mind that I do not by any means think that all gamers treat women like this, nor do I think that the hobby is overall a crappy one to be involved in; I am merely contributing to a bigger conversation that I’ve seen.
- Now, I will admit, that I haven’t experienced any of this very often. However, my boyfriend has pointed out that it is very likely because most of the time we do things together, be it visiting shops or attending events, et cetera. Being in the presence of a male gamer often makes it less likely that anything will be said to me negatively, and that’s just silly.
- However, even while with him, I have gotten some comments directly at me which have made me uncomfortable. For example, at an event we recently attended I was looking up information about a game that would be going up for auction and while reading home ratings and comments to my boyfriend, a man behind me said, “Wow, looking it up on BoardGameGeek, that’s impressive.” It wasn’t something huge, but the way he said it made me weird, like he was implying that women don’t know enough about the hobby to bother looking things up on BGG. It was a slightly underhanded comment that I felt was unnecessary and a little bit rude.
- In addition to that, I have also noticed at different open game days that, while playing things, if a group is looking for more players, they will always talk to my boyfriend first or invite only him if they have only 1 open spot, rather than seeing if either of us are interested. I have never been the first approached or looked to for players, and once I started noticing that, I couldn’t stop. What was it about me that screamed “Don’t talk to or look at me! Look at the man across the table from me first!” Was it just that I’m a girl?
- I’ve also been to plenty upon plenty of game nights and events where I am one of very few women (we’re talking 85-15 split at best). Women are often, and clearly, the minority in this hobby, and it can be incredibly intimidating, at least to me; plus, if the space isn’t welcoming, it can be a real turn off to the gaming community/hobby which sucks.
Like I mentioned, I don’t think that all spaces are bad ones. I’ve also had plenty of positive experiences where I have felt welcomed and comfortable playing games with others. But I want every space to feel that way for every woman. I have read far too many stories of women being bullied or ignored at shops just because they want to play games.
My overall takeaway on the subject is this:
If you’re a woman into board games, awesome. Good for you! Keep on playing, and show everyone how fierce you are.
If you’re a man who knows a female gamer, plays with a bunch [or one] of female gamers, and accepts female gamers with open arms, awesome. Thank you! Please help us create an open and welcoming environment in every store, at every event, every time.
And finally, if you’re someone who makes weird comments like my example, or talks to the guy first in a pair/group, or doesn’t approach a woman who’s alone and might be looking for a group, give it a try. Women are pretty awesome if I do say so myself, and we’d love to play more games with you! ^_^
Happy gaming, everyone!