0
\$\begingroup\$

Ok. I have to admit that I am quite angered at the response gained to this question

Quite frankly it is my belief that this question was mistreated.

I shall go into the question in depth - recalling as accurately as possible the original format of the question.

  • This is not because I hold great hope of justice.
  • My hope is that the original question might get the response it deserved.

So... the post-mortem begins:


Too broad?

The title was already a good indication. "What design features for a role playing game would appeal to female players?"

Apparently asking for design features that may appeal to female players was too broad a question.


Opinion based?

It was a question about design features that would attract females. While perhaps the later aspect might verily be "opinion based", this question is no more opinion based than other questions that this SE site has successfully fielded. It was this question that got singled out. Why? Perhaps somebody could tell me.


Off topic?

Or perhaps it was off topic.

I.e. Caring about what design features of role playing games would appeal for female players is off-topic.


Duplicate?

Apparently this question is a duplicate of the question that I posted (in any of its three incarnations).

Never mind that the touted question regards how to positively treat female players at the table (whether as GM or as a fellow player). (table etiquette)

Never mind that my question was with regards design features of role playing games that would appeal to female players. (game design)

Less harmful were the other comparisons:

and best of all...

...I 'do' see the relevance of the first link towards replying to one of my voiced concerns in thread - but the others...


Perhaps adding background to my question was my error?

Was stating that in all my time as a table-top gamer, mainly roleplay, I'd not ever had a group where one player was female... out of line? Or was it perhaps the statement that I'd only ever witnessed one girl playing D&D in just as long?


Perhaps it was drawing and sharing my conclusions about why females are hard to come by at the gaming table

The following are apparently "unsupportable assumptions":

  • That females have a tendency to shy away from a style of gaming that is combat/ violence heavy
  • That females may prefer to shy away from number-heavy game systems (while noting that this would not explain the absence from lighter systems)
  • And lastly that females may feel uncomfortable in a gaming environment where most players are males

Note that the use of the words 'may' and 'tendency' above indicate something other than an absolute. I am not saying that the above three points apply to all women.


Now that I have dissected the original question (and I invite the mods of this site to pick through any archives of the original question to find any tid bits that I might have forgotten - I am certain that there are no deal breakers amongst them)...

...Why? Would I have gotten the same response were I a woman? (perhaps I would have been looking for perspectives beyond my own - I do not pretend to know what most men want in gaming - that does not appear to be an issue)

And by what means can the spirit of this question be fielded without being... mistreated?

What now?

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm just going to call out that gender and gender differentiation seems to be a very touchy subject right now. I'm not sure if that had anything to do with the response the question got, but it is an emotionally charged subject. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross May 26 '14 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ C.Ross I see that you are correct. While I have come to terms with the fiasco which was my question - I shall need time to come up with a meaningful and more narrow question - If I drum up a taste for seconds ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Avestron May 26 '14 at 20:07
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Women in roleplaying is a subject that's been contentious for decades. Here's a good Jonathan Walton article that's dated 2004, a full decade ago, yet is still relevant and not out of date, giving a glimpse at the ongoing nature of the discussion. It might be especially touchy right now, but that's only a small bump above the baseline level of touchiness the RPG community has maintained for a long time. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 26 '14 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ That article gives plenty of food for thought even if it may be dated. It provides a great starting poiny. Thank you for sharing. \$\endgroup\$ – Avestron May 26 '14 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Avestron Yeah, after re-reading it, I realised that is actually provides one possible answer to the original question, making it doubly relevant. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 26 '14 at 21:20
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Avestron I think it's a conversation which should be held (though maybe it can't be on SE, for the reasons outlined below), but please consider this: it looked like you already decided what the answer was (male-centric game design), and that isn't a good place to start an investigation. Based on my personal experience, discussions, and research, I think it's got a lot more to do with RPG culture than with system design, so any answer I gave to a question about how game design alienates women would be only superficially related to why I think they're seen as a minority in gaming. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW May 26 '14 at 22:47
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ @Avestron If you really do want to learn about why gaming (and speculative fiction in general) is seen as unwelcoming to certain groups (including but not limited to women), you could do worse than starting with the "Freedom through Geekdom" link list on Bankuei's blog and Bankuei's own blog, perhaps particularly the gamerculture tag. At the very least those links will help you find the conversations had by female gamers and authors about themselves, rather than the conversations men are having about them. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW May 26 '14 at 23:07
23
\$\begingroup\$

I'm going to echo your run-down of the possible reasons for it being put on hold, based on the current revision and not earlier ones:

Too broad: check

It's too broad in two ways: the target group is enormous and heterogeneous; an in-depth design analysis of how to appeal to even a narrow group is worth a whole book.

Worth a book

Some questions can be answered both in a succinct way and in a book-length. Some can only be answered in a succinct way because there isn't a book's worth of material to answer with. Some answer can't be answered succinctly without being uselessly superficial, and can only be answered with a book's worth of words. This is the latter: any answer that fits our format would be far too little to help with deep design issues, and can only be answered with book-length answers.

Target group is too big and non-homogeneous

Apparently asking for design features that may appeal to female players was too broad a question.

That's asking what features appeal to all individuals within 50% of the human population. Yes, that's too broad by lightyears.

And if you don't mean all female gamers... can you think of a way to narrow it down to which ones you do mean and still have it be a useful question? I can't. You would need to narrow it down massively to be an acceptable question, because there is no such thing as a monolithic "all female gamers" that coherent questions can be posed about in the first place. But massively narrowing it down would probably turn it into a question unrelated to what you're looking for, since you are wanting to get answers about female gamers as a general single group.

Flip it around: "What design features of RPGs appeal to men?" The answers, plural, to that question are far too many and far too broad, because there's no typical man that answers can be meaningfully based on.

Opinion-based: check

This ties into the false assumption that any meaningful assertions can be made about as diverse a group as half the human species. Any attempt at answering it within the frame of "all female gamers" will necessarily be opinion rather than fact, since there are no RPG-related facts that apply to that invalidly-constructed demographic group.

Off topic: nope

It's about RPGs and players thereof, so it's on-topic.

Duplicate: nope

None of the supposed duplicates actually are. Even the closest is super-reaching—the only way it counts is if there could only ever be one question about how to game with women, which is silly for similar reasons to why "all female gamers" is an invalid demographic to form a question about.

Unclear: nope

You didn't mention this one, but I'm including it for completeness. The question has no clarity problems.

So: closure?

Yeah. Any one of those would result in it getting closed, and it fits two of them. It's asking a question that is way, way too broad, and the very nature of the question would attract primarily anecdotal opinions because finding a factual basis to answer it with isn't possible.

Would I have gotten the same response were I a woman?

Yep. The problem is with the content of the question not qualifying as answerable, because it's a) too broad a question, and b) not answerable with statements that can be backed up.

(perhaps I would have been looking for perspectives beyond my own - I do not pretend to know what most men want in gaming - that does not appear to be an issue)

This is worth looking at: if you know that you can't know what most men want in gaming, why would that be different for women? Any given woman isn't going to know what women in general want in gaming either, and there's no reason to believe that anyone could.

And by what means can the spirit of this question be fielded without being... mistreated?

If by "mistreated" you mean being closed, no, not the spirit of this question.

I don't think there's any way to reconstruct the question to actually get the answers it appears to be looking for, because those answers simply don't exist. Any form of the question that does have answers that exist wouldn't be about women in general, and what a few specific random women on the Internet personally want out of gaming isn't useful to know. (Unless you were trying to solicit a lot of answers to get an idea of the range of tastes, but that's an unacceptable question due to the site's problems handling list questions. Forums are good at that, but this site isn't.)

One possible saving grace

But, if you have a different question as your intent behind this one, such as "why aren't there more female gamers", maybe your actual question is answerable here. We can't say without knowing what the actual problem you want to solve is, first.

Though "why aren't there more female gamers" would very likely be deemed primarily opinion-based too, whatever your actual problem is might not be. If you do have a problem you are personally attempting to solve, it's always best to ask about that, instead of trying to cast the net wider with a more general question.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ Reading through this response really calmed me down and anger was certainly getting the better of me. I especially liked the way you reversed my words to show me without a shadow of doubt that refering to a gender was inevitably going to make my question too broad to fit in with the site's guidelines. That coupled with being susceptable to opinion-based answers (although potentially useful) leads me to accept the fate of the original question. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – Avestron May 26 '14 at 20:05
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @Avestron I'm very glad to hear that! I wasn't sure how this would be received. Aside, if you do want to gather a pile of opinion-based answers, that's not invalid to want; it just doesn't work here well. A forum should help with that, if you're prepared for the unfiltered opinions of that forum's RPG community. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 26 '14 at 20:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ A superb, well considered answer to a difficult question \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs May 26 '14 at 22:06
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Avestron That thing SSD did is actually a pretty useful tool in general when discussing gender: swap the genders around in your writing/speech, and check if it sounds off. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 26 '14 at 23:10
8
\$\begingroup\$

Here's the thing, while none of the questions linked are probably exactly duplicates, they all address more specific aspects of the general question you're asking.

I think the important thing here is to know the following:

  1. Your question was evaluated objectively regardless of who asked it, every question is subjected to the same level of standards.

  2. We aim to ask and answer very specific questions. You're asking a really general one. General questions can be asked, but they need much better requirements than "how do I design a game to appeal to half the population." The fact is, there is no right answer to this question. Just like there are a million different games out there that appeal to guys, there a million or more possible games that appeal to girls. Note that the guidance for "too broad" is "can you envision a book entirely devoted to the topic of this question", BESW mentions that he can, I'm inclined to agree.

Last thing, questions getting closed it part of our process here, it's not worth getting upset about your question getting closed. It's not a punitive measure, there is no black mark on your record for asking a closed question (specially not closed as a duplicate, we like those actually). If the discussion about your question prompted more specific questions in your mind, ask those, if not, let's move on to a different topic.

Addendum: Closure is not the end! note that no closure is final, a quick edit, 5 reopen votes and you're back in business getting answers. Some design changes have been made in the past few years to even make this process easier. But all that to say, if you think there is something here beyond what's been discussed re: duplicates etc, make some edits, see if you can get this question some more specificity and a clear differentiation from the other questions, and we'll see about getting it reopened. (In other words, how about a revival rather than a post mortem).

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct. I am upset that a question that I felt was reasoned out was slammed (in truth I had a bad feeling that it might be - but I had not anticipated this degree of failure). But I do thank you for providing a good response to the meta element of my question - which is what the meta forum is for after all. \$\endgroup\$ – Avestron May 26 '14 at 19:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Avestron A heads up, you should at least know as C. Ross pointed out that issues of gender are in general dangerous waters. However, we've handled some questions of that bent well here (And others not so much). This format can do controversial well, but we have to keep it focused. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle May 26 '14 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was hoping to gain an insight into why role-playing might not be appealing equally well to a significant demographic portion of the population. I acknowledge the potential controversy in acknowledging the existence of gender - particularly where an attempt to deride a section of the population on the basis of gender (or any other demographic identifier). It is a slippery slope and I clearly took a nose dive before I could gather any momentum. \$\endgroup\$ – Avestron May 26 '14 at 19:50
6
\$\begingroup\$

Well, since there's already been a dissection of the other issues and one part of this bothered me..

Perhaps adding background to my question was my error?

Was stating that in all my time as a table-top gamer, mainly roleplay, I'd not ever had a group where one player was female... out of line? Or was it perhaps the statement that I'd only ever witnessed one girl playing D&D in just as long?

Adding background can be useful, if it's providing information that will be relevant to an answer. What you said was this:

In truth I have never, to date, played in a table-top game (barring certain board games like Catan, Monopoly, Cluedo, Disc World, etc.) where there have been female players involved. Last time I saw a female play D&D or similar was a good 10 years ago.

Which is not particularly relevant. But it also wasn't really a significant problem. It was just extraneous.

Perhaps it was drawing and sharing my conclusions about why females are hard to come by at the gaming table

The following are apparently "unsupportable assumptions":

  • That females have a tendency to shy away from a style of gaming that is combat/ violence heavy
  • That females may prefer to shy away from number-heavy game systems (while noting that this would not explain the absence from lighter systems)
  • And lastly that females may feel uncomfortable in a gaming environment where most players are males

Note that the use of the words 'may' and 'tendency' above indicate something other than an absolute. I am not saying that the above three points apply to all women.

Now, I have an issue. So before I go on, let me say that I firmly believe you only had good intentions and that I'm saying what I'm saying in an honest attempt to answer, without malice.

What you're trying to ask is what would encourage women to want to play RPGs more, and you proceed to do that with two stereotypical assumptions (the third point is something that there's evidence to support in certain professions). Stereotypes are bad, and in this case they undermine the whole intent of the question.

I mentioned my wife in a comment, who is a stab happy Rogue. There's another woman in the campaign who isn't as big a fan of combat. There's also a man who isn't a fan of combat (and another that is). Starting a question off from a stereotype just isn't a good place to construct an answer from. It reminded me of the question asking for "wife friendly adventures."

Lumping women, wives, and such into an amorphous blob really doesn't do anybody any favors. You wouldn't do that with "male gamers", would you? Reverse the pronouns and ask the question, and it sounds silly. Male gamers are a really diverse group with a huge range of wants and interests. Female gamers are exactly the same in that regard, but wording like you used doesn't treat them that way.

Would I have gotten the same response were I a woman?

Probably. Nobody can really answer that for sure, but I don't think the question was in for an easy time as written.

So, What Can You Ask?

You say you haven't seen a woman play D&D in a decade. Do you know some other women? Friends, family, perhaps? Have you asked any of them if they want to join a game?

If you do that, and they say no, ask why. A question like "people I ask to play D&D said no because they don't like X, how can I address that?" is something that we can probably answer.

I know four women who play D&D, and they tend to want the same things that male players do. Those things very greatly by the individual, just as they do in male players.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 My newest player is the wife of one of my regulars. Her first character is a combat monster whose main specialism is killing orcs with a single punch, and she's loving it \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs May 27 '14 at 7:05
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I have similar experience. My group has gone from being mostly men to being all-but-one women, because the initial women in the group have been recruiting female friends into roleplaying. And their tastes range from "I want to be a bard and avoid combat!" to "UGH, more religious plot stuff?! Tell me when I can KILL something!" and lots in between. One thing women seem to want in RPGs is other women. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 27 '14 at 17:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ My Exalted group is evenly split, and I typically don't run a character, so the actual circle is woman-dominated. Even better, the male Night Caste Archer/Assassin splashed into Performance, while the female Eclipse Social/Goddess took Presence and Integrity for social stats. She struggled for two sessions to figure out how to grow her cult faster without also specializing into Performance, and then realized the Night hadn't taken Integrity. A few in-game days later, the Goddess's Cult had a new High Priest, and the male player was shaking his head and asking how to recover Willpower... \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Sep 22 '14 at 16:10
2
\$\begingroup\$

Your question is too broad and subjective for this format. It's fishing for all kinds of things and directly asks for speculation. That does not fit the Stack Exchange format. Feel free and ask more focused questions that might have specific, objective answers.

\$\endgroup\$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .