While I sit here with my morning coffee and think back to the wonderful experiences of BROGFest from this past weekend and I realized we only had one female wargamer in attendance. Why is that? A number of factors could contribute to this situation, but I think it would be hard to pick just one cause.
The gamer I mentioned is my friend Roslyn. She has recently taken to playing Wargames and multiplayer historical games. In her case I think there are several contributing factors. First, she served in the army and has an appreciation for military related thing; whether it be strategic planning or tactical doctrine. Second, she likes the depth of thought that Wargames and historical games allow for. Third, she understands that these types of games require a commitment of time and thought to play. If we strip away the fact that she served in the Army, we are left with the a Euro gamer in the loosest of terms.
The Euro genre of strategy games draws roughly an equal number of men and women. Why then do Wargames and historical multiplayer games draw proportionally less? First, I think there is a stereotype barrier to entry. Girls as well as boy are taught their roles in society at a very young age. I remember growing up and playing war with stick guns and playing with GI. Joe, but the girls didn’t. I think this gender identity, when carried into adulthood, is a contributing factor. Second, many of the female gamers I know prefer shorter strategy games. Many of which will rarely last more than two hours. In comparison many of the wargames and historical strategy games will last longer than two hours. Third, many of the Wargames and most of the historical strategy games have more complex rules and they are therefore almost always longer in length. I think the complexity is also a contributing factor. This is not to say that women are in any way less smart or intelligent. In fact, most of the women I know are much more intelligent than I. The point I am trying to make is that the length and complexity of rules can be a real turn off for both women and men. Its hard to find enough opponents in my area to play something like A Distant Plain from GMT games. This is definately not a gender specific issue.
Is it possible to increase the number of women playing these types of games. I think it is, but there are a number of things we can all do to help. We all all need to do our part to help dismantle the stereotype that these games are only for men. My friend Roslyn and the other women wargamers/histo-gamers out there prove that they are not just for men. We, the current players of these games, need to do a better job of “selling” these games to new players, especially women. While this genre of games is not for everyone, I am sure there are many women out there that would enjoy a good many of the games in this genre. I think the historical multiplayer games might be more appealing to women, but Wargames might be just as appealing to some women.
I challenge everyone to introduce just just one game from this genre to a woman in your local game club, convention or gaming group. It takes just one person to initiate change!
ps. If you post this to Reddit, please post a link to it.