Sexism and guilt

I started a discussion about sexism in gaming yesterday on G+. People were generally polite, but it was on fire. I think it is a pretty hot topic at the moment, considering the #1reasonwhy trend and the fact that there’s a kickstarter for a documentary about the harassment of women in gaming.

After discussing it with other people, hearing them out, and actually changing my view on things, I came to an important realization; when I GM, I rarely have female NPC’s, and if they are there, they’re peripheral. This thought came to me after reading We have always fought, an article about how women are portrayed in the media, by Aidan Moher. It’s a really interesting read, I can highly recommend it.

In my “The Rise of Ri’leth” adventure, I had exactly one female NPC; Olive, the murdered girl. She was the only woman in the story. It’s strange, because it wasn’t even a choice I made, it wasn’t a conscious decision. Also, it’s maybe a bit much to even classify her as an NPC…

I feel guilty about this in a way. When women appear in my sessions, I victimize them. And I don’t even notice. It’s not something I do on purpose, but somehow that just makes it feel worse. I’ll have to think more about this when GM’ing.

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About Undreren

I'm a university student from Denmark, currently taking my candidate degree in Mathematical-Economics. I have played pen & paper RPG's since 2004, but my interest for the phenomenon sparked about 3 years prior to that. I'm an amateur programmer and knows Java and Haskell as well as some rudimentary HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript.

4 responses to “Sexism and guilt”

  1. seaofstarsrpg says :

    It is easy to overlook, it is natural to gravitate toward playing NPCs of your own gender. But, equally, something that is good to be aware of.

    • Undreren says :

      I’d hardly say that “gravitate toward” is fitting. It’s more like I’ve reached singularity.

      I don’t know how “natural” it is in general. After reading Aidan Moher’s article, I had a feeling women gravitated towards male-centric stories as well.

      I’m not sure though. I do agree that it’s easy to overlook. I’ve been doing this for years without noticing.

      But I guess that awareness of the problem is the first step towards resolving it.

      Since I posted this, I’ve come up with a plethora of female NPC’s that I think could make interesting addition to my games, simply because they are not identified by their gender, and because they occupy roles that I’d normally assign to a man.

      I’ve even thought about giving one of my players an apprentice, a Templar in training, who was female. I feel that this would be a good way to force myself into handling women in my sessions, by having a woman follow them around, one that did not at all fit the “damsel in distress” cliché. One that could actually contribute without overshadowing the PC’s.

      • seaofstarsrpg says :

        Sounds like a good solution and always fun to expand your experience playing NPCs.

      • Undreren says :

        Giving the players a handful of people to push around (within reason) is always fun 🙂

        EDIT: OK, considering the topic, this reads wrong. I meant that it’s fun when players have some leverage over the game. Having followers is a great way of giving them that.

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