When the World is All Male

At GenCon 2014 (http://gencon.com/ for more info), I played in a homebrew beta game. It was an adults only game, which I found the only difference between a normal game and an adults only was they gave us beer or in my case hard apple cider. Overall, the people that ran the game were incredibly nice, and I were inviting and friendly.

The pre made characters were written so that each one essentially wanted to be the last man standing. This lead to player vs. player pretty quickly in the game. Something that truthfully, I wasn’t used to, but the characters were balanced enough that this didn’t seem to be a huge problem. With 6 players and 3 GMs, there was very little downtime, since anytime we would split up one of the GMs would take a section of the group.

When I sat down, I realized something pretty quickly. All the player characters were male. I quickly announced that my character was female which seemed to confuse the GMs, but they agreed that was fine.

The game started with us on a train, all trying to get a mysterious item from a pair of NPCs. However, the Player characters were soon at each other throats. Not being one to enjoy player vs player, I started looking at my character sheet. One thing that was mentioned was that he (now she) was a vegetarian. A silly throwaway line, but I decided to use it develop the character.

I then announced to the GM. My character is non lethal unless she has no choice. This led me to using “sand in eyes” and other methods of escaping without actually hurting anyone. What I noticed pretty quickly about the world… everyone was male. I can’t remember one female NPC. It made for a very strange world to me.

There weren’t many implications of a world of men in the game. Since, what was important was grabbing the MacGuffin, there wasn’t much room for real social interaction among the characters. That being said, a world devoid of women left me feeling strange. It told me that “women aren’t people here.” Even if the authors didn’t really intend that. “My kind” didn’t belong in this world, and so the world felt flat and colorless. Thinking about this, it could be generalized to any marginalized group. How do we get more people to enjoy role playing? Let them see themselves in the world.

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