Today I am going to bore you with a topic that’s very dear to my heart and about which I have written countless ranty posts in the past.
Today, I am going to talk about that most heinous of crimes.
Women who Game, Roleplay or otherwise Involve Themselves In Predominately Manly Pursuits.
Rant warning – level 3 on the Sarah Scale.
You may have noticed I periodically mention LRP (Live Roleplay) on this blog quite a bit. That’s because it’s my main hobby, which siphons my soul throughout the year, and siphons my bank account during the season. I’ve been going now for… it’ll be nine years this year and in that time can honestly say that it’s changed my life completely. It’s done this in many, many ways. Some of these things, in no particularly order are:
1) It’s given me confidence in myself. Nine years ago, the concept of standing in an in-game ritual circle, with the ability to spout mouthful of utter bullshit about naff all filled me with cold dread. Now I can talk bollocks with the best of them.
2) It introduced me to a vast swathe of like-minded people who have no problem with me making a prat of myself.
3) It gave me an outlet for all the pent up childishness that I have. Let’s be honest. At the end of the day, no matter how you dress it up, LRP is make-believe for adults, isn’t it? When I was a kid, I loved playing ‘Let’s Pretend’. I think it’s tragic that kids don’t do that any more. Although Small Son has occasionally told me that ‘we played Transformers in the playground today’. Which warms the cockles of my heart. Especially when he was a Decepticon. Evil genius HO!
4) It’s helped build my confidence as a female in male-dominated environments. And it’s this that, despite the superfluous nature of it, is actually the single most important thing. Because of LRP, I have subsequently had the confidence to:-
a) Learn to ride a motorbike where before I was too scared of being the Only Girl in the group. I was. It didn’t matter.
b) Written and submitted fiction into a heavily male-dominated arena. And people liked it. The fact that due to the generic screenname they thought I was male probably spoke volumes, though.
I had a Very Good Conversation with a nice man (who shall remain nameless for the preservation of anonymity) last week and we got to talking about the W40K universe and its predominance of men-shaped creatures. He was saying that a thousand years back, when Games Day first took off, it was men, men, men. Then gradually, a couple of years later, they started dragging along their wives/girlfriends/sisters/other female relatives and acquaintances. And then, a couple of years after that, the women started coming along by themselves. It’s good to see that shift in dynamic, even if it does unnerve the hardcore fanbase at times.
It’s the same at LRP. When female-shapes first come along, very often without the foggiest as to what the hell is going on (if any of them find out, mind telling me?), they are encouraged by their (usually) boyfriends to ‘play a healer, it’s what all the girls do’. For the purposes of enlightenment, healers tend to stand at the back of a battle line, watching the fighting and waiting for people to be brought to them so they can tear a piece of paper and self-consciously mumble the words of a healing spell. Which generally sounds like ‘let the waters of the hum’n’ah hum’n’ah blah blah squib’ when they don’t know the vocals.
It’s frustrating! Women are quite capable roleplayers too, you know! I’m currently at loggerheads with one of the chaps on our faction’s command team who has accused me of ‘letting myself be bullied’ by the man who OWNS THE FRAKKING COMPANY. I’m in the process of re-writing my character to fit in with some changes going on in our faction and the company director asked if I’d reconsider some of the stats I’d picked before Bloody Players complain that they can’t get the same stats. I said ‘of course! No problem!’
Matey-boy decides that this is ‘being bullied’ and goes off into a patronising rant about how I’m not to worry, he’ll sort it, whilst all the time I’m saying ‘um… I’m not actually bothered? Back off with the belittling, ‘k?’
He hasn’t replied to my ‘oi, I’m capable of fighting my own battles’ email yet. I suspect this is because he will have to acknowledge a certain level of ‘OK, sorry’ which possibly his testosterone couldn’t cope with. He might explode.
This has turned into a proper rant. I feel better now.
Anyway, back to the subject of Women Who Game.
I have been tabletop roleplaying since I was 18. And believe you me, that was rather a long time ago. I’ve been reading fantasy/sci-fi for longer than that. I’ve been LRPing for nearly 10 years. I’ve been a regular in the local Games Workshop for the last two years and the guys in there no longer freeze in terror when I arrive. I have good craic with most of them now, I feel like I have all these nerdy little brothers, it’s great.
So why is it then, that when I meet someone new – and female – like at work or something and they ask what my hobbies involve, they stare blankly at me when I tell them all the above. ‘I had a brother/uncle/nephew/son/father/other random male family member into all that,’ they’ll say and take a few steps away from me.
‘I’m not a leper!’ The scream never quite leaves my mouth, but it lingers tantalisingly close to the edge of my lips. ‘DON’T SHUN ME!’
I’m a girl. I role play.
And I have feelings too.
Incidentally, I’ve never been a Healer Girlfriend. Just so you know.