Gender In Roleplay

I’ve wrote about this before and I was thinking about it again after watching the difference between the difference of how boys and girls play.

There is a little game that I see kids play, the particulars of it are not important but I have had to stop the game when boys are involved. Girls never have a problem playing. The reason the boys have to be stopped is because they push the game too far and they could hurt themselves. Girls don’t have that problem and as I saw the game being played I realized that they were in it for the experience, the feeling the game gives them. The boys want to push the boundaries of the game to see who can be the best.

I don’t know if this is a learned behavior or if it’s something intrinsic to the difference between genders. I am fairly certain you can train a boy or a girl to play in a way that I would naturally see the opposite gender playing. Especially when you tell the boys they can’t play because they’re going to hurt themselves. They quickly settle for playing the girl’s way.

Why do kids fall into this behavior? That’s a bigger subject than I can answer but it plays into something I’ve wrote about before. Girls traditionally haven’t played roleplaying games in the same numbers as boys. This has changed as the hobby has matured and the same can be said for video games. That leaves me to wonder if it’s that the boys are learning how to play in a way that doesn’t annoy the girls. As roleplay has moved away from number crunching and strategy where you can prove who’s the “best” and toward narrative and story, there have been more women getting into the hobby.

Is that a causal relationship or simply a coincidence? It would seem like there is something there to the connection because when girls have gamed with us (okay that’s 95% of the time) they’re not interested in being the “best” mechanically. They seem more interested in the story.

Even after years of playing the ladies that game with us have a basic understanding of the mechanics of the game, where the guys are picking up mechanical tricks to improve their character’s effectiveness. The girls are there for the experience and see how far the feeling it gives them can go. The boys immediately want to see how far the experience can be pushed mechanically.

Over time, guys will start to reach back and start testing out all the nuance that they rushed past before. Is it at this point that the ladies decide that the guys are worth hanging around?

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