Sexism in Gaming IV: Fantasy vs. Reality

Posted: June 3, 2011 in Gaming, Sexism

Talk about no reality, where do I get off playing a 6'6" blonde dude who dresses that slick!

In the realm of gaming, there seems to be a subsection- and yes it is a subsection- of gamers who honestly within their gaming have some very strange ideas about fantasy vs. reality, and while in truth I have seen this attitude out of men more than women in gaming- it is by no means restricted to men.  You see, there are people out there who are far too interested and obsessed with dragging reality, or at least aspects of it that suit them, into gaming.  I never have and never will understand this.  Gaming of any kind: D&D, White Wolf, WoW, Star Wars, City Of, CyberPunk, so on so forth…it is pretend.  It is fantasy, and it is for fun and entertainment, and while I am certainly guilty of taking my fun and entertainment very seriously, I sure as heck don’t go dragging reality into it.  In MMORPG’s, I gender bend.  If in D&D I want to play a fighter, sure as hell I will make one, and she might only be 5’6″, but dammit, if I want to have her use an axe and a sword and give her stats that back that up, well dammit, I will.  Sure enough, there are no women around in Real Life that have an 18.00 natural strength- there are very few men that do either, but these are games, and in half of them, people have spells or powers or cybernetics or gear or supernatural conditions that make them way above and beyond our Real Life Mortal Meat Sacks- so I am not so sure why for some folk this can be such a problem.  These games are  pretend and for fun, and the only “reality” that exists in them is in the rules of the game.  The games allow for women to play burly fighters who use more than archery or dexterity, and men to play nimble, lithe, siren song masters of dexterity and flexibility who never count on strength.  And  sure enough, in Real Life there might be men and women who can do that, but they are the rarity,  by in large?  Nah, it’s not going to be the case…but that is half the fun of gaming:  Being What You Aren’t.  Hell, none of us are wizards now, are we?

Yet time and time again, I have seen people, mostly men, but some women too, who have a problem with this- and more often than not- it comes about when one is playing a physical character, and is also seemingly more common in LARP games than in other kinds, but it can be found anywhere.  For those who I am confusing endlessly, a LARP game is one in which people actually portray and act out their characters.  They costume, sometimes do accents, all that- they have a sheet with their characters stats on it, but all the role-playing is done by them, like an actor playing a part.  Often times people will even make the person they are walking around as look vastly different in description from how they, themselves look in reality.  This can get confusing, but it is done.  People will gender bend, or be taller or shorter, fatter or thinner, a different ethnicity from what they really are- which is allowed and fine.  I tend to make my LARP characters look like me for the most part because- well, it is easier.  I don’t have to spend extra time describing what I am supposed to look like.  Which, well, is short, and female, and well, just over all small.  Yet I like to play physical characters.  I have found, in my years of larping, if I play to what people think I should do or what they assume – via their own visual impressions and preconceived notions- no one bats an eye, but when I don’t….

“Who is that?”

“Oh, that’s the Brujah Primogen, don’t piss her off man, she’ll put you through a wall…”

Blink.  “But you’re so…small.”

“Dude, I am playing a supernatural undead creature of the night, the laws of mortal biology do not apply to my character…”

(I also find it grimly amusing that if one makes their character skinnier, or better looking, or richer, or way smarter, or whatever than they ever could really be, it is not mentioned, you make ’em tougher when you are a small chick…heh, THAT can be mentioned!

So yes, I have seen, in gaming, people, more often men than women, but some women too, drag reality into the fantasy, or flat-out scoff at women as various roles within gaming.  Tanks? Fighters, hell, anyone who gets in there and mixes it up?  Some folks minds won’t bend this way- even when the games have been designed to allow it.   There are female fighters in almost all table top games via the NPCS (non-player characters), people are allowed in almost all games, from City Of to D&D, to make ANY class of character they choose- from ranged to melee, from sword to spell.  The reality of the rules is that women can do whatever the guys do, and whatever they want.  The reality of gamers can be a different story.

True Story:  A Renegade found herself at Dragon Con, and had signed up to play in the Vampire The Masqurade Larp.  I went to get a pregenerated character they had created for those of us who were wanting (and paying) to play.  I was asked what were my top three clans if Vampires that I wanted to play.  I replied Assamite, Brujah, and Tzimisce.  The first two are more physical clans, the third, well, they are just some twisted sick fuckers, so how can I not like ’em?  Well, amid the pregen characters for women players, they had Toreador (socilaite artist types), Setites (twisted vice loving deviants)  a couple of Malkavians (who are all insane), and a couple of Ventrue (big time business people).  That, out of the 13 clans, is what they had for women.  I was not impressed. Fortunately one look at some of my ink got the dudes running the game to change the gender on one of the Assamites for me- but yep, out of the gate, what they had for women were socialite artists, vice lovin’ deviants, a couple of crazy people, and a couple of business women.  Nothing physical, and nothing that truly- to an experienced player- would be a challenge or in a position of authority.  Hummmm.

And you get that attitude elsewhere in gaming:  Women should play healers and caretakers or social types.  They shouldn’t be strategists or leaders or aggressive types (and sorry, there is nothing in fantasy OR reality that says women cannot excel in these areas).  There are gamers who do believe that because some classes may not fit with what the reality for a woman is, they should not play or even want to play them in games; regardless of what the rules allow.  To that, I say the following:

“Is not a monty macked out tricked out Meat Shield still a monty macked out tricked out Meat Shield regaurdless of gender? ”


“Sure enough, in real life I will never have a strength of 18, but you know what, you are NEVER gonna have a charisma higher than 6 but you went ahead and gave it to your character anyway.”   

Hey, if people want to get all reality on me, I don’t mind pointing it out either…espeically in a fantasy setting like D&D, where one thing that would be an absolute reality for a lot of these asshats would be…a high mortality rate. 

The simple fact of fantasy for fun games is that the only Reality Neccessary is that found in the Rules, and the experience of gaming would be a lot more fun for everyone if people all realized that.  Now, once again, a great many people- male and female- I have gamed with are Not Like This, but man, I have totally run across enough who got their life vision- for reality and gaming- outta a dang Gor novel that it bears mentioning.


*heh, and as a funny side note, In City Of, I have six melee type toons, a tank, three brutes and two scrappers.  Only one of them is a male character, and the baddest of ’em all?  Ahem, yep, a girl. 

  1. dead_vladimir says:

    Im not sure i’d say a ventrue business women couldn’t be in a position of power

    • Ren says:

      oh, they can be, but in this game, they were not…it was a Sabbat Game, so the Ventrue (note, not Ventrue Anti) were, uh, not in a good place.

      Come on, no extra points for a Gor reference?? Hahaahahahah

      • dead_vladimir says:

        one could argue that gave them greater opportunity for some amazing role playing, and any success they achieved against those odds, maybe the creators were saying men couldn’t handle the challenges?

        • Ren says:

          the two ventrue were the dude ventrues assistants, so I dunno, they MAY have been great RP’ers, but the characters were not set up for success from the start at all, more like accessories added on at the last minute when they realized there would be women there to play

          • dead_vladimir says:

            ah well, yeah if they were jsut assitants to another venture….

            • Ren says:

              there were some other gals who made them CHANGE characters thou, one was a lasombra and one a Gangrel Anti, they were both good RP’ers

  2. dead_vladimir says:

    Also part of the problem with reaction in Larping and this goes for everyone’s character, there is a natural disconnect between the eyes and the brain’s reaction to perceptions and game convention. I don’t think that can ever be helped. Good players get over it, but there is always that first time out the gate. especially when most of these peope aren’t professional actors etc.
    So yes a 5’2 girl playing a nosferatu 6’6″ brick is going to take a bit for people to get into the groove to.
    Now though people who say you can’t paly one because you are female, are just idiots.

  3. Kristen J. says:

    Yes. In real life, I would not shoot you in head or hit you with a ginormous axe or shoot lightning from my finger tips. Trufax.

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