Recently, the discussion on harassment for women in tabletop gaming has been making the rounds. Unfortunately, it’s not a new feature but it is getting more press, mostly because I think of the larger number of female players, the Internet and (hopefully) changing mores.
The entire situation is something that isn’t particularly surprising. I run an online business and the vast majority of my gaming is with close friends who aren’t likely to take crap like that so for the most part I’m shielded from encountering incidents like this. While I do do conventions, I also work them – so I rarely see any major incidences as my head is down, working sales and chatting with customers.
Yet, even though I rarely see incidences like this, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen any at all. I can recall at least 2 instances where we’ve had to deal with too persistent men by redirecting them away from the inflicted young lady. I can recall instances in game stores where things said or done might make a woman uncomfortable in game stores. And let’s not forget the sheer variety of comments on our Youtube video channel. We’ve had everything from purely crude to the subtler, ever-present discussion about hair styles. So yeah, it’s not surprising that we have a problem (even if I wouldn’t go so far as to use the word terrorist).
One thing that was written in the article that started it all jumps out to me:
Gamers bemoan the loss of the local game store while ignoring their culpability for its demise. Amazon is blamed for the death of local game stores, but few gamers stop to question why so many people are choosing to buy social games in such an asocial manner.
In 2014, when I can’t run games anymore, they (the women in her gaming group) splinter off into several different groups. They buy everything online and never set foot in game stores. They’ve learned the hard lessons.
From my experience viewing the customer base at both game stores and at conventions, I can certainly say that this feels true. I don’t know how many of these female customers purchase from us because of convenience or price and how much it’s because of the anonymity online purchasing offers, but I can say for sure that the number of women customers at Starlit Citadel’s higher than you’d expect.
I guess the point of this post is, yes; this is real. This is happening. I don’t have stats on it, I have only anecdotal evidence; but this kind of harassment and sexism is more prevalent than some people think.
Edit: One thing that has come to mind that we need to add (see below too on the comments) is that the board gaming community specifically is significantly better than the general tabletop community. In fact, board gamers in general seem to be more socially adjusted than most – whether it’s because many of us are older (than say CCG players) or it’s a very social gaming experience.