Saturday, 9 July 2011

Girls just wanna have fun...

...apparently!!! I think its fair to say that although I'm seeing more of the lesser spotted female wargamer than I ever have, they're still and incredibly rare breed of creature. Now why it is that wargaming is remaining the last bastion of male geekery I'm not entirely sure. Because if I go into comic book stores I see plenty of females pottering about buying Deadpool comics etc. with online gaming you're just as likely to get pawned by a girl gamer as you are some bloke sitting at home in arizona sweating his ass off in just his boxer shorts... you know who you are!!!

Some people have asked me why this topic concerns me so much, and to be honest I'd never really thought about why it bothered me. However I think there are two reasons it bothers me:

  1. I'm not really sure any sort of entertainment industry should be content with ever only having to target half of the population. Especially when what you're doing is a very niche thing. For Christs sake wargaming isn't mainstream and attracting as many people as you can into the hobby just seems like good common business sense and if what we're doing is instantly putting half of the world off, we need that to change surely?
  2. Like many male gamers I have another half, and while we do other things together wargaming is a big part of who I am and what I do and I'd love to be able to share it with my other half. I know of other gamers in my situation who'd love to involve their spouses but just can't get them interested.

For me personally the second point is more important to me, although the first point I do believe is something that should concern, games designers, producers and hobbyists alike... why don't girls want to game with us? I think I actually have some of the answers after chatting with a few females of late and asking that very question and to be honest I think its actually not that perplexing when you have it spelled out to you.

One of the things that I think might help is co-operative gaming. I've had various females over the years tell me the idea of starting in the hobby and been thrown in at the deep end with lots of overly competitive teenage boys doesn't fill them with joy. This is where computer games have it made I guess. You can hone your skills offline in the single player game and then go online when feeling confident enough in your skillz to pawn n00bs, plus there's a comfortable degree of separation from said teenage boys. Where's wargamings equivalent? Well it does kind of exist and its called the Co-operative Dungeon Crawler.

These sorts of game used to be the gateway into the hobby for many of us. Me included, but here in the UK these games have been squeezed out of the marketplace somewhat by the high street dominance of Games Workshop. Coupled to the fact that all the cool board games and little intro's to the hobby games they themselves used to make have also been removed from their shelves never to be seen again and you can see the problem. Now they just want to throw people in at the deep end with full on wargames, they have no intermediary product that gets people used to the idea of miniature wargaming and perhaps that's the real reason we have fewer new wargamers coming into the hobby now than ever before, not just small numbers of female wargamers.

Well I'm on a bit of a mission to find out why girls don't want to have fun with toy soldiers, and today my friend Ash 'Chaos Space Marine' Hunt is bringing his other half around so we can sit down and play the D&D adventure games I've got with me and my other half. Surprisingly it didn't take much convincing when the fact that the game was co-operative came up... interesting. So today I'll be sitting down and playing Dungeon Crawlers in the name of scientific inquiry, honest. I'll let you know how it goes and I'll get the reviews up of Castle Ravenloft and the Wrath of Ashardalon soon afterwards as I'm starting to come to my conclusions over the two boxed sets now. Peace out!


  1. I think that you have made a very good point about there not being the 'entry level' games readily available from GW any more, aside from the splash and dash of Space Hulk a few years ago (blink, and you miss it). Fair enough, having a lot of fun for less than 200$ is not in their interests, for the same reason that Specialist Games have been pushed into the dark recesses of the basement.

    I think the selling out of the new Mantic board games (I heard that they sold there initial run of 100,000 in a short period of time) shows that there is definitely a market there, and a void waiting to be filled. From my own time spent playing games with girls (sister, and the few times I managed to get a girlfriend to have a go, usually if she was bored and there was nothing on the telly) it is always the small board or skirmish games that picque their interest. In particular, the likes of Mordheim (small, personalised bands that you can adapt, that also have a background narrative etc.) and board games which you can finish in a single hour long sitting. Massed hordes of infantry are not everyones cup of tea.

    Be interested to hear how you get on with the D&D games so please write a review :)

  2. Hiya Pacific. Don't worry I have some lengthy articles about how we all got on with the games with some personal observations about how suitable the games were as a means to enticing the female of the species into the world of wargaming. In fact the first will go up today. The review of Castle Ravenloft will follow quickly afterwards, but the review of Wrath of Ashardalon will be a little longer coming because... well I haven't played its missions as much and I feel like I need to spend more time with it to get a better feel for the 'adventures' it produces as opposed to Ravenloft. Just assuming its the same rule set and therefore the same product isn't wise.