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Gaming and the Ladies

RANDOM MUSINGS on the fin-de-millénaire games scene . . .

10 February 2009 . . .

In a thoughtful article on Boardgame News, game inventor Andrea Meyer (Monstermaler, ad acta, Mall World), discusses the appeal of board games from the feminine point of view. You may like to read it here.

The main points cited by the essay around the theme of "women experience games differently" are (1) women are more interested in the experience (atmosphere and narrative) and less in the competition; (2) compared to men they prefer quicker games with fewer rules; (3) in games they like to gather up and sort things; and (4) they are starved for game characters with which to identify.

The fourth idea is no surprise; it would apply to anyone. If games were only oriented around girls and women, men would stay away in droves, much as tends to be the case with play dolls. The idea of (3) seems like it would be learned societal/cultural behavior. There seems little to add with respect of either of these two. It's in the area of the first two ideas that something more can be said.

The article itself admits that these are stereotypes with exceptions ("with the usual exceptions that such stereotypical statements imply"). However these exceptions are only mentioned, not explained. There may be more to say.

In particular, since (1) and (2) appear to be innate traits that exist from birth, there is a strong possibility that they relate to something else which shares the same characteristic: personality types.

These have been explored on this site before though not quite in this context. In particular, however, one of the four personality traits used by that system is the T/F dimension. These letters "indicate how people govern themselves and deal with others. Those strong in Thinking will more often use their head to rule themselves and their relationships, while those given to Feeling will more often follow their heart." [People Patterns, Montgomery 2002]

Rather than gender, it's likely that this trait is what determines the sorts of games one likes. That of the four traits, the T/F trait is the only one which runs roughly, though not absolutely along gender lines, tends to support the hypothesis. Women tend to fall in the F category, making decisions according to their own and others' emotions, while men tend to the T, being driven more by logic and less concerned by emotions.

But not all women are in the F category and not all men in the T category. This can help us to understand why for some men I know the party game is the entertainment of choice and also to understand some of my female friends, one of whom looks for games in which it's possible to be cruel and another whose favorite is the long and complicated backstabbing vehicle, A Game of Thrones ...


by Rick Heli