Thursday, September 8, 2011

Release the girls from the Dungeon! #1.5

Surprisingly civil and fruitful discussion over G+, Twitter and Facebook had followed my previous post. For future reference, I’d much rather see it concentrated here instead of scattered all over the net. I think it's more productive this way and helps good people meet and share good ideas (evil and chaotic people are welcome too, btw). Also, I want you all present in the same place, a place under my control, so that I could-- well, never mind. Back to the quest to get young players to play...

Girl Gamers - maybe it's all the attention that scares them away?

This is a brief summary of the points raised today:

Name: Change the name of the activity from “Dungeons and Dragons” to something which including “fantasy” and implies “teamwork.” I strongly support this idea. However, the new name should be one that wouldn’t scare away boys. Any suggestions?
Flyers: When handing flyers describing the activity, have them portray a male and a female character. The female should be a nature-related character, possibly some sort of a feline humanoid. It seems most young girls favor this sort of characters and those who do not are not hostile toward them.
Girl Groups: Promote “male” D&D and “female” D&D separately to defuse the potential social pressure applied on girls not to participate in male activities. Girl game should be promoted and ran by female DMs and stress the theatrical and dramatic aspects of the game over its military aspect. While I'm not a fan of segregation of the sexes, my personal exprience shows that boys do seem to out-scream girls (at this age at least...) and that the two sexes generally get along very poor, so perhaps there is merit to this idea. Next year, we'll probably give it a shot.
Horses: One suggestion I value very highly since it was the only one actually made by a young gir: horses. There should be horses on the flyers. Horses are cool. I'm all for it because I like horses too. I like donkeys even more, but that is only because I'm an ass.

Female DMs signalling their Venus overlords

This is just an intermediate post, I’m still researching and experimenting in this field. So far with little success; today I promoted D&D in a local school. Twenty-two kids came from nine classes – all boys. Girls looked excited and interested during my visit, many had asked for flyers, many even spoke about characters they’d like to play... but not one girl came to the introductory game.

Oh well, back to the drawing table.

At the end of the day, from high above, we all look the same.


  1. I had a very similar scenario unfold when i started up an RPG club at my daughters' middle school. Lots of girls at the introductory meeting; fewer at the actual first day of play. I also noted a further drop in the number of girls after we spent most of that first day of play on character creation. After that it was pregen characters photocopied and ready to go — something i would recommend for anyone introducing D&D to grade-school kids.

    I think the idea of a rebranding under a different name has merit, though nothing springs to immediate mind. And of course the ultimate irony with that idea is that it was Gary Gygax's young daughter who originally chose the name "Dungeons & Dragons" for the then-new game from the list of possible choices.

  2. Intresting anecdote. It's the first time I hear it. I guess Gary's sister was quite a-typical! :)

  3. While I've had a majority of boys at after school clubs or summer events, I've always managed to maintain a significant number of female players (though still not proportional to my school population). For those young ladies, having other female peers also participating is of *paramount* importance. In other words, I may get four *together* or I may get none, but it has been statistically unlikely that one young lady would elect to join us by herself. I wonder how I could modify my recruiting strategies to engage girls in groups?

    My female gamers have shown interest in classic fantasy, steampunk, and modern settings ... taken as a whole, I've never noticed them to shy away from action settings with lots of swordplay or fisticuffs, but they've also made up some of my most focused, daring, and socially cunning role players too.