The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

Gender Bias in RPGs

Trollsmyth has had a couple of posts lately tackling the issue of how the presentation of rpgs impacts the number of women wanting to play them. But as some of his commenters have pointed out, there is a real dicotomy to the situation; if you move the art and marketing away from the very “appeals to men” style it has always had to a “appeals to women” style (or even a more gender neutral one) there is a risk of alienating a segment of the existing user base.

While thinking about this I was reminded of a toy line from the 80s that took a very interesting take on how to appeal to both boys and girls. Mattel took what was essentially one line of toys and marketed it to boys as He-man and to girls as She-ra. They didn’t hide the connection between the two, but the commercials for each line were very much aimed at their target gender.

You can sell large numbers of girls on fantasy, you just have to markey it right.

Could this work for a role playing game? What if, say, the core rulebooks of D&D had in addition to the male aimed version that already exist had a set of books that were visually different in a manner that made them more marketable to female customers. Would there be a point to this? Could such books bring about gender parity in gaming?

Or what if Wizards started putting some ads aimed at women in places women or girls would see them? If presented correctly could ads in magaines like Good Housekeeping, O or whatever magazine teen girls read these days, possibly snag new players?

I don’t know if simple changes could bring in new players, but I find Trollsmyth’s argument that the current manner of presentation probably discourages some would be female gamers from even picking up a book very compelling. What do you think? Does the visual style and markey affect the gender ration of role playing games? Could changing just those elements (ie leaving the rules intact) make a noticable different?

Have an opinion about this article? I love comments. Please feel welcome to leave your thoughts.

January 2, 2011 Posted by | Dungeons and Dragons, RPGs | , | Leave a comment