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We have recently had an addition to our gaming group. She is very bright and has picked up the rules quickly and seems to have enjoyed herself. We have had one session with her involved and she has said she would like to come again. A few of the other guys have a connection with her (went to school together for a few years) but its only me that she really knows well. The issue isn't helped by the fact that most of my other players are borderline-autistic teenage lads.

How can I help her enjoy herself more by feeling more a part of the group? What sort of things should I be doing to help her feel more engaged? I am aware that I should simply make herself feel as if she is simply another member of the group (as she is) but am looking for things I can do to make her enjoy herself more at the table, does anyone have any advice on changes I might make to the game (more social encounters for example, she appears to be an 'actor') or things I should say to the other players to prevent her feeling isolated.

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closed as not constructive by wax eagle, LitheOhm, okeefe, KRyan, Jonathan Hobbs May 16 '13 at 2:50

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Answerers: remember to answer subjective questions like this with experience or references to someone else's experience (or even better, both). Posting answers that are just untested opinion or on-the-spot brainstormed ideas that you have never tried is contrary to our Good Subjective, Bad Subjective guidelines and may result in an answer being deleted. –  SevenSidedDie May 15 '13 at 19:20
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Does she need to be helped like this? Has she actually shown signs of not fitting in well, or said she isn't? She's a girl, but she's not from an alien planet. She's a person playing with other people. Can you invite her in like any new player? Does her sex really warrant extra measures? –  Jonathan Hobbs May 16 '13 at 0:48
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@JonathanHobbs I largely agree which is why I've got a close vote on this thing. –  wax eagle May 16 '13 at 2:33
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@Archwillow I'm voting to close this as not constructive. There isn't necessarily a problem here. You're assuming her sex means there's problems: that's a problem, and singling her out because she's a girl is more likely to make her feel like she doesn't fit in than anything else. The question mxyzplk contains very relevant answers. Read this one by a girl gamer, in which she says it's ok to treat her like "one of the guys". But also read this one and/or all the others giving advice on how to not be a jerk. –  Jonathan Hobbs May 16 '13 at 2:53
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The sort of problems that people are looking for in a revised version of this question can't be gotten by just giving more detail about what you've already said—we're looking for practical problems you've actually run into rather than problems you're just guessing might need solutions. (There's nothing more likely to cause problems than fixing things that ain't broke…) So if your player has voiced any concerns, or if you've seen problems (or hints of problems) at the table, make the question about those. Hypotheticals aren't good questions here, and aren't useful to you anyway. –  SevenSidedDie May 17 '13 at 22:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 17 down vote accepted

It really depends on your players.

What I've found is that the women who have joined my groups tend to prefer if they're just treated as another player, and the gender question is entirely ignored. If your players are sophisticated enough that this isn't a problem, then it won't be.

However, if you have a problem table; here are some things to consider.

Enforce Rules of Conduct

When players meet, they typically behave how they would at the bar, or around their buddies, and my experience has been that guys can get pretty raucous at games. Just be sure to set some ground rules. I once had a rule that swearing at the table was met with a (insignificant) fine that would be used to fund stuff for the game, and you could institute a similar rule for over-the-top offensive behavior.

Ensure that you're not giving players special treatment

This goes both ways-you don't want to favor your male players over your female players, especially if they view things differently, but you also don't want to make the game revolve around your female player(s), as that becomes either creepy in a "here's everything you want, dear" sense, or really uninteresting to both parties in the sense of "And Sarah wins this one! Again."; you need to be sure to remain impartial and fair regardless of gender.

My Case Studies

In my games, I've had two female players who really provided examples of possible outcomes; A and B.

A was a friend of the players-I'd met her before, but only through them, so she got along with them well. She also had a "one of the guys" attitude, and was just as puerile and zany as the rest of them, so she didn't have any problem with the sort of behavior that would drive people away, since she basically was the same way just gender-swapped. (Interestingly, I've actually had two players exactly like A, but only one was with my college group.)

B was a friend of the players that I'd never met before, but was a veteran role-player. She didn't really appreciate the tone of the group, which was perhaps a little too over-the-top for the game (V:tM with combat monsters ends a certain way, plus the semester was coming to an end and we were all students), but the game ended breaking up more because nobody felt like playing it rather than because there was offense.

Both of these players integrated into the same group, and neither of them (to my knowledge) had problems with the other players, in part because I kept things in line and in part because most players, if given the hint that they're going too far, will rein in their behavior.

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this is useful, thanks, I'm hoping it should go the way you described, +1 for the 'swearing fine' –  Archwillow May 15 '13 at 19:00
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+1 for "just treated as another player". I am a girl gamer who's played in many groups and all I want is to be treated just like everyone else. Your girl gamer is there to have fun, just like the rest of you. –  thatgirldm May 15 '13 at 22:20

I've run games in high school, college, and after college in which girls or women were invited after the campaign had started.

In the high school game two girls joined because they wanted to get closer to two of the guys in the group. They wound up playing in my RuneQuest campaign for several months, until we graduated and the game died as we all scattered to the four winds. The lesson I took away from the experience was that even if girls aren't at the table primarily to game, if they are welcomed and made to feel at home, they can grow to enjoy the game on its own merits.

In the college game (also RuneQuest) two women joined because they were interested in what their boyfriends were doing and wanted to be a part of it. This is different than the situation I encountered in high school, because they came in with curiosity about the game. The two women played the campaign to the end, and we continued to play when one of the men in the game took a semester off for travel. The lesson for me was that you need to be open to unfamiliar styles of play.

The women dove into their characters and had a great time with the social interaction aspect of the game, both internally with other members of the party, and with NPCs. I ran with this and it absolutely changed my gamemastering style for the better. Encounters were primarily about combat before I ran this campaign; by the end of it, I was creating a much more interesting mix of encounters running the gamut from discourse to barter to cajoling to contests of skill to combat. I would not have improved in this way had I not taken special care to watch for cues from the women, even though they weren't the most vocal players at the table.

The post-college game, a woman who had gamed before and was the wife of one of the players, joined our thrice-annual gaming weekend. We played a series of short campaigns (d20 Modern, Basic Roleplaying, Call of Cthulhu, D&D) over several years. She was very into crunch and was relentlessly focused on the details of character building and combat. She proved that despite my experiences with female gamers before, every woman's gaming style is unique. So the lesson was to tailor the game to the individuals, not to any notion about gender stereotype.

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Thanks for the edit, @SevenSidedDie –  Erik Schmidt May 15 '13 at 23:21
    
No problem. FWIW, the second usage there seemed fine to me, but so does it after the edit. –  SevenSidedDie May 18 '13 at 20:52

As already mentioned, just treat her like another player. Any kid of special treatment/protection really isn't needed, and has the potential to cause issues in it's own right.

If your other players do end up causing a problem, deal with it head on. It's up to you if you want to talk to them in the middle of the game, or later, but do it. It's likely your new player will appreciate you standing up for her, and such support will encourage her to stick with your game- even if it starts with a few rough spots.

If you're really, really concerned about their behavior, talk to your guys. Don't ask them to "be nice" or any tripe like that. Instead, ask them what they thought of her, her play style, etc. If they happen to say rude things, make sure they understand you don't think that's cool/polite/whatever. Their opinions can give you some insight into how they'll behave.

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I can remember some really good column that talked about this. While I can't find it (I guess it was somewhere here, it's full of interesting articles on related matters and I suggest you to get a culture on the argument) I can recall some of the focal points.

The main problem is that this new woman is probably going to be separated from the rest of the group by a series of barriers. She's the new one. She's the one who's not interested in character creation crunch (this is not always true but most women care more about who their character is and less on how he/she does it). She's the strange beast we're all staring at, curious to see if she's able to play. She is the one I can try to please in-game to get a chance off game.

Guys is that last one a dangerous one! And the related one: she's the one that's gonna end our marvellous friendship introducing all sorts of problems.

As long as she's treated as just another person, with her tastes (instead of "a woman with womanly tastes) and so on, all is going to be smooth.

I've heard that she could also feel menaced by the group of strangers, especially at first, and groups with at least two female players (so that they're able to feel they have someone else in their same spot) do usually fare better.

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None of this meets our Good Subjective, Bad Subjective critera that SSD warned about in the highly rated comment on the Q... –  mxyzplk May 17 '13 at 16:36

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